Category: Leveling


My take on the forsaken

I’ve finished Silverpine on my forsaken hunter.  It was overall a fantastic experience, and I highly recommend that everyone go through it.  Welcome to the machine was hilarious.

However, through this experience, I’ve concluded that I am, indeed, for the Alliance.  The forsaken story is very interesting, yet incredible disturbing as well.  When Sylvanas and Garrosh get in a minor argument, I had to side with Garrosh.  What Sylvanas does is kinda fucked up.  Having seen her thirst for power, I can only view her as a villain.

I suppose there always was an open question regarding what the forsaken would become once Arthas had been defeated.  In my opinion, the natural order of things would be (simplified):

1. Arthas raises scourge

2. Scourge rebel, break free, and form the forsaken

3. Arthas dies

4. Forsaken live as long as they can, dying off through natural causes (rot?) and battle

5. No more forsaken

Now please forgive me if you are a hard-core Horde player.  This is no reflection on you.  I always thought that the Alliance vs. Horde argument was never meant to be a good vs. evil argument, and more of a faction vs. faction argument.  But through this experience, it seems to me that Blizzard is really giving the Horde more of an evil tint.

Or maybe I’m just reading into things too much…

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That traitor…

So I’m question along on an undead hunter that I recently made to check out some of the new leveling, as I’ve never rolled an undead before.  Leveling is an absolute joy, but I’ll get into that more later.

Anyway, I’m cruising along in Tirisfal Glades and happen upon Apothecary Jerrod.  I notice that standing next to him is someone rather short of stature.  So I take a closer look.  Oh my God!  It’s a gnome in service to the horde!

This is just plain unacceptable.  So I log off, go back to my home server, log in to my level 51 gnome rogue, journey all the way to Tirisfal, sap Jerrod and garrote Crispin.

Now I feel much better.

That little piece of justice served, I log back onto my undead hunter.  Now originally I was going to tell you all about the amazing experience that Silverpine is, but I decided not to.  My words can not fully describe the awesome.  So long story short, do yourself a favor and roll an undead, and make sure you read the quest text!  I spent almost the whole time with a huge grin on my face and was exclaiming something along the lines of “holy shit that’s awesome” at pretty much every other quest.  If this is the new and improved questing/leveling experience, then I think I might be done with raiding for a while.  I’ve got a metric fuckton of alts I need to roll 🙂

P.S. I understand the irony with using a gnome rogue to kill a traitorous gnome that I found while rolling an undead hunter to kill worgen when I’m going to race change my main (druid) to worgen tomorrow.

Mutant what?

I’ve been leveling an undead hunter on a new server to check out the non-twinked leveling experience and to see the new silverpine quests which I hear are awesome.

My thoughts on the subject will be coming in a future post, but I had to tab out and post this as soon as I saw it…

Mutant bush chicken

I literally laughed so hard I had to stop playing.  Well done Blizzard.  Well done indeed.

 

Edit.

Then I did the quest It’s Only Poisonous if You Eat It

I laughed so hard at the quest rewards I thought I was going to pee myself.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

I normally don’t really see much of a “personality” evolve in my MMO characters. For the most part, they’re just tools in a toolbox.

In my frustration with the ease of leveling, though, I’ve been taking a new approach to the situation. As a side-effect, one of my toons is developing a distinct, and somewhat disturbing personality.

My warlock is an arrogant, homicidal maniac. There, I’ve said it. Now this seems especially strange for me, as in RL I try very hard to be humble and polite, and I value life of all kinds.

But this warlock is a sick, demented murderer of all things Azerothian. It’s gotten so bad, that he doesn’t think of himself as a resident of Azeroth and potential hero. (Now he’s even thinking for himself. What have I done?)

He considers himself a raid-boss-in-training. One day he’s planning on building a lair and tormenting adventurers in whole packs as they come to kill him and take his phat lewts. He’s gonna enrage at t=0 though and totally destroy and enslave everyone that comes to challenge him.

It all started innocently enough. Taking some candles, killing some pests, nothing out of the ordinary for any up-and-coming hero. But then something happened. 4.0 dropped and he got a felguard. He’s got multiple instant-cast dot’s. The power has completely corrupted him. He was doing some of the new cataclysm quests, which involve a lot of running around (he’s only level 18 now, so no mount). He couldn’t go longer than about 10 seconds without having to kill something. Rats, squirrels, cows, low level mobs, same level mobs, didn’t matter. He would just be running along, see a nameplate pop up, target, dot, dot, send in the felguard, and just keep running. He’s so careless about it, he’s not even stopping to loot the mobs. This is just wasteful, and concerns me that the corruption may be irreversible.

After he finished what cataclysm quests he could do (the next one in the chain was bugged) he went back to doing what he does best, killing things for cold hard cash. He picked up a quest to kill 20 rabid thistle bears. He just ran through the area, dot, dot, send felguard, run to the next bear, dot, dot, etc. Eventually he had 4 bears on him so he just hit a soulburn and a couple lifedrains, popped a healthstone, and everything fell over dead. Without stopping, he went on to grab more of them and just kept on going.

Then he needed to turn in the quest. Now any normal adventurer might head back to the road and follow that back to town.

Not this warlock. Where he’s going, he doesn’t need roads. He just pointed himself straight back at the quest giver and started going. Anything he met, he killed, many times without even breaking stride.

Mercy, fairness? Totally foreign concepts to him. Non aggressive mobs in his way? Dot ‘em up and let ‘em fall.

The worst thing about it? He’s rubbing off on me. I’ve never cackled this much before. It can’t be healthy.

And the hits just keep on coming. Last night he hit level 18 and picked up rain of fire. Shit. I think my warlock just became the true harbinger of Deathwing’s return.

In order to make sure that my leveling experiences as a hunter weren’t clouding the overall view of the leveling experience, I thought I would put in some time this weekend on a number of low level alts to see how combat feels at low level in the 4.0 world.

Level 16 Warlock, Demonology spec:

At level 10 you get a felguard now.  This does not bode well for being challenging.  I find a level 16 mob and auto attack with my staff.  After I get the first hit, my felguard pulls aggro.  Auto attacking only, we finish the mob with me at 96% HP (which ticks to 100 as soon as combat ends) and my felguard at 60%.  One health funnel later and we’re both good to go.

I find another level 16 mob, dot-dot-dot, dead mob.  I think my bane ticked once before the mob went splat.

I find a group of 3 level 16 and level 17 mobs, dot-dot-tab-repeat.  Life drain.  Three dead mobs.  I’m at 100% HP and my felguard is at 95%.

I find another group of 3 level 16 and level 17 mobs and literally mash the number keys on my keyboard.  About 20 seconds later, all mobs are dead.  I’m at 80% and my felguard at 95%

/sigh

/logout

 

Level 27 Paladin, Retribution spec:

Level 27 mob, auto attack only, 90% HP.  “Uh oh”

Level 28 mob, exorcism, judge, crusader strike, dead mob, 98% HP.  “Crap”

5 level 27 and 28 mobs, consecrate, judge, crusader strike, judge, crusader strike, word of glory, judge, crusader strike, repeat, 5 dead mobs, 90% HP.  “Sonofanerfingbastard”

3 level 27 and 28 mobs, mash keyboard, dead mobs, 90% HP.

/cry

/logout

 

Level 49 Rogue, Assassination spec:

Level 49 mob, auto attack only, dead mob, 87% HP.

Level 50 mob, mutilate (which we get at level 10 btw), slice and dice, melee, dead mob, 95% HP.  Target next mob, mutilate, recuperate, dead mob, 100%HP.

3 level 49 mobs via facepull.  Mutilate, slice and dice, tab, mutilate, rupture, tab, mutilate, eviscerate, tab, melee, etc.  Dead mobs, 93% HP.

2 level 49 mobs, mash keyboard, keep getting “you need combo points for that” messages, dead mobs, 90% HP.

/sigh

/logout

 

I was really looking forward to leveling a worgen warrior in cataclysm.  Now I’m not sure I’ll make it out of the starting area.  There is literally absolutely no challenge in combat during leveling anymore.

For months now, people have been complaining about the horrible playing we see at level 80.  Believe it or not, this is only going to get worse.

I used to think that the 0/0/71 (before 4.0), gem-less, enchant-less 80s that I saw were the result of laziness, an unwillingness to actually work at playing your toon, and that you were willing to suffer through inefficient leveling.  Now I know the truth.

Nothing during the leveling process prepares you for endgame content.  You don’t NEED a proper spec.  You don’t NEED a proper rotation/priority system.  You don’t NEED gems and enchants.

The difference between mashing random buttons and an optimized combat rotation is only a few GCD’s.  Since combat time comprises far less time during leveling than the time spent moving from mob to mob, there is absolutely nothing to motivate a player to optimize.

All of the skills necessary to survive at endgame are not taught anywhere during the leveling process.  Situational awareness?  Nope.  There are no void zones, mob AOE is a joke, pulling extra mobs isn’t dangerous at all.

When any toon can solo 3-5 same level mobs, why the hell would they ever wait for a tank to pull in a dungeon?

Now it feels like leveling is nothing more than a time sink.  Blizzard may as well introduce a new RMT to buy a level capped toon with basic green gear.  It would bring in some nice revenue, require little development effort, and nobody would ever notice the difference.  Since mashing buttons seems to work all the way to level cap, might as well continue to do so on Deathwing.

The challenge in leveling

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