WoW Factor: First impressions of allied race leveling in World of Warcraft

Last week, I wrote about the addition of allied races without having actually gotten to play around with them much. You have to understand that at some point in the past I angered an elder deity of some sort, a fact which I myself was not previously aware of, but which remains the only real way to explain World of Warcraft releasing its pre-orders on the same day that my other game of choice released a major update which demanded my attention.

Or it was just bad luck, but “angered the gods” feels like a more all-encompassing explanation of same.

The bright side, though, is that it meant I finally had a chance to experience both big new things at the same time, enjoying the worldwide level scaling at the same time as I was enjoying my new allied race characters. So now that we’ve talked a little bit about the conceptual side of things, let’s talk about the actual leveling experience beyond the first unlocks.

First of all, let me just say that level 20 was both the right point to start allied races at and the adjustments to heirlooms have, by and large, been good ones. I still feel pretty darn powerful decked out in heirloom gear, not least because I don’t ever have to worry about upgrading a large chunk of my gear as I level. That’s reassuring. But I also no longer feel like combat is inherently pointless with everything at my level because it all just dies so quickly.

It also feels like leveling is actually, well, leveling again. For all the people complaining that it’s been slowed down too much, I haven’t found it notably slower, but I’ve found it notably less obnoxious, simply because I don’t have to stop and rearrange my questing schedule every five minutes.

Before the world scaling, it was a careful dance. If you started a zone at the absolute earliest possible point, and you avoided doing any dungeons, and you didn’t kill too many enemies or harvest too many nodes, you could probably finish the zone with the last couple of quests being green to you. Now, I just start doing a zone and just… explore it. I finish the zone as it was designed and then move on elsewhere, and I don’t have to ask myself “which of these two zones in the right level band do I want to see, because I’ll only get one.”

We all live in a floating magic town.

Obviously, most of the actual quest design and storytelling is back from Cataclysm, and that’s a mixed bag on the whole. But when you look past the zones that everyone knows are just plain bad, you wind up getting a lot of different options and some little tucked-away gems that were easy to miss otherwise.

The fear that leveling would become irrelevant also hasn’t come to pass; sure, you aren’t getting stronger than everything in a linear sense, but you’re getting more abilities and talents that give you more punch along the way. So it works out pretty well.

There are cracks in the structure as it stands, of course. For one thing, Wrath of the Lich King and The Burning Crusade content are still both dated rather badly; the scaling makes them functional, but they’re the oldest untouched content in the game right now, and it kind of shows. The breadcrumbs to level-appropriate zones also haven’t been touched, which seems like a misstep; you’re often wrapping up in one zone and getting quests pointing you toward what used to be a logical next step, except your actual next step can be literally anywhere, making it sort of irrelevant.

And, of course, at the end of the day you’re leveling another character through content that is, on some level, familiar. It’s refreshed and revitalized content, but it is content you’ve seen before.

How much that matters is ultimately going to depend on the individual and what you want to get out of the leveling experience. If you have exactly one spec and class you want to play, an allied race is not going to add a whole lot more to the process; it’s going to be the same thing as before. And if you don’t particularly care about any of the allied races, it’s also going to be something of a rough sell.

It strikes me, as much as anything, as a foundational shift. Monk was the only base class added to the game since its launch, but this kind of change makes adding another base class (i.e. not actually a hero class) seem far more workable a second time around. Ultimately, that’s a positive. That does mean that you don’t have one to level right now, though.

My Void Elf really looks like she should be singing songs we all realize are about her being a lesbian years later.Put it this way: If you don’t understand why anyone would want to play a Lightforged Draenei, you aren’t going to find that there’s some wondrous treasure at the end of the Lightforged Draenei rainbow. If you look at Lightforged Draenei and immediately think “yes, I wish to play one of these,” you similarly don’t need me to convince you; you’re already on board.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, this is something that a lot of people – including me – have been asking to get for years. There are lots of racial variants out there, races that need customization options but not a completely new skin from the ground up. That’s what’s going on with the allied races, and that is – in short – exactly what I wanted from the beginning. Whether it’s for roleplaying, aesthetics, or just a feel that you want the most effective possible racials for a given character, if you want these guys, they’re here.

One of the things I’ve mentioned repeatedly is that there are a lot of options here for allied races. Some of them are races I have no real desire to play (I can live without playing as an uncorrputed orc), and that’s fine too. The option is there for the people who do want it.
If that doesn’t feel like a reward, well, then it’s not really a reward for you, is it? Don’t worry about it.

On the other hand, if your complaint is “I want this but don’t like the reputation requirements for it,” you literally are in the stage of the expansion where nothing new is coming. The requirements are not particularly onerous. If you don’t like the part where you have to raise reputations and do quest lines, dude, that is the game. Just like how I can get you not wanting any of these particular races in particular, I can totally get not wanting to put in the work necessary to unlock the allied races. That’s not going to penalize you, you’re just not going to get to play one.

No, previous races haven’t been unlocked by reputation requirements. Previous races have also started at level one, not had specialized heritage armor for leveling them, and come out two to an expansion instead of six at once. With a prior sample size of three, there’s a lot of stuff that’s been different in the past by definition, and considering this expansion is already adding more races to the game than had been added in the decade prior, I’m willing to play this one where it lies.

Not to mention that, seriously, I managed to fulfill the unlock requirements playing very casually without trying particularly hard. If you really want the most obnoxious races to unlock (Lightforged and Void Elves), you can get them pretty swiftly once you decide to put in the time. The story achievement alone will put you most of the way to Exalted, and with two weekly quests that bump you up plus emissary quests… it’s longer than I would like, necessarily, but it’s not too difficult, and it strikes me as fair.

That’s what it always comes down to, in my estimation. There are no hard-and-fast rules about the fairness of requirements to unlock something, but for a reward that only offers you more character creation options and is tied to some pretty story-involved races right from the start, I am completely fine with these requirements as they are. It feels fair, doable, and optional.

Like always, feedback is welcome in the comments or by mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Now it’s time to hope for more allied races in the future (Eredar! Mag’har! Broken!) while I happily plink away with my Lightforged. Funny how just changing the racial button from a heal to an AoE changes the gameplay, huh?

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.
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33 Comments on "WoW Factor: First impressions of allied race leveling in World of Warcraft"

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Mallus

Void Elves = Master Race
Preturnatural Calm – Your spell casts are not delayed by taking damage.

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Utakata

Well…I’ve unlocked 2 so far. Maybe a 3rd tomorrow. But I am in no rush…as none of those races really appeal to me. Nor do the ones they have yet to introduce, planned, rumored or otherwise…

…save for the Lyn…err, I mean Vulpera, which was a highly speculative rumor. o.O

Loyheta
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Kickstarter Donor
Loyheta

I’m kinda disturbed they have breasts

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Utakata

Not all of them have those though. O.o

Loyheta
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Kickstarter Donor
Loyheta
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I came back very recently with the intent of playing my first Demon Hunter and then trying out one of the allied races. I was totally ignorant to the reputation requirements at that time. After discovering they were locked behind a time gated (mobile style) reputation system AND the box price of the next expansion, I immediately dropped the game again. I did not have the desire to even finish out Argus.

I’ve been beat over the head with statements like “you need to earn it!” and much worse, but that isn’t what the design intent here is. If they simply wanted you to earn it, it wouldn’t be time gated. No, this is here to get you to pre-order and then see how many returning players will keep coughing up subscription fees to do nothing, but grind dailies (when they are available).

New races have always been a fun thing to reinvigorate the game and draw old blood back into the world. Not this time.

They aren’t getting a preorder out of me on this one.

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Sorrior Draconus

As a fellow returnee doing the grind it is worse then just a time gate and mindless fans defending it(seriously how can you call doing a mindless phone grind for rep tokens and 1-2 hours a day daily farming playing/effort rather be able to ACTUALLY grind it out by playing then watch my phone as i run alts through the ENTIRE argus story)

It is also HEAVILY modified by rng. Be it daily faction bonus granting an extra 1,500 WHEN it pops or hoping to see the rep tokens on your mission table or hoping a rep token shows up in the days wq or even more then one or two wq for the faction you need. Oh then the what 3 to under 1% drop chance for an item to increase rep by 1k.

The wq for rep unbuffed btw also only give 75 rep PER..with diplomat and darkmoon i got 120 on my shaman.

In short is an rng timegate CLEARLY designed to keep you playing with no way to actually grind it out.

Yeet apparently asking to grind it out is being entitled wtfh happened where THIS is playing the game

styopa
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styopa

I’ve always thought Heirlooms were sad because MMORPG Barbie (ie “oooh, new gear better than my old gear!”) was part of the Skinner box that made leveling pve fun.

John Artemus
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John Artemus

The Allied Races may be optional, but they are a key selling point of the next expansion. You have to pay $50 to even access them. Then on top of the 50 bucks, you also have to do a rep grind. That’s my issue. Not necessarily the grind itself. It’s that we have to do one at all.

And that part in your article about being at the stage where there is literally nothing else coming out in Legion? That’s 100% my point. These Allied Races being gated as they are is to completely make up for a lack of content. It’s like having to get an eating faction to exalted to unlock eating. (And don’t be surprised if that happens. I’m sure guys like the author will be white-knighting it though). If you can’t see that, then I don’t know what to tell you.

But hey, it is what it is at this point. No sense in going on and on about it. I have two options. I can either do the (stupid) rep grinds and get the race I want. Or I can quit and take my money elsewhere. I’ve chosen the latter.

FFXIV was my other main game anyway. Now it’s my only main game. :-)

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Sorrior Draconus

Nice fellow ffxiv playet

But agreed at least ffxiv doesn’t pull 6-12 month breaks between patches

And as someone doing the rep thing i cannot even call it a grind in game more like irl. It is FAR too rng and they NEED to eother remove rep requirement or allow us to farm rep be it via dungeons, a tabard hell even turning in demon parts ala old dark iron scrap SOMETHING more then the 75 a wq unbuffed and rng tokens..hell if not going full obsessed/ocd to complete my goal doubt i would be playing.

It NEEDS a fix or to be removed.

Yoshi P really does know how to run an mmo better then blizz these days i feel

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Loyal Patron
Armsbend

I can tell from your passion on the game and this subject that you are 100% going to play the expansion at release. See you there!

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Dreema

I haven’t really noticed any slowdown in leveling up speed, but I’ve actually enjoyed leveling up a lot more than I have done in years. I no longer out-level zones when I’m halfway through them and there’s an actual bit of difficulty in the world now. It’s still a walk in the park compared to Vanilla, and questing in the post-Cata world is a lot less interesting (linear questing is never going to garner any praise from me), but it’s definitely gone a long way towards fixing the hideously broken leveling system we’ve had for years.

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Kevin Smith

Personally I have enjoyed leveling my void elf up. To be honest I wish they would half the xp you get from turning quest in now, as I enjoy questing and leveling. If you do a couple instances here or there with the quest you still end up outleveling most areas before you finish them. The whole reason for these reskins is for people that like to make alts an level them up. It is something to draw back in some of the people like myself who could care less about raiding that endgame raid for the thousandth time. Overall it has been a really enjoyable time so far for me.

I also like the fact that you actually have to put in just a little effort to even be able to play those races. People who can’t even fathom putting in just a few weeks to be able to do something just blow me away. I wouldn’t be saying this if it took months upon months to unlock, but it only takes about 3 weeks if you are a casual player to unlock them all right now, since they redid the things that give rep. Hell you could unlock them in a week if you really were devoted with maybe the exception of the nightfallen which will still only take about 2 weeks at the most.

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Leiloni

When you don’t have a lot of time to play, dedicating a month of your precious gaming time to something you don’t want to do in order to get to something you DO, is frankly an insult and irritating.

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chriskovo .

Love how you say the rep grinds are the game. When they just used to be for optional stuff that you could pass on if you didn’t want to do it. Now for flying or these new races they shove it down your throat and force you to do things you don’t want to do. Its the reason im starting to hate wow now. It used to be about making the customer experiance better now its just about them holding a gun to your head and making you play more for nonsense reasons. This is not wow anymore its been to corrupted by the ego of its designers. I’m half wishing they would just shut it down at this point.

jealouspirate
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jealouspirate

Reputation has always been important and “required” to varying degrees. That philosophy probably peaked in Mists of Pandaria where almost everything important was locked behind reputation requirements.

As far as reputation being “optional”, it really depends on what you define as optional. You are free to pass on Allied Races.

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Sorrior Draconus

Hey at least you had more ways then JUST dailies(if i recall right at least a few factions had turn ins) and eavh daily gave more then 75 rep…by FAR..you could also farm as you wanted. Oh abd no rmg time gating(looking at you tokens and daily bonuses)

System needs less rng more oldschool grind

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Cosmic Cleric

Reputation has always been important and “required” to varying degrees.

Not for a new ‘race’ (reskin).

As far as reputation being “optional”, it really depends on what you define as optional. You are free to pass on Allied Races.

Would you pay $50 for a feature, only to pass on it?

jealouspirate
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jealouspirate

Would you pay $50 for a feature, only to pass on it?

Allied races don’t cost $50. The entire expansion does. I bought Legion and didn’t play a Demon Hunter, does that mean I didn’t get anything? I also didn’t do Arenas or Mythic raiding.

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Cosmic Cleric

For what its worth, I said “a” feature, not “the” or “only” feature. I realize that the expansion is more than just the re-skinned sub-races. And I gathered, based on your reply, that yes, you would spend money for the availability of something but not use it.

Generally speaking, it doesn’t seem smart to me to give someone money and not get something back in return (purchases, not donations). But I can understand if you are purchasing the whole package, but don’t like all of the new features in the package.

I would argue though, that passing on all of the new skin/sub-races seems like a really big thing to pass on, MMO-wise. They don’t seem like an optional part of the purchase to me, and hence my initial reply to your “optional” comment. They really don’t seem like an optional thing, for a MMO player, especially a WoW player. /shrug

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Cosmic Cleric

A good read. Two things though.

1) The monetary value you give to each of the races, it seems to me to be one done arbitrarily mathematically, based on proportion. I don’t believe that’s necessarily accurate.

The “worth” of a thing, especially a virtual thing, and especially more so for a MMO player, is kind of an “eye of the beholder” kind of thing, that one person for example who has been waiting for years for sub-races would consider that feature the primary feature or one of a few major features of the overall new feature set, where another may not considered it a new feature at all (‘just a re-skin’, etc.).

2) While you are 100% correct that we are purchasing a bundle of features, they are advertised in a ‘broken out as their own things’ sort of way by Blizzard, which gives them importance/weight individually.

Having said those two points, based on what I have been reading and seeing about the xpac, most people would give/gave a greater ‘weight of importance’ to the sub-races feature over the other features, and so it stands/stood out as the “must have” feature of the xpac package.

If I’m right about that (and yes, I can be wrong (the trials of being a homo-sapien)), then the monetary values you give do not align with the perceived (and actual?) worth of the sub-races feature in the new xpac, and some could feel/perceive that putting it behind a grind, er, excuse me, a reputation achievement/attainment, would be a negative thing to them, because they feel like they’ve already “paid” for it once with cash, and now have to pay for it again with labor.

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Dug From The Earth

My only gripe with the level scaling so far is this. Being that you can stay in a zone for a much longer period of time, leveling up the whole way through, you will require much fewer zones to complete to actually get to 60… or 80, or 100.

Now this isnt a problem in itself. The problem I have comes with the notion of how many actual zones there are. There are LOTS. Plenty of zones to choose from. Once you hit 20, You pretty much have your pick of 80% of the questing zones. So whats the problem? Simple. Getting to those zones.

The old system of progression, which had you go from Zone A, to Zone B, to Zone C, worked because you would be provide with the means of getting from A to B, when you were done with A. Often even a free flight point trip from A to B. Now, If you are doing Zone A, and decide “hey, when im done with A, I want to head on over to Zone F, and do that next” you are outa luck. You will need to spend a lengthy trip running (flying isnt until 60) through zones B, C, D and E, just to get to F.

Then, once there, there often isnt a clear starting point, since you dont have a lead in quest from prior zone. Take in mind too, that running through zones B, C, D and E, will all have enemies that are your level, so its not like running through a zone where nothing aggros you.

The solution to this is simple.

Main cities need to have their duty boards updated, with a starter quest for EVERY zone. Those with existing level limitation would simply mean you couldnt take that quest yet. Once you acquire the starting quest, the cities local flight point would offer you a free lift to the first flight point in that zone.

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Adam Asbury

You can grab a starter quest for each zone, once you’ve hit the minimum level requirement, from the warboards or your adventure guide. The adventure guide doesn’t always have them, so your best bet is to go to a warboard and pick them up. They’ve put those warboards at most quest hubs in each zone, and you can now track them on your minimap just like anything else (mailboxes, profession trainers, etc.). No such luck on the flight to that zone, but that is a nice idea. Perhaps you can suggest that in game through the help menu. At least they could open up the flight points for that zone like they used to when you reached the minimum level. I’m still not sure why they took that away.

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Kickstarter Donor
Pandalulz

I noticed that once you enter a zone, there’s an exclamation point on the map of the first dude you should talk to start the line of events. Or at least that’s worked for the level 30 and below zones in the Ironforge and Stormwind vicinities.

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Zora

you literally are in the stage of the expansion where nothing new is coming

That’s the snippet of code that my rapidly outdating dinosaur-brain keeps getting stuck at in the whole equation. I tried tackling every allied race twice since patch and failed to care past the introductory bit every single time.

Lacking better understanding of the secrets of the cosmos, all I can say is that if I am enduring a mediocre experience (in a sub-based game, no less) just because there’s nothing else to do, it’s high time to reconsider why I’m not playing… something else entirely.

Oh right… habit. Inertia, some day I’ll have my revenge on you… /shakes fist at heavens

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Oleg Chebeneev

How to put phrases in quote like you did?

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Voyta Fairmind

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