WoW class overhaul brings big changes to the lower level gameplay

Cataclysm information continues to be revealed by the testers and this time MMO-Champion has a lot of solid information to share that is actually quite informative since it details a great deal about how class mechanics are changing during Cataclysm.  Based upon how you choose to spend your talent points, each player will unlock specialty skills that define their class.  Since players are forced to choose one path and stick with it until the end, it’s quite an important decision (not that it hasn’t always been this way though).  Choosing it even more important now though. Check them out.

Hunters get Explosive Shot at level 10 if they spec survival.  Warlocks get their Felguard at 10.  Druids get Mangle.  Mages get Water Elemental.  It goes on and on.  Classes are getting their defining abilities — some of them — right from the start.  This totally changes how leveling will work now and it actually makes the prospect of playing a new class and starting over not seem so drab.  It’s going to make leveling and doing just about anything from questing to dungeons to PvP be entirely more dynamic much quicker.

This particular type of overhaul can be likened unto the changes EQ2 saw when SOE removed the archetype’s and let players just choose their level 20 class immediately.  It cuts out a lot of the dry crap that people simply dread going through just to get to the class that they want to play.  This is often a big problem with all games where characters starting out all feel the same.  When this continues to level 5, 10, 15, 20, etc it gets old.  Admittedly this will make brand new players love the classes and be bigger altaholics than ever, but it entices veteran players to reroll.

It wouldn’t hurt the entire MMO industry to consider allowing players to experience a more dynamic, diverse, and exciting low level experience.  I appreciate the idea of progressing and building up from something small though.  Character progression is important, but not at the cost of really mild play.  In hindsight it’s easy to say how classes should have all started this amazing, and looking back WoW has always had more pizazz than other games early on, but it’s still nice to see such a transition and learn from it.

I’m excited about creating alts has just skyrocketed.  Playing a Goblin Mage that gets a water elemental at level 10… yes please.

  • How about remove leveling altogether? That would be a real Cataclysm if any.

    I don’t mind leveling, but can we just have one game that is focused on endgame right away? This way it doesn’t fool anyone, nor does it take focus away from the true game. In a game leveling has no real meaning once you are 80, you cannot delevel based on death and nor does any of the endgame depend on it. In the end they make leveling useless anyway, so why even bother?

  • Well, one of the foundations of an mmorpg is to evolve and go on adventure. Skipping leveling makes it something else.

  • I hate you Anne.

    95% of the fun I get out of WoW is from the leveling game. I have a few memories from end game raiding, but the vast majority out of all my enjoyment is entirely from leveling new classes…hell sometimes just new characters of classes I already know. With my girlfriend, with my best friend, with other friends.

    There is no way the end game is the “true” game, it’s just another part of the puzzle.

  • Anne is the type of player that ruins mmos. They want to have everything spoon fed and not work or earn anything. go play fps games and leave our mmo rpg games alone.

  • I disagree with everyone. Leveling the first time is great, but leveling alts should go quicker (aka DAoC /level commands, or percentage increase to leveling speed (with a toggle so you can level with friends)).

    Leveling in most games is a horrible terrible grind, in some games the first time, in other games the second time.

    And I could picture the ability to play an MMO without leveling, in many games you start off as an adventurer or warrior or such, already trained. You march off to war and advance through the ranks to glory (and better gear).

    Why force us to grind 21909775 striped tigers for one with 15 seeds in it’s feces to complete a quest. Why not make the “leveling” simply a progression through a story? Take a concept like Tortage in Age of Conan and expand it throughout the story arc.

    Create side quests, boss fights, missions with multiple tactics (aka: solo, group, raid) which each offering different rewards.

    Create quests with multiple solutions which have different gear (or different coloured gear) or titles that you can only do once. Grukthor the Good rushes into the battle and defends the door to the hutt from wave after wave of enemies and to save the women and children inside. Grukthor the Prudent sends a few “generic guards” to the hut and continues on. Grukthor the Bloodthirsty rushes after the enemy leader and ignores the innocents, only his lust for battle drives him onwards.

    As Grukthor moves on from battle to battle he is promoted (leveled) by his superiors, receives commendations (talent points) and given a choice of weapons from the armory (phat l00ts). And in the end Grukthor the Good would at least cosmetically be very different from Grukthor the sick and twisted bastard.

    Create class-based epic solo quests that are interesting.

    I hate the grind for levels, I hate the grind for “the epic suit”. Since when was harvesting tiger feces and bear livers hours and hours and hours a day fun? Ditch the grind and make it a story.

  • Edit for the above: “Leveling the first time is great” what I meant was “to learn the game mechanics”

  • I like the new change that Blizzard had made. I believe their whole intension with this is to retain new players. I read somewhere that Wow loses 70% of their new players.

  • i agree with anne, however i think we need some leveling, just not 80 levels, maybe like 40.

  • Can someone actually point out where it says classes get these class defining abilities early on? I haven’t seen any of them as early talents on the new trees nor have I have noticed any of them early on in the skill list under each individual class. Please spoon feed me this info!

  • Nvm Keen and company. I found it… it just required more scrolling down on my part. 😉

  • Also remember, this is just the first pass. The trees might look a little ugly right now, but I can guarantee after feedback they will look a lot better. Give it a month and they’ll really start to look fleshed out.

  • I think the joy is the journey, I hate when people are leveling their 5th alt and claim that they’re bored? Really?!?!?!? You mean 5 years of playing the same game and NOW you’re bored.

    I agree with a lot of folks; leveling is fun, going from a tattered tunic with a rusty sword to a gleaming engine of destruction is a lot of fun. Would I want to do that for 5+ years? No, you cannot expect to go through the iterations of playing the same game for 5 years without some monotony?

    I have played close to 20 MMOs and I have probably beta tested just as many. IMHO WoW is the best MMO from top to bottom, EQ1 will always be my favorite since it was my first, but even EQ1 didn’t hold my interest as long as WoW. I think WoW has the best combination of leveling speed, quests, content, lore, gear progression, and yes PVP.

  • I can see both sides of the debate on leveling, to be honest. I have a ton of alts in multiple games. Sometimes I just really enjoy leveling and going through older lands and seeing things I haven’t thought about in months. But if your only goal is to “get there”, there being the max level, then you’re going to find leveling to be boring and repetative.

    When I’m leveling alts, I try not to do it all at once, but play as long as it’s fun, then take a break and do something else. Then, when I’m feeling nostolgic, I’ll go back and pick them up again. The leveling experience always feels fresher that way. I only start to feel really frustrated with leveling when I have a strong drive to get to the ‘end’ of the game.

    I like that Blizzard is making an effort to really refresh the game. New folk won’t care as much, but those of us who have been playing for almost 6 years definitly will. And while I’m sad to know that the world I’ve played in for so long will be changing drastically, the ability to see things new again really makes up for it in the end.

  • @Joma: /Level was possibly Mythic’s worst decision with DAoC. At the point of it’s introduction, afaik the rate of new players coming to the came was very low. Not only did it render a large amount of content from the game useless to the masses, it also meant that newer players had no people to play with and were put off with what seemed an empty world. Whilst DAoC is heavily geared towards end game (in both PvP and PvE respects), levelling is definitely a good thing.

  • I think it’s a very good move and going to help with low level gameplay tremendously. It seems as if Blizzard are trying to promote low level gameplay a lot more these days – which is a good thing in my book.

  • Hopefully its not too fun at low levels and then slows down like warhammer or a bunch of people will just have level 10 alts like I did in that game

  • @Eternity: That’s a good point. WAR started out incredibly “WOAH!” and tapered down to “Meh” by the 30’s. It’s as though I lost all drive that I had to even progress at all when the game peaked at level 8.

  • Levelling IS the “end game” as far as I’m concerned.

    Max level is retirement age.

  • I find the accusation that people with different visions of how things can be done are ruining “our” holy genre incredibly frustrating. Let’s be clear – the *developers* and their marketers are ruining your game, not people who are asking for games that eschew the orthodox MMO system. You’ll note that when WoW (or whatever) caters to people who “hate leveling”, they never actually remove leveling, they just make it easier – that’s not actually catering to people who want leveling removed, it’s, hell, catering to people who want leveling made easier, so they can get their programmed, hardwired buzz from getting new gear or another level more regularly. See how that generalization sucks?

    There are simply some people, like myself, who get zero satisfaction out of doing menial tasks and rote content that lacks any challenge, just to watch my numbers go up and get better gear. Your rewarding growth is my tedium. There is a psychological reward structure there that I simply don’t get into. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I want to be handed everything with no work.

    So, sick of the meaningless grind in MMOs, I DO go play an FPS – currently have like 300 hours in TF2, because I like the feeling of slowly building my knowledge, reaction time, aim, and forming relationships with folks on servers I frequent. I feel that experience better provides the sort of hard-earned progression that feels rewarding to *me*, not what some developer has deemed to be the most rewarding activity at the moment: Raiding this month, PvP the next month, etc.

    So when folks like me ask for an end to leveling, many of us really just mean we want to replace the 300 hour grind of level capping and then gearing for raids with a 300 hour grind of learning geography, tactics, strategy, skill usage, and improving our reaction time and game knowledge – just skipping the part where we’re forced to be at a huge handicap in PvP due to bad gear, or the bit where we’re forced to spend 5 hours learning how to use “Heal 8 – now with more Heal!”

    As another example, I’m perfectly happy with Guildwars 2’s increase in the level cap, because they have a robust sidekicking system (you can go back to older content any time and get back-leveled to help the people in that zone) and anytime you want to do competitive PvP, your character gets boosted to max level and gets access to all skills and items. Decouple the things I want to do from the leveling grind, and I can enjoy the trip to level cap for what it is, rather than experiencing it as nothing but a cock block keeping me from doing what I really want to be doing.

    Sorry for the rant, I just get so sick of this circular firing line different wings of the MMO player base get into. WE ARE NOT ENEMIES. We all want the same thing – for us each to have a game that caters to our own preferences. C’mon, group hug.

    Man, I gotta get some sleep, I’m really wound up 🙁

  • There was alot of unjustifiable hating being dropped on Anne. Reread what she asked for “one game that is focused on endgame right away”; a single MMO that might cater to people who share her style of play. Calm down she isn’t trying to steal your toys, she just wants one of her own to plat with…

  • Most mmo’s have all been dumbed down although most of you don’t know it because you haven’t played some of the first mmos that have came out. This includes having auto map features, quest icons to show who gives what quests, they show you exactly where to go for your quest items, etc etc. If you have played eq1 and you look at todays games they have made them far too easy.

    Leveling in todays games are a JOKE. You can basically hit max level in most of the mmos today with a solid month of playing and people still cry that leveling is too hard and takes too long. In WoW guys can level to max in 4 days played and you still have people crying that leveling is too slow.

    Back in the EQ1 days it would take you a couple months to hit max level and the great thing was it was fun as hell getting there. Everyone wants access to the best gear in the game without working for anything. What is wrong with learning a boss fight, dying a few times while learning the fight, coming back another day to kill him and finally get the loot. People cry because they wipe after a few tries on a boss fight.

    If you can’t see that todays mmo’s have been dumbed down enough then you haven’t bene playing mmorpgs for long. I don’t know how much easier people want these games, hell I don’t even see how they can make games much easier.

    I honestly can’t believe that people want games where they are automatically max level, and automatically have all the best items, spells, ablitlies. Don’t you realize that getting to end game is part of the experience, end game is not the only part of a game worth playing. This is why I tell people to go play their FPS games. FPS are made for you. You are basically max level, bascially have or can get the best equipment right away, and everyone has the same stuff generally. Let’s keep that to the fps genre and keep it away from the mmorpg genre.

  • I’m not impressed by what I’ve seen of the new talent trees: sure you get a big boost at 10 then it’s back to grinding up to max level with talent points coming even more slowly than before (though I guess you’ll level faster).

    What really bugs me is that the stripped-out trees leave almost no room for thought or experimentation because everyone can easily fill their chosen tree and have a handful of points left: end result is even more ubiquity among the way people spec – every Prot Warrior will be 99% the same, all Frost Mages identical and so on.
    They may as well not have talents trees and just hand out the powers as you level (as they have done at 10) with the only “choice” being your specialization.

  • @ Intruder

    I think I disagree with your analysis, at least to the extent that you think the new system will lead to uniformity in talent choices. In my opinion, having fewer points leads to the use of more “cookie cutter” type talent specs because players have less choice in which talents they pick.
    Thus, or whoever else will figure out which talents are “essential” to fulfill certain roles (like tanking or PvP) and everyone will pick only those talents, with very few points left over for experimentation.
    By contrast, when a player is able to take all of the deemed “essential” talents to fulfill a particular role and then some, those extra points can be freely spent in other trees. This allows experimentation in finding which talents better compliment an individual’s playstyle, or fulfill a more precise role (such as off tanking vs. main tanking or arena PvP vs. BG PvP), or even to compliment a particular group makeup the player is found in frequently (such as making talent choices based on a raid composition consisting of 3 or 4 paladins).
    Personally, I’d rather not have to worry about choosing between several talents that are all deemed “super-critical must-haves” and would prefer to be able to “play around” or experiment a bit with lots of different builds to see what works best for me, without worrying about whether or not I will be able to fulfill my chosen role.

  • Address the article again. Reading it over again I can see Keen is more of an silly man then originally thought. The ‘dry’ part of the game only became dry because the game itself wasn’t improved. When you let your game ‘go’ (Blizzard isn’t keeping it fresh) then one of the things that of course need to do will be to bribe everyone by giving them a whole lot of core abilities eariler. These core abilities were obtained at later levels for specific reasons. Back in the day it would have been considered fresh to get one core ability at 10 or 20, but now that the game itself has gotten stale, they need to do something cheap to help fix their own problems.

    What I am trying to say is this; NO OTHER GAME NEEDS TO DO THIS. Especially new games, considering EVERYTHING in a new game will be considered fresh (unless of course it is another WoW-clone). You cannot apply the logic of a dried out 5+ year old game onto newer titles telling them to “give more core abilities at the start”. The reason why WoW is able to and is doing this is because they’ve stuffed the game with so many abilities that it is feasible to do so (instead of getting 50+ abilities evenly throughout leveling you instead get more at the start of the game).

    @ Caleb
    Do we know each other?
    “95% of the fun I get out of WoW is from the leveling game.”
    Then Blizzard isn’t doing a good enough job.

    My point, if they want to do a leveling game, go ahead. But spliting the two like what is happening is moronic. Leveling needs to be a part of the core game. Yes, leveling is fun, but it becomes pointless at point B.

    You didn’t get my point. Okay, you had fun leveling, gratz. But why not create a more effective system that says you can keep having that fun at endgame (which would become the game itself, a.k.a. leveling would be removed), or a system that says that leveling itself is a core part of the endgame (and hence keep having fun with it).

    Either way, obviously you got me mixed up with someone who dislikes leveling. No, I only dislike the primative/moronic way that Blizzard is including it. That is of course, leveling most important thing EVA –> leveling completely pointless.

    @ xtinct
    You’re on a blog post about WoW and telling someone else that they suck because they want everything spoon fed? You do know that this whole blog post is about Blizzard making the game easier and about spoon feeding core abilities don’t you?

    Like, is this a joke or are you really that much of a… ya…

  • @ Anne
    I never said anyone sucked. I said people that want games super easy with no leveling and no work needed to get items and gear are ruining what mmorpgs used to be. They are making mmorpgs more like fps.

    My position is that games are getting way to easy because of the newest generation and their lack of wanting to work for anything in a game. They all want instant gratification. You can easily see this by the way games have mov ed along over the past 10-15 years.

    Once again I never said anyone in particular sucked. I said people want games to be too easy. MMORPGS shouldNOT be like FPS and that’s what a mmorpg turns into if you want no leveling, everyone being able to have the same equipment, and basically wanting a game that you can log in for under an hour and be done for the night.

    This is what a MMORPG is and should remain: (inserts from Wiki)

    Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
    players assume the role of a character (often in a fantasy world) and take control over many of that character’s actions

    many of them share some basic characteristics. These include several common themes: some form of progression, social interaction within the game, in-game culture, system architecture, and character customization.

    In nearly all MMORPGs, the development of the player’s character is a primary goal. Many MMORPGs feature a character progression system in which players earn experience points for their actions and use those points to reach character “levels”, which makes them better at whatever they do.

    most MMOs require some degree of teamwork for parts of the game.

    If you take out leveling and many of the other aspects like gear and such you are RUINING MMORPGS. If you can’t see this then your blind and this is exactly what you say you want taken out. If that is the case it no longer becomes an MMORPG.

  • @Anne

    Not intending this as an attack or anything, but I have to disagree with you that Blizzard’s attempt to freshen up their game is ‘cheap.’ Any game starts to feel old and stale after several years of play. I’m not going to claim to have unlimited knowledge of all the MMOs, but I think the fact that the company is willing to almost completely re-write and re-design their entire 1-60 experience shows that they want to keep the game new and exciting. MMOs can often fall into the trap of constant expansion so that no one ever goes back to the starting areas, so it’s interesting to see an expansion turn inwards instead.

    We’re all welcome to our own opinions of course and I’ll admit that not everything that’s going to happen in the next expansion is my cup of tea, but I still respect the company for what they’re trying to do. And I certainly wouldn’t say that no other game would need to do similar things; I think some older games would actually benefit from re-organizing their worlds. New games will always have their own appeal but that doesn’t mean that old games have to just fade away as they tend to do.

  • All this low level character love is cool and all except for the fact that I have only 2 classes that aren’t in northrend yet. I can’t help but wonder if they are putting a little too much work into the lower leveling experience. Definitely looking forward to the visual changes of the zones and being able to fly in them though!

    As a player who hasn’t missed a monthly payment since Nov. 2004 I feel like this may be the first expansion that won’t keep me busy till the next. Even with all my alts I can’t see myself staying busy for 2 years with only 5 new levels and some raids. Not necessarily complaining as that frees up time for other games I enjoy but I see people say this expansion is for the long time players when I feel the opposite. If anything it’s for the casuals who quit in between every expansion, they can now catch up to me in less time with less frustration. Just a little love to the vets would be nice, like maybe some titles or tabards to show that I leveled to 60 before any xp nerfs or some cosmetic fun stuff for being a valued paying customer for 5 years. For examples see Ultima Online, they hook their veterans up with all kinds of cool stuff that isn’t game breaking.

  • yes, why level? in fact why have to play for gear as well. everyone should start at max level with top tier armor and weapons so they can do endgame all day long. wow what a great idea!