I was going to write about my 4.0 druid impressions, but that’s going to come later.


This morning, I read this post by Nils and decided to share my thoughts on the subject.


Nils mentions that while leveling now, “mobs die so fast that you cannot actually play your char.”  I absolutely agree.


My current leveling project is hunter.  I got him to level 20 before 4.0 so I could get my mount, and have since gotten him up to level 26.  He is fully heirloomed, as I already had the chest and shoulders from leveling my shaman as enhancement, sword and dagger from leveling a rogue, and had badges to burn before 4.0 so I bought the bow.  He is an unstoppable face-rolling god.


Now I know that hunters have long been held as the easiest class to level, but this is just plain silly.  I’m beast mastery specced and have a bear pet.  My bear has no chance in hell of holding threat against me unless I auto-shot and even then it’s an even bet.  With the cooldown on arcane shot being removed, I can arcane shot twice and kill pretty much any mob at my level.  I used to send in my bear to agro the mob, and then whittle them away from afar.  Now my bear basically gets halfway to the mob before it falls over.  To see just how ridiculous this has become, I had my bear run in and agro 5 mobs at my level.  Under “ordinary” circumstances, this should have resulted in my untimely demise.  I pulled agro on every one I attacked, but burned them down so fast, I ended the fight with a little less than 50% health.  That was it.


How the hell is this supposed to teach me how to run a hunter correctly?  I don’t need to trap, concussive shot, scatter shot, wing clip or anything like that.


If I want to kill a mob with absolutely no risk to myself, I do a steady shot and as soon as it fires I hit arcane shot.  Guaranteed kill before the mob gets even a few yards.


Now let me contrast this with my first leveling experience.  In early WoTLK, my first toon ever was a shadow priest.  I had no other toons to support him, no heirlooms, no cash for fancy boe gear.  I was just barely starting to use basic addons.  I could kill at best 2 mobs at a time, and that was sketchy.  One mob at a time was do-able, but usually required some downtime afterwards to regen.  If I ever accidentally pulled 3 mobs, I would pop like a grape.  5 is right out (bonus points if you got the Monty Python reference).


Some of the leveling changes that Blizzard has made have been wonderful.  For example, the mount changes.  I absolutely despise having to spend a large fraction of my playtime in travelling.  If I want to spend time running around, I’ll do it IRL.  That’s not what I want to be forced to do in a game.  Improved quest hubs, improved tooltips, more instruction at low levels as to how to play are all fantastic improvements to the leveling experience.


However, the leveling experience doesn’t challenge a player to improve their capability to play their class.  As it used to be, if mobs at your level always pulled in groups of 3, and were damned difficult to survive, if you died a few times, you were encouraged to figure out what you need to do differently in order to succeed.  They were your level, the quest to kill them was your level, surely Blizzard intends for you to succeed, so the tools to do so must be available, you just have to figure out how to do it.  This created a learning opportunity that was very valuable.  Most of the “oh cool!” moments I’ve had while leveling occurred during such opportunities, like learning that I could use power word: shield in shadow form, and that I should pull with the attack that needs a cast time so that I can use my instant casts while running away.


Now those learning opportunities don’t seem to exist.  I can simply faceroll my way through and profit.


If we complain about how bad new level 80s are in current content, I can only imagine how bad it’s going to get.  What is there in the game that encourages new players to learn how to use their abilities to succeed when they can do everything completely “wrong” and yet get to the level cap?


Okay, I realize I now sound like an old man yelling at the kids on my lawn.  Breathe…count to ten…


Please don’t think that I am touting the “WoW is easy mode, and noobs should DIAF”.  I’m not.  I want new players to pick up this game that I enjoy and enjoy it.  If someone wants to create a cloth wearing hunter and auto-shot their way through the game, that’s their choice.


But level cap shouldn’t be a complete culture shot.  If that’s their choice of playstyle, that’s fine, but they should experience enough challenges through leveling that they understand that it is NOT optimized.  So when they get kicked out of every 5 man and no raid will take them, they should at least have a glimmer as to why.


So here are my thoughts on balancing the leveling experience.  And no, I don’t expect this to ever be implemented by Blizzard or anyone else, but here it is anyway.


  • Mounts are given out at level 1.
  • You should never, ever, ever, be given a leveling quest where you travel 5 minutes to spend 30 seconds gathering/killing/etc to spend another 5 minutes traveling.  If you want to explore, feel free, but not forced to do nothing but watch your toon walk/run.
  • If you use only auto-attack on a same-level mob, you should have a 50% survival rate.
  • If you use your skills, but just spam one attack, or hammer away randomly at your keyboard, you should be able to kill a same-level mob and end at 50% health.
  • If you use your skills well, you should be able to kill a same level mob and end at 80-90% health.
  • If you pull two same-level mobs but just spam or randomly smash keys, you should have a 50% survival rate.
  • If you pull three same-level mobs and use your skills well, you should just barely survive.
  • Out of combat regen should be high enough to reduce/negate the need for downtime.
  • Gear, whether it’s heirlooms, boe, etc. should have no more than a +/-10% affect on these numbers.
  • The difficulty in leveling should not be logistics (where am I, where do I need to be, where is the skill trainer, how do I get there, etc.).  The ENTIRE challenge in leveling should be involved in how you handle and kill mobs.


/end rant