Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Does the Old World need and Overhaul?

Well, look at this.

A month and a half into my blog, and I’m slacking already.

I have plenty of ideas for posts. I just seem to lack ‘finish’. I’ve also started plenty of posts, but find them all lacking. Usually they start out fairly well; then I stop and read over what I’ve written and think ‘what’s the point I’m trying to make? I can’t find it!’ and that’s where I grind to a halt – but not this time!

A recent-when-I-started-writing-this-but-not-anymore thread on Ten Ton Hammer suggests that Blizzard needs to update the Old World. Levels 1-60 are stale, they say. The quest hubs are poorly designed, the quests are boring, and that levels 40-58 in particular involve too much traveling. He compares the Old World with both Outlands and Northrend and finds, not surprisingly, that it is lacking. He further suggests that Blizzard streamlines some of the quests and questlines to make them more like the newer zones, and appears to say they should add in new quests (I may be reading into it. His exact quote is: 'What would be nice, is enough quests in a series of closely linked zones to level through 40-58, and then other alternative zones, so that with one alt you can level in one region (eg. the south of kali), and then another alt you can do different quests and kill different mobs in another place (eg. the north of east kingdoms), so that you don't end up doing the same quests over and over. It would make it a much more cohesive, varied and enjoyable experience that would match the rest of the game.'

Now, I have to say there are some valid points made here and in some other similar threads on TTH and elsewhere. The chief one is that the ‘modern’ world of the World of Warcraft is miles above the Old World in many ways: graphics and scenery, innovative quests involving vehicles, storylines, and quest hub designs. In particular, the hub designs are so much better than they used to be. I was reminded of this while questing in the Zim’torga section of Zul’Drak on my No-longer-Secret Warlock last week (Yes, I joined my main’s guild): I picked up a quest to go to the northeast and kill a nasty mob. Two nearby NPC’s then sent me to the same area to gather items and kill other mobs. This pattern is pretty typical of Northrend design, and while there’s a fair share of making multiple trips to one place type of quests, you can usually knock out two or more quests in the area at the same time. It’s a far cry from finding out that you need to kill Araj the Summoner for the key to Scholomance after you’ve already killed him as part of Alas, Andorhal (or vice versa); and don’t get me started on the multiple quests that have you running back, forth and back again between Westfall, Lakeshire, Darkshire and Stormwind – several times. While those particular quests served a purpose beyond getting booze or appealing for more help – they directed you into new areas with potentially new quests – they were a brutal time sink in the days before you could get a mount at level 20, especially the first time, before you picked up all the flight paths.

In general, I have little sympathy for Berniemac’s plea for updating the Old World. Why? Note again what Bernie said: ” so that with one alt you can level in one region (eg. the south of kali), and then another alt you can do different quests and kill different mobs in another place (eg. the north of east kingdoms), so that you don't end up doing the same quests over and over.” (emphasis added) Bernie and the others who agree with him are looking at it from the perspective of the veteran, someone who’s run multiple alts through that content. In fact, Bernie states in the very first line of his post that he’s leveling a Rogue AND a lock, and that they’re both in their 40’s – no wonder he wants the Old World redesigned! How many times can you run the same content and NOT find it lacking, especially if you have other toons that have been to the Golden New World?

The issue here is,to twist a phrase commonly seen on the forums ‘Old content is old’. If you’re like Bernie, you’re going to be bored with it, having run it a half a dozen times. If you’ve recently been running around Northrend (or even Outlands), it’s going to pale by comparison.

Does that mean it needs an overhaul?

In my view not at all. Beginning at least with , the XP needed to reach 60 was cut, along with an increase in XP gained/quest. We’ve seen more recent developments (mounts at level 20), heirloom items, recruit-a-friend, all designed to make the leveling process faster. How much faster? Upon reaching level 80, my warlock had completed 180 fewer quests in the Old World than my main, who leveled past 60 before patch 2.3. Around level 60, I bought my lock a set of heirloom shoulders and he sped through Outlands, only doing significant questing in Hellfire, Zangarmarsh and Nagrand. In comparison my Paladin, had to complete most of the quests in those zones, plus Terrokar and Shadowmoon Valley before hitting 70. Even without the benefits of a ‘rich uncle’ toon for heirloom gear, or recruit-a-friend speed, leveling is pretty speedy.

What about the other argument – the one that says Azeroth is ‘stale’? Again, consider that the people who are complaining the most are the people who’ve gone through it over and over and over. I had a recent conversation with a guildie who’s in his level 50’s on his first ever toon – he’s loving the game, and has no complaints. The world is certainly not stale to him and, while I’m sure he’s had some annoyances with some of the old quest hubs, they haven’t diminished his enjoyment of the game or his desire to play. I think that’s the most important thing here. Blizzard has catered very much to the Altoholic out there by making many of these changes already. They have to make sure that they don’t ruin it for the real rookies, the ones that have never been through this before. Leave the Old World alone, I say; it’s not broken. It kept me interested enough to play to end-game (twice!), and it’s still working for the rookies. Let’s not ruin it for the new kids coming up.

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