Over the course of the past few months, Blizzard has been making plenty of changes that have improved the overall health of the leveling landscape. After introducing the zone-scaling technology that had been present in higher level content for ages into the general leveling experience in Patch 7.3.5, Blizzard finally made the extra move in decreasing the experience needed in order to progress from level to level.
On Patch 8.1, players will realize that leveling alts has become a much less tedious and arduous affair. From levels 20-119, experience reductions vary between percent ranges as low as 0.03% and as high as 40%. Numbers on the lower end of the spectrum are reserved for slight reductions to the experience needed to get through Battle for Azeroth content while the more staggering figures are applied to the middle levels around 60 and 70.
These much-needed changes had been absent in the game for too long now, but to finally see them implemented here on Patch 8.1 is nothing short of a godsend.
In fact, the changes to leveling have provided such a surge to the experience that I’ve found myself enjoying the old world more than much of the new content introduced in the latest patch.
While brand new experiences such as the expansion of the War Campaign and the Battle for Darkshore Warfront have kept my max level characters entertained, I’m finding a serious amount of enjoyment in things that I’ve done countless times. Except this time around, the process feels a lot more genuine. Leveling no longer feels like constant head- bashing against a wall, only to receive one level of progress in an hour of work.
Notice how I used the word “work” in the previous sentence as opposed to a word like “gameplay” or “playtime”. Leveling genuinely used to feel like work. In fact, players have often discredited the leveling experience for not feeling like part of “the real game”. Before Patch 8.1, the first 119 levels of the game felt like a consistent slog and it wasn’t until max level when the “real game” began. Now, it’s safe to say that the leveling process actually feels like part of the game as opposed to an endless chore.
However, that’s not to say that there isn’t work left to be done. Despite the fact that leveling goes by in a fraction of the time it previously took – especially during the middle levels – the process as a whole still feels daunting.
Imagine starting up World of Warcraft for the first time. All your friends have reached max level ages ago and you’re facing the massive uphill battle that is leveling up 119 times before you can even think about playing with them. By the time you maneuver your way through 30 or so zones that span over 7 expansions, your friends have already moved onto the 8th.
And despite the fact that the percentage of time that it takes to get to that 120th level has been drastically reduced, there’s still one major factor that serves as a massive brick wall – a seemingly unreachable goal – the level cap itself.
Let’s face it, 120 is a huge number – one that often intimidates new players and discourages veterans. And with 2 pieces of the leveling solution already in place, it might be time for Blizzard to consider a level squish in order to complete the equation. Sure, it sucks that a large majority of your “progress” will be lost to time, but in the overall span of the game and the health of its leveling content, perhaps tightening the scope a little bit is the best course of action Blizzard could take in order to keep things fresh and playable without having the looming cloud of 120 grueling levels hanging over the heads of players. Maybe instead of 120 levels, the game could cap itself off at oh I don’t know, 60? Yeah, 60 sounds like a more familiar, more classic number.
But with all of this in mind, it’s clear that Blizzard is heading in the right direction when it comes to leveling. And although there may still be plenty of areas that need improvement throughout the entire game at the moment, it’s obvious that the leveling experience is on the right path.
Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft