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.
Changes in Cataclysm allow
players to quest longer without incessantly stopping to eat and drink.
To help move along the leveling
process, health and mana regeneration have been amped up, leaving
players with little to no downtime. This also means that you are less
likely to get wtfpwned by an angry Elk anytime soon. Removing much of
the seemingly wasted time players used to spend eating and drinking, or
running back to their bodies, makes for a more entertaining, and quick
leveling experience allowing players to move quickly from quest to
quest without tons of distractions in between. Because if we are honest
with ourselves, it’s not very fun to watch your toon
endlessly eat bread time and again.
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
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.
New modes of transportation,
such as the Rocket Roadway, available to low level players make
questing throughout a zone less of a chore.
While all these changes sound fantastic, the real question has yet to
be answered; is the leveling experience in Cataclysm more fun than ever
before? The answer to this question in my humble opinion is a
solid yes. Leveling and questing in Cataclysm, even for the small
amount I have currently experienced, has been a rewarding, thrilling,
and almost never dull, even for someone who has played the
game from the beginning like me.
The quests flow together, the progression feels natural and you get to
truly experience and enjoy your class at a relatively low level which
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.