I share a lot of the same reservations as A New Dope about the linear questing styles of WoW and Star Wars.
Linear questing is not my favorite. While I’m not going to say I love being trekked around the world every five minutes, I like it when there’s a feeling of connectedness between zones (though that’s more a criticism of WoW, where the zones are actually next to each other, than it is of Star Wars, where the zones are actually PLANETS, and as such don’t really have a lot in common).
And while the linear style of questing does add a lot to the “big hero” style of play, it’s rough on replay value and rough on RP. Not everyone can be a big damn hero, and not everyone wants to be. If I have to suspend my immersion to be part of a great heroic quest chain, that’s time I’m not feeling lost in the atmosphere of the game and the mind of my character.
And frankly? That gets boring, fast. I don’t think you have to be a big hero to be connected to a zone or a world, or to feel immersed in a game.
I generally think Blizzard did a good job with Northrend’s zones. There were several hubs within each zone, and you could progress through them one at a time if you wanted. You didn’t need to go to Borean Tundra to finish quests in Howling Fjord. You could also skip areas you hated (the undead part of Zul’Drak comes to mind) or entire zones altogether. I’m pretty sure you can level without setting foot in Zul’Drak or even Sholazar Basin… or Icecrown, for that matter. There’s enough duplicate leveling content that you can pick and choose what makes sense for each character.
While the Cataclysm zones are somewhat like that, in that there’s enough content to be able to skip certain zones, the zones themselves are entirely linear. You can’t skip ahead and do only the Harrison Jones quests in Uldum or just the second half of Hyjal. The zones are linear, and they’re setting you up to be the big hero every time.
The new leveling zones have this same model, so it’s hard to skip areas or pick and choose. They’re also geared towards fewer levels per zone, meaning you get to see more zones as you level, but there are fewer to choose from (unless you’re leveling in heirlooms and with guild XP bonuses, where you’ll outlevel almost all the content very quickly). Combine that with the chronology issues that WoW currently struggles with in their leveling progression, and it makes even a die-hard altoholic like myself struggle with leveling new characters.
Star Wars is very similar to this model so far, and I’m told it doesn’t change much. While each character has their own class quests, which is nice, Coruscant goes from Merchant’s Gang to Black Sun to Justicar, no matter what class you are. I can’t speak to upper level areas that overlap, but I’m pretty sure the progression from planet to planet is pretty well secured.
And the Big Damn Hero complex is there too. It’s a little disconcerting, to be THE BEST at everything, instead of just part of a group. My Jedi Knight is THE MOST SKILLED Padawan, not just a skilled one. She’s also the second character I’ve pathed through Tython, and I can’t say it felt all that new and exciting, beyond the class quests.
So the jury is still out, for me, on the replay value of Star Wars. I like immersive rather than linear style questing – and I’ve always seen two as mutually exclusive. The use of class quests will hopefully help with replay value, but there are 4 sets of class quests and 8 classes, so perhaps I’ll have to explore the Empire side of things.
(I didn’t intend to be playing Empire side, but I do somewhat have an idea for a Sith Sorceror rattling around in my head.)
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