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WoWJul 27, 2018 2:00 pm CT

Blizzard didn’t intend to make leveling slower in patch 8.0… but it is

Back in patch 7.3.5, the World of Warcraft developers rebalanced the game’s low level content and intentionally slowed down the rate at which characters level up. This was a divisive decision at best, especially at a time when players were all trying to push their new Allied Race characters to max level as quickly as possible. With the arrival of patch 8.0, players noticed leveling was even slower still — and shared their reports of such on the official forums. In one such thread, potential oddities in how mob health scales after the patch 8.0 stat squish were cited for the cause of this issue.

Considering slowing down leveling in patch 7.3.5 was intentional, players assumed such changes were intentional in patch 8.0, too. However, a blue post from Game Director Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas recognized leveling is slower in patch 8.0 within certain level ranges — and stated it’s completely unintended. And not only is it unintended, but the developers aren’t even sure of the cause yet.

Originally Posted by Watcher (Official Post)

We “squished” stats and item levels, but this was done with the aim of being neutral with respect to the duration and lethality of combat. When we heard complaints about things taking too long to kill, we immediately assumed we’d gotten those calculations wrong. But a look at the raw data didn’t suggest any clear anomalies. So we started testing empirically: We can run internal 7.3.5 builds, so we set up test characters (e.g. a level 70 wearing appropriate quest gear awarded by quests around that level – Item Level 115 in 7.3.5, Item Level 79 in 8.0.1) and fight outdoor enemies in 7.3.5, and then take the same character in 8.0.1 and fight the same enemies, and compare.

We are seeing the same sort of discrepancies that folks in this thread and others have pointed out, but still have yet to pinpoint the exact aspect of scaling that we failed to account for. We want to understand WHY the numbers are off and fix the underlying cause: Were stats on gear reduced too much? Some aspect of creature armor or other combat calculations? Are our baseline values accurate, but the shape of the scaling curve wrong such that it’s particularly far off the mark in the 60-80 range? We would prefer a targeted solution versus just applying a bandaid fix that could mask deeper issues that could cause problems down the line, but at some point it’s not fair to give you a degraded experience for the sake of that investigation, so we’ll likely go ahead with a blanket health reduction in the near future while we continue to investigate.

Either way, the current state is not the game experience we intended, and it’s something we will fix.

Players who have been complaining about leveling speed after patch 8.0 have also had a particular focus on levels 60-80, which feel like even more of a slog compared to everything else. On that point, too, Hazzikostas agrees and provides some statistics to back up players’ observations.

Originally Posted by Watcher (Official Post)

There is another issue tangentially related to this discussion that I also would like to address: Many feel that it takes too long to level in the 60-80 range in particular, and that the combat pacing issues discussed here are just a piece of that larger problem. We agree – currently players are taking about 15% longer per level, on average, in that range as compared to before 60 or after 80. We’re in the process of assembling a set of changes that will smooth out the experience curve at level 60 and beyond, reducing the experience requirements for those levels.

Before Hazzikostas publicly recognized the problem, I’d wondered if the leveling discrepancy between levels 60 and 80 were a matter of where players chose to level; the world scaling changes in patch 7.3.5 opened up a lot of options in regards to where to go and what to do. However, some zones have a higher quest density, or mob density — perhaps it was a difference between which zones sent players on more fetch quests, or kill quests, or any other such factor. According to Hazzikostas, though, the increased time-per-level seems to be an issue across-the-board at those levels.

No doubt, something’s gone hinky, and it’s good to hear the developers are working hard to resolve the issue.

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