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Shared Topic: Leveling 1-10

April 19, 2010

Guthammer over on Blog Azeroth suggested the following topic:

A while ago Blizzard came out with the stat that 70% of its accounts don’t ever make it past level 10. While I am sure that Blizzard can put in some great analysis of their game, I am also sure that they would love to hear more player feedback on the new level experience.

Now I realize that most of us are far from newbies and we won’t be able to get into a newbies mind set perfectly (heck I am 10 years out of newbiehood for MMOs and 5 years out for WoW), but I think we can all add to the dialog about those first 10 levels, what works for you and what doesn’t.

Here are my thoughts on the subject.  As far as druids go, I think they’re in pretty good shape as a class.  If anything, give newbies more hints about feral abilities.  Balance druids get a look at Wrath right out of the gate, and resto druids get to play with Rejuvenation around level three.  There are other classes that I hear need more love (like Paladins, who, I agree, only have two buttons to push until the mid-teens).

I think there are other areas that Blizzard needs to consider as well.

Starting Zones

Nothing kills my enjoyment of a new character faster than starting zone design issues.  The overall layout of the Alliance starting zones works for me.  Your character leaves the cradle at around level four and their next quest hub has just about everything they need: profession trainers, supplies, an inn…  The same is true for Blood Elves and Tauren.  I’ve never had a Forsaken, so I can’t speak intelligently about their starting area.  That leaves… Durotar.  By all that is holy, they need to fix Durotar.  Your first stop after the Valley of Trials is Sen’Jin Village.  What’s in Sen’Jin?  Quests and a few token profession trainers, and a bunch of dancing Trolls.  That’s it.  The inn and the bulk of the profession trainers are another, rather long, jog up the road.  I have the damnedest time leveling an Orc or a Troll past about level 8 because the zone itself makes me want to gouge my eyes out with my keyboard.

Sen’Jin Village Bed & Breakfast.  Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Starting Quests

I can sleep through all of the Vanilla starting zone quests.  They’re dull.  They don’t inspire any interest in my character, their race, or any of the other NPCs around them.  With the Burning Crusade content, Blizzard learned something.  I really love the Furbolg chain on Azure Mist, and the whole Odysseus’ Landing chain that ends with you outing the Gnome?  Brilliant!  I enjoyed the whole harbor thing, and killing the Wretched in Eversong Woods.  The epic scale of the story of Warcraft was becoming evident and my characters were a part of it.

As much as I liked Azure Mist and Eversong, in my opinion, the hands-down best starting zone is the Death Knight starting zone.  Yes, I know, it’s not a 1-10 zone, but there are lessons to be learned here.  Every quest is epic and designed to teach you, the player, something.  Whether it’s about the mechanics of Death Knight play or lore, or whatever, you learn something, advance the story, and have fun doing it.  Plus, you get phased content.  Your character makes a real, observable impact on their world.

Here’s a thought: the Furbolgs of Teldrassil are planning an attack on Dolanaar.  Your assignment, as a Kaldorei, is to eavesdrop via Shadowmeld and report back to Tyrande (or Staghelm, since Teldrassil is really his pet project).  At the end of the chain you participate in an epic battle to stop the Furbolg invasion and cleanse the taint from the Furbolg population.  Once complete, all of the Furbolgs on Teldrassil are green to you.

Maybe you’re a Dwarf and King Magni of Ironforge has a special request of you.  Use your Stoneform to assist the High Tinker in developing a cure or vaccine for the radiation that’s consumed Gnomeregan.  What follows is a chain of quests that allow you (and Gnomes who have done some kind of similar quest chain) to retake the top portion of Gnomeregan from the Leper Gnomes.  When you finish, you have helped return Gnomeregan (at least in part) to its rightful owners.

I’m sure Horde players can think of similar plots.  Until I get a Troll, Orc, or Tauren past level 15, I’m not really prepared to toss anything out there.

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