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So as I mentioned in my last post, I started a new character yesterday. He’s now level 15 or 16 and holy smokes, World of Warcraft is holding my hand to the point where I’m feeling molested.

Now to be fair, level 15 or 16 is maybe 5-6 hours of playtime? My /played is around 8 hours but I have a habit of walking away from the computer and leaving my dude sitting around while I take the dog for a half hour walk or something. So I’m guessing 5-6 hours of actual game time. Maybe 6.5.

The new player experience really couldn’t be much easier. Everything you’re asked to do is carefully laid out for you. You’ll never have to make a decision for yourself when questing. At the most I’ve had 4 quests in my log (if you don’t count a couple of Harvest Day Event quests) and usually it has been 1 or 2. They’ve always been carefully grouped together so I got to an area, kill 10 rats (1 quest) and picking up 6 widgets (2nd quest) and killing a named mob (3rd quest). An arrow on the mini-map shows you what direction to go. In the case of a named mob, he shows up on the map as a skull so you know exactly where he is. Anything you need to collect has huge sparklies that you can see from far, far away.

Once you complete one grouping of 2-3 quests in a location you’re led by the nose to the next NPC who’ll give you 2-3 quests in the next highly specific location. (Sometimes it’s a cluster of NPCs). So far I’ve found exactly 1 quest that was ‘off the beaten path’ a bit.

If the area you have to do quests at is more than a few seconds run away, there’ll be a temporary (and on rails) mount available to take you to where you need to go. When you level up, pop up announcements tell you if there are new skills available at your trainer (who, btw, appears on your mini-map) and reminds you if you have a talent point to spend.

Speaking of talents. When you hit ten you have to pick one ‘branch’ of the talent tree to go down. That’s the first real decision you’ll make in the game after picking your class (you’ll be locked out of the other two for a while once you choose). Once you do that, you’ll have 3 talents to choose from, so that’s another decision, but as of right now I’ve maxed one of the 3 talents and am working on a 2nd and still haven’t unlocked the next tier of talents.

The level of difficulty so far has been near 0. I’ve died once or twice from not paying attention (you tend to zone out pretty quickly – like once I was poisoned and never noticed since I was watching TV while I played) but always it’s been a few seconds away from a graveyard. Health and mana regenerate like crazy so I’ve never needed to eat anything or use bandages or anything like that. Granted as a druid I can heal myself, so that probably has a lot to do with it. That poison (corruption, actually) might’ve been a much bigger deal for a non-healing class.

Now, I’ve been sortof enjoying myself just because the lore is quasi-new and I’ve been enjoying seeing how the world changes, but I would NOT want to level a 2nd Night Elf because the actual gameplay is about as compelling and mentally stimulating as playing solitaire.

Hopefully by level 20 or so things will start to branch out, but damn, this is the longest tutorial I’ve ever played through.



Comments:
17
  • I’ve been noticing this too. I don’t necessarily mind, but, wow, easy mode. Did you notice that they also tell you how to use every skill? I specced my druid into Feral and got an upgraded attack. The tooltip plain out said “This is better than skill X in all circumstances. You should remove skill X from your action bar.” Others make sure to point out that they’re good for casting on the go or to heal with etc. The regen rates definitely seem like they’re meant to be almost insta-heal after every fight. Mages don’t get any create water spell until the mid-levels of Azeroth. They really want to make it friendly for the newcomers, I guess, and I can’t really blame them. Still, the rest of us are, as you put it, feeling molested, hehe.

    It makes me wonder though, if the most fun gameplay is said to come from learning, does Blizzard disagree with that sentiment? Surely, even new players will have their class down fairly well over the first 20 levels. Really, I think this is open confirmation that Blizzard considers their dungeons to be the “real game.” That’s the only place where the game will not directly tell you everything — and from what I hear, boss abilities, loot, etc. are all readily accessible without any addons now.

    I don’t really mind though. WoW is WoW and the experience of leveling and dungeon running is fun all by itself. I don’t need all of the extra hand holding so I don’t pay attention to it. If it helps someone else, then job well done Blizzard, I guess.

  • The experience doesn’t get better past lvl 20, stays the same. They toook away all the fun, I was looking forward to leveling a new character but it feels too much on rails and repetitive with no real challenge. Seems like they want to rush you to at least level 60 and Outlands. My main peeve with WOW has always been that they went on dumbing it down but now they reached some new lows.
    Ah, I have a pally (retro), I think I had to heal myself maybe 2-3 times in 26 levels

    That’s really really wrong

  • I dony mind the revamped starter experience. Yes, it’s on rails and what not, but that just makes it feel more like a console game to me. I know, plenty of people play MMOs for their traditionally unique learning curve/difficulty level/openness, but it doesn’t bother me at all that they’ve kind of dumbed things down for the starter. Perhaps we’ll have better pugs if people are hand-held on how to use their abilities?

    @Chris – those tooltips were annoying the crap out of me. I thought they were very condescending. There is an option to turn them off though within settings so you get the traditional tooltips with the more bread and butter description of “does this, X damage, has this effect” if you want. It bothered me that I had to look that up though instead of a toggle at character creation or something. How am I suppose to make informed decisions about whether to take a talent that improves X type of damage if I can’t see how much damage each spell is doing?

    Overall though, I think they are really focusing on story-telling in the open world and I really appreciate that. Sure, we still have kill 10 rats quests, but we also have quests where we are sent to kill Big Baddie and all of the NPCs show up to help instead of just laying back to watch you dothe work.

    Also, the revamped Deadmines is a LOT of fun! You should be able to queue for it at 15 if you want to try pugging. The new bosses and quirks that come with them
    And the new trash mobs are fun. And the last two fights are awesome and hillarious, in that order. Plus the quest string system they implemented is smooth, allowing you to complete a string of dungeon quests in one run rather than having to go kill boss x, then come back to kill boss y, then come back again for the final boss.

    Overall I’m liking the changes. It’s no Vanilla WoW, but I’m liking it more so far than the other expansions.

  • I wonder what it’ll be like in the Worgen and Goblin starting areas on launch day when everyone is doing the exact same quests. I’ve already encountered times when the only quest I had to do was kill a named mob that someone else had killed, and that was with just a handful of people around (playing on Silverhand, a launch server).

  • Wow, sounds like Blizzards turned the initial levels into a really bland experience, that’s a little disappointing not that I’d planned to resub anyway. It’s kind of like hearing about an ex-girlfriend who’s really let herself go.

  • Yup. But from what I’m hearing on Twitter this morning, you, me and @muthax up above, are in a minority. Everyone else loves the carefully dolled out, never ask the player to make a decision or have to think for his or her self for a moment, never have the player in any kind of danger, experience.

    WoW has truly become the Disneyland of MMOs, at least in the low levels.

  • I’d not call it bland, at least, not for a new player. For a scarred veteran who has seen it all, though, the whole game is going to see bland.

    This is design to get new players into WoW. It’s solid for that purpose. It’s not meant for veterans. I, for one, like that swing of the pendulum away from only catering to the endgame crowd.

    …that said, I really want to throw a true newbie in front of the game and see what happens. Let’s do it For Science!

  • I’d argue that 11 million or so people managed to get through the old “newbie experience” all right.

    Like I said on Twitter, if they let vets bypass this ‘newbie experience’ once they’ve played through it once, I’d be less annoyed by it. Because the first time through you get to read all the quest texts and stuff and get the story goodness out of it.

  • Didn’t Blizzard publish numbers that suggested 70% of characters never got past level 10, though? Sure, some of those are bank alts and the like, but that’s a significant number. Also, there’s a fair number of complaints about players who don’t learn their class, though that’s usually at the endgame. Seems to me that teaching players how their class works is a Good Thing.

    How many of those 11 million players got through the newbie experience *despite* the design? They obviously hung in there, but could that number be *bigger* if the newbie experience was better? We may never know, but I think it’s hard to look at it without testing on some real newbies.

  • Yeah but this isn’t teaching a person their class. They don’t have to use any but a few skills. My Druid uses 3 skills, assuming the mob lasts long enough (it often doesn’t).

    I just think of the guy coming from, say, Counter Strike, and spending 4-6 hours pushing 2 buttons over and over again. This is going to convince them that WoW is an exciting experience?

    Yes, it’s super easy so maybe they can draw our moms into it, but it’s all extremely repetitive. You’re teaching people that they can pay $15/month to play this really repetitive game…how many are going to go for that?

    The way I see it, Blizzard has done 2 things right:

    1) Made it really really easy and non-frustrating for brand new players to get started
    2) Built in to that, a nice storyline to teach new players that yeah, there’s story, lore, a world here

    What they have totally failed to do is:
    1) Give players (during the first levels, I can vouch for the first 18 at this point but it’s just starting to change at 18) any kind of challenge. I’ve been stealthing between missions just to avoid aggro and the extra exp that comes with fighting random mobs, and I’m still way over-level for the quests I’m being offered. With no challenge, players fall back on just using a couple of convenient skills and don’t learn their class at all.
    2) Give players any sense of excitement. Everything is so safe and scripted that the actual gameplay just feels dull and boring, in spite of some nicely written questlines.

    How about a difficulty setting? New players could leave it at a default setting and experienced players could bump it up a bit. Could they do that with phasing? Or maybe be injecting alternate/optional quests that a player never even sees unless they’ve toggled an “Advanced Player” flag somewhere.

  • …and endlessly raiding in the endgame for $15/month *isn’t* repetitive?

    But yes, a difficulty slider might be nice. Except… you can *always* make the game harder on yourself. I took my level 19 Dwarf Hunter from Ironforge to Wailing Caverns last night. The run through Darkshore and Ashenvale was hairy in a few places, and I didn’t quite make it through the Horde gates between the Barrens and Ashenvale. Luckily, the Spirit Healer in the Barrens took pity on me and whisked me to her place, where I just took the penalties and resurrected in the graveyard. Sneaking through the North Barrens to WC was tense, and I was mercilessly slaughtered once by a trio of Hordies.

    There’s plenty of challenge off the beaten track. I find it interesting that those who complain about wanting challenge can’t be bothered to go find it.

  • “…and endlessly raiding in the endgame for $15/month *isn’t* repetitive?”

    I certainly never said that. I don’t see the appeal of endgame raiding at all. I don’t do it. For me, ‘growing’ the character IS the game.

    So you’re saying we should say to hell with the narrative and the lore and go grind? I thought Grinding was a big problem, too?

    We can’t have challenge and some kind of narrative continuity? It’s an either/or thing?

    I mean sure, I could delete all my armor and weapons and that would make it more challenging too. Or just not use skills. I was trying to stay within the spirit of this new progression through narrative content and following quest lines to get gear upgrades… that’s what makes MMOs fun for me.

    Y’know what else would work? Let us turn off combat experience, like EQ2 does. Then you could prevent your character from outleveling the quests he’s given.
    Or are you suggestion that Joe New Player should know the

  • “Let us turn off combat experience, like EQ2 does.”

    Yeah, I’ve thought about that a lot recently actually. I think it’s a good idea.

    “We can’t have challenge and some kind of narrative continuity?”

    Thing is, challenge is widely variable. There’s no golden mean for challenge that will make everyone happy. The story can be the same for everyone (and it will be unless choices are implemented in the quest structure and storytelling), but the challenge will always be different because people are different (and classes are different, for that matter). Until there’s a way to make the game tune to your particular challenge taste, you’re going to have to do it yourself.

  • […] so some might have me […]

  • […] last week. I hadn’t planned to but I was curious about the new 1-20 experience after reading Pete’s thoughts, and I was eligible for a 10-day free trial. So I figured why not and rolled a Dwarven Hunter on […]

  • You can already turn off XP gains any time you want by visiting the appropriate NPC in SW/Org. Blizz don’t really advertise the feature much, since it is there primarily for the benefit of battleground twinks. Leaving XP turned off for a zone or two early in the levelling process would probably get you to a point where you aren’t spending all your time doing green quests. You may catch up to the quest levels over time, so it may end up being necessary to periodically switch off XP at later levels as well.

    That said, challenge while levelling is going to vary enormously based on how quickly you’re trying to level, how many mobs you try to kill at once, etc. If killing one mob at a time is too easy, try two. If that’s still too easy, try 3. How far can you push it before they get the better of you?

    Playing a class that gets stealth also cuts out one of the primary mechanics that is used to kill players early in their levelling experience: mobs with a large aggro radius in relatively close proximity to each other (e.g. murloc villages).

    Then again, my main is a hunter, so being challenged while levelling clearly isn’t something that is a priority for me 😉