While Cataclysm has made some major changes to World of
Warcraft’s landscape, these changes in appearance are not the
only changes awaiting players in the new expansion. It’s been
said that 70% of trial members decide to quit playing before they even
reach level 10. So in an attempt to keep the interest of these new
potential long time customers and also to once again catch the fancy of
older members Blizzard has completely revamped the leveling experience.
While I personally have not managed to make the long trek to 60 quite yet on the beta server, I have started the journey and have learned much on my way through the new Azeroth. Leveling from 1-60 in Cataclysm is a far more fast paced experience than ever seen before. Compared to the leveling of the past, leveling in Cataclysm is like watching a movie in fast forward as opposed to slow motion.
In an effort to compel players to stick with the game, Blizzard has also made an effort to reduce the learning curve in game, since a large majority of players who quit early on cite difficulty to grasp the game as one of the biggest reasons for not subscribing. Stats on gear are less daunting in Cataclysm, with the removal of unnecessary stats such as Armor Penetration, Defense, and MP5 making the gearing up process more straight forward and appealing to new players. The user interface has also been completely redone, becoming easier to use, even for those just stepping into the game, and slightly more pleasing to the eye.
Blizzard has also reworked the way the talent tree system works, scaling all trees down to 31 talents and allowing players to spec into a tree then receive core talents and bonuses from that tree that normally would not be seen till much higher levels. All classes also have the advantage of being able to use any weapon available for their class, with no need to train or level it up, making the path to 60 an easy road indeed.
Leveling in Cataclysm also has a more natural flow to it. Instead of hopping all over the place at random, or finding yourself stuck with no idea where to go for more quests. In Cataclysm players are given a much better idea of what’s next, with quests clearly pointing to which zone should be the next in line. Even more appealing (at least to some) will be the fact that it may even be possible to level from 1-60 solely on Kalimdor or Eastern Kingdoms. No longer will players be forced to hop continents to complete a few quests just to venture back again. To help players easily follow the quest flow, several modes of transportation have been provided in several zones that will make life quite a bit easier for those players without mounts.
Despite the changes to keep the leveling experience more interesting, the leveling curve itself won’t be changing much. In previous expansions Blizzard reduced the amount of experience for each level, and then introduced Heirloom experience bonuses to further reduce the curve, however not so in Cataclysm. Blizzard has stated they feel the leveling curve is just fine as it is, so while you will take part in a more engaging experience while leveling, the experience needed to get there will be mostly the same.
The quests flow together, the progression feels natural and you get to truly experience and enjoy your class at a relatively low level which makes the leveling experience an enjoyable one, and one that won’t make players /facepalm at the thought of doing it all over again. Will this help draw in and retain new players? That remains to be seen but I believe Blizzard has made an excellent attempt at doing just that.
Join us on our forums to share your thoughts on the changes to the leveling experience, or your own personal experiences with it.