Home » Cataclysm

Cataclysm Level Cap Should Have Been 90

Posted on Dec 15, 2010 by: Jason Zimmerman
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Cataclysm Leveling speed and level cap

Cataclysm has only been out for a week and I’ve come to the conclusion that the level cap should have been set at 90 instead of 85.

Let’s ignore the Paladin named Forscience who went from 80 to 85 in just over five hours. He doesn’t count because inevitably someone always gets the first level capped character with help from friends and mob tagging.

We will also ignore the people who played endlessly and reached 85 the first day or two after Cataclysm’s release. I’m actually going to take the speed at which people reached 85 out of the equation entirely and focus on something different: content.

Going into Cataclysm I made an assumption, which has turned out to be wrong, that there would be five new zones (excluding Tol Barad) and therefore one zone per level. I thought that we would be able to see all the content as we leveled and when we hit 85 we would have quested in each of the zones.

Wrong.

As of this moment I am level 84. I’ve taken a pretty standard route to get where I am. I’ve mainly quested solo, but also fit in a few dungeon runs to round out the experience. I’d say that this is the Blizzard approved method of leveling. And by that I mean, this is what Blizzard had in mind for how the majority of players would level.

So what’s the problem you ask? The problem is that I’ve only quested in two zones.

I started questing in Mount Hyjal and followed it through to the end. (Side note for those who haven’t done it yet, you should make sure to see the last quests in Hyjal) In the process I ran Blackrock Caverns three times.

From there I decided to move on to Deepholme, where I did enough questing to get the zone questing achievement, and then finished up with the Therazane dailies. I also did two Stonecore dungeon runs in the process.

That brings me to today. I’m level 84 and I’ve only seen two zones. I’ve already skipped Vash’jir, now I can skip Uldum and move on to Twilight Highlands where I will hit 85.

I think that Blizzard could have very easily made the level cap 90 with the content that we currently have. From Mount Hyjal I could have gone to Vash’jir, then to Deepholme, then to Uldum, and finally to Twilight Highlands where I would hit level 90. I would see all the content while I was leveling rather than going back and doing it later.

For a lot of us, once we hit max level it becomes a game of running heroics for gear and then moving on to focusing on raiding. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to go back and run content that we out-level.

If you want to see all the Cataclysm content you can do so with alts or by going back after the fact for the fun or the gold from quests, but it’s a shame that we can easily skip two zones.

At this point if you are saying, “But we could skip zones in previous expansions”. True, but in Northrend there are a total of 9 zones (excluding Wintergrasp) as opposed to 5 in Cataclysm.

If you are only going to give us five zones, don’t only give us five levels to do it in because then it really does feel short and like we got a bit ripped off. Making the level cap 90 would have made the leveling experience much more fulfilling and less like the lack of high level questing content it currently feels like.

Had the level cap been set at 90 then players would have felt as though the high level questing experience was more like previous expansions and less like its current state: merely a setback.

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  • http://psynister.wordpress.com/ Psynister

    Sounds like you’ve got an issue of jumbled priorities there, man. You’re saying you didn’t see all the content, yet you’re also saying that for you the game is a matter of getting to the level cap and then grinding heroics until you can raid. You’re saying you want to take it slow so that you can rush through and raid.

    Running the dungeons while you were leveling is where you screwed up your content viewing. If you’re going to grind those heroics for your gear, then why did you bother doing the normal versions 2-3 times? If you wanted to see the content and see the dungeons, then you should have run them only once. You traded your content for quick experience and some gear that you’re going to replace right away in the gear grinds. You’re planning to grind them on heroic anyway, so why bother with multiple normal runs?

    I finished all of Hyjal at level 82.3, then finished Deepholm at 83.5 and mysteriously ran out of quests in Uldom at 84.05 and then moved to Twilight Highlands. I didn’t quest in Vash’jir on that toon because it wasn’t necessary as the gear rewards are almost identical to everything in Hyjal down to 1-2 stats on each piece.

    What do you really want to do? Do you want to reach the level cap and start raiding or do you want to savor the questing experience? Answer that question and then ask yourself what’s stopping you. Is it really the game design that’s giving you issues or is it standards you’ve set for yourself or maybe that your guild have set for you?

    We’re a week into the expansion and people are already raiding. You can’t tell me a week in you’re already so pressed for time that you cannot go back and experience the content you’ve missed. If your guild requires you to be ready for raids and fully dedicated to them every night once they start, then I guess you’re screwed. But that’s not a problem in game design, that’s a problem in guild standards.

    I’m not disagreeing with the post though, I do think going to level 90 would have been better. Not so much from a content viewing stance, but rather because I’ve spent only three days of normal play time actually leveling and I got so close to pushing one toon to 85 that I bailed to another that I got to 83 and then bailed to another because I don’t want the expansion to already be over and done with in less than a week. I haven’t seen all of Vash’jir yet, and I think I just found out this morning where my missing Uldom quest chains are (freaking phasing crap), so I haven’t seen all of it just yet, but I’ve seen all of the other pre-85 zones on at least two toons.

    Another 5 levels might have made it easier to see all the zones on a toon while leveling, but it also would have encouraged even more regular dungeon grinding before heroic dungeon grinding for your raiding. I honestly don’t think another 5 levels would have made enough difference to matter at all.

    If you want to see the content, then go see the content. The only person stopping you is yourself.

  • http://wowphiles.com Jason Zimmerman

    Psynister, I love your long response. It also caused me to think some more about this.

    First off, perhaps multiple dungeon runs was not helping things. But they were fun :)

    Second, after some more thought, and not just being emotionally charged, I can narrow down where my issues lie:

    1) The leveling experience feels too short. The five levels go by too fast and feel like we got half the upper level content of a 10 level expansion.

    Adding the 5 more levels would be more of a psychological thing to make it seem like more content because it would force you to do every zone. Whereas getting nearly to max level in 2 zones feels short-changed. (As a side note, I thought running the dungeons 2-3 times was average, though I could be wrong.)

    2) I want the questing experience to mean something. For me, gaining xp and gaining levels gives it the meaning I’m looking for. I think this is probably a personal issue for me and the reason that I don’t have Loremaster. I enjoy the process of questing, but for me, once I’ve out-leveled the content I don’t want to go backwards. I want to do it when it’s relevant to the leveling process and relevant to my character’s progression.

    Sure if I want to see content,read quest text, familiarize myself with the story lines I can go back and do it. But to me, I just enjoy it more when I’m leveling through it. I’m weird, I know, but I just have this desire to keep moving forward.

    All in all, I’d agree that some of my issues are just my own personal issues and not flaws in the development of the game. But I still believe that getting 80-84 in two zones and 5 dungeon runs is just too fast and makes the high level experience feel shorter than it could have been.

    Thanks for the discussion!

  • http://twitter.com/deana331 deana

    Interesting conversation. I agree that 90 could have been the cap. Getting to 85 didn’t take enough time. I also did not do all the zones. In fact, I was able to almost fully bypass Uldum after completing Deepholm with the intention that my next toon would do that area to experience the content. I did do all of Twilight Highlands. I only did parts of the first H and V due to ganking and crowding the first few days. I simply wanted to quest and could not get it done. (I was on vacation and was trying to maximize play time.)

    I loved Deepholm. The space-like light-gravity atmosphere and questing into the zone was stellar. I often hang out there now when farming for herbs :). I loved and hated the Highlands. Mobs were a lot meaner there, but still fun. Just a lot more recovery time when questing alone.

    Also, I truly LIKE to run dungeons. I could do so with 4 other guildie. It was a nice switch of pace when the quest areas were really full and frustrating me. Here was a controlled (sorta lol) environment to hone my triage healing skillz.

    Aye, 90 would be good…and actually perhaps a couple more zones too, since the new content is so much fun to do.

  • http://psynister.wordpress.com/ Psynister

    I agree with you on Deepholm, which is really weird for me. I’m not a fan of sci-fi type settings, and even Outlands bugs me because of it. I think it has to do with the fact that it’s all closed in and you know it; you can tell you’re inside the earth rather than floating around in space or something. Of course, the bazillion herb/mine nodes in the zone do a lot to make me love it too, but still.

  • Domgatto

    I don’t know about you, Jason, but leveling is a pain to me. I’m glad they made it somewhat interesting, MUCH more interesting than Wrath or BC was, but I’m also glad that it didn’t take me a solid 3 weeks to hit the level cap. I’m a casual player with a full time job and priorities, so getting the time to sit down and burn through content does not come easy to me. I enjoyed this expansion because for the first time in my WoW career it actually felt like I was playing a video game, not counting down the XP bar until I could raid.

    The cutscenes were immersive, the quests were never really all that dull, the zones were fantastic. I’m just so damn happy that I didn’t have to keep on questing well after boredom set in. The way that they made the game a wham-bam-move on to the next zone deal was a good idea. 85 was smart, practical, and works for both the hardcore gamer and the casual gamer alike.

  • Sean

    Doubt you’ll get from 84-85 doing just one zone. I did all the quests in Uldum after starting there about 5% into 84, and i’m @ 70% to level. 80-84 flew by, but 84 seems so much longer.

  • Akiris

    good point m8, nice article, like u gathered all i was thinking

    thmbus up on this !!

  • Dubrech

    It seems to me that Blizzard think WOW is good enough for two more expansions after this, as there is no way they’ll go past level 100. I’d say it was simply a tactical decision rather than a practical one. The next expansion will be 86-95, then the final, all encompassing 96-100. No more after that…

  • http://wowphiles.com Jason Zimmerman

    That does make sense. But, can I just say that the day when there are no more WoW expansions will be a very sad sad day.

  • Tadedra

    I honestly think that Blizzard was trying to do this on purpose. Part of the Alt leveling problem is doing the same stuff again. Sure you can do Dungeon leveling but you have to solo sometimes. This way when you are leveling an alt (which I’ve heard this is what blizzard really wants with the whole bring the player not the class motto). So sure you Blaze up to 85 and are ready to raid. But you missed Vashir. Cool because now running your DK won’t be boring. Finished Vashir, now you can run that new goblin priest through Uld, haven’t seen that yet. Not to mention the full list of new experience from 1-60. Outlands: I’m sure most people maybe dungeon leveling that and may also explain why they dropped the number of xp needed.

    I actually would have like the pyramid affect 3 starter zones 80-82, 2 mid zones 82-84 then a capper with 2 or 3 distinct options of question chains. There’s so many bad guy options it would have been great to have a DeathWing Version, an Old God version and a PVP save the Treaty because the Twilight Cultist are undermining everything Version. All leading to the final raids.

  • Wowphiles Metyx

    I completely agree with everything in this article. There is plenty of content to support 10 levels — it feels very artificial that there were 5 levels added to this expansion.

  • Metyx

    No, it doesn’t work for the casual gamer. I like whittling away at the levels, because it is raiding I don’t have time for. Us casual gamers can play in sporadic bursts here and there, but can’t necessarily set aside a block of time every week for raiding. The questing and leveling is fun, and 5 levels feels way too short.

  • Csr391

    According to the Cataclysm guide, half way through this expansion they will be raising the level cap to 90.

  • spandyman256

    I’m hoping if there a 6th exopansion we get to 99 or 100 and then wow can die a fast death like everquest  and we can move on to the next thing or can i hold wow in my hearts forever like some 8 bit games become immortalized