Firstly since I was absent in making a blog post yesterday I feel like I need to address said lapse. I’m dealing with this horrible strain of the flu that has been going around. I was in fact one of those people who had the flu shot early in the season as soon as my work offered it, and still managed to catch it. Last week I went to the doctor and they misdiagnosed me with a bad sinus infection. As the week carried forward and I was not getting any better I went back to the doctor and this time around they thought to swab me for influenza. I feel horrible because I probably infected a bunch of people during that weeks time considering people are dropping at my work like flies. The biggest challenge of this batch seems to be thinking… as in stringing together a sequence of thoughts into something that makes sense. I tried it yesterday and failed… primarily because the topic I want to post about involves a little finesse. However here I go attempting to make a post work in between the coughing spells.
On Tuesday January 15th the World of Warcraft was once again forever changed with the introduction of patch 7.3.5 and World Scaling. You have to understand I have been thought a lot of emotional tinges about this sequence of events and it really has taken me this long to be able to sit down and formulate my thoughts. Now this is something that I had been wishing would arrive in World of Warcraft for so many years before there are lots of games out there that do it really well. Prior to the patch I had been furiously leveling a Tauren Hunter and upon logging in I had the immediate guttural reaction of “Gah! This Feels Horrible! LOGOUT!!!”. The longer I have lived with these changes the more nuanced my opinion has become, and today I am going to try and weave it all together into something that makes sense. Firstly lets talk about what leveling has been like for the last few expansions in the heirloom economy. Putting on a full set of heirloom items turned you into a god and you could pretty much roll though content with impunity. With zero hyperbole… on my beast mastery hunter I could pretty much oneshot every single mob in the game while doing level equivalent content. This had a bunch of positives and a bunch of negatives… the negative being you weren’t actually doing any of the content legitimately. The positive is it allowed you to tackle all of those boss level encounters and made up for the fact that the zones you were leveling in were effective ghost towns and you might never actually see another player.
The other side effect is that you could level exceedingly fast because of the sheer volume of things you could kill in your wake. You could pull big and pull sloppy and shake it off knowing there was virtually nothing the mobs could do to you that would actually kill you. This meant that on a really good night I might be able to do twenty levels of content, and on average something along the lines of ten to fifteen. It was not unusual for me to do literally all of outland in a weekend afternoon buzzing from 58 to 68 in a single sitting. The changes have firmly closed this era of the game. Speed leveling is probably still possible but the definition of fast has changed considerably. In the nights after the patch I have played with many variables but for the most part it is a really good evening if I see two dings. In addition to the lack of speed is the constant fear of death as even wearing a full set of heirloom gear I feel just as weak as if I were wearing greens. I am constantly in peril of pulling too much or the wrong combination of mobs at the same time and maybe not being able to live through the damage. Previously food and bandages had no value at all because you simply did not need them… but I find myself utilizing both again. The big boss encounters however are the problem because once again… there is no native population of players leveling through these zones anymore. There is no one in zone shouting that they need help cleansing ursoc for example… an encounter that is still mostly unsoloable for anyone but a tank with some sort of health regeneration of their own. The island full of all of the boss encounters in Grizzly Hills… I couldn’t even get through one of the mini-bosses let alone the final encounter that requires burning down the boss while also managing large waves of adds. Essentially if a quest rewards a blue item… it is probably off the menu for solo players to ever attempt because due to world scaling there will never be a time when it is far enough beneath your level to comfortably solo.
So do I mourn the old fast and silly leveling with heirlooms? Admittedly a little bit. Because it was fun to feel that powerful and get through the content that quickly. However I also realize it was a bit much and lead to all sorts of problems like being unable to kill something slow enough to complete any of those “use item while weakened” type quests. Level scaling in truth is good for the health of the game because it means everyone will be actually doing the content in the game rather than buzzing past all of it. Essentially everyone will be leveling every alt now like they were leveling their first. I am sure Heirlooms do speed things up still, but it isn’t nearly as noticeable as before. The problem I see however is that in the new economy… the survival capabilities of various classes are likely going to need to be tweaked. I’ve been playing a bit as Survival Hunter… and there are just certain encounters that I cannot handle by myself. I take too much damage and cannot chew my way through the hitpoints before they chew through mine. Survival is a fairly sturdy class, so that tells me lots of other classes are going to have pure hell in this new world order. I am not sure what sliders they have to tweak how the content feels, but this first pass feels like it lands a bit to much on the side of unforgiving brutality at times. There have been several times I have had to log out and walk away from leveling… because it was annoying me too much. Leveling alts was always my moment of zen and my happy place… and now it is stressful. Again a lot of the problems are with the fact that while the world is scaling I am still utterly alone in all of these zones with no help to be had from another player happening across my path and maybe seeing I am in trouble. The general world sorta feels the way that Argus feels at times when you are a little undergeared…. and maybe that is the problem. Heirlooms previously were supposed to scale like you were wearing the best blues you would wear at a given level. There should never be a time when you feel undergeared for the content… but unfortunately that is mostly how I have felt every moment after the patch.
Essentially it is an adjustment period, and I will have to get used to feeling weak again. I think in the grand scheme of things this is probably a good step for the long term health of the game. I just have to learn that I can’t fly nearly as close to the sun as I used to.