Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Musings on Outland post-Wrath

My Fury Warrior stormed into Outland yesterday, cashing in 150% rest exp to leapfrog levels 58-60. As always, it's a lot of fun to replace ilvl 48 random green gear with ilvl 81 quest rewards that could have occupied level 60 raid loot tables. Still, this all made me think of some quirks of leveling once Wrath goes live.

- Early quests were brutally hard
As a level 58 warrior in generally low quality gear, those first few quests were pretty tough solo. I had to play around with my usual combat strategies, and really things didn't settle down until I'd replaced both of my weapons and some of my other gear (which, thankfully, occurs quickly in Outland). Of course, part of that is a quirk to the jump from WoW to TBC; Blizzard made a general decision to make Stamina cheaper on items, and introduced a lot of additional statistics in 40-man level 60 raiding that weren't present on level 59 or lower gear. The jump to Northrend may not be so pronounced, but it still might be tough on new Outland characters post-Wrath. Especially since....

- Blizzard says levels 60-70 will be faster.
I can see the need to let new players get to the level cap (where all the players are) quickly, but this could seriously muddle the balance waters. When TBC launched, I played my mage heavily enough that he never had more than a few bubbles of rested EXP, so I actually set foot in the Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley before I hit level 70. My Pally, on the other hand, was only played when he had rested exp available, and he dinged 70 somewhere midway through Blade's Edge Mountains. My point being, the earlier you finish and leave Outland, the worse your gear is going to be for Northrend.

- Weapon Skill needs to die
Those quest reward green weapons I picked up early in HFP? A sword, which I hadn't used in 5 levels, and a dagger (which I hadn't used in over 30). Getting these weapon skill levels up to usable levels was not fun (and people kept jumping in to "help" with mobs, I suppose thinking that I must be in trouble given how slowly the mobs were dying). Now my axe and mace skill are lagging by two levels. I also haven't used a 2handed weapon since level 5 (i.e. 25 2H mace skill, 1 skill in all the others). Over on my Pally, I'm actually toting around all of the various 2H weapons so that I can switch to a new one every time I gain a precious skill point, in the hopes of maybe maxing them all before Wrath. This has to end. If they really wanted to keep the concept of weapon skill, the least they could do is set the floor at 5 levels or so below the player's current level, so that you'd be rusty for a few minutes but not entirely useless.

- Speaking of 2H weapons, OH HAI Titan's Grip
Fury Warriors are getting the ability to dual wield 2H weapons in the expansion, in exchange for slower attack speed. This means that it's worth having a pair of the things on hand, even if I'm not using them right now. Another interesting quirk is whether they're going to have to Unique or Unique-Equipped flag existing rep reward 2-handers. In exchange for my 360 unidentified plant parts (gotta love repeatable quests that dry up at honored), the Cenarion Expedition is willing to sell me a blue quality staff, which is likely to be the best 2H weapon in my possession at 62. The staff is not unique/unique-equipped, because you cannot dual wield staves currently (nor, in fairness, have I ever heard of paired staves being an especially common combat style). It'll be interesting to see how Blizzard handles this. There would be outcry if the talent gets pulled again (it was rumored for TBC), but I'm not sure if they've fully thought out the quirks of combining a pair of 2H Arena weapons, for example.

- Don't hide the content
One of the odd quirks of Outland was that Blizzard chose to squirrel away some level 60 content in the eastern half of Zangarmarsh.... where players who tackle content in the order they encounter it won't see it until they outleveled it. This was great for people who were in the beta or did their reading and skipped over the entire eastern half of Hellfire Peninsula on launch week, but arguably less useful. The good news is that Blizzard appears to have learned its lesson on this front, splitting out the starting content in half via two entry points to Northrend. Whether this will have other effects remains to be seen.


LarĂ­sa said...

You got a lvl 81 item! Thats pretty cool! Even better than WotLK!

(I KNOW it's a typo, but I just couldn't refrain myself. At a first glance I thought you were in the beta... :))

2ndNin said...

I don't think the Outland changes will be too bad, yes if you skip Netherstorm and SMV you will be lacking in certain items that make your life really much easier in TBC for the post 70 rush, however the stats on gear will be changing quite significantly (in my current gear my Paladin would sit at 800+ spell damage unbuffed!). Its always been possible to level correctly, and the initial sections of Northrend will be level 68, so a level 70 will have 2 levels on the mobs already making it much easier to grind them, its only really an issue if you come in in fresh level 68 gear (which is a mishmash of 60-68 gear really).

On weapon skill, go to the blasted lands, there are mobs there which can only be killed if you have a quest items, auto attack for an hour or so over dinner and you have 300+ of the 350 skill you require, low levels of skill (upto about 50 below your current level) are awarded pretty much one per swing, its not that hard to level (I levelled 2H axes while I was waiting for a raid).

Green Armadillo said...

@ Larisa: Hee, yeah, I don't know what beta you'd have to be in to get actual level 81 items. That actually wasn't a typo, though, I was referring to the hidden stat "item level" (ilvl), which is only viewable via addons or on websites and determines the budget items can spend on stats. Item levels corresponded relatively closely to equip levels in regular WoW, but then raiding happened. Roughly speaking, MC loot was ilvl 66, BWL stuff was ilvl 76, and Naxx loot was somewhere in the 80's IIRC. As a result, item levels got significant inflated in TBC in order to make sure they surpassed regular WoW items; early HFP quest rewards are item level 81, level 70 5-man blue items are ilvl 115, T5 stuff is ilvl 128, T6 stuff is ilvl 141, and Sunwell loot clocks in at ilvl 159.

@2ndnin: What happens when you show up in fresh level 68 gear was actually my point, since I just showed up in Outland in fresh level 58 (and below, way below) gear. As to the Servants, that is a solution, but the character in question is only level 60 now (and was 58 at the time). I don't think my tanking stats are good enough to AFK tank a (level 55 if I remember?) mob without healing. One might also argue (as I just did ;)) that the mechanic leaves something to be desired, if the best solution to the problem is to spend an hour AFK quasi-exploiting a quest NPC. Personally, I prefer the infernals outside the towns in SMV, because the NPC's will tank for you until you're actually doing damage, and it's a bit more interactive, but that's beside the point.

SolidState said...

1. If entering Outlands at level 58 was a pain, why didn't you wait until you were 59 or 60? I did that on my druid and it really eased the pain of entering Outlands with a green-wearing char. Same goes for the Outlands->Northrend transition. There is no problem here except the one you create for yourself...

2. Wowwiki reminded me that except for the "servant of" mobs in Blasted Lands, you can also use "The Ashtongue Corruptors" in SMV ( to level up your weapon skill, and they don't even hit back. You still can't go AFK due to roaming elementals but I consider that a bonus as Motes of Fire sell quite well these days :)

2ndNin said...

The fact is that weapon skill isn't hard to level, and really if you neglected it you should have a penalty, considering the time on a level to weapon skill conversion its easy enough to keep around a green weapon of each type you use and get it up, or rush level every 10 levels or so. Weapon Skill is important in the game because it affects dodge miss and parry, bosses make us lose 2.4% mitigation for their 3 levels, having your weapon skill at lower levels is simply the application of this and the training time.

In terms of entering at 68, stay till 70, or do outland. My lock entered Outland at level 62 (I was bored and ground some level 60 content),I dinged 70 basically at the end of Nagrand, having skipped Terrokar. My Paladin entered at 58, and Dinged in Netherstorm (having skipped Terrokar and not gone to SMV). Outland was never hard to ding early, and survival at level 58 wasn't hard to do, it was always just a matter of doing fights you could win, or running away. Northrend will be the same, if you don't do it right you will die a lot, if you try and rush you will die. My paladin is T5/6 (Badge loot + BT/Hyjal drops), I can do stupid things with mobs, I can run into elites and solo them and I can assume I will survive, when I started 2 mobs was a challenge at 58, but I adjusted to it, you just need to learn what to do and what not to do to make your class work.