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Warlords of Draenor Instant level 90: The good, the bad and the ugly

Blizzard announced a couple of weeks ago at Blizzcon that they’re planning to implement a system that will allow every ‘World of Warcraft: Warlord’s of Draenor’ license one instant boost of a character straight to level 90. This basically means, for every account you have, you’ll get 1 instant boost to a level 90 character, whether they be level 1 or level 89. Pretty straight forward. In this post we’re going to go through the good, the bad and the ugly.

First of all, let me just say I’m on the fence about this one, with my feelings of this new feature swinging from “for” to “against” almost daily. Secondly, there are a lot of views out there regarding this new feature so I’m going to try and bring you all of them from an impartial point of view. As in… I’ll try not to take sides…

But let’s take a look at how “level 90 instant character boost” will be implemented from what we know so far.

  • You must own or have purchased all World of Warcraft licenses up to and including Warlord’s of Draenor, the new expansion.
  • You can only use this feature once per account. Additional boosts require additional accounts and therefore additional purchases of all expansions.
  • You can hold onto your boost and save it for a rainy day.
  • It’s all about getting your friends into(or back into) WoW without playing catchup.
  • If you’re boosting an old character, it will be cleaned up, with unrelated quests, bag items etc being removed so you can start fresh at 90.

So now we know how it’s going to possibly work, let’s first take a look at the positive effects this feature will have for players.

The Good

Everyone loves a gift. A free level 90 with every Warlord’s of Draenor license is a gift to all, including old/existing, returning and even brand new players. And it’s good for all types of players.

Old/Existing players have the opportunity to have another alt, maybe a class or faction they’ve never rolled before. Perhaps all of your friends changed guilds but you weren’t able to follow. Now you’ll be able to roll a brand new level 90 on their realm/faction without having to go through the level grind again. Perhaps you’re bored of your class and you’re looking to change things up come the new expansion, this makes it possible without having to do that early level grind again.

Returning players, no matter what stage they left the game, be it Vanilla, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King or Cataclysm, they’ll automatically be caught up to level 90, ready for the new expansion.

And for brand new players, those that haven’t ever played before, will enter the game and be able to instantly join their friends that invited them to play, rather than spend time levelling up on their own, trying to play catch up while watching their friends doing high level content.

It puts every players at a somewhat level playing field. I say somewhat because a current player is going to have a better grasp on current game mechanics than new players and even returning players, but technically they are on a level playing field. As pointed out at the Blizzcon panel, the whole point of an MMO is to play with your friends and this feature is going to deliver that.

The Bad

The WoW community has been discussing this since it was announced and there has been a few comments on “people can just buy extra accounts to get extra 90s and transfer them to their original account”. This could be a true possibility and Blizzard have acknowledged it. With this acknowledgement they’ve also spoken about considering opening up this feature as a paid service instead of just a one-off.

For us, we’re not too phased either way. Whether other players have additional 90s that they paid for makes no difference to the way I play the game. It’s not going to cause me to enjoy the new expansion less. When you’re logged in to a game and you see a level 90, without context, they may well have levelled it from level 1 and you’re none the wiser. In fact, if it does bring new/returning players to the game, then what’s really the harm!

It also seems that this feature could make some players, those who levelled up from level 1, feel like they’ve been cheated or ripped off, having levelled one or more alts from level 1 when everyone else simply has to purchase the new expansion. Again, we’re not phased. If you’re feeling cheated it probably means you didn’t enjoy the levelling experience. Well now you can avoid that lack of enjoyment next time with a free level 90!

Though not a game-changer for this feature, it is a shame that these new players would miss out on some of the early levelling experiences that the rest of us may have gone through. I’ll always remember that first deadmines run, questing through all those beautiful early level zones and they helped shaped me as a player today. Ok, that sounded kinda lame, but you get the idea!

The Ugly

Probably my only concern is for those that are brand new or haven’t played in a very long time. If they’re new, they’re going to be learning a new game, a new class and everything that you’ve learnt from 1 to 90. For returning players, this is basically going to have the same effect on them because the game has undergone significant changes in recent years. Not only that, but the next expansion is going to change the game again, such as the big change to stats on gear. A big change such as this also causes us current players to have to learn to play all over again, disallowing us to fully help and guide our friends.

From a healer’s perspective, I think when we’ll see the effects of this come to fruition at maximum level, when a new or returning player turns level 100, decides to become a healer and has had no experience playing a healer. With Dungeons and LFRs fairly easy to get into, considering the ilvl requirement isn’t spec specific, we could see a lot of inexperienced healers (or tanks and DPS) running around in our LFRs.

Yes, there’s no reason why a player can’t do this already, levelling from level 1 to level 100, without ever using a healing spell, without choosing a healing specialization and then upon turning level 100 respec as healer and try out LFR. Yes that is true. But there’s probably more chance that they would have at least given the other specs a go in those 100 levels then in 10 levels after 90.

Another possibly ugly scenario surrounds class balance, especially for PvP. It often takes a season or two in an expansion to get PvP balance closer to where it should be. So I can imagine a scenario where a player may hold on to their level boost until the PvP balance dust has settled. And then all of a sudden we may see an explosion of new characters using the stronger PvP oriented class. Then that class is nerfed to the ground, imagine the uproar?! “I JUST USED MY BOOST ON THIS CLASS WTF!!” – This is probably less likely though and clasping at straws a little.

World of Warcraft has recently dropped to a low (in comparison) subscriber level, seen at approx 7.6 million subscribers a couple of months ago. This instant 90 is just one of the carrots that Blizzard is dangling in front of old players to hopefully bring back those busy cities. We believe that this carrot may well be enough to bring many of them back, however it’s going to take a lot more than this to get them to stick around. We hope this isn’t a bandaid solution to the lack of subscribers simply to inflate for quarterly reports(DRAMAAAAA).

All in all, we think this should have a positive effect on the WoW community as a whole, but we’re wary of how it will make the community feel. Personally, I look forward to making another max level healer. Or perhaps we’ll try a damage or tanking class… Nahhh! How about you?

Originally published on November 29th, 2013 by on HealingWoW.com, Last modified: in the Blizzcon, Warlords of Draenor category/s.

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