Monday, May 16, 2011

Levelling Speed in Cataclysm

There's a lot of concern that levelling is too fast in Cataclysm. I am not sure if it is too fast or not, but lately I've been making a bunch of low level alts. Here is one thing I've noticed about levelling speed.

If you do nothing but quest, the XP curve seems to match the quests very well. But if you do anything else like a dungeon, or some PvP, or even herbing/mining, it feels like the XP from those activities starts making you outstrip your quests.

It seems like Blizzard wanted to make running instances, running battlegrounds, or herbing/mining viable methods of leveling. So that questing wasn't the only path. But to me it feels that if you dip into multiple areas, it hurts questing because you get pushed past the optimum level for the quests you currently have.

In Vanilla, questing was the sole means of levelling. Dungeons formed too infrequently to really affect you. Battlegrounds didn't grant XP. And herbing/mining certainly didn't help you level.

(As an aside, I don't really understand why herbing and mining started granting XP. That seems so unnecessary to me.)

I don't know how one would fix this issue. If Blizzard expects someone to do multiple activities, and adjusts XP accordingly, then someone who just quested would find themselves under-level for the quests they were getting.

So that's my observation on the state of the early game and leveling speed. I'm not sure how extensive the problem is. I have a low-level rogue, who has quested, done each available dungeon two to three times, and is a herbalist. That rogue has definitely out-leveled her quests. On the other hand, I have a low-level shaman that has done nothing but quests, with no professions. That shaman matches his quests correctly.


  1. I wish blizz would slow down the leveling process but i think its part of their business model to have us make new chaerecter. Ya gathering proffs giving exp is annoying i think it is an anti farming tactic..the biggest source of unwanted xp for me is bg holidays. One win can catapult you half a level but its a great source of honor as well as good spurce of competition. Blizzards xp locking system takes you out of bgs for most purpuses. Hopefully bliz will adopt eq2 mentor system where you can go back and do low lvl content for same lvl benefit. That would be a much better choice than nerfing all the previus content and forcerushing every to endgame

  2. If you get ANY rested XP you also outstrip the area you're questing in. Or if you're wearing heirlooms. If you don't get any extra XP from anywhere, but you complete all the quests in each zone including optional ones that aren't in the main chain, you still outstrip the quests after a few zones. And some zones have twice as many quests as you need to be high enough level to get you to the next zone, so it depends where you are levelling as well. Azshara is particularly notable for that; all the starting zones seem to take you up to level 12 (so you only need half of the next zone to get to 15) etc. It could definitely be tweaked to be a bit slower, but every time I brought this up at the start of Cata, people reacted as though I wanted a return to the levelling speed in classic.

  3. Re: Gathering granting XP

    I think it's safe to say that part of the goal was to encourage more players to take gathering professions. Nodes granting XP adds a bonus incentive to go out of your way to grab that Copper Node that you might not otherwise mine if you knew that Copper was only worth 5g on the AH or whatever. Even if the XP bonus is only a temporary incentive (since you don't get anything more at the cap), just think of how much more low-level mats are floating around than there would have been.

  4. I don't mind outleveling zones at all, I just wish it was a smoother curve for leveling. you absolutely zoom through 1-60 even without heirlooms, then 60-70 it slows down considerably but is still quite fast. But 70-80 just absolutlely drags on and on and on, takes forever for each level all of a sudden.

    I would love it if blizz slowed down the 1-60 just a bit, but sped up 60-80. Net result being the same time /played to hit 80, just at a more even pace. that would solve the problem of outstripping zones so fast at he same time.

  5. I can understand Blizzard making it fast and easy to level a character to 85. If you were a totally new player, and you'd just invested $100 or so to buy Vanilla, BC, LK, and Cata, you want to get to the end fairly fast. If you don't, you won't hang around (i.e., no monthly subscription fee).

    I started playing at the end of BC (July 08), and I thought I was doing an amazing job if I got one level per day (even in the lower levels).

    When LK launched, I bought the expansion, but it wasn't until January 09 that I had a level 55 character. Meaning: no death knight for me!

    I think the super-fast leveling model is definitely intended to get new players (and maybe returning players) to the end game, which is where most players want to be. When I want to slow down and enjoy a zone (or a specific level range), I turn off my experience until I'm ready to start moving again.

  6. I had a goal to play through all the redesigned areas for both Horde and Alliance but have pretty much given up at this point. I've leveled 2 Horde/2 Alliance and know I'v missed about 50% of the Kalimdor areas. It's probably because I always get Herb/Mining on my low level characters to make money and can't help but jump into a BG or two to test my skill. I'd think cutting the XP gain in half would be a good call because quite a few questlines lead to dungeons but I definitely can't do those as my xp gain is too quick as it is.

    Gotta give props to Blizz for stepping their writing up a notch in Cataclysm. They've always had great stories but most of the redesigned areas are amazing. Loved Westfall, Redridge, E/W Plaguelands and Badlands. I swear the quests there are better than the 80-85 stuff. It's too bad most people won't ever see it.

  7. Rested xp can also through a lowbie character out of synch, I find. I mean, I recall outlevelling new low level zones on a new character via mostly questing with a bit of light gathering along the way, where I only played it once a week or so.

    I think it's potentially a bit confusing because you end up having to decide whether to follow your current storyline or go to the next zone where you're already being signposted.

  8. In Vanilla, questing was the sole means of levelling. Dungeons formed too infrequently to really affect you.

    See, this doesn't match my experience at all. When I was levelling in Vanilla, the low-level instances were quite active, with people LFM in general chat all the time and others sending me random whispers to ask whether I would like to come to "insert strange acronym here". Even on my very first character I ran about two thirds of the available 1-60 instances while levelling up, and some of them more than once. It wasn't until BC that people developed this whole "low-level content is bad and uninteresting" attitude and it became hard to find groups for anything below the Hellfire instances.

    That's why I agree that the current levelling speed is way too fast, because for me levelling has never been just questing, so the new way feels unnecessarily constraining out of nowhere.

  9. If my lowbie alts with heirloom gear wouldn't out-level the quests in any particular zone I think the whole process would be much more enjoyable for me. The stories behind the quests keep me interested, but I *want* to do an occasional random dungeon, I *like* gathering herbs and mining, and by doing those things I out-level the quests and then I end up stuck around level 35ish, bored and sometimes struggling (without flight) to find the next viable questing zone. This may out me as just plain lazy, but it starts to feel more like work than fun, and that's what pushes me away from the game.

    Do I have a solution? No. Maybe if quests could scale with your level? Likely impossible to implement. Oh well.

  10. I'm pretty sure they implemented the xp gains from herb/mining to normalize it with skinning. Unless you are following someone around skinning their dead mobs you have to kill and therefore earn xp. By giving xp to herb/mining and having it go along with skill level they are able to reward a close amount of xp based on killing a mob in the zone. It works well if you get your prof at level 5 and stay on track with leveling it.

  11. The only reason I can think of to grant herbing/mining XP is to promote farming, legal or otherwise. I've wracked my brain about this and simply cannot fathom another reason. The gathering is supposed to means to an end, either crafting or making money. It needs another added benefit?

    I also agree with your analysis of the disparity between questing and other Xp granting activities. I releveled on a new server and did every instance at appropriate level. Each time when I came out I had to move to a higher level zone.

  12. When I was levelling in Vanilla, the low-level instances were quite active, with people LFM in general chat all the time and others sending me random whispers to ask whether I would like to come to "insert strange acronym here"

    Ahh, that takes me back... I remember being on my first toon, running around the barrens, getting a whisper from a random asking if I wanted to go WC... At the time, I didn't know WC meant Wailing Caverns, I just thought he was asking me if I wanted to go to the toilet!
    Anyway, I miss the days of finding a group of people on the same server, running to the instance and making friends at the same time. Nowadays everything is random, mixed with cross server, so although it is an MMO, it feels more like a single player game.
    Hmm, thats nothing to do with the original topic, but anyway :)

  13. I would like to see a truly solo, story driven option for leveling. One that gives levels and training for completing epic quests, not by steadily earning XP.

    They would be class and faction specific, maybe start at lvl 20. You would opt in and only the epic quest givers would be visible to you.

    The quests would be a bit more challenging. The main questline required for leveling would be linear, but there would be side chains to gain gear or buffs (or henchman) to reduce the challenge somewhat, or just fun stuff.

    You would not get any XP, but receive levels as quest rewards, along with training, from major lore figures at appropriate points in the questling.

    You would have the opportunity to opt in/out every 10 levels. So there would be essentially a different epic questline every 10 levels.

    When you finished the final quest, you would get a huge sendoff, a trunk with a few pieces of blue gear, and maybe a noncombat pet.

  14. "They would be class and faction specific"

    I think SWTOR is going to do this.

  15. The easiest solution would have been to use the redesigned old world zones to level from 1-80. You could spend all your time in the newest expansion, you didn't have to go through the outdated (from a lore pov) Outland and Northrend zones and you could spend a bit more time in every zone.

  16. Levelling on dps isn't too bad. You queue for an instance and get, say, 20-30 minutes for questing while you wait. You don't get to run the full range of quests in each zone, but the activities are quite nicely spread out.

    I've tried mixing questing and instances on a levelling healer and it's much harder to juggle. You get maybe 30 seconds before the group forms, if you're lucky. Instances are so easy to come by that you can easily blink and watch three or four zones pass by without even stepping foot in them. My healers don't even have half the fly points.

    I think the problem is that it is too easy to get a group as a healer. As much as I'd quite like to revisit some of the old content (particularly the reworked zones), I can't be arsed to do all of the running around for the zillionth time. A Cata-style approach where you pick up quests from a capital city and are aided to get out to the more remote areas would be marvellous. "Want to help us out in Ferelas? Here, let me port you to Feathermoon Stronghold young adventurer."

  17. I just came back to WoW after a 2 year break, so I haven't fully experienced the leveling difference as of yet. I remember before that 1-60 was relatively normal as far as speed. I did a lot of the lower-level instances, but by the time I was in my 45s-50s, everybody was in Northrend, so I couldn't find any groups to run endgame Vanilla instances. I already blew through 60-70. I only quested in Hellfire. All other levels up to 70 were from instances. I had 5-6 players that were at my level and we ran instances all the time. I probably gained 7 levels just from BC instances. When I got into Northrend, I couldn't believe how long it took to level up. I ended up quitting at 76 because it was taking so long. I found most of the quests boring, and the experience gains were so minimal. I hear that 80-85 is even slower.