A recent World of Warcraft player survey apparently confirms an incoming level squish

    
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The nature of World of Warcraft’s expansion releases and design philosophy means that every expansion adds another stack of levels on top of the increasingly daunting tower, and today the level cap sits at 120 — double what it was at launch. There’s been a lot of talk in recent times (including by our own Eliot and Justin) about the possibility of a so-called “level squish” to reduce the max level to reduce the intimidation factor for new players while also making leveling feel a bit more meaningful, but based on a question in a recent Blizzard player survey, it seems that it may be more than just a possibility.

Blizzard Watch reports that Reddit user Nivens posted in the World of Warcraft subreddit with a screenshot allegedly taken of a survey e-mail sent by Blizzard, which depicts the question, “Are you aware that the maximum level of 120 will be reduced in the future (i.e., ‘Level Squish’)?” A second screenshot of a different question provides a bit more detail: “The ‘Level Squish’ will reduce the total number of levels required to access the most current game content. The new level cap will be dramatically lower than the current level cap of 120,” it reads. Blizzard Watch’s Matthew Rossi notes that he hasn’t personally received the e-mail survey in question, so its veracity hasn’t been confirmed, but if it’s real, then it looks like WoW is in for some big shake-ups.

Are you aware that the maximum level of 120 will be reduced in the future (i.e., “Level Squish”)?

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Adam Russell

Not gonna happen.

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Dug From The Earth

Wouldnt surprise me one bit if they do this. They know from all the players that there is a problem, but they simply dont have the innovation at Blizzard anymore to come up with a GOOD solution to it… which basically leaves a level squish.

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Denice J. Cook

Oh dear Lord. I hope they do a better job than they did with level scaling!

There still aren’t any level-appropriate drops if you deviate at all from the formerly-standard-levels of zones until you’re up near Draenor. Enjoy still wearing your L35 gear when you ding into the 50s and 60s, kids! Your only real choice is heirlooms, or typically sub-par crafted gear.

I don’t think Blizz has the team size left to adequately pull this off. See: BFA in general.

xpsync
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xpsync

Listening to a podcast and they described what i’ve mentioned about what i love about EMU’s, only their explanation was much better (no surprise)

Classic, and EMU’s are never changing goal posts, he explained it so well. Use classic as the example 60 is the cap and you have all the time you need to get there, there is enough content to support many alts, and the goal posts are never going to change.

This never leaves you feeling like you’re way behind and every thing you do will always count, as he mentioned too, if you don’t play for a few months you don’t return with the goals posts even further away or find all your gear is garbage due to expansions and artificial levels.

You return to the exact same goals.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Funny thing is I can’t wrap my interest around playing ESO or GW2 atm, how ever I’m enjoying WoW surprisingly enough; hopefully by the time I get sick of retail I’ll get a Classic Beta invite.

I tell you my Marvel Unlimited Sub has turned my grinding nature towards reading comic books, been inching my way through this massive cross over event called Fear It Self (going through a reading guide that event runs for almost 200 issues across a dozen plus series, I’m actually having trouble keeping track of all the plot lines).

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Sarah Cushaway

A stat squish is fine and all–especially since there was literally no point to levels the past few expansions (didn’t get anything new anyway). However, that’s the REAL problem with WoW’s current ideology on leveling/end-game/expansions: it’s always vertical progression. Past content is rendered absolutely obsolete, and the endgame is always the same thing: level to cap, grind for gear in one of a handful of ways, grind out some rep to continue the story/get a few rewards.

It’s just getting old. I got sick of “oh, here’s another 10 levels” waaaay back in Cata. It’s a lazy method of adding content, really, and one of the core (and there are several at this point) issues making it impossible for WoW to keep people around for more than a few weeks at a stretch once they hit “end game” level (well, that and the leveling itself is a horrific, mind-numbing experience for anyone who has done it more than a few times).

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IronSalamander8 .

They need to do something as the existence of classic indicates. The fact that we got nothing new from 111-120 should indicate the issue with the current game. The idea that every new expansion needs 5-10 new levels before we can get to the ‘end game’ has never been a personal favorite anyway, I want the journey to be more meaningful than it is.

This has got to be a large part of why people want classic. The journey from 1 to 60 back then felt so much more meaningful than it does now. Note that my nightborne started at 20, that’s how insignificant those levels are now. These squishes are band aids on the real problems and Diablo 3 has similar issues; the last season I played my crusader was doing damage in the billions which is just silly.

So make the levels more significant, keep all content relevant- not just for alts, make professions more useful and more fun, move the focus from hitting cap and raiding all the time to more of a personal journey kind of focus, and the game would be so much better.

Harry Koala
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Harry Koala

Also taken the survey, and the ‘dramatic’ reduction in the number of levels was definitely mentioned on it. The screenshot is genuine (or at least, matches what I saw in the survey when I took it, which would make it a rather curious thing to fake).

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Dobablo

Levels are essentially meaningless these days anyway. Their only function is as a gatekeeper for expansion release content. No “end”-game content for you until you have completed X hours of quests, PvP or basic instance runs.

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Vincent Clark

I prefer horizontal progression. Vertical progression is just a smoke screen that people fall for…every. single. expansion.

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Axetwin .

Horizontal progression is an oxymoron. The moment you cannot improve your character further, is the moment you’ve finished the character. Why keep playing a character if you can’t improve upon it anymore? And no, “fashion” isn’t content. Trying to find that one perfect visual piece cannot be substituted for anything resembling progression.

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Vincent Clark

Why does “improve your character” have to be limited to an increase in a character level? We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

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traja

Your character getting stronger is vertical progression right? To me horizontal progression would be your character changing but not becoming objectively more powerful.

Do you have a different set of definitions?

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Vincent Clark

I’m opposed to vertical progression as it is related to simply increasing a person’s character level (often used to sell an expansion, etc.) It’s pretty clear that if a game is to have any longevity (i.e. increase it’s player base), this causes a problem–hence, the very article we are replying to.

There other ways to increase your character’s power or strength than simply adding another arbitrary number to your avatar.

Gnomeland Security
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Gnomeland Security

Like what? Gear stats are vertical progress based. Vertical progression is a staple of every MMO, and while there’s always arguments as to why it’s bad, the input as to what would fix it boils down to MOAR VERTICAL PROGRESSION in some fashion.

Saying that vertical progression is a hindrance to an mmos longevity is fundamentally wrong and you need only look to WoW for that answer (extend it to EQ and EQ2 as well)

I’d love to hear what horizontal progression ideas you’d think would benefit not only the company but also the player base, and keep in mind there’s players that want PvE, PvP, RP, Dungeon Crawls, and well as END GAME (which is what the horizontal progression argument wants to essentially end).

If WoW gets this wrong, it’ll have a huge lasting impact on the game that cannot be easily corrected. I feel this is a huge mistake as it’s trying to negate years of work a player has put into their character. If it’s simply because they cannot come up with creative ideas on how to handle leveling and stat increases, maybe it’s time to focus on the successor.

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Bruno Brito

If you think WoW’s and EQ2’s longevity is anything to be proud of, i have a bridge to sell you.

If WoW gets this wrong, it’ll have a huge lasting impact on the game that cannot be easily corrected.

Like the Heart of Azeroth and the canning of Artifact Weapons, right?

Gnomeland Security
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Gnomeland Security

Like the Heart of Azeroth and the canning of Artifact Weapons, right?

Don’t play the game and don’t know what those are. WoW has been around for 15 YEARS and has MILLIONS of players that play…Soo unless your bridge consists of something else that has that longevity, it’s not for sale. You’ll have to try a little better because yes games that have been out for 15+ years are something to be proud of, considering you’ve probably gone through 3-5 computers during that time (if you’re a slow adopter)

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Utakata

Not really. As walking from A with goal in mind of going to B on a flat surface perpendicular to the vertical is practiced all the time. That is, anytime you go to grocery store to get something…as long as it’s not on top of a hard to reach mountain, is a fine example of horizontal progression.

And the fact is that once you max level in power, you do things to make your character more powerful in a variety of ways with no further levels to ascend is also a defining aspect of horizontal progression. So we are effectively doing it that ingame once we hit 120.

Another way of putting is is think of the original Guild Wars…where you had only 20 levels. The sky was the limit to what you could to advance your toon after hitting 20. All done without levels.

fallwind
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fallwind

look at GW2. Getting to max level is dead easy, as is getting a set of exotic gear. The thing is, one set of gear isn’t good for all builds, a power set will do terrible with a condition build, dps stats can’t heal worth a damn. You also need to go out and earn skills (especially the expansion ones).

So getting to max power (or very close there to) is pretty quick, but getting to max power for all content can take a lot of work.

note: yes there is ascended gear, but they are only a few % higher than exotics and the stat bonus is more than outweighed by skilled play.

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Axetwin .

The main difference between the extra 10 levels added with each WOW expansion, and the extra skills added with each new GW2 expansion, is the WOW players have to actually play the new content if they want to keep leveling. In GW2, there are far more Hero Points to earn, than there are to spend, meaning when a new xpac drops, anyone that’s been playing for any basic amount of time on a single character already has what they need to fully unlock the next Elite Spec. I wouldn’t exactly call that a “need to go out and earn skills”.

Of course you wouldn’t build for Condi damage if you’re using Power skills. That’s an odd thing to bring up. But since you did, the Power meta is still Berserker, which is a core gear set. A full set of Exotic Berserker gear might run you 10-15 gold. Now, hang on, yes I’m talking about the basic Berserker Exotics. There is gear that runs in the 100’s of gold per piece, but the stats are no different, you’re paying such a high price because it makes you look different (assuming you don’t just transmog the basic gear). As I said, Fashion does not constitute extra content, or progression.

I will give you Mastery though. However, that brings us back to the extra 10 levels with each new WOW xpac. That’s what the new mastery lines, and the new Elite Specs amount to, that extra 10 levels that may or may not be a slog to earn, and may or may not even be worth the grind it takes to get it.

fallwind
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fallwind

“Of course you wouldn’t build for Condi damage if you’re using Power skills. That’s an odd thing to bring up”

odd how? that’s an example of exactly what horizontal progression *is*. You spend extra time earning/unlocking new builds that don’t make you stronger at one thing, but rather equally strong at multiple things. Some fights are better suited for condition damage and some are better for power damage, if you only have a build for one then you will suffer in the other, but if you have both you will be stronger across a wider section of the game.

Then if you want to tank… guess what, you need a new build. If you want to heal, new build, if you want to buff (ie: quickbrand), new build. None of those builds are vertical in nature, they don’t invalidate your berserker build, but rather add new options on top of it.

that’s horizontal progression, no cosmetics needed.

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David Blair

So when I think about horizontal progression, Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the best example I can point to.

BotW has a little bit of vertical progression in the form of attack power on weapons and defense on armor (thus ilvls) that can be increased to help someone that’s bad at combat do better. There’s also the option to increase your max HP and max Stamina.

I’m not sure how you would balance WoW like dungeons using horizontal progression mechanics. Are we going to instantly fail the dungeon because Bob didn’t complete the quests to get the abilities Time-Stop or Double-Jump, or do all dungeons have to be built around a lowest common denominator so that they can always be completed by a group of 5?