While the announcement of Burning Crusade Classic at BlizzCon last month was of no surprise to even comatose cave dwellers, details of that announcement were. Not everyone was expecting #somechanges or a pre-patch with the two additional races, for example. One of the most surprising parts of this announcement was the fact that Blizzard is going to sell a character level boost for players who want to get an instant level 58 and start in on the expansion content.
Suffice it to say, elite elements of the Classic community lost their dang heads over this. It’s a disgrace! It’s the end of the world! Dogs and cats sleeping together, mass hysteria! It will (dramatic pause) destroy Burning Crusade Classic!
Of course, this is a casual-specific column, so I’m not that concerned over what Johnny Raid-Face thinks about the addition of boosts. His angry tears are always a delicious after-dinner treat for me. Instead, my question for the day is this: Will this level boost be the casual player’s best friend, or are there hidden drawbacks to boosting?
What does the boost entail?
Before we get into our discussion, let’s lay out what we know of the boost so far:
- It’s an optional purchase for an unspecified amount (retail level boosts, for reference, usually go for $60).
- It can be bought only one time per account.
- It will take a character of any level and instantly bring it to level 58.
- It does not include any professions, but it will deck that character out in level 58 gear.
- It cannot be used to boost a Blood Elf or Draenei character.
- It can only be used for Burning Crusade Classic and not WoW Classic.
Not knowing the price point for the boost may be the biggest wrench in trying to decide whether or not this will be “worth” buying for you. Assuming that it’s 60 bucks, that’s a pretty hefty exchange of funds to get a single character ready to play a video game expansion from 2007.
Clearly, we see that Blizzard is playing the compromise game here (while laughing all the way to the bank). The mere presence of boosts is not going to make some people happy, but the limitations placed on those boosts — the price tag, the no-new-races thing, the once-per-account limit — isn’t going to delight others who would’ve loved to see boosts introduced without those restrictions.
I think it’s a good balance, personally. It provides a quick path to getting into Burning Crusade Classic without opening the door too widely for player abuse. Considering that a whole lot of people fell away from Classic over the last year-and-a-half or only are now showing up for the expansion, this is a way to extend a hand to welcome them instead of keeping the gates locked except for The Worthy.
The antidote to eternal leveling
One thing that WoW Classic did well was remind me of how horribly, horribly long and tedious the leveling process used to be. Back in 2004, all MMOs took an obscene amount of time to get to the top, and that was just how it was. But over the years, both WoW and contemporaries changed their mind on this, and these days, you can roll a brand-new character in World of Warcraft and have him or her to Shadowlands in about 12 hours.
In contrast, WoW Classic is a grueling marathon where a single level 60 character represents literal hundreds of hours of leveling. I did a whole lot of research on this to see how many hours it takes, on average, for a character to go from 1 to 60 with a pre-Burning Crusade build. Obviously, this depends on a lot of factors, but the general consensus of an average was 10 days of /played time. That’s 240 hours. Could be longer, could be shorter, but we’re talking several months at the minimum for the average casual who doesn’t have six hours a day to game.
Even allowing for the real possibility that Blizzard institutes the Patch 2.3 changes designed to speed up the leveling process, it’s still a whole gob of time that doesn’t look too attractive when all you want to do is be in Outland with everyone else.
So when the excitement comes down to the wire and everyone’s in a frothing frenzy to get into the shiny new (old) thing, the level boost gives everyone at least a single opportunity to be right there on launch day with everyone else. It’s really an exchange of money to bypass a whole lot of time spent doing something you don’t want to do to get to the thing you do want to do.
Will casuals bite?
At the end of the day, the boost will not be for everyone. There are those of us who already have a level 60 or are planning to roll a Draenei or Blood Elf. And there are those who will look at the additional cost of this and choose to level traditionally instead. There can be no assumption that everyone will boost or be interested in it.
Still, I’m sort of glad that it’s an option. I like having options instead of being forced down a path with no other way. I don’t think those decrying the boost quite realize that this could be the only reasonable way an eager player can get into Burning Crusade Classic and be a meaningful participant in the upcoming proceedings. I can imagine that there’s more than a few players who lit up at this news and felt relieved that they wouldn’t be missing out on all of the fun.
World of Warcraft, like all MMOs, isn’t the sole domain of the elite; there needs to be a place at the table for casuals as well. All together, we make up its communal fabric, so why not make sure that there are ways for us to stay together?