During an inverview with content creator MrGM, Lead Game Designer for World of Warcraft Morgan Day revealed that, with the release of the next expansion, Shadowlands, heirlooms will no longer provide an XP bonus.
Calm down: the world is not falling, and the sky is not ending. Or something like that.
The important thing here is to take into account how long it takes to level currently with the heirloom bonuses, and how long it will take to level in Shadowlands without them. In the current game, taking the heirloom bonus into account, it can take roughly 40-60 hours, or more, for an average player (that number, of course, varies depending on whether you’re experienced and/or trying to powerlevel). In Shadowlands, however, according to what Morgan Day states in the interview, their expectation is for experienced players to take 10-20 hours, even without the bonus.
In other words: a bonus is just an increase to a number. If you add 50% to the number 100, it will still be smaller than the number 200.
The lesson here is simple: they’re redesigning leveling from the ground-up because of the level squish, and they’re using that opportunity to determine new values, both for how much XP is needed to reach every level, and for how much XP each quest or each mob gives. These numbers are being redone in a way where something even bigger than the current heirloom XP bonus is being baked directly into regular leveling, one could say.
“But what about the investment I made to purchase all of those heirlooms? Will that go to waste?”
That is a valid question. The developers are looking into some kind of new benefit to replace the XP bonus, but they haven’t announced anything yet. Rest assured, though: heirlooms will still be worth using for some reason — beyond the benefit of having gear that scales with you as you level, which is already a good thing — even if we don’t know what that reason will be, as of yet.
In addition to that, here’s a hard truth that not everyone might be willing to hear: the resources you invested for heirlooms in the past have already paid off. You’ve already used those heirlooms and leveled faster because of them. This change does not take those levels away from you. I know that this might not be what many people want to hear, but it’s true.
Sure, I expect people to still feel like they need to be reimbursed, but it’s a similar situation to what happened with training costs for riding skills in the past. If you payed for them, you got to ride your mounts much earlier, and for much longer, than if you hadn’t. That in itself has inherent value. If you had never purchased your heirlooms, it would have taken you much longer to level the characters you already have. You purchased free time, and you already got it.
Personally, I feel like this is a good change. We don’t know yet what the new buff will be, but it seems like heirlooms will no longer be “mandatory.” I honestly miss getting gear upgrades as I level — I find that to be one of the most fun aspects of leveling a character in any RPG. And I will have the option to go back to playing the game like that, if I want to, without feeling like I’m being penalized for it.
But I expect the majority of players that already have heirlooms will keep using them, even without the XP buff, for several reasons. The practicality of getting a brand new character almost fully geared — helms and shoulders included — from level 1. The ability to pick a transmog look and not have to keep changing it as you level, since the main pieces of your gear won’t be replaced. The fact that the power level of your gear automatically updates with each new level you earn. And I’m sure there’s more.
There’s plenty of value to heirlooms even without an XP bonus — and with the devs looking to add new bonuses, they’ll still be worth it for leveling in Shadowlands.
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