My Alliance guild has a dream: a dream to unlock the Stay Classy achievement. Not a guild to do things the “normal” way, our GM started a little Pandaren hunter and went about leveling in the most peculiar way; a way that many of us veterans may not even consider in this day and age. He isn’t wearing any heirlooms. He hasn’t stepped foot into a dungeon. He will not leave a zone until all quests are complete. He has enjoyed leveling in this way so much that he has started another character. Oh. My. God. What is this madness? Cat, you’ve been hanging around with those pesky Pandaren too long and they have filled your mind with crazy notions like, “slowing down” and “taking it easy”. To that I say, “Bah!”.
I mention this push by our tiny guild and the method our guild master has chosen to level as a response to the WoW Insider Community Blog Topic this week, where Robin asks us, “Is leveling too easy?”. The short answer, for me at least, is a resounding YES. It’s so easy that it’s mind-numbingly boring. I have been playing World of Warcraft for eight years now and I have lost count of how many alts I have started. Even with the zone revamps, there is still a lot of the same ol’, same ol’ and I do not enjoy it anymore. For me, it’s all about the end-game and those 90 levels in between are just a massive inconvenience. I am not an achievement hunter, I am definitely no completionist, and most of all, I am a time-strapped parent who wants my instant gratification now, dammit! So much so that when the Scroll of Resurrection was first released I totally reactivated my old account and paid the $25 so I could transfer my instant level 80 to my main account. Leveling is very much an inconvenience that does not provide the kind of challenge I am looking for, purely because it’s faceroll easy mode.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
The thing is, not everyone is me. Not everyone has been playing for so long that even the new content is old, and not everyone has the kind of attitude and play style that I have. There are people like my GM who enjoy going back to basics and just immersing themselves in the world. There are achievement junkies who have to FINISH ALL THE THINGS! There are even others out there who take the leveling challenge to a whole new level, like the Iron Man contest we saw spring up last year. The game does provide a challenging experience if you’re dedicated enough to find it. Just because the option is there to faceroll your way to 90 and people like me choose to take that path, it doesn’t mean that the game is too easy. It just means that players are more inclined to take the option that allows them to achieve their goals the fastest. Time is money, friend.
The other factor that us seasoned veterans may forget is that while we may find World of Warcraft combat and questing a snooze fest, not everyone has been playing for as long as us. There are the younger players, the people new to computer games and indeed MMO’s in general who will naturally take longer to level as they learn how to play. Not to mention that there are 90 freakin’ levels for a newbie to get through. That must be a daunting prospect enough as it is for a new player, so imagine how off-putting it would be if suddenly Blizzard ramped up the difficulty and you were faced with a leveling experience similar to Vanilla? Gross. Regardless of or not you believe that the World of Warcraft node of new players has been exhausted, new customers are definitely something any smart business wants to attract. Since so much of the game revolves around end-game content, it makes sense that the process of reaching level cap is quick and painless.
I suppose that while I consider the leveling aspect of the game to be too easy, I understand why it is that way. Does it ruin MMO’s? No, I don’t think so. There are still plenty of games out there that offer quite the challenge when it comes to leveling; Asian MMO’s like Aion and TERA automatically spring to mind and those games are still going strong. Perhaps a method of speeding up the process even further is the answer, and, if the data-mined Elixir of Ancient Knowledge is anything to go by, it seems that Blizzard agrees. Maybe one day we will even see a Scroll of Resurrection type level 80 option available in the Blizzard Store, but I don’t think we will ever see anything that allows us to instantly reach cap. Regardless of whether or not you are a pro or a noob, those few levels before cap are important for learning your class. Trust me, I speak from experience ;)
What do you think? Is leveling in World of Warcraft too easy? Share your thoughts in the comments below.