The major problems that exist:
Since the introduction of scaling, leveling has felt increasingly underwhelming due to a variety of issues such as
Pruning has hit us hard. Originally blizzard approached leveling by throwing a ton of new abilities at players for every level as a form of “reward” which while nice, led to a lot of bloating, and homogenization. Blizzard decided to prune going into WoD, and it wasn’t bad, however a new slew of abilities and “talents” were introduced in legion giving a lot more player agency which were taken away going into BFA leaving a very empty husk.
Scaling has only worsened this problem due to the fact that as I level, I now have to fight increasingly stronger monsters, which, there isn’t inherently anything wrong with. However when you look at an RPG, some of the best have parts where you can break it. Such as getting a piece of equipment that lets you kill mobs faster, grinding to out level mobs, and the like. This creates a way of players to interact with the world around them as far as leveling and invest in their characters. Scaling naturally undercuts this and leaves players feeling weaker when they should be feeling stronger.
Currently, if blizzard wants to maintain 32 specs they cannot maintain a huge host of abilities. It’s too much to keep track of, and risks homogenization. So by doing a level squish, we either introduce the exact same problem we have now, or we had before. In short its a band-aid fix that accomplishes nothing. It also feels bad to level without your full rotation, so something has to be done to improve your experiences while leveling that doesn't also nerf your kit.
Outside of leveling and gaining new abilities, part of what is experienced is gear. Power progression. When you gain a level, you can equip new gear, that is generally more powerful. With all their attempts at stat squishing, itemization, etc it is generally unrewarding now to have new gear. The stat differences between a level 91 item and the level 91 crafted boots (which were equivalent to solid ilvl 100 gear) is minimal at best. Maybe a 50 dps difference now. That isn’t rewarding. Gear from vanilla is terrible. There is no incentive in power progression.
The most important aspect in an RPG and leveling is feeling stronger as you grow. GROWTH. You need to become better over time. If I gain a level, and I don’t grow, why does that level exist? What is the purpose of me leveling? Abilities and talents don’t offer growth, they enhance your DPS, they’re a shiny “new” thing but they’re just as empty if you don’t address these problems.
I don’t think a level squish is inherently the best idea with Blizzards current mentality and approach to RPG.
We need utility options to fight power scaling first and foremost. As long as we keep with their mentality that items need to have 30 ilvls to feel rewarding, we will continue to experience stat squishes which only conflate and make things more confusing and feel off putting to the general user base.
I also don’t want to go through 40 out of 60 levels without my full kit when our kits are already increasingly simple.
By focusing on utility, such as increased movement speed, bubbles, appearance auras and the like as well as flat % increases (to combat scaling at lower levels, that degrades over time as we enter new expansions) we are able to make leveling meaningful and change how each tier interacts.
A good example is how at 40 you get WW as a fury warrior, at 55 you gain the ability to cleave with rampage when you WW. How your abilities interact with the world around you and modify from expansion to expansion is the best way to address this going into the future.
A level squish could work, but it will not mean going 1-60 will take 6/12 hours, it’ll likely still be 24-48 hours (24 for me obviously). So that means you gain fewer levels, fewer pieces of equipment to put on, and an overall more complicated experience rather than focusing on the key points I addressed above.
How I would approach this:
1-20 – Apprentice Riding
20-60 – Journeyman Riding
60 – Artisan Riding – reduced price to 2.5k
80 – Master Riding – 5k still
The reason for this is currently, the way things are set up, getting riding skills feels, awkward. I’m leveling, I have to hearth back to town at 40 to get riding after I already just got riding at 20. So I’m headed back to town after about 2 hours. Feels awkward. The same thing happens at 70, I just got riding, 2 hours later, I’m hearthing back to town to get epic riding. The breaks need to be more appropriate with how the content has been designed so it doesn’t feel like a case of the start and stops that it does now which only makes leveling feel less fluid.
Three heirloom pieces that apply an affix to nearby mobs that increase your EXP from kills by 50% *does not affect quest xp. Would operate similarly to mythic+, things like necrotic, bursting, teeming, etc changing the way you approach mobs. The reason this doesn’t affect quest turn ins is I’m sure the coding to make it apply towards quest credit would be super confusing, so just having it affect kills but rewarding enough that killing things makes up for the difficulty significantly and will level you faster. Ideally 25% faster than without them.
These slots could be:
Gloves, Ring, and Trinket. They would also be vastly superior to other heirlooms as far as itemization stats.
Also a hardmode aura which increases the difficult of mobs to 4 levels higher than you similar to what was seen in vanilla where you could take on red quests for a larger experience quest turn in. This mode would work like WM and have a longer than normal toggle period.
Part of what makes questing boring is that many of us have seen it many times over. So lets add heirlooms that work like artifact weapons. Could be three items, like gloves, boots and trinket.
Boots might increase your movement speed by 15% in cold weather zones, or allow for healing and mana regeneration at accelerated rates during rain, etc. It’s about making the environment of expansions reflect additions in the heirlooms to not only speed up leveling, but to make your decisions more interesting while leveling.
Leveling particularly fast? Get a bonus. Completed events in a certain way? Get a bonus. Hard mode (in this case, increases mob level by 4) aura on? Get a bonus. What are the bonuses? Could be 10% exp, increase primary stat, movement speed buffs, etc. Something to aim for while questing to give the world meaning.
Also, maybe unique stats/auras to specific items to compensate for their lack of stats. So many items in WoW are poorly itemized in the old zones, maybe find a way to make up for that with interesting abilities?
So, I got this idea while talking with some viewers on stream and one of my major arguments on improving wow is how can we reintroduce RPG elements to the game to make decisions and customization meaningful for personal development and investment.
Currently hunters have pets, and we have battle pets as well. Some of them fit into different families, have different traits, and different talents.
I want the same idea with mounts, but specialized like old talent trees (purely utility).
You would have multiple different families but for this example, we will go with the following:
Bubble Boy/Girl – +1 minute to underwater breathing (creates a bubble around your mount)
Slippery when wet – Gives you a chance to “slip” out of a dazing hit if you’ve recently entered the water
Light as a feather – Your mount can now walk on water
Fishing for Compliments – Your mount now moves faster in water than on land
Tail wind – you leave little gusts of wind behind you slowing mobs following behind you
Winded – Gain a small burst of speed passively every minute, lasts 5 seconds
Wingspan – Allows your mount to glide for 10 seconds when jumping off x height
Airhead – Allows your mount to jump higher than normal
Roar – lets out a roar intimidating nearby mobs from aggroing, usable once every 2 minutes
Cowardly Lion – Increases mount speed by 3% when aggro’d by a mob
Prowl – Reduce movement speed by 10% to reduce aggro radius by X
King of the Jungle – You can pounce on enemies similar to a charge, stunning them for .25 seconds
Mechstakes were made – Sometimes while in combat, a wrench will be thrown at a nearby mob, causing them to lose aggro
Rocket Jump – Your mount is able to jump slightly higher
Rocket boost – Your mount can now fly with the power of rockets! *Not responsible for death due to falling
Xtreme Racket – Your mech now makes much louder noises, as a consequence of its increased…loudness your mounts speed has increased by 2%
Thunder Thigh High – All enemies that are walked over that are only in combat with the player will be stunned briefly.
Giants Droppings – Every now and then your mount will leave behind…a surprise that has a chance of triggering “Eww, you stepped in it” from following mobs. Let’s just say that, this stinks for all following NPCs that might lose interest in pursuing you as a result.
Catasplat – Your mount is now capable of launching you x feet in any direction
Giants Stride – Your mount can now move 2% faster due to having such a large legs span
So, there is some repetition here, and there is a lot to work out with concepts, I’m just a single person, and I don’t make the game. The idea is to have a lot of fun utility stuff that changes how you interact with the world around you. Leveling them up could be done via mount specific quests, XP earned at max level, etc. For each of them there could be a “level 6” that gives them extra cosmetic options, such as death sparkles (skulls) for invincible.
You might not agree with everything, but leveling will never go away in an RPG. So the next best thing we can do is make leveling meaningful and engaging with choice and decisions that change how we play the game in a more fun way.
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