Sunday, November 1, 2009

The lowbie world revisited

Sometime ago I wrote about how the old world needs to be changed, along with the basic premise of low-level instancing. I doubt that anyone from Blizzard read it, but in the end Cataclysm was announced and it looks like all my alt-loving, lowbie needs are going to be fulfilled. The problem? Before we got to play all the new stuff, we’ll have to wait. The closer we’ll be to the cataclysm, the more unbearable it’s going to be.

I just tried this out, leveling my priest Pillbox. It took me some 3 weeks to get him to 60, and most of the time it was a nasty chore. Since I usually hang around on my alts, the old world is all I see. Doing the same-‘ol, same-‘ol all over again was a strain on my sanity. Here are some basic problems of re-running old world content:

Having to put up with bad/nasty/hard quests – it’s been a long time since WoW was introduced, and you can clearly see which parts come from the crap era, which I’d define as the time when level cap population of vanilla had to get some new goodies to keep them interested. That’s any zone from 50 to 60, really.

I have no idea what happened there, but I’m glad that the philosophy behind quests in places like Winterspring and the Plageluands didn’t live on. The grind is nasty. The difficulty has been crancked up. The storylines are crap and insignificant. Some places seem tremendously out of tune, like the Redridge Mountains which go from easy to incredihard in a short time. Don’t get me started on the quests that have you flying all over the damn continent – one of them took around 30 minutes to get an item from Un’goro to Darnassus.

You just chore through to get to the Outlands, and then suddenly you realize once again why the game is so awesome. Proper quest rewards and short downtimes guarantee that you want to soldier on.

Doing lowbie instances with, well… lowbies
– there’s a reason people are screaming at the top of their lungs about the new LFG tool, due in 3.3. Old world instances were fun, but the only way to do them right now is to hang around in LFG while you quest and hope for 4 other random folks to plod along at some point.

The problem is experienced players stay in their cozy eighties shoes and don’t alt that much, and if they do, they just bring a friend along. You’re stuck with folks who are getting to grips with the game, and it’s always a pally trying to tank without having a concept as to what it really entails. The few instances I healed through were especially tough on me as a healer. Hopefully this’ll change.

And anyhow, places like Stratholme or Scholomance are a lost cause. You can do them for the story, but with Outlands looming around the corner, the gear rewards are pointless. I spent three hours in Strat last week and worked my ass off to the point of exhaustion. We did the plague part and failed in the human district eventually. The gear lasted for three levels. Due to the sheer lunacy that the Plaguelands are, I neglected to take the quests, so I missed out on the story, too.

Dealing with the crazy economy Tobold actually wrote about what I was going to say here. The basic gist is that due to fast alt leveling, you’ve got lowbies with bucketloads of cash. You can sell an item for 20 s to the vendor, or plop it down on the AH for anything from 5 to 50 gold. By the time you get to Outlands, you can either gear yourself up or get a proper flying mount. It’s all fine, just… not the way it was supposed to be (I hope).

Working through nasty learning curves – The short’n’sweet lowdown here is that with most classes, you facemelt from 1-10 and then get roflstomped from 10 to 30. I got no idea what the big idea behind this is, since eventually things level off and even a priest can kick some serious ass. The problem is it doesn’t apply to all classes – a warrior or a pally work fine, while a priest or a rogue are crap. It does guarantee some balance in the end – I’m sure the initial lack of useful abilities stops a lot of folks from rolling rogues, and maybe that was the plan. I dunno.


All in all, everything kinda works out at the end – there’s 11 million people playing, after all. Still, the differences in how the game was made before and what they’re doing with it now is spectacular. With Cataclysm, we’re sure to geed more of the good stuff and less fail – unless they have a change of heart in regard to their core philosophies.

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