Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Difficulty and rewards of Wrath of the Lich King

There have been some comments in the past days on the item level of the rewards in the next WoW expansion Wrath of the Lich King. Apparently it is planned to make the difference between TBC items and WotLK items *smaller* than the difference between pre-TBC and TBC items was. Less mudflation. What will the consequences be?

TBC was designed in a way that somebody wearing epics from Molten Core or BWL would still replace most of them relatively early with green or blue drops from the Outlands. If the green and blue drops from Northrend aren't quite so much better than level 70 drops from Outlands, the epics we gain now will last somewhat longer. Some people even speculated that WotLK would be so difficult that you couldn't do it without epics, thus forcing players to keep playing now and better equip their characters to succeed in the next expansion. Of course that is nonsense. Solving level 71 quests in WotLK must be possible in level 70 TBC green and blue gear, because of players who start WoW after WotLK comes out. You can't force future players to grind epics at level 70 to get to level 71, because nobody will be running level 70 raids any more at that time. Just think of all the deathknights, who will start around level 60 and in their rush to level up won't have great gear when they finish Outlands.

But of course players in full level 70 epic gear will be stronger than players in green and blue gear, and advance faster. And if the gear is replaced slower, they will advance faster for a longer time. Now I might be peculiar because I think leveling is fun, but to me that concept sounds as if having epics now means shooting yourself in the foot in WotLK. With epics you'll have less fun leveling because you'll just rush through it. And you'll have less fun because you'll less often have the fun experience of a gear upgrade. Where is the fun of entering the first Northrend dungeon and then disenchanting every single item you find there, because your old epics are just plain better? Me, I'm now even less motivated than before to improve the gear of my level 70 characters, as to me a grindy gear upgrade now is equivalent to skipping exciting new content later.

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