Another post! Crazy right? It’s even a Warcraft one. Yesterday I had several ideas for posts so I’ll be working on those and posting them.The Grumpy Elf did his usual Monday Random Thoughts post and in it he mentioned the level 90 boost, and what that did to trivialise what they did in Cata to reform the levelling zones, and indeed the whole levelling experience.
I replied and from what I said he got “there is one like you that hates it”, in regards to how I feel about levelling. I replied to that comment as that’s not strictly true, and I explained why. I then thought that my response would make a decent blog entry, so here is my post on Warcraft and questing.
Why I hate questing in Warcraft
I have Alliance loremaster, in some areas I have loremaster twice. As I got Eastern Kingdoms pre-cata revamp, and I was only 50 quests short of pre-cata Kalimdor. I’ve levelled probably 5 characters traditionally all the way 1-90, well in the case of the death knight 55-90. Then there’s been another 4 who made the trip 80-85, making 9/10 classes at cap in Cata. 8 characters in total have gone 85-90, leaving 3 not at level cap in Mists. I’m currently levelling another character through questing, it’s with RaF so it’s faster than normal but I’m still having to quest.
So between loremaster and general levelling, I’ve seen every quest in the game, some a lot more than once or twice, up to eleven times in fact for some quests. It’s a real chore getting this new character up to 80, even with RaF and heirlooms, I can only do a couple of levels in a session before I’m completely fed up.
The quests feel like they are dominated by ‘kill x number of mobs’ or ‘collect x number of body parts’. I know that there are many different quests but the overall feeling I get is that they are busy work. I don’t feel like a hero, I don’t feel like I’m making a difference. Some zones are obviously better than others, I do like the early Alliance zones a lot better than I like the neutral ones. For example, Redridge makes you part of a commando team, that’s pretty cool. However, a lot of the quests feel like they are against animals. Today in Un’Goro I had to collect 5 talons, for what reason I don’t know or care, so I slaughtered a load of dinosaurs for them.
The above reason is very subjective and is likely based on repetition. I’ve done all the quests before so I don’t bother reading quest text. I suppose I’m not looking at it as a journey, more “give me my xp now I want to be level 80 already”. So in a way my hating questing is sort of my fault, as it’s how I approach it. I want it to be done, I’m not doing it for it’s own benefit, so I’m impatient for it to be over. Not a very good recipe for enjoying it.
The big issue
Obviously I only just listed one reason above and that’s because the big issue, sort of ties in all the other reasons.
Questing is the same no matter what class or race you choose.
Outside the starting area all quests can be done by all, within faction lines obviously. Only in a very few instances the race/class choice is acknowledged and that’s all it is, acknowledged. The quest doesn’t play out differently, it’s just a variable line in the quest text.
The quests play out the same way, each and every time. There are very few quests which ask the player to make a choice. There are a couple, like kill or save that Harpy in Mount Hyjal, but there are no consequences to this choice. It doesn’t matter one way or another and it is never referenced again.
The questing experience is all over the map. I suppose choices are good and I guess that’s where the variety is supposed to come in. I know they have the Hero’s Call boards now, which sort of guide the experience if you know how to look for them. However, they don’t provide transport to the zones, or tell you where the zones are. There is nothing really that guides a player through the questing experience. Most of the zones are separate, with nothing connecting them, there’s no common thread through the zones. The player is just left to make of it what they will.
That leads me to the timeline issue, which of course wasn’t an issue pre-cata revamp. The timeline now goes 58-70 Outland, 68-80 Northrend, 1-60 Azeroth, 80-85 Azeroth, 85-90 Pandaria. The beginning of the story, is actually the middle part, as the axed the real beginning. Now obviously they aren’t going to bring back the old world, and I don’t think it would be a good idea for them to do so. However, a couple of quests would be all that is necessary for it to make sense.
A quest when the character reaches 58, one of those automatic popup ones. They are directed to their faction capital. There they speak with someone who says that the Bronze Dragonflight would like a word. They get transported there and they speak with someone. They explain that the character has done great things but that Azeroth is facing it’s darkest hour, a true end of the world scenario with Deathwing. That the character, for all that they have accomplished, is still too green to continue the fight, and that they need to be seasoned. For this the Bronze Dragonflight are going to send them back in time, to fight in the previous campaigns against the Burning Legion and the Lich King. When they have completed their training in the past, then they will be ready to face the destroyer.
They could do a similar quest at 68 for Northrend. Given that the dark portal is rumored to be changing for Warlords, a new way to get to Outland needs to be found. It would be a perfect time to put the new entrance in the Caverns of Time and put in this quest.
Is it just the approach?
It’s no secret that I love the questing in swtor. That is what I play swtor for, I just quest and quest, I find the whole questing experience amazing. It truly feels like it’s a journey and that’s the point of it, rather than something to be rushed in order to get to the good stuff. Now part of it is obviously my approach. I’m not itching to reach endgame in swtor, I don’t raid, I don’t do flashpoints, I’m not interested in pvp or endgame. To me the whole game of swtor is levelling.
However, I can’t imagine ever feeling that way about the Warcraft quest experience. In fact I know that I wouldn’t because I didn’t. When I first started playing the game I quickly came to the conclusion that I hated questing. I said that to my friend, who recruited me, and he said that it was more efficient to quest and only run dungeons when we had quests for them. I obviously eventually rolled an alt but I didn’t quest on it, I got my paladin to level 15 and then spammed dungeons. I didn’t start questing again until about level 73 in Grizzly Hills. Here I came to the conclusion that quests weren’t all that bad, maybe it was just pre-Northrend. I had a particular hatred for Hellfire Peninsula and most of Outland got tarred by the same brush, though I liked Nagrand well enough.
I hadn’t started raiding at this point. I didn’t raid for a good year or so after I joined the game, possibly longer. For the most part I’ve levelled my alts through dungeons, often using recruit a friend. I quest level a lot more now than I used to, as my friend was right, it is more efficient. However, it’s not something I enjoy. There are some quest lines I make a point to do more than once as I do actually enjoy them. The opening quest line for Twilight Highlands comes to mind. These quests are few and far between though. For the most part I bash them out because I have to, it’s an end justifies the means type deal. In warcraft I have never liked questing.
How to fix it
I’m not sure they can, as they’d have to change their whole approach to questing. There’s no band-aid solution. Reworking quests in the old world was not well received in Cata, spending anymore time on old content just isn’t worth it. However, they could make a start with the new content, and of course by the far the best thing they could implement (in my opinion) is class quests.
The current class quests in the game don’t deserve to be called that. There are a couple for weapons, that send you to Shadowfang Keep. They are the same thing for the classes that can do them, collect a few things and kill one of the bosses. They don’t differentiate between the classes, they don’t make it worth levelling a different class in experience the quest. If they could take what they did with warlocks green fire, and make a quest line for each class, then they would be onto a winner. If they could intertwine that quest with the levelling experience, guiding the player between zones, then that would be even better. If they could do that for every future expansion, and have the quest lines follow onto one another, then they would have struck gold.
I love the class quests in swtor. It makes me very sad that they haven’t added a new chapter to them with their expansion pack, Rise of the Hutt Cartel. However, I only have one class at level 50, I still have the other 7 class storylines to complete, so there’s a lot of the game left for me to chew on. Hopefully by the time I have levelled all 8 classes, there will be another chapter of the storyline to get stuck into. If Warcraft could copy just one thing from another game, then I want them to copy this. As it stands it feels like levelling is an after thought, and all of blizz’s attention is on the endgame, which ignores the rest of the game entirely. I really do think that is a mistake, levelling should be a huge part of the game, and this would be one way to ensure how valuable it is.
I also like how the quests are structured in swtor. You have your main heroic mission and then there are bonus missions attached. These bonus missions are the ‘kill x number of mobs’ and ‘collect x number of items’ are they are optional. I usually do them for the xp as I don’t run flashpoints, so I need to make up my xp somewhere. However, it’s something I choose to do and it’s not the main part of the quest. The main quest is to break into a stronghold, it’s to assassinate the commander, it’s to rescue hostages, it’s to destroy the shields, it’s to shut down the communication jammers etc. The main quests matter and they feel heroic. I’m not sure whether Warcraft could ever implement something similiar to this. In a way they sometimes do but they make you do the little quests, then send you back into the lions den to kill the leader. It would be better to have the main quest first, and then be able to do the side quests at the same time.
Continuing with the swtor theme – choices. There are times when you have to choose whether to do the dark side, or light side, choice. Do you use the one time access card to steal the weapon plans, or to release all the prisoners. Do you take the weapon for the republic, or do you destroy it as it causes too much collateral damage. The choices matter as you get light and dark points which has an impact on what gear you can wear, who likes you etc. It also changes follow up quests, if you destroyed the weapon you get one quest line, if you took it then you get another.
These choices come back again later in the story. If at the end of the Jedi quest on Tython you let the dark jedi go and forged a dark jedi lightsaber, well on a future planet one of the npc’s reveals this and there’s some dialogue with your companion about it. So perhaps Warcraft should implement more quests along the lines of ‘saving or killing the harpy’ only have that choice matter. If you killed the harpy then later on you get ambushed by a load of harpies, if you spared the harpy then maybe they give you a pass and let you through unhindered etc. I don’t know exactly but something that shows that choices matter.
Swtor is of course voice acted and the quest lines are picked up through dialogue. Whereas in Warcraft it’s just a quest box which people can read, or just auto accept, as they choose. Now obviously I’m not suggesting that Warcraft should do anything like swtor in this. However, the npc’s react to characters differently. My Bounty Hunter and my Sith Warrior did the same quests on Drummond Kaas, but the NPC’s behaved very differently towards them. They said different things, my characters had different options on how to reply etc. so it made the quests feel very different. This is on top of having a unique class storyline as well.
Now, I don’t know how Warcraft could implement something like this or even if they should bother. I suppose that in game you do have conversations sometimes, you select the sentence with the speech bubble next to it, takes you to different pages on the quest box. I guess that might be one way to do it, using existing tech. However, perhaps just some acknowledgement would be enough. If a pandaren is giving a quest, have them say that they’ve never seen a Draenei before, or they ask if they are from the wandering isle. If the NPC identifies themselves as a paladin, say that they are honored to be working with a fellow Knight of the Silver Hand. Just something like that would be a really nice touch.
I don’t hate questing, I just hate it in Warcraft. I want the experience to be different on different classes, I want choices that matter and I want a more cohesive experience. I would like questing in Warcraft to feel like the journey is important, not just the destination.