Playing through the leveling process in World of Warcraft is nothing new to me. I started playing WoW back during the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King, when Naxxramus was the end-game raid. At this point, the grind to the top level was long and arduous, though Vanilla WoW players will beg to differ. I began as a druid because my friend/ mentor said that this is the class I would probably enjoy most. He was very right for a long time. Healing as a tree is the proper way to heal. However, I also quickly learned that I was an altoholic. For those who don’t know, an altoholic is a person who enjoys leveling numerous alternate characters.
Long story short, I now have about 7 characters that reached top level at some point. It’s given me some good insight into what I’ve enjoyed about each expansion and what I haven’t. One thing that’s always been a trend has been people’s over exaggeration for how amazing and groundbreaking each expansion is. I’ll readily say that every expansion has been great and evolved the game in positive ways, but most of the features are nothing new. It’s more that I’m glad WoW picked up some successful features from other MMOs out there. It’s not so much that they innovate, but they rather implement and perfect systems established in other places. One could argue that this is how technology and games work, but it still tarnishes my view on the new expansions.
I’ve played a fair share of lesser-known MMOs, so I’d like to look at some of these features and where they may have come from. Legion is still great, but we should always look at the origin stories.
This one is pretty straightforward, but still has a big impact on Legion’s leveling. Rather than designated areas for each level range, creatures and quests all scale to your level. So, if you are 105, all creatures on the Broken Isles will be level 105. It makes it so that you can level wherever you’d like, and you aren’t constricted to any specific dungeons. Everything is open to you from the start, and that’s fantastic. Even the dungeons allow for any character above 98 to participate. It makes things much smoother, and there’s less necessity for leveling guides (they still exist, though.).
I’d argue that the most obvious source for this is every game Bethesda has ever made, ever. Sure, those aren’t MMOs, but they’ve been running this system since at least Morrowind. The concept of level scaling has been around as long as RPGs have been around, really. Giant Bomb has made a compilation of most games that use scaling here. I just feel that Elder Scrolls and Fallout have a similar target market as WoW.
While grinding through each zone, there are certain areas that have bonus quests. These special quests just want you to kill and touch everything around. As you interact with the area, a bar fills up. Once you get to 100%, you get a large sum of experience and gold along with some class resources. It’s a good distraction while you are running through quest lines, and most of them take minimal effort to complete. This was technically introduced in Warlords of Draenor, though they really perfected it in Legion. Legion made it more open-ended, allowing for you to do whatever, as long as it’s in the right boundaries.
This style of quest has been a staple of MMOs ever since WoW started getting serious competitors. I’d personally argue that Rift started this concept with their random rift spawns, though it was a concept in infancy here. This quest is far, FAR more apparent in Guild Wars 2, where the entire leveling process is based around it.
Every heart represents one of the quests, and you more or less go from heart to heart, completing each objective. It gives you the experience, and you move on. When it’s the only type of quest available, it gets really monotonous. Sure, there were other things to do, but this was the most prominent way to level. WoW nailed it in that they didn’t over saturate with these quests.
In Legion, each class is now bound to a singular weapon that you can grow and evolve throughout the game. As you feed it more points, it grows stronger, and you gain new abilities that help your role. It’s one of my favorite new features in this expansion since each weapon gets its own skill tree, and I love skill trees. In fact, those skill trees are a completely new concept that adds a nice level of depth to your build. Unfortunately, there’s still a “best” build, so it doesn’t really add much personal choice.
I’d say this idea could very well have come from Blade and Soul. For those of you that haven’t played this, Blade and Soul had story weapons that you carried on throughout the main quest line. You’d upgrade it, level it up, and boost that singular weapon, combining it with any others you might get. It was an interesting system that was eventually abandoned because of one reason or another. However, the concepts from this feature are mirrored in the artifact weapons. Blizzard took it a step further, adding the skill trees and taking out other weapons entirely.
To be honest, this is a new one for me. To be more honest, these just feel like regular dailies that you can see marked on your map. Dailies have been a thing since Vanilla WoW, and it only makes sense to have them for endgame content buffering. However, they really did revamp this system quite nicely. At one point, you had to complete a full 25 dailies to keep up with the best players. Needless to say, this was no small task, and it was a rare soul who could actually do this day to day. Now, it’s just a simple four quests per day to receive a big reward. I may be mistaken, but I believe this is a Blizzard idea that shows a bit more innovation.
There are probably more concepts and features that I haven’t delved into, but these were the ones that most stood out to me as I played through. Some were cleaned up from Warlords, and some were streamlined. Notably, they took out the personal bases in favor of class halls, which I think was the wrong call. Those bases were so satisfying, and it made farming and professions much easier and more manageable. Not to mention, I liked having a hidey hole away from the major cities.
Anyways, I’m still going to play the fool out of WoW, no doubt about it. It’s still nicely polished, and I’m finding plenty of fun on my Shaman after reaching 110. I just want to keep everyone on a stable level of excitement when a new game releases. Wink.