Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Busting Leveling Myths

Indeed one of my favorite TV shows and day-off activities, is debunking persisting myths about subjects that interest me. As it is, for me, World of Warcraft is a paradise for old preconceptions that may or may have been true at one time or another. Not surprisingly, once put into circulation, they almost never die. Even after long periods of time, you can guarantee someone, somewhere is still convinced they are true.

This time, I am focusing on leveling guides. Zygor anyone? I was actually an avid user of Zygor for a long time. I thought there was nothing as good in the world, at the time, than Zygor that helped me level easily and quickly through the dry content. However, recently, after not using it for some time have come to question my old logic.

Is using a leveling guide, even as advanced as Zygor really necessary? I do not believe it is. One of the selling points of these products is that they promise it is possible to level at incredible speeds. I believe someone level from 1 to 80 in no more than a week. This may or may not be true, I am not even convinced it is, since there is very little convincing evidence to examine, but even if you work under the hypothesis that it is, so what?

The requirements for leveling at that speed are mind boggling and certainly, the part of a leveling guide plays very little in that role. More than likely, what you really is two or more characters, armed from tip to toe with heirlooms, dual-boxing with recruite-a-friend bonus, and nonstop playing from day to day.

However, this is outside the capability of most average gamers, which the World of Warcraft population is mainly made of. It is true, leveling guides have streamlined the quests that are best for leveling, and the order in which to accomplish them. However, recently leveling various classes, as well previous experience, tells me that this streamlining provides only a marginal benefit.

This is simply because your time is mainly consumed by the quest mechanics themselves - namely by those quests that require you to kill X-type mobs for Y times Z drops. Sometimes these are easy, but often times the drop rates are so low, or luck not your side, that you end up killing dozens for just a few of the items.

Believe it or not, this is the single reason that questing takes a long time. The rest of the factors are controllable with some practical reasoning. The only real tool, I believe everyone needs, is just Questhelper or a similar helper addon that provides the direction and location of the quest objectives. My own favorite is Carbonite, especially now that it is free. While Zygor provides this function, it is not enough to justify paying for it in my books.

Here are some of simple guidelines that I follow when leveling. They are easy to remember and represent just simple commonsense.

  1. Get yourself a quest helper addon.
  2. Arm yourself with as many heirlooms as you can. Not only do they provide total 20% XP bonus, but also act as blues of your level, raising your performance.
  3. Always start by locating a zone of your level, preferably one where your level is at the bottom of its level bracket.
  4. Locate a major quest hub within that zone, pick all the quests you can get, filter out group and dungeon quests, check your quest helper and mentally picture a route across the map that you can take which lets you complete them all.
  5. Make your route, return to the hub, return all the quests, and just rinse and repeat.
  6. Keep in mind that in vanilla WoW, there are two zones for every level. Some zones even have overlapping level brackets, so you can quest in several zones to avoid the quests that would be particularly difficult for your current level.
  7. An occasional dungeon is not a bad idea. Gives you an opportunity to gather better gear, other than what the AH has to offer, and also lets you complete a rare dungeon quest
Finally, do not forget the fact that we are not all born equal. It is wrong, yet a reality in World of Warcraft. Some classes level more easily and quicker than others. A case of study can be found in my warlock and mage characters. I am currently in process of doing the same quests on my warlock that, not too long ago, I completed on my mage.

However, playing my warlock is just so much more easier. I can kill more mobs, with less effort and less downtime, than I could ever with my mage. Hunter and shadow priests fall under this same sentiment. Death knights, particularly if specced DPS in the blood tree, are also a joy to play because of the amount of self-healing and no need to drink for mana.

Does not sound complicated does it? That is because it isn't and yet, still just as effective as using a leveling guide. If anything, for me, it seems leveling guides just remove the necessity of thinking for yourself. Helps people, without skill, level more without actually acquiring the skill and knowledge they later need at top levels.

I am not saying everyone has to be an elite player at max level. But a lot of people overlook the fact that leveling provides valuable practice for beginners to learn the mechanics of the game. Even such simple things as flight points, boat routes, and portals are not obvious to some. Even worse, automated game play produces people who think too much for granted. Like people who sit in Stormwind and spam the trade channel for stockade boosts because they are too lazy to do a few quests that would provide the same effect, in the same amount of time they wasted in futile complaint.

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