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Blizzard Sending Out Level Squish Surveys

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Blizzard is sending out surveys about an upcoming level squish, asking players how much they would like or dislike a reduction in total character levels in the future.

The problem with World of Warcraft is that the max level cap has been raised a total of seven times (counting all expansions) and currently it's sitting at 120, which is too high for talents to feel meaningful.

Game Director Ion Hazzikostas mentioned in a Q&A that the developers aren't happy with that and we should expect a level squish in what appears to be Patch 9.0.

Today, players started receiving surveys informing them about a future level squish and how the total number of levels required to access the most current game content will be dramatically lower than the current level cap of 120 in the future.

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(Images courtesy of redditor Nivens // Source)

Reducing the max level cap would be a great opportunity to make combat harder and talents feel meaningful again. What do you think?

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I'd be happy, squish it down to 60, make all current content scale to 60, and new expac for the new levels. (or even scale to 50 and have the new expac to 60. Allow us a version of meaningful talents and spell learning whilst making use of the massive world we have. 

Recently levelled a VE to 120, and skipped MoP and Outland completely, didn't finish any Wrath zone, and only just finished Hyjal in cata and Val'sharah in Legion due to the invasions...

Though if I'd had the option, I've have finished more Vanilla zones since I've not touched them since the Cata revamp. give us more freedom to chose where to go whilst levelling.

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16 minutes ago, Bobbis said:

I'd be happy, squish it down to 60, make all current content scale to 60, and new expac for the new levels. (or even scale to 50 and have the new expac to 60. Allow us a version of meaningful talents and spell learning whilst making use of the massive world we have. 

Recently levelled a VE to 120, and skipped MoP and Outland completely, didn't finish any Wrath zone, and only just finished Hyjal in cata and Val'sharah in Legion due to the invasions...

Though if I'd had the option, I've have finished more Vanilla zones since I've not touched them since the Cata revamp. give us more freedom to chose where to go whilst levelling.

They should make all zones including vanilla scale up to the latest expansions, that way the world would feel more alive though they really should make all NPCs deal way more damage and have way more HP so that you can't just AOE kill everything in your path. 

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Could do something similar to Guild Wars 2.....keep the Level cap at 80 (that's GW2's cap) and make all map zones and quests auto sync for that level of content.  Also allows the player free choice to roam and go level to their liking with a solid main quest line to follow.

Example) Lv.80 Soulbeast gets auto sync to Lv. 20 while entering a level map recommend level of 14-20 to do meta events for crafting materials in Guild Wars 2.

 

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34 minutes ago, Basih149 said:

They should make all zones including vanilla scale up to the latest expansions, that way the world would feel more alive though they really should make all NPCs deal way more damage and have way more HP so that you can't just AOE kill everything in your path. 

Perhaps a while into the expansion, not right away for scaling it all up, I can understand current content all being above the older stuff, particularly for things like raids and dungeons so that people can go back and farm for mogs easier for example. 

I kinda agree with boosting hp and dmg, but equally I still died while levelling when not taking care. It was usually easy until the higher levels so doesn't need much tuning, the elites still hit hard, but were solo able (shadow priest). I don't want to go back to classic levels of eating after pulling a standard mob...

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ideally would be 100 incl. the talents that go max. level 100

rework the actual talent tree, revive the old one, inlc. major glyphs and all sorts of enchantment n gem/socket slots...

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1 hour ago, Bobbis said:

I'd be happy, squish it down to 60, make all current content scale to 60, and new expac for the new levels. (or even scale to 50 and have the new expac to 60. Allow us a version of meaningful talents and spell learning whilst making use of the massive world we have. 

Recently levelled a VE to 120, and skipped MoP and Outland completely, didn't finish any Wrath zone, and only just finished Hyjal in cata and Val'sharah in Legion due to the invasions...

Though if I'd had the option, I've have finished more Vanilla zones since I've not touched them since the Cata revamp. give us more freedom to chose where to go whilst levelling.

The 50% XP boost from Hierlooms gives you so much extra XP that you basically skip an entire 40 levels going from 1-120 more or less, and Invasions basically give an entire 2 levels nowadays with heirlooms.

 

Personally, they are already releasing Classic for those who want the "classic" leveling experience. Rather then doing a level squish, I feel they should make characters start at lvl 60 or something automatically, with an option to start lower for heritage or vanity.

Edited by Frogspoison

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37 minutes ago, Ragingwolf said:

Could do something similar to Guild Wars 2.....keep the Level cap at 80 (that's GW2's cap) and make all map zones and quests auto sync for that level of content.  Also allows the player free choice to roam and go level to their liking with a solid main quest line to follow.

Example) Lv.80 Soulbeast gets auto sync to Lv. 20 while entering a level map recommend level of 14-20 to do meta events for crafting materials in Guild Wars 2.

 

Level Squish could work, but zones felt empty in GW2 and ESO. (no difference with current system) Make it so people keep visiting all zones... maybe worldquests in every zone. Gathering viable in all zones for crafting basic endgame items.
Plus gear and skillpoints made a huge difference in those games . Sometimes you would struggle fighting a mob while a fresh new character could 2 shot the same thing and vice versa.
Just don't turn WoW in something you can finish within 2 weeks and it becomes a dungeon grinder even more.

 

Imo  gathering & crafting could be looked at again too with this change. I could go indepth into gathering/crafting, but that's not the topic 🙂

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5 minutes ago, Frogspoison said:

The 50% XP boost from Hierlooms gives you so much extra XP that you basically skip an entire 40 levels going from 1-120 more or less, and Invasions basically give an entire 2 levels nowadays with heirlooms.

 

Personally, they are already releasing Classic for those who want the "classic" leveling experience. Rather then doing a level squish, I feel they should make characters start at lvl 60 or something automatically, with an option to start lower for heritage or vanity.

This is true, and part of the reason I was able to skip these zones.

I think you're missing the reason for the squish, it's not to make it harder or like classic, its to remove some of the bloat of the game. from 80-120, the only things I gained from levelling was the two talents, no spells or abilities, no choices to make other than where to go. 

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The real question is, what does it matter? Right now, gaining a level doesn't do anything, not because of the number of levels or because how fast you ding, but because of the design.

Gear doesn't matter because the numbers are squished to a point where there is no difference between a level 30 and a level 50 item. You also get showered with items, so you never run into a situation of having outdated gear (not that it matters because the game can be beaten in whites and greys). Finally, you never get the moment of "oh, I dinged and now I can finally use that awesome drop sitting in my bags" because everything simply scales.

Then you have mobs and quests always scaling so you never have an orange or red quest that you can either tackle now and have a hard time with, or you can decide to do something else instead until you are higher level. You never run into parts of a dungeon or an outdoor area that are harder simply because of the level difference.

 

It seems to me that we are now starting to look for solutions to problems caused by solutions to problems caused by solutions to problems. Every XPack increases the level cap, which means that leveling has to be made faster, which means that low-level questing has to be reworked which leads to scaling being introduced...

At this point the game as a whole needs a complete rework with a clear design philosophy underlying every aspect of it. Right now it's just a Patchwerk monstrosity held together by countless stopgap solutions.

 

TL;DR: I welcome it simply because 120 sounds like a lot and discourages people to play WoW, but it doesn't fix any of the core issues.

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Just now, Bobbis said:

This is true, and part of the reason I was able to skip these zones.

I think you're missing the reason for the squish, it's not to make it harder or like classic, its to remove some of the bloat of the game. from 80-120, the only things I gained from levelling was the two talents, no spells or abilities, no choices to make other than where to go. 

 

The bloat is predominately because Blizzard has pruned every single class and spec down to the bare bones and giving nothing in return. WoD, at least, had the "Empowered Abilities" for 90-100, and Legion had Artifacts that you could put your points into. But not only did specs get pruned even more going into BfA (Healers especially by removing the mana efficient/time efficient heals).

 

In the game's current form, squishing the levels would just be like putting a blanket over someone with their entrails hanging out - You won't have to look at the gruesomeness, and maybe the smell won't be so bad... But that person still gonna die. When we have half the abilities now that we did back in Classic, well, that's bad.

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A really good effort. If it was up to me, this is how I would do the squish:

- Old Level 120 = New Level 60
- Every zone is scalable now, but expansions will be unlocked at higher levels:
TBC 30, WotLK: 35, Cata: 37, MoP: 40, WoD: 45, Legion: 50, BfA: 55
Unlocking 2 expansions at the same time was wrong for story reasons and now previous zones will be scaled upper anyways, so now you can go from 1 to 60 in all Classic zones if you want.

Transportation:
- Learn to use a ground mount at Level 10.
- Learn to fly at Level 20 (not 30!)
- Fast Flight levels at Level 30 and 40.
- Pathfinder System: Gone!
Fly anywhere as soon as you learn to fly, including upcoming expansions.
 

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6 minutes ago, Frogspoison said:

 

The bloat is predominately because Blizzard has pruned every single class and spec down to the bare bones and giving nothing in return. WoD, at least, had the "Empowered Abilities" for 90-100, and Legion had Artifacts that you could put your points into. But not only did specs get pruned even more going into BfA (Healers especially by removing the mana efficient/time efficient heals).

 

In the game's current form, squishing the levels would just be like putting a blanket over someone with their entrails hanging out - You won't have to look at the gruesomeness, and maybe the smell won't be so bad... But that person still gonna die. When we have half the abilities now that we did back in Classic, well, that's bad.

True, but some of the pruning was needed to work with artefacts and azerite traits otherwise there'd be too much. They have gone too far and removed too much though. Class design is a big issue at the moment, but balancing them around 120 levels, and 60 levels is a big difference, so by squishing, doing the balance and design *should* be easier. 

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Never got any surveys from them throughout all these years. Regardless, another squish seems like a good idea, if they keep same or similar strength around. Numbers are getting too high again, and most people don't want to eventually see MoP numbers again. The issue is, that they are, in my opinion, increasing item levels a bit too much between releases of next raid content. This creates constant bloat that they need to keep addressing.

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1 minute ago, Aernath said:

A really good effort. If it was up to me, this is how I would do the squish:

- Old Level 120 = New Level 60
- Every zone is scalable now, but expansions will be unlocked at higher levels:
TBC 30, WotLK: 35, Cata: 37, MoP: 40, WoD: 45, Legion: 50, BfA: 55
Unlocking 2 expansions at the same time was wrong for story reasons and now previous zones will be scaled upper anyways, so now you can go from 1 to 60 in all Classic zones if you want.

Transportation:
- Learn to use a ground mount at Level 10.
- Learn to fly at Level 20 (not 30!)
- Fast Flight levels at Level 30 and 40.
- Pathfinder System: Gone!
Fly anywhere as soon as you learn to fly, including upcoming expansions.
 

I'd still gate flying in the new expac to max level or near to it, at least on first play through

DEATH TO PATHFINDER BS!

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Obviously they need to do a bit more, than just again squish the numbers. For the levels to mean anything, they should rework the talent tree. Still i think the modern talentree is far superior to the old tree, since you at least make a choice between three effects, and cant choose to pick the other ones later. The only thing i miss is having something to pick at each level.

So my idea would be: Squish down to 50 or 60. Make the current talents each 3 or 5 levels a big choice, and in between little choices. maybe like choose between "x lifesteal / x aoe-protection / x speed". At the same time get rid of the tertiary traits that can procc on gear. So you can choose in your tree to go a bit into leech, prot or speed. This would be a start. And there could be this choice, and something else minor, inbetween the big rows to choose from.

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4 minutes ago, Aernath said:

- Learn to fly at Level 20 (not 30!)
- Fast Flight levels at Level 30 and 40.
- Pathfinder System: Gone!
Fly anywhere as soon as you learn to fly, including upcoming expansions.
 

They should do like in WotLK, with flying locked until you reach the max level, and with flying, being able to reach new endgame areas 🙂

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1 minute ago, Lawrenz said:

They should do like in WotLK, with flying locked until you reach the max level, and with flying, being able to reach new endgame areas 🙂

I loved Cata levelling so I thought this would be better 😜

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5 minutes ago, Bobbis said:

I'd still gate flying in the new expac to max level or near to it, at least on first play through

DEATH TO PATHFINDER BS!

Hell yeah! Death to Pathfinder!
But, I loved Cata levelling so I thought this would be better 😜 

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2 minutes ago, Aernath said:

Hell yeah! Death to Pathfinder!
But, I loved Cata levelling so I thought this would be better 😜 

Good point, they designed each area with flying in mind though, so they'd need to do this for every new zone, or gate it. I'd prefer the former, but latter is easier 

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Just now, Bobbis said:

True, but some of the pruning was needed to work with artefacts and azerite traits otherwise there'd be too much. They have gone too far and removed too much though. Class design is a big issue at the moment, but balancing them around 120 levels, and 60 levels is a big difference, so by squishing, doing the balance and design *should* be easier. 

Artifacts were almost entirely passive - +X% damage to ability, or +Y% crit chance. I think maybe only 2 specs had more then 1 active ability given by their artifact? Some of it was fun passive (As a Guardian, the +x seconds on Ironfur was nice because it made stacking Ironfur FAR smoother then now. Also, the +15% chance for Thrash to proc Thrash was a "WoW" feeling when you got 3+ procs of Thrash.

 

Azerite is 100% passive and 95% non-interactive. There are some fun ones that help to shift a specs playstyle (I'm using direct damage bursty Feral for PvP purposes - My DoTs deal almost no damage, but I can pump out constant 30k Shred crits and huge bite crits for large burst in pvp), as well as Glimmer, but passive, meh. When it's only 5% interesting, it's a garbage system.

Blizz does not balance around 120 levels. They do not even balance around the last 10 levels. Hell, Blizz doesn't even balance around the last 50 item lvls! Blizz balance is based entirely around lvl 120, and around the highest ilvl AND gear from the latest content. If a nerf to an overpreforming spec at max makes it murder to lvl up from 1-119, Blizzard doesn't care. Even if it completely neuters their DPS until they hit that specific ilvl Blizz balanced around, they don't care. (While lvling hasn't been murder since BC, there has been a number of cases where nerfs aimed at a specific ilvl or even trinket combination greatly affects the spec when they don't have that ilvl)

 

Squishing down to lvl 60 would have NO effect on balance, at all. Probably wouldn't have an effect on class design either - Blizz seems to want to push everyone to 1 button playstyles as much as possible.

 

However, considering that Blizz has constantly *filtered* up older content every time they do an ilvl squish, with it taking months for them to look at issues, I don't trust them with a level squish, at all.

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This is how I would like to see things, it's pretty drastic because I don't think a level squish alone will accomplish much, the game needs much more overhaul to fix the core issues its had for years:

Scale max level to 60, scale EVERY expansion to 50-60. Every expansion was designed to be enjoyed at max level, or close to it. Keep the vanilla/levelling zones for levelling. Scale every endgame raid/dungeon to 60. Make old raids/dungeons easier than current ones to keep the latest content relevant, but still be worth doing for medium level gear/cosmetics. Sort of like the timewalking kinda raiding they've done before. Most importantly: STOP ADDING LEVELS EVERY EXPANSION. Adding levels every expansion and the constant balancing of the game around the final 10 levels is what caused the problems we have now in the first place. It makes all content before it irrelevant.

Instead of adding levels every expansion there's plenty of other ways you can give people incentives to do the new quests/zones. You can make dungeons harder and use questing gear as a gateway into them, you can use attunements to unlock dungeons etc., or even just rep requirements that get fulfilled by completing a zone. Other MMOs don't add levels with every bit of new content because you don't need to, people will still enjoy the content at max level. You can use gear as an increasing margin for power instead like we've always done, or max level progression systems like AP (the legion version, not the BFA one...). Or even just add a new progression system with each expansion (like they tried to do with BFA, just... better please). The most important thing is to just not make old content irrelevant again. It should always act as a gateway to the latest content, and not in a mindless levelling for 2-3 hours kind of way.

Massive changes like this would cost a lot of dev time, but I'm hoping with Classic sharing the subscription fee, and taking some pressure away from them, it might give them the space and funds to actually do it. In fact, I'd be happy if the next expansion was considerably delayed if it meant REALLY fixing the core problems with the game, please focus on that instead of pumping out more and more expansions. I know money is the reason it's been that way for years, but like I said, with Classic, it might give them the room to do it now.

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This is a tough one, because they could go in so many different directions with this. It's not like they're just saying "you are becoming less powerful" or "we're removing content from the game." They're just... reducing the level cap. Okay, so what? What is this going to do for us? What is actually going to change with the experience we have with the game?

Saying that they the level cap may go down raises a lot of questions, because we have no idea what ramifications that will have for the leveling experience or for the endgame. If they are going to open up more content to scale up to level cap, and give current rewards, that's nice and all, but the rewards for area quests are pathetic. As soon as you ding 120 they're not worth doing anymore, because you get massively better rewards from world quests, islands or the War Campaign. I don't think that having Legion content scale to max level is going to be much of an incentive to play it again.

There's also the fact that Blizzard's scaling technology is not the greatest. We've already had Timewalking dungeons for years to show us what it's made of. And for as long as we've had Timewalking, it has been an unbalanced mess that favored players with powerful Legendary items from WOD and Legion and certain specs that are less gear dependent to perform (i.e. Blood DK). That's the sort of thing they will need to keep in mind when they do their squishes.

Don't get me wrong, there is potential there. But I need more information about what design goals they have for this project.

Edited by Tarazet

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This is a great Idea and now with Classic wow coming out soon. For me I've always trusted Blizzard  leadership and  their Dev teams on making each and every Exp. I myself have a paladin locked out at level 60 and I just finally complete Tier-2 Judgement Set still farming the Thunderfury Bindings that drop in Moltencore. this is me I love playing World of Warcraft been to Blizzcon 9 times which is my annual Home away from Home event. To see a leveling squished for me would be awesome at level 120 is a outside the box reality in itself. When we hit level 100 in WoD I thought to myself that is it the leveling stops there. So in that whatever Blizzard is going to do I will support no matter what I'm a Navy Combat Veteran and my home is World of Warcraft I love I enjoy it it is my Freedom from Human reality in this earth. To the Blizzard Dev team thank you so very much for the past 15 years of keep World of Warcraft alive for me and many other players who enjoy playing the game. To Chris Metzen and Mike Morhaime thank you for your love of D&D and Gamer Nerds. We all miss you so very much. Well I'm off to leveling my Mage. Cheers folks

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