Thursday, June 11, 2009

Latest WoW Mount Revamp

For the second time in a one-year period, Blizzard is planning a major change to WoW Mounts. It was less than a year ago, in Patch 2.4.3, that Blizzard reduced the level requirement for the non-epic ground mount from level 40 to level 30 (with a corresponding drop in gold cost). The next patch's changes are more sweeping.

Changes and Fallout
That entry level mount will now drop to level 20, just beyond the newbie zones and literally a matter of hours into a character's life. The old epic ground mount, once an achievement that required level 60 and the princely sum (in those pre-expansion days) of 1000G, will now sit at level 40 and a mere 60 gold (compared to the 100G that the slower level 40 mount originally cost). Level 60 characters will now be permitted their entry level flying mount 10 levels early. Moreover, the speed of that mount will be drastically improving, from +60% to +150%. The epic flying mount will remain at level 70, but the training can now be discounted for faction with the trainer, a potential savings of 1000G.

Beyond the boost for players who do not want to purchase the epic flying mount training (apologies for those of you who have done so recently), this change is leveled squarely at low level alts. Blizzard is increasingly hinting that they do not want to raise the game's starting level to 55 to skip players past old-world Azeroth. Travel time in many of the old world 20-60 zones was occasionally quite onerous, and players can now look forward to substantially faster travel in each of those level brackets. That, plus a faster exp curve and the massive boost from heirloom items, might be enough to entice veterans like myself to dust off neglected old alts.

As to the reduced level for flight in Outland, I'm less convinced that this is a good idea. Much as I love zipping around places at 280% flight speed, I believe that giving players controllable flying mounts was a mistake. While Outland and Northrend were supposedly designed with flight in mind, granting players the ability to swoop into the middle of an enemy camp, avoiding all of the guards, to swipe an object or assassinate a boss and then fly out guts the challenge level of many quests. It seems especially contradictory that Blizzard went to the trouble of restricting players from flight in Northrend to get players to experience the world at ground level, only to turn around and turn all of Outland into flyover country.

Baseless speculation for the future
Looking to the future, streamlining mount progression may also be a way of paving the path to some future new level of riding skill in the next expansion. Underwater mounts perhaps? Or a revamp of old world Azeroth to permit flight?

The other interesting point is that this feature is slated for the "next major content patch", presumptively patch 3.2. Between this change, announcements about the Argent Tournament and Colosseum dungeons, and a full image gallery of new models for druid cat and bear forms, the amount of information we know about this patch is increasing rapidly. Historically, things pick up like this as the patch gets closer to release on the PTR's (at which point players will discover everything that hasn't been announced). This latest change makes me wonder if patch 3.2 might be coming sooner than people (myself included) expect.

15 comments:

DeftyJames said...

The problem I have with Blizzard's approach is that I think it is a compromise that pleases no one.

People who want to level an alt to play with their already level 80 friends, who have already seen the old world countless times, resent any effort they have to spend in the old world. They want the top and they want it now.

Meanwhile, people who have never played before are rushed through the game and thus lose an essential element in the pace and grandeur of the world.

I keep asking myself, who are these changes intended to please. And the answer I keep coming back too is that the they are intended to please what Blizzard thinks players want, not what players actually want.

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps there is some future expansion where I will go, "oh I see it now." But frankly at this point in I just don't get it.

sam said...

I'd guess they are losing way too many new players who keep listening to all the old timers leveling alts who tell them to just hurry up and get to the "real" game. From the time a new player hits the newbie zone they are told over and over again by the player base that nothing matters till end game. I've seen many a player just fade away because they were mocked riduculed and told to just hurry up and level by the old timers. They just left because the fun of their leveling experience was crushed by the low population and the old gamers telling them how much time they were wasting.

And true to blizzard philosophy they'd rather spend years in attempts to speed up the leveling curve that won't help rather than just let everyone start at 55 or higher and skip the stuff that the devs themself have categorized as something they want to help people speed through to get to the real game.

Klepsacovic said...

Making all of Outland flyover, especially at faster-than-epic-ground speed is a poor idea. It will weaken the experience for new players. I don't see a problem with flying sooner, but not immediately. 65 would be a good compromise.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

Outland isn't good enough to "experience", I'm glad they'll have the flying mounts right away.

seriouslycasual said...

I think it was a needed change, though perhaps 60 was a bit early. Some of the zones (Blades Edge Mountains & Netherstorm) seem to have been designed with flying mounts in mind. Now questing in those zones will be less tedius.

Remember that most new players are hitting Outland at level 58 and will still have to clear some Outland content before they move into a flying mount.

Yeebo said...

I want to ride an octopus, or possibly a squid. A nautilus drawn chariot would also be nice.

I think the boost to regular flying mount speed is a great change. Getting one at 60, I'm not sure. I will at least give questing in the Outlands a unique feel.

I also suspect that these changes will get a lot of players to sub for a month or two to buy mounts for all of their alts. Moving the regular mounts to 30 certainly got me to resub for a couple of months.

Steven said...

oooo-kay, even at only 4k gold now (assuming exalted with faction) if my normal flyer is now 150%, why bother?

60% vs 5000g for 280% (over a 3x speed increase)
150% vs 4000g for 280% (less than 1x speed increase)

I am so glad I did not buy Epic Flying training for my Shammy. I already had it on my main and 2 other alts, I had the cash but held off, now I don't see a point to get it for her, unless an epic mount falls in her lap... and even then...

Skarlarth and Co.
Medivh

Anonymous said...

I agree with DeftyJames. I am an "old-newbie" in WoW--I played VERRRRY casually from the time of the open beta until mid-2006. My highest level char was level 53 (that tells how casual I was!)

I restarted playing during my maternity leave in April. The pace of leveling is way too fast for me. I am leveling out of instances before I can get a PUG together, which really sucks. My new main is level 57 already--I wanted to go through BRD, Stratholme, and Scholomance before heading to Outland, but that looks unlikely now. I can see how leveling a 3rd or 4th alt can be tedious, but Blizz needs to not ruin it for new players.

They should just let people who want to skip vanilla WoW do it, or they should allow xp turnoff like EQ2.

Dorgol said...

Defty is flat out wrong. The mount changes may not please EVERYONE, but they do please someone.

I have a buddy who recently started playing. He hit level 40 and asked if there was anything "special" at that level. My first thought was "Yeah! You get your new badass talent!". But then I realized he's 20 levels from getting to the top of his tree. NOW a new player will have a "milestone" event at level 20, 40, and 60. This is a good thing.

Oh, and as someone who has leveled 5 different classes through to 70+, I'm all for this change. I've been considering a hunter, and getting an epic mount at 40 certainly makes that thought a little more attractive. Not to mention the improvements I'll see getting my DK through Outlands.

fedaykin98 said...

1) I hate levelling, and I don't care to see content from before the current expansion. I'd really prefer to start at max level, because I do believe that the end game is the "real" game.

2) These are good changes for me. Anything that makes levelling less painful is good. It actually makes playing a Horde character more attractive (I have 2 Alliance 80s), because your first mount is 20, and that's pretty easy to get to.

3) You should be able to send heirloom items to different factions, and even different servers. I don't feel the need for a third Alliance 80, but I wouldn't mind having a first Horde one.

Green Armadillo said...

@DJ and Sam: I think travel is a bit of a low hanging fruit here. Some people may not want faster exp if it causes them to outlevel quests, but there is no real benefit to the player to spending more time watching your character run somewhere instead of playing the game.

@Klep and Seriously Causal: Personally, I've leveled two characters entirely through Outland and one more halfway AFTER getting my epic flyer on my main. I remain unconvinced that the level change was needed. A flying mount sure would be convenient to bypass the cave full of cultists to get to the NW corner of Blade's Edge. Only problem is, running that gauntlet is a non-zero portion of the challenge of the local quests.

@Anonymous: The issue with the low level dungeons is that there simply aren't as many players in that level bracket as there used to be. Slowing down leveling won't make players change their minds on whether it's worth their while to LFG to try and PUG the old content, it just makes players more reluctant to roll alts. I do agree that there's limited potential for harm in allowing players to toggle off EXP, provided they promise not to get ticked later if they run out of quests to do and have to grind when they unlock their levels.

@Fedaykin: I thought I'd love to have a capped Horde myself, but I was never able to fully get into the character. I think part of it was that I have a little mini economy set up amongst my alts - I have most of the professions represented up to at least level 30 - and my poor isolated Horde was excluded for being on a different faction and server.

DeftyJames said...

GA. "but there is no real benefit to the player to spending more time watching your character run somewhere instead of playing the game." That has always been true since day one. And if that's the case why not just give everyone the mage's teleportation ability. Or let them start at 55.

@Dorgo. I think you misunderstood me. I agree with everything you say. I guess 1/2 a loaf is better than none but why just 1/2 when it costs Blizzard nothing to give the whole thing. That's what I don't get. As I said, it's the compromise I don't understand. What's the point of doing this patch by patch? I don't get it.

Giver everyone teleportation spells and then you are done with the problem and can move on to something else.

Daria said...

As they keep adding on levels and new zones I can appreciate that they want to speed up the travel. It is inevitable that changes like this have to occur.
Sure we can still be nostalgic for the good old days of WoW but we have to face that they are gone forever.
These changes are clearly aimed at current subscribers leveling alts. Bliz probably has the numbers on brand new accounts and has seen that activity drop.

It is all well and good to level a character to 80 quickly, but the real problem comes when you realize that once at max level, you quickly run out of content and/or burn out on the daily questing grind or the raiding gear treadmill. That's the unfortunate part of the whole thing.

daveyyay said...

Im All up for the change,Its what makes this game fresh and interesting. People say itll ruin the gameing experience starting at lvl 55, but when u think about it the people that start fresh and new wont know any wiser anyway.Dropping the mount lvl is a good thing, save people having to spend half their gameing experience running about like a looney. Well just have to wait and see eh :)

Anonymous said...

SIIIIIIGGGGHHHHHH @ blizz, they r just pandering to low level noobs that want a quick fix. wow is just like a 6hr Xbox game, all acheivements an no earning them. when i lvld my PROT (slow) warrior, i did things the hard way an when i saved for a mount i felt like i earned the Gz that followed, an when me an my m8 2 manned the last boss in SFK it felt awesome, even tho the group had to rep an a pally stole ma gear. DK's were the beginning of the end IMHOp. they made things too easy and wow became a noobfest where ppl had to b DK's or some other easy class (hunter/pally) to get anywhere. wow is not about how quickly you can skip bits of the game, or how easily you can pwn things, or even how little effort it took to get to 80, its a game, and players who put more effort in should feel more rewarded than ppl who took the easy route.