I’ve been working on a lot of long posts (expect huge post flooding to happen this weekend!) but I had to write a quickie when I saw this article on Wowhead.
Blizzard has sent surveys to some players asking about a level squish. What is interesting about the survey is that the wording suggests that the level squish is a sure thing, by saying the following:
“Are you aware that the maximum level of 120 will be reduced in the future (ie Level Squish)?”
So, let’s talk about this topic here again!
My opinion about leveling is unconventional among a lot of my blogging peers, I’ve learned. I don’t generally like leveling, and while I can enjoy the content provided in leveling, I don’t really look forward to it. I look forward to the story, but the number increasing on my character frame doesn’t fill me with joy. I do enjoy the variety of other number accrual games that MMOs offer – maxing item level, increasing stats, etc. – but doing leveling content is usually the most braindead I find myself during my MMO gameplay. In FFXIV, the first time is nice because the Main Scenario Quests are great and fill the space with story and content, and after, I can level alternate jobs fully from sidequests and dungeon gameplay, which is great. In WoW, where you have to generally do the leveling quests every time, I find less excitement in the gameplay, and I usually just watch YouTube videos or listen to podcasts while smashing buttons mindlessly.
I only preface with this to present my perspective so it isn’t shocking when I say that I don’t mind this change, if it is to be done. Leveling alts (like the 6 remaining allied race characters I have to level) would be easier, and maybe it would mean more emphasis on story and content rather than using the leveling experience as a pacing mechanism.
However, I don’t think I’ve seen a lot of support for the idea. Granted, the item squish didn’t have a lot either, and it largely has gone without controversy outside of the bugs with the second implementation. The pacing of current leveling is abysmal – the amount of time you spend without gaining anything for a level other than the number is too great, and it is impossible for me to recommend someone who really likes progression and the feeling of it to play the full leveling experience. The tweaks to experience required in 7.3.5 aren’t all that bad anymore, but the problem is that they lengthened the leveling experience without meaningfully enhancing the actual experience. A smaller level cap, like going back to 60, could be really good, in that way – give every level a meaningful bonus to keep people engaged, tweak the talent system to manage that pacing further, and it could be really good.
However, while I would hesitate to say this is absolutely confirmed – wording on surveys can often be done to pulse-check the respondents and see what is said in response – I would imagine that Blizzard has committed to a decision one way or the other by now, as the expansion development for 9.0 has to be well underway (and it certainly was in progress when I visited the Blizzard campus in October 2018). The messaging around this is going to be interesting – Blizzard inherently sells expansions on the value of the leveling experience and has always made a bullet-point in their expansion presentations about the new levels to achieve. There is a way I think they could discuss this to minimize the shock – if you talk about properly pacing the advancement of skills and demonstrate the enjoyment to be gained from that, it could be very well be received positively. Likewise, if they talk about how it gives them design space to do more, then I expect it will cause a riot.
Either way, I expect that say…around November 1st, we’ll have a lot more to say about this!