Allied Races, Leveling Revamp, and The Fresh Coat of Paint That WoW Needed?

I finally made my pre-purchase of Battle for Azeroth and have started the process I was most excited for/dreading – the leveling of a Void Elf Warlock.

This is my first time doing lowbie leveling in about 4 years – the last time I did was pre-Warlords of Draenor on the Horde side, with a Blizzcon attendee guild. The experience was as you would imgine – decked out in heirlooms, my Orc Monk kicked things down in single hits as Brewmaster.

I am not really the biggest fan of leveling to be honest, so Heirlooms and Recruit-A-Friend were my favorite tools back then. About half of my alts were friend pairs on multiple accounts of mine, multi-boxed for RaF bonus, and upon dinging max level, I would use the level grants to bring up a third alt. In fact, pretty much all of my characters, save for my Demon Hunter, Death Knight, and Priest were leveled this way in some way, with actual normal gameplay post level-80. Many of my Horde alts on other servers were the beneficiaries of the freebie boosts we’ve been getting, or are Demon Hunters and therefore get to start at 98 anyways!

So I was looking at the 7.3.5 changes with skeptical eyes. I am not the biggest fan of leveling (which is probably why I’m not super on the Classic train, TBH) and so this change has to do some work to impress me.

With that in mind, let’s examine – does it work, so far?

My answer is…yes, kind of.

Leveling Is Fun, If You Get To Press Buttons And See Stories

Fundamentally, Blizzard identified the correct targets in the leveling flow we were left with post-Cataclysm – mobs were too easy, meaning you never really got to use many of your buttons until endgame, and the experience curve was too generous even without heirlooms, which meant you’d often finish a zone story (if you decided to stay at all) with gray quests and minimal to no experience gain. The changes made to leveling have emphasized the story and quests over grinding, to a point that it seems almost silly they haven’t done so sooner. Mobs give trivial amounts of XP overall, compared to how large the quest experience is. What’s more though, is that combat itself is fundamentally different. Sure, you’re not getting the height of each class and their design nuances, but you do get a sound, decent look at the basics and are able to practice something much closer to a full rotation regularly. Leveling a Void Elf Demonology Warlock means I get to summon multiple packs of demons, empowering after each and weaving in Shadow Bolts.

This is something that I didn’t expect would make as big of a difference as it did. Being able to actually…play. It’s so clearly obvious in hindsight, but being allowed to play with a rotation and learn a class while engaging with complete quest chains and reduced need to travel back and forth across the world is a huge plus.

Dungeons Are…Okay

To be fair, I am of two minds about leveling dungeons. First of all, I do think it should be said that dungeons, even the old ones, are one of the consistently best things about WoW. It is, after all, the very point on which it distinguished itself from Everquest, Dark Ages of Camelot, and its other competition way back on release in 2004. However, I think dungeon spamming to level was never really all that great or ideal. It was a weird retrofit many people used because questing took too much effort relative to reward. The big idea with the revamp is that leveling in the world, doing quests, is a fun and enjoyable activity, and this is the critical point. If you see complaints about dungeon leveling not working as well…that is the point. Now, could we argue that Blizzard came down too hard on dungeon leveling? Yes, absolutely. I think it could remain a viable option for those that want to use it. But, consider this – is running dungeons constantly, waiting in queue and often repeating the same dungeons multiple times, really the best way to level? I would argue – no.

On a technical level, the scaling tech works really well and I like it a lot. It has meant drastically shorter DPS queues while leveling since a lowbie tank could have unlocked a larger array of dungeons and therefore can end up leading a group of players far higher through the dungeon. Previously, you’d need 20% of players in each dungeon level bracket to be a tank, with 20% healers and the rest DPS to make it work. Now, you have a much larger pool of players and from that you only need around that ratio of players to make it work – a requirement that is far easier to meet. It is almost genius, in a way – the problem of leveling dungeon queuing is hoping you have those non-DPS roles at that level and in the queue. Now, however, you just need a pool of tanks and healers that have unlocked the dungeon!

Also, gear scaling is pretty cool and solves the problems that such a change could have brought about. I’m generally meh about Personal Loot in old dungeons, especially enforcing that change on high level players soloing, but for a leveling character, it is nice to see usable gear drops.

Allied Races Make The World Feel Alive

In a way, however – these systems are awesome but would ultimately be moot if there was no reason to level. It was the problem of 7.3.5 PTR – Blizzard was idealistic that people would test the leveling, but just didn’t get the degree of play they wanted. Well, the system is designed hand-in-hand with another change – Allied Races. In any other expansion *cough Cataclysm!*, a leveling revamp would be deemed “a waste of time” and would be thoroughly shit upon. Battle for Azeroth could have had the same issue, but Allied Races do something very smart – introducing a tied-together piece of content – an end-game unlock for a new race coupled with a new leveling experience. There is this fantastic synergy in these ideas – end-game content unlocks new races, which encourage you to use moments of low available content to level new alts with new races that are in many ways cooler than the existing ones, since they have this lore we get to explore in-WoW.

It does the thing that Blizzard was hoping it would – new players alongside existing players, people leveling characters all the same, and you are far more likely to come across other people when leveling. So far, from 20-48 on my Void Elf, I have not had a play session where I have not come across at least 3 other people in a similar level bracket, doing quests. It is perhaps the closest to original leveling I have felt – and while the sense of wonderment and intrigue isn’t as high as that experience, it does recapture some of it.

Closing Thoughts

I really enjoy the process so far, and while I hear the later stretches (58+) get a bit rough, I am looking forward to moving on through!

6 thoughts on “Allied Races, Leveling Revamp, and The Fresh Coat of Paint That WoW Needed?

  1. My demo warlock is at 101 (waiting for Princess of the Mists’ Marksmanship hunter), I have a blast playing with him. I love summoning my imps and later using implosion and watch them go kamikaze :p
    And our artifact is amazing and snarky xD

    Have you seen the upcoming spell updates? Man, am I glad to have picked Demo 😀

    I agree with you, pure dungeon leveling was so easy that questing took a more time and effort. And one overgeared and overzealous tank could practically run dungeons until 85 barely needing a healer (My Blood DK only died once and it was at a Cata dungeon due to an uninterrupted Boss spell).
    And healers had to get to around level 30 before they were of any use in dungeons, which ended up being bad because it prevented them from learning well their spec(and this I speak from experience)

    In addition to that, there were way too many people queueing as tanks or healers who just did it to get faster times, when in fact had the wrong gear and had no idea how to play them.

    Indeed the Allied Races are a genius idea. And I love seeing other people while I level.

    However, with lots of people questing on zones comes the bane of these adventures: 110 ENEMY ROGUES.
    Just the other day Princess and I logged in a couple of our 110 Horde chars to hunt down a rogue who was wreaking havoc on Stranglethorn.

    I like pvp, I like knowing that at any moment I may brawl with an enemy. But ganking for me is a big No No.(Personally I’d make dishonorable kills a thing again)
    Which brings to another change I look forward to, the toggle on/off pvp mode.

    I think Blizzard doesnt want lots of realms with few players each, they are aiming to have realms with lots of people around. Not too crowded, but just enough people around so it feels…inhabited. And this world pvp update will help that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My main servers are both PvE, so thankfully I don’t encounter the rogues, but I do really wish the World PvP changes were live with this too. Especially if it could also incentivize people fighting while leveling, or introduce a scaling component. If I turn it on, it’d be fun for that rogue to have a fair fight to deal with!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. DHs and their “eye of Sauron”power xD
        I love when on my DH a rogue vanishes and I’m like “Nope. I SEE YOU” ahaha

        Like

  2. Awesome summary, and everything written is my thoughts exactly. I could only add variety on top. Leading 4 allied toons now, I’m making sure they never repeat leveling zones, and that became possible. A vast range of leveling options at 20, then half of the old world becomes available at 40. Not to mention completely skipping Northrend or Outland if you feel so.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think we all agree that the changes are for the best. Questing is (I hate it when Ion uses this word) meaningful for several reasons. I smiled at my own grumpiness at the quest givers making be run back to where I just was to do the next step and then back and forth again and again.
    My experience has been brief but leveling up a little to get your spells that interrupt or your “special” really helps and … did you that you can use Drums of Fury at level 20? Glider kit too.

    Liked by 2 people

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