Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Are heirlooms a good idea?

It occurred to me that there are generally two complaints from experienced players about the early game that was revamped in Cataclysm: it is too easy; and you level too fast.

Now, I'm not saying that heirlooms caused these problems at all. But it's pretty clear that heirlooms make these problems worse. A character decked in heirlooms is significantly more powerful than a character in quest greens, and has a much higher rate of XP gain.

Cataclysm made the leveling game easier for new players. At the same time, heirlooms made the leveling game even easier for experienced players. I think the combination has proven to be excessive.

Additionally, I think heirlooms have created a couple of other problems. Low-level PvP is very affected by the disparity in power between a character with heirlooms and one without. As well, heirlooms remove much of the "upgrading gear" game while leveling. You never replace your heirlooms, so you never experience the thrill of getting a better bow or chest piece. I think that does suck a lot of the fun out of the leveling process.

I wonder if the Death Knight solution would have been a better way to go. Rather than speeding up leveling for someone who doesn't really want to level, maybe it would have been better to simply allow them to skip the leveling process.

You could sell a level 80 character to someone who already has a max-level character. Either for real money, or put in a way the max-level character can earn the extra character. But if you liked leveling, you could still level the old-fashioned way. It would be easy, but not as easy as heirloom-assisted leveling is.


  1. I guess you're right, but then I wonder how many of the people who think it is too easy are also not using the heirlooms? I'd guess that most players are happy to accelerate through the levels. I know that I am more than happy to skip through the pre-85 experience. If anything I'd be happy to do the wrath content several times instead of doing the Cata content again. I prefer Wrath leveling zones.

    It sounds like a very "Vocal Minority" to me, where there people speak up constantly about anything to make themselves feel superior or better (somehow!?).

    So keep the heirlooms, and add more each expansion. I guess I'd support a leveling skip if a new class was added akin to the DK.

  2. I think my point is more that if the game is easy without heirlooms, what is it like *with* heirlooms?

    In some respects, it might be more interesting if heirlooms functioned in the opposite manner. If they made the game more *difficult* for experienced characters.

  3. I agree. The current 'solution' is like the worst of two worlds. By making leveling faster they also make it worse. - But not fast enough to be worth it, really.

    The only saving grace are lfd dungeons right now, where you can pull as many mobs as you want and thus create your own difficulty and accomplishments.

    But Blizzard desperately needs another solution to this problem.

  4. The problem is that the XP boost doesn't have an item cost. It should have one and you might end up with a gear like:

    +10% XP gain
    -10% AP
    -5% crit

    They had negative stats in vanilla.

  5. I'd prefer having the stats of the heirlooms without the XP gain.
    I've levelled recently with and without heirlooms, and the survivability heirlooms gives you is great, but if you want to quest and enjoy levelling, the XP gain is just ridiculous.

  6. I would agree that not upgrading many pieces for many levels (made worse by guild-reward extra heirloom slots in Cata) sucks alot of fun out of leveling.

    It's like raiding with "auto-adjusting" gear (which would be ridiculous suggestion in current system) - you immediately vendor/disenchant many quest and dungeon rewards.

    And you cannot just "refuse" to use heirlooms - they ARE optimal for leveling. Just not fun; and cutting optimization in favor of fun for "expert player" (the one who can get heirlooms) isn't really easy - you KNOW better ways, and unless you frame it as "personal challenge", refusing to use them is hard.

  7. Yes, you can tell the difference in low level PvP, where you may have to wait 10 levels before you can replace some gear. If you quest and BG your way up the chain, you can be stuck being severely outgeared until you reach L58 and can get Outland greens.

    In instance running it's not so bad, but BGs do make the difference obvious.

    Actually, one of the worst disparities in leveling via BGs is 75-79 one. Once some people get to L78 they can start equipping those Cata greens via the AH (or their other toons) and can rip through BGs like a hot knife through butter. That's easily fixed (just make Cata greens L80 minimum), but Blizz hasn't taken that step yet.

  8. I think it's dependent on perspective. If you're just trying to level an alt, they're fantastic. I've taken characters from 1-85 in less than a day of /played using heirlooms, which for what I was after(Classy Dwarves) was a very good thing.

    For things like PvP, again, it depends. If you're in a twink bracket where XP is locked, then you're doing it wrong by not using heirlooms. Leveling brackets, well, there have always been folks twinking there, so while it may be more pronounced now than it was back in Vanilla, it's something rare, and no big deal as a result IMO. Sympathy to those who level through PvP but run into nothing but twinks, though.

  9. Completely apart from the heirlooms, part of why Cataclysm questing feels easy to veterans is because of the extremely narrow range of self-adjustable difficulty. You simply cannot attempt red-level quests or make a stab at soloing group quests in the 1-60 experience anymore, as those opportunities don't exist. It's extremely easy for the levelling experience to feel homogenized when all the way through, the difficulty lies along a very narrow band with little opportunity to skip ahead.

    Really, the change that's needed is for Blizzard to drop the minimum level required to pick up quests. Players with heirlooms can then challenge themselves while still benefiting from bonus experience. Plus, it's easier to compensate for levelling too quickly past certain zones by jumping into higher-level zones earlier.

  10. They just need to accept that thier design decisions made all the "other stuff" you do irrelavant to what they considered the "real" (raiding) game and let those that agree with them bypass the leveling. Or fire the developers that had that idea and start over with WOW2

  11. I've leveled both with and without heirlooms. In a way, since both are way off the curve, the heirlooms don't make it much worse. It's a but like breaking someone's ankle after you've already busted their knees. Sure it's worse, but they can't walk anyway.

  12. I think the heirloom system works mostly ok from my perspective.
    I just finished levelling a Mage to 85 with full heirlooms along the way.
    My goal however was to get a second char to 85. I wasn't too bothered about the levelling experience so much. The gear I did have to upgrade was very transitory anyway, so until I got to about lvl 83 I wasn't looking too closely at it (other than for future transmogging purposes)
    If you really want to experience the levelling and the rewards that come with it, you simply don't use heirlooms.
    The DK experience was a good idea, being able to skip a large number of levels but leave enough levelling to learn how to play the class. The downside is at the moment, DKs (and any other classes after lvl 58) have to level through old style content in Outland which can seem very painful. WotLK content is better, but still not as streamlined as 1-60 and 80-85.

  13. Leveling itself is a huge problem right now. It gets worse with each expansion. Although leveling a new toon in Cataclysm was more interesting because of the new landscape, the difference was marginal.

    First of all, with heirloom gear you out leveled the zones before you finished their storylines. Second of all, leveling is now a grind. It takes a lot of time and most of it just feels like a chore. If the classes were harder to play, maybe it would be more worthwhil. But rotations and how to optimize your performance change drastically once you hit 80. It's only when get most of your abilities that you can learn to properly play the class. Second, I don't think even new players are challenged by the pve content while leveling. In dungeons they will probably get grouped with experienced players and if they perform poorly no one will notice. Finally, going through Outland and Northrend where nothing had changed was especially boring.
    I like Rohan's idea about starting at 80 with a gold cost associated. I feel like it would be a good reason to get players more interested in earning gold. Without putting in much effort into making gold, my toons are carrying around 50-60k without much to spend it on. Perhaps it could be an increasing scale, the first you buy at 80 costs 5k, next one is 10, then 20, etc. The levling grind will only feel worse when each expansion comes out and it takes that much longer.

  14. One thing to consider is that starting at L80 with a cost in gold means that the gold farmers will be doing a brisk business.

  15. Heh, I was actually proposing real money ($$$) or a high justice point cost. But a huge gold cost could work. Or even a veteran award, like you get a character if you've subscribed for a year.

    But the point is that instead of excessively boosting you through leveling, making that experience less fun, maybe it's better to offer the options to do it properly, or to skip it entirely.

  16. "What is it like *with* heirlooms?"

    God mode, both in survivability and leveling speed. I've a discipline priest I'm leveling. I went to Borean Tundra at level 68, and would mix in a dungeon instance with each quest "hub", so to speak, to break up the monotony of doing either activity exclusively.

    I'm almost level 75, and have yet to finish the zone, in the midst of Taunka'le Village (sp?) quests. While there was some rested XP burn early in that period, the majority has been unrested.

    WTB "Start at Level 80" microtransaction.

    @JThelen: "I've taken characters from 1-85 in less than a day of /played using heirlooms" means an average of LESS than 18 minutes per level for the entirety of the leveling process. With heirlooms, I could easily believe < 48 hours, but am skeptical of < 24. What was the secret? (Honestly asking the question)

  17. At the very least, start additional characters at 55 like the death knights do. But 55 is still a long way to go and Outland for the 4th or 5th time really sucks. I think I am on the same page as Rohan when I say that leveling is broken if it's no fun. Better to not make you go through it if all the challenging content happens at end game.

  18. Each Heirloom needs to say 'Quests may be started 1 level sooner'.

  19. I love my Heirlooms. I have been able to level four healers thanks to heirlooms,and it didn't take months to do. Way to go Blizzard for making leveling easier if you want to. They're there as an option and no one is forcing you to buy them.

  20. I had nearly a full set of heirlooms at the end of Wrath, and I stopped using them almost immediately when I saw how I was consistently outleveling quests on new alts that I only rolled up to see the revised content. Next, I stopped taking gathering professions, because that EXP (to say nothing of dungeon runs or PVP) was pushing me over. After that, I started making a point of not logging off in places that would grant rested exp (which is a bigger problem than all of the above combined) - that's right, sleeping is now for the hardcore, non-hardcore players need to stay up all night to beat zones before the rested exp causes them to outlevel them.

    In the end, I gave up and just started skipping every other zone - I would go in with rested exp and heirlooms at the lowest possible level and emerge maybe one level shy of the zone AFTER the next zone in the progression, which is fixed in one or two trips through the dungeon finder.

    The problem isn't heirlooms, the problem is the exp curve.

  21. I find heirlooms to be preferrable to another way that I've leveled toons "recruit a friend" power leveling. You can basically level 2 toons to 80, then 1 to 40 and get 3 80's. I actually like heirlooms because its still normal leveling but it allows you to get rep and you can work on things like the "crusader" title for alts. I've got 6 85's already, so I don't technically NEED more, but I personally like leveling most of the way up.