Don't treat me like a newbie

22nd July 2009 – 7.18 pm

I was looking forwards to running my new druid alt, Hélène, through Elwynn Forest and, more specifically, Westfall and beyond, zooming through the levels and indulging the furry in me as a DPS kitty or bear tank. But even though I am in the bright, warm countryside of Westfall and hunting down members of the Defias Brotherhood, stopping to pick flowers occasionally for alchemical studies, I don't seem to be having as much fun as I had hoped.

The druid seems boring, and although not one-dimensional there are remarkably few options available in combat. Whilst there is a hint of subtlety in spell-casting elf form—although I am heavily reliant on chain-casting the wrath spell there are options to root an opponent, cast an occasional moonfire spell and heal myself—the bear shapeshifting form has me using a single attack against every enemy, the secondary abilities being boringly defensive or useless in solo play.

I am close to discarding yet another alt character as utlimately unfulfilling when I realise the root of my frustrations. The early levels of World of Warcraft are not only designed to introduce a player to a class but also to the game itself. Players need to learn about health and the various reserves of mana, rage and energy; passive and hostile mobs, and how their differences affect a player's safety; spells, physical attacks and crowd control, either player- or mob-based; armour and weapons, and upgrading items from drops or quest rewards; quests and the quest log; and travel around zones and to new quest hubs.

There is an awful lot for a new player to learn relatively soon and the game has to achieve a smooth transition all the while it is also increasing the character's abilities in a way that keeps the class stimulating but without overwhelming the player with too much information. But there's the rub, I already know how to play the game. Having raided forty-man Naxxramas at 60th level, and conquered every five-man dungeon at the appropriate level and with at least two classes I don't need to be guided through the basics of playing World of Warcraft. I just want to get to the meaty parts of playing a druid as soon as possible, enjoying the complexity of the class as my experience lets the game itself glide past me.

It is not the druid class that is boring me but the leaden pace at which I am being fed new abilities. Having only a single attack in bear form becomes repetitive quickly, and when I already know all of the regions and quests, having been through the same content quite a few times, spending four levels with that one attack makes combat tedious enough to need frequent breaks. I now understand part of the reason why I enjoyed levelling my death knight is because of the blistering pace that new abilities and talents are gained. Starting at 55th level and gaining several new abilities every level, it certainly seems like a lot of information to cope with at a time, but I was never bored with the class during the early levels.

I wonder why the option to start a new character at a relatively high level has not been afforded to the other classes too, and not just the death knight. The restriction in needing to have a high-level character in order to create a death knight is sensible, as it shows the player already knows how to survive in Azeroth. I suppose some amount of tweaking of initial class training obviously needs to be performed, a new fast-track path of ability and talent point gains needing to be designed for each class. There will no doubt also be some players complaining about making the game 'easier' because other players don't have to suffer the same frustrations as they did.

But I would rather not have to be 'introduced' to which end of a sword to hold, or how to eat and drink, every time I start a new character when I have already hit three separate level caps with a variety of characters and classes. In my desire to stave off 80th level boredom by creating a new character I have unexpectedly discovered the drudgery involved at the lower end of the scale. At least I have identified the source of my frustration, and knowing that the druid class is not the cause is helping me persevere through the slow levels until I get enough options to make raking and ripping through opponents the visceral experience I am hoping it will become.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.