Something deeply unprecedented has happened. Something, in fact, that I've never experienced in all my time in World of Warcraft. This morning, fighting to take the beaches in the Twilight Highlands, Ularia (introduced waaay back then) hit 85:
Ularia dings 85
I have two characters at the level cap. This is a new experience for me…
I might have a choice of characters to run instances with…
To my mind, there are only a handful of undisputed successes in Cataclysm. One of them is the new levelling experience. I've always been a quester/leveller by nature, enjoying that more than the endgame. Cataclysm has only exaggerated that. In fact, since Leafy hit 85, I've found it pretty hard to deveote much time to her and the various chores (and I mean chores) of the endgame.
The main beneficiary of this has been Halesworthy, my worgen druid. He's feral-specced, so feels completely different to Leafy to play. I charged through the worgen starting area, which is just wonderful, and found myself sucked ever onwards by the narratives of each zone. The "go to a zone, do stuff, move on" feel of vanilla has been replaced by driving (and often phased) plotlines in each major zone. It's fun, dammit, and adds another element of addiction to an already pretty compelling game.
I've started a little video series capturing some of the fun moments of the levelling experience. This probably covers Halesworthy up to his late 20s:
Halesworthy has mainly been following Leafy's footsteps through Kalimdor, as I wanted to see how much that experience changed. I can't wait to get started on another character and take them through the Eastern Kingdoms.
And as for Ularia, my space goat pally, who was labouring through Ashenvale waaaay back in May 2008, over three years ago?
Well, one ding…
…leads to another…
Yes, I finally have two toons in the same expansion for the first time since… well… um… ever, actually.
So, yes, Cataclysm levelling rocks. Pity not a huge amount else does.
Don't you hate it when you have everything lined up for a lovely, lovely ding screenshot – and somebody flies into shot at the crucial moment?
I made sure that didn't happen for the 82 shot:
Which mean that, yes, I'm at 82 and levelling nicely. And yes, I'm taking my time. If we're two years from the next expansion, I don't see any point in blowing through all the levelling content in the first week. That just seems like an utter waste to me.
I'm really hoping that Blizz has the next expansion in a state to release in significantly under a year, or that the content patches bring a whole load of extras, or this will be a really quickly consumed expansion…
So, it's possible that nearly one of you cares how my space goat pallie got on with the quest to hit 40 at the weekend?
I've finally let go of the "completist" approach to questing I had with Leafy – following quest chains to the very end and trying to clear out each zone before I move on. But that doesn't matter with an alt – I've done most of the stuff before – especially as Leafy is within a hair's breadth of being a Loremaster – and given heirlooms and levelling boosts since the days of classic WoW, I'm going to be skipping great chunks of the old world and Outlands anyway. In fact, doing Loremaster has taught me where I can find clusters of quests that can be done quickly and efficiently. And that, combined with Epic riding, meant this:
And then this:
Three levels in one day…? Inconceivable!
42 levels done. 38 to go. I think I might, finally, have got the hang of alt levelling…
Like 67.56983214%1 of the WoW blogosphere, I've been going through a period of WoW ennui right now – and I know exactly why. I've moved past the questing stage with Leafy and am now occupied solely with a combination of dailies, instancing, raiding and clearing out my remaining group quests. And, as happened in Burning Crusade, that leads to a touch of, well, boredom. I'm a narratively-driven gamer, and once you reach the end of the questing road, your narrative incentive goes.
So, I find myself just a few Champion's Wotsits away from a nice Epic weapon, but unable to summon up the enthusiasm to log in and do a few rounds of jousting to bag the reward.
And so I don't play.
And so I don't blog.
But then, the social pressure of the need for Leafy Haelz gets me raiding in lovely ol'Naxxramas last night, and we have a satisfying night, with Noth falling before us on our first ever guild attempt on him. Hurrah, us. Hurrah also my uber, Decursive-assisted, curse removing skillz. And Hurrah for guildies who are bringing their new alts into the instance. And as I look at the alts, electrons leap the vast gap between neurons in my brain, new connections are formed and an idea takes shape.
I need to get back to my alts. Nice as the idea of "completing" Northrend on Leafy appeals, it's never going to happen unless I rekindle my enthusiasm. And the best way to do that will be to get my alts, sadly neglected since the launch of WotLK, back in action.
I have A Plan. Will report back.
1The legions of researchers I have working on this blog are very precise in their investigations.
So, slightly earlier than expected, I've dinged 72. I had a little time to spare this evening, and ended up doing a Nexus run with some guildies whose healer had been called away. It was a pretty successful run – two wipes (neither on bosses), and all four bosses down. And I've done another couple of blue-for-epic swaps.
It's going to be at least a year, and probably 12 months before we see any more levelling content, and I'd rather take my time and enjoy it. And when I mentioned this to Mrs Leafy, she rolled her eyes and muttered something about "process-driven". This is something we have to work around – she's goal-focused and I'm process-focused. She wants the buzz of finishing a project, and I love the process of doing it.
And I think just the same process is at work in my guild. Some people see the magic ding as one of the most rewarding aspects of the game, and they drive after it as fast and as hard as they can. And, for some of us, the ding is almost incidental, a side-effect of exploring, and questing and instancing. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Different people get different rewards out of the game, and that's one of the things that makes it so successful. But it could also lead to conflict.
Come the end of the year, some of the guild are going to be champing at the bit to get into Naxxramas and the 10-man raiding content. And some of the rest of us are going to be still working our way through the 5 mans they've run to death by then. They're going to be frustrated because they can't get enough people together, and we're going to be frustrated, because we're going to struggle to get people together for "old hat" instances.
It's a short term problem, to be sure. The Christmas break will allow an amount of catching up to happen, and I'd imagine most of the people likely to be raiding will be at 80 by February at least. But it's another manifestation of the inherent conflicts in forming a guild by relationship rather than playstyle.
By late spring, it'll all settle out. We'll be progressing through the 10 man stuff. The fast levellers will be working on their alts, and the slow levellers will be working on rounding out their gear and rep grinds. We'll reach a level of equilibrium, that will only be disturbed if we hit a real roadblock in our raid progress. But much as I'm loving Wrath right now (and you should be able to hear all about that in the next Twisted Nether), that pleasure is tempered slightly by growing (and inevitable) division in the guild.