Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!
When an expansion is announced for an MMORPG, it is common for one of the highlighted changes to be an increased level cap. This is often coupled with the release of new zones where players can acquire the experience to reach the new level cap, and new max level content. For most people, this brings joy and excitement. After playing through two World of Warcraft expansions (and part of a third), I find the value of a level cap increase to be worth nothing. In today’s post, I will explain my disdain for increased level caps, and next week I will divulge how My WoW Clone would differ in this regard.
Level Cap Increases Are Bad
My disdain for level cap increases stems from experiencing and watching the expansion releases of World of Warcraft. I can vividly remember being ecstatic about the release of The Burning Crusade, but, at the time, I didn’t know how it would negatively impact so many other players. Being someone who never invested time into raiding or gear progression, I was looking forward to seeing the new content, and playing a different class as a Blood Elf. I believe I started noticing the negative impact of level cap increases when I started getting more into player-versus-player content. Since World of Warcraft has never made PvP a priority, any changes or additions that have been made were done to favor the PvE and raiding crowd.
Though, what I am about to discuss won’t make it sound like the game was designed in favor of PvE or PvP.
Nothing Really Matters
A core issue of level cap increases is the effect it has on content. All of the dungeons, raids, achievements, and gear from the previous level cap become worthless. If you observe how the majority of the playerbase treats the content, they will ignore everything that has come before because the only viable content is at the level cap. In WoW, this viability stems from where the best items and gear can be found. However, once a new expansion is released and the level cap is increased again, all of that viable content becomes just as worthless as the content that came before.
This is a pattern that has been repeated for every single expansion released for World of Warcraft. Yet there are still so many people buying into its bullshit. If the information about dungeons and raids found on Wowhead is correct, players end up with less content with each new expansion. If you or someone you know is the kind person who is bored while logged into the game, this could be a contributing factor. If there are too few dungeons available for players at the level cap, then the content that is there will become too familiar, and increasingly boring over time.
- Total Dungeons: 78
- Warlords of Draenor: 8
- Mists of Pandaria: 9 (including 3 redone Vanilla dungeons)
- Cataclysm: 12
- Wrath of the Lich King: 16
- The Burning Crusade: 16
- Total Raids: 35
- Warlords of Draenor: 3
- Mists of Pandaria: 5
- Cataclysm: 6
- Wrath of the Lich King: 9
- The Burning Crusade: 8
As you can see from the above bullets, Warlords of Draenor provides WoW players with the least amount of dungeon and raid content. The expansions that provided the most content for players were The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. By comparison, Warlords of Draenor only has half as many dungeons, and one-third as many raids, as either of the first two expansions. While developing sixteen dungeons, and 8 or 9 raids, is likely no easy feat for a development team, the current WoW team hasn’t been able to match those numbers with any of the expansions that followed. If this downward trend continues, people may want to avoid the upcoming Legion expansion or expect to receive no more than two raids.
There may be some who would come to the defense of Warlords of Draenor arguing the point of quality over quantity. However, I haven’t heard anyone praise Warlords of Draenor for its quality content or class design. Regardless, I have quite the counterargument to this notion of quality over quantity in World of Warcraft. Blizzard has at least 5 million subscribers each paying $15 a month, and they can’t find the time to implement more than three raids over the course of a single expansion? The last major patch was released at the end of June last year, and it sounds like the WoW players are screwed for new content until the release of Legion (whenever that is).
Legion and Character Boost Lawls
Speaking of Legion, players that purchase the expansion will “earn” one free level 100 character boost (or you can buy one now). This is another feature Blizzard implemented (albeit an expansion or two ago) to make all content from previous expansions utterly worthless. What is the point of adding new leveling content (as is done with every WoW expansion) if you can bypass it all with a $60 purchase, or for free when the next expansion rolls around? It is design decisions like this that make me wonder if the people leading the development of WoW have any brains at all. Though, this has been a question on my mind for the last 6 years or so.
While on the topic of the max level character boosts, the one granted in Legion will give players Tier 3 Garrisons. I don’t understand the purpose of providing decked out Garrisons when the function of the character boost is to allow players to get right into the new expansion content. Garrisons will have absolutely no purpose in the Legion expansion because they will remain in the alternate universe Draenor. The players will be leaving that world, and the Garrisons they grew to hate, behind once the Broken Isles continent is available. Though, it is evident this was the fate of the Garrisons feature from the moment the design was finalized for Warlords of Draenor.
Expansions Are Good
I want to clarify that I am not suggesting game developers, new or old, stray from releasing expansions. Expansions are incredibly important for the longevity of a game. They do a great deal to create excitement for the game. This generated excitement can bring new players to the game, even before the expansion releases, and give veteran players a reason to stay or come back. For a struggling MMO, that could be just the boost needed to get it into a better state.
Now, I am suggesting game developers avoid increasing their game’s level cap (should one exist) when releasing expansions. World of Warcraft, and its clones, have had to make drastic changes to features in order to compensate for the growing variables. RIFT implemented the Masteries feature when they increased their level cap to 65, because the only other option was expanding their Soul Trees which would have created complications for them (I have an idea to redesign the Soul Tree system; give me a call, Trion). The WoW dev team had to implement a Stat Squish because their game wasn’t going to handle the stupid high numbers they would reach in future expansions. However, their numbers are still getting bigger and bigger (and less impressive) with each new expansion, so expect another Stat Squish in one of the two expansions following Legion.
There’s Some Other Shit, Though
While level cap increases are a facet of World of Warcraft’s game development that I abhor, there are other factors that make the game unappealing. The routine increase of the maximum available item level is a design choice that makes content progressively meaningless (generally, during an expansion’s run). This aspect of the game’s design might be better if content could be scaled to match player power from gear, and if higher item levels didn’t break PvP balance by creating gear disparity (wait, wait, wait… WoW is not a PvP game). Another stupid design decision that exists is using the expansion’s singular narrative to drive content rather than creating content and building a narrative around it (the Garrisons feature is a victim of this failure). However, these topics are too big for this post, and shall be covered at another time.
To Be Continued…
The first part of this post has gone on a little longer than I had anticipated. I wanted to get to the actual meat of this topic, which was the stuff I would do differently with My WoW Clone. However, that will have to wait for a follow-up post. As I am writing this, the dark of the sky is starting to fade into light (morning comes). Additionally, I feel like this post got really heated (I’m not currently raging at my PC, btw), because I basically took a giant, steaming shit on one of the most popular MMORPGs. My opinion will likely upset some people, some may ragequit before they reach this part of the post, but I am expecting that.
What do you think of World of Warcraft’s overall design? Do you agree with some of the points I have made? Do you disagree? What would you do differently? Would you run a raid filled with nothing but Murlocs? Join the discussion below.
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Thanks for reading to the end. I hope you’ll be back for the next one.
War Fist out.