At the end of last year we started a new leveling duo in WoW a healer-monk and a warrior-tank. We’re sporadically playing these in between our other gaming activities (raids, Neverwinter, SWTOR sessions) and I am enjoying seeing the Cataclysm remake of the world more than expected.
The world is still immersive in that the game engine has a wonderfully long visual range. Stood in the dark forests of Darkshore you can see the trees stretch away into the shadowy distance. Other than the geological upheaval of the Cataclysm there are also some more subtle changes to the zone – e.g. the presence of silver-bordered ‘rare’ monsters. They give a guaranteed green quality item as a reward for defeating them but it’s also nice to have more challenging encounters around even in a low-level zone since we’re a pretty invincible healer-tank duo.
There’s a lot of charm and wit in the quest dialogues, I can’t remember how the pre-Cataclysm content in this zone really compared, but I am impressed by the quality of the quest writing – the various quest givers do seem to stand out as individuals.
One issue that remains is the speed of leveling something I’ve complained about in the past. At the moment we’ve just hit 20 and we’re maybe 75% through the zone so we’re not necessarily that far ahead. We have no heirloom (bonus XP) equipment though we are accruing rested XP some of the time – so it doesn’t seem too bad. That the warrior is getting XP for every mined ore node is a problem as I do not get any extra XP for killing creatures to skin. I’d rather avoid having to split up so I can go on a skinning rampage every few levels to redress this balance. Now I’m level 20 I could use monk ability Zen Pilgrimage to do bonus quests but the XP reward from said quests is pretty high and would tip the balance the other way.
I suspect Blizzard will want all players, new and old, to focus solely on Draenor when the expansion finally launches. Personally I think it would be a great opportunity to briefly redress the issues with the leveling game. I’ve read a lot online about players wanting a more ‘old-school’ experience in their MMO gaming. Couldn’t Blizzard just introduce a few per-character options to disable gathering XP or activate an entirely optional reduced XP-gain mode for leveling characters without the rush?