So I read two posts today about the new Recruit-a-Friend thing that I found quite interesting. Both Dechion and Bellwether have interesting takes on some of the weaknesses of this new program. (Apologies in advance if this is a bit wall-of-text-ish.)
For old players? The seasoned veterans who’ve done it all before, have a couple of level capped characters and are using the new system either as an intro to multi-boxing or a way to finally level up that rogue alt that they’d left in the dust? It’s fantastic. I have *no* problems with it for those people, and I think that it’s a fantastic way to give people more options when leveling and reduce the “grind” of doing it all again and again with alts.
Anyone that needs to reroll for class balance in a raid is in the best position to do so right now, and can even donate some spiffy extra levels to another alt they might have bumming around. It’s a fantastic system for existing endgame players.
(I realize that MY love of playing the same zones over and over again with different characters is unusual. I love leveling. But not everyone does, and that’s perfectly fine with me.)
The problem for me is what this implies for actual new players. Triple XP sounds great, until you read the stories about people who are reaching level 60 in record times. But, you say, getting to 60 faster is *great!* Well, maybe for some. Making leveling fun isn’t about making leveling faster – and making leveling faster only emphasizes the fact that leveling isn’t fun, and that end game is “where the fun is” – which I don’t think is necessarily the case.
But what about all the new players who use this system to speed through Azeroth so fast that everything is a blur? They’re now level 60 and have never played in a group bigger than two. They’ve never been in an instance. They’ve never learned how their class functions outside of the quest/leveling blur, they complained of never finding a group. Sure that was a problem before the new friend-XP business, but I can’t see how it will make that better, only worse.
Are you really going to group up and do Scarlet Monastery at level 35 if you can get to level 40 in two hours (the time it’d take to clear out the place) and not have to worry about it anyway?
Of course not.
Adding in the bonus friend-XP is going to create a lot of 2 man, insulated groups that don’t bother interacting with other groups. Nobody wants to run early instances when they’ll outlevel the gear in less time than it takes to run it – why bother with the leveling process at all?
Plus, leveling a second, solo character becomes painfully slow and more likely to cause a player to drop out after having the speed of the XP boost, especially if their newly, freshly minted 60 has to grind through outland (with its increased XP) and then finds out that their friend (who is level 70 and raiding) has no time to go and run shadow labyrinth, and his guild has no interest in bringing an undergeared character on Karazhan badge runs because he doesn’t have a clue how to play – leaving him to grind rep and daily quests by himself.
And then, what remains of Azeroth? What remains of the depth of world, the story lines, the good guys and bad guys that you learned about by doing quests? Without a foundation, Northrend becomes just another XP grind and search for newer and shinier loot that will get replaced in the next expansion with another grind anyway.
You effectively get rid of game “depth” in an attempt to speed up new players getting to the “height” of the game.
Speeding through Azeroth in small, isolated groups in favor of newer content isn’t going to make the game a friendly, welcoming place for new players. People that want depth of content will go elsewhere, and Warcraft will become even more top-heavy than it already is. Its hard enough to find your place in established roleplaying communities, but glossing over what – for a new player – is the first source of lore that people can dig into doesn’t seem prudent. I got started roleplaying because I wanted to know more about the quests I was doing. Take away 2/3 to 3/4 of the quests and then what?
The new bonus friend XP is Blizzards (questionably effective) way of “patching over” the problem of new players feeling like they’ll never catch up to their friends and never find groups – because, apparently, the end game is the only thing that matters.
Without the beginning game, what do you build the end game on?
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