So in Vanilla WoW, life was different for Newbs. I didn’t get a chance to play WoW during the vanilla WoW days, but I know a lot of folks who have. I’ve listened to their stories and I’ve gotta say that the game was a lot different for folks just starting out back in those days than it is now. There was only one ‘world’, there were only 60 levels to the level cap, there were more folks to group with at lower levels, and Auction House prices were a little more reasonable (for the most part).
Now fast forward to the Burning Crusade expansion. Everyone runs for level 70. The Burning Crusade adds two new elements to the game Dailies and Heroics. These are two great new features that give players something to do aside from raiding and PvP once they get up to 70. There’s also a lot of gold to be had in them there Outlands! With shiny new gear and all this new content, folks pretty much abandoned the old world for the Outlands and never looked back. Sure they’d level an alt once in a while, but why go through all that grind when you can just hang out in Shattrah City and show off all your awesome new gear and yep a flying mount!! For folks that started the game post Burning Crusade, you now had 70 levels to catch up on, an inflated server economy because people would rather spend gold than have their main set foot in the old world, and aside from Barrens Chat, the Old World seemed bleak and empty.
This is where I entered WoW. I spent a lot of time questing solo and since I was solo leveling a Priest, I’m really surprised that I didn’t quit the game all together. I did make friends when I first started out. In fact my first 5 minutes in the game I made my first WoW friend ever who invited me over to the Horde side. Once on the Horde side I found another friend that I ran with for a few months. Once my real life friend found out I was playing she let me know which server she was on and I re-rolled a priest to compliment her hubby’s Warrior and her Mage. My buddy followed me over and rolled a warrior, but these two classes were just so annoying to level that we just eventually gave up. I quit the game for a while and he went back to his old server. When I got back to the game I got back to leveling that Priest, this time solo of course. It wasn’t fast leveling that’s for sure and it took a lot of strategy to complete quests without spending most of my playtime in the graveyard. My friend and her hubby helped me out and chatted with me when they were online, but they were almost to 70 so I didn’t see them very often since they were leveling in the Outlands. There was also only one way to get in and out of the Outlands making it a bit of a hassle for higher level folks to get back into the old world. Since there was so much to do at level 70, there weren’t a whole lot of folks rolling alts and since I started between expansions, there also weren’t a whole lot of folks starting up the game for the first time, so the old world was pretty lonely. Actually once I even made it up to the Outlands, they were pretty empty as well.
In rolls WotLK. So many sweet new features, more accessible end game content, new dailies, new flying mounts, achievements, it’s almost a whole new game. Now all of the folks who were 70 rushed up the 10 levels to get to 80. They whined a bit, but once they got there they were gearing up for end game content, doing more dailies, leveling trade skills, whining about being bored in the new Shattrah, Dalaran. Blizz did make it a little easier to get in and out of Northrend, but there’s so much to do out there, why go back to the Outlands, and so many of those folks spent so much time on the old world content that they aren’t going back, well unless they need to hit the auction house of course.
I’m feeling for folks who are starting to play WoW now, or started playing around the time the expansion hit. Now it seems like things are even more expensive since there seems to be even more gold in the new continent. Leveling has been toned down so it’s faster to get to 80, but there’s two problems with that. First off trade skills are problematic because chances are you’ll level out of a zone before you gather enough materials to get your trade skills high enough for the next zone. Less quests are required to get to the next level while that means dealing with fewer of the ‘get 50 ears for Zul’tan’ style quests, it also means less coin. This can make it a lot harder to pay for class training, travel, and mounts (training and the mount). It also makes it easier to skip group quests. If you can get the xp elsewhere and it’s too much of a pain to get a group together, why bother finishing those quests? Problem is that grouping for dungeons is a great way to learn how the skills of one class work with the other classes to take down the bosses. Without this experience there’s a ton of people that are getting up into the end game content and basically doing all the same things they’d do while they were running solo. That just doesn’t work and ends up leading to a string of wipes and a lot of wasted time (ok granted there’s probably also a lot of folks that just didn’t have the patience to get ready for and raid in the BC expansion that are now running amok in WotLK and making us all look bad).
So safe to say WoW is slowly becoming a game that’s really unfriendly to new players. Yeah the recruit a friend program is really helpful, in that it gets you to the level cap faster, but think of all the content that’s getting passed up on the way to 80.