Home > Cataclysm, Endgame Content, Expansion, World of Warcraft > “The Race to Level-Cap” or “Skipping the Best to Get to the Rest”

“The Race to Level-Cap” or “Skipping the Best to Get to the Rest”

Why do we rush through new content if we are always so starved for it?

An interesting dichotomy exists in MMOs, especially those that are subscription-based. Players, generally speaking, get very antsy when new content isn’t available and they are farming the same old (conquered) content for months. The clamor for more content reaches deafening proportions, with the truly hardcore claiming their monthly subscriptions deserve additional content. Then the developer creates the new content, populates the world with thousands of new NPCs, mobs, quests, encounters and events, and releases it.

A week later, the top players have killed the toughest boss in the game, effectively wrapping up all endgame PvE content for the time being. Sure you could argue that:

  • It is only the 10-man Nefarian kill, the 25-man remains to be killed: OK first, Blizzard said 10-man and 25-man and are alike in difficulty, so nah nah na-na-naaaah! Second, let us also not forget that the toughest encounter during the initial days of WotLK was the 10-man Sartharion. And third, the 25-man version was bugged out, and even if it wasn’t, how long before that bastard is killed as well?
  • There is a ton of new content for starting players and those who want to re-roll: Sure, but we are talking about the players who were anxious for new content. This effectively implies they were already playing. And second, because they were already playing the game, re-rolling was clearly a option they had considered and either exhausted or ignored. The new races might cause a few players to test out the new starting zones, but by-and-large, the player who cried for new content is looking for content at and/or above his level.
  • There is Archeology: Yup, and if you would take Tobold’s word for it, it is also quite entertaining. But how long will Archeology keep you happy, or leveling new professions, or freaking fishing?

The point is that there may be a ton of new features in the new expansion, but the feature we are most interested in, new storyline content, we zip through at breakneck speed.

I looked around in the blogosphere, and at the time of writing this post (Saturday):

The list can go on and on. Did I mention it hasn’t been a full week since Cataclysm hit? I am not saying I am any different, hell I’d probably be in my first raid instance by this time. But the fact of the matter remains: MMO expansions are one of the few things in life where the destination matters a lot more than the journey. Perhaps we are genetically coded to get to the finish line ahead of the competition, and much like a 100-meter dash, completely ignore the periphery, the surroundings and the length of track that you sprinted on to get to the end.

I just find it baffling that guilds like Exorsus and Paragon have already cleared all endgame content, and will not be trapped in an endless cycle of repitition till the next content patch. Where is the fun in that? Again, I am not saying I am above all that. No, not at all. I am very much a part of this MMO community, and possess the same mindset for getting there first, beating the competition, but at least I am increasingly aware of how much I am missing on the way.

I’m quite certain that realm first achievements don’t particularly help either.

  1. December 14, 2010 at 4:06 am

    Definitely, I think competition has something to do it. Even if it’s not a world first or a server first or an anything first, some people like the bragging rights of being among the earliest to experience certain content. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, since that in itself can be pretty fun too. I’m like that with grabbing rare pets as soon as possible. For others, it might be the rush to level 85 or to be the first to clear a raid.

    Anyway, I used to be overcome by that urge to experience as much as I can in as little time as possible, but I’ve definitely mellowed out over the last couple of expansions. It’s absolutely the journey for me now, and not the destination. There’s so much to do, when I remind myself that the game will still be here tomorrow, next week, next month, the idea of rushing anywhere starts to make me feel a little silly.

    • December 14, 2010 at 7:18 pm

      Precisely how I feel! There is so much to do, and so many epic story-lines so many of us just vault over and forever place in their rear-view mirrors. It’s actually kind of sad.

  2. Tesh
    December 14, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Rushing is a financial decision, too. If you can see all CAT has to offer in a month, that’s $15/month you save for each one you’re not playing after you’re “done”.

    • December 14, 2010 at 7:19 pm

      I suppose you have a point. But you can easily go through that content in a full month and fully enjoy everything in the periphery and the lore and the purpose of everything you are being asked to do. Not to mention the fact that you can’t experience true end-game in a month in WoW.

      • Tesh
        December 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm

        That depends a fair bit on how much time per month you get to play.

        That said, this really is a minor consideration for most, I think. The race is the thing, not the cost.

  3. Masith
    December 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I think top guilds in the world should generally be looked at as an anomaly rather than representative of the community. Personally I rushed the leveling experience because for me the things I enjoy in wow are raiding and heroics and I hit 85 on wednesday so I can get on with spending the next 6 months on the new content I enjoy.

    Of course it also has to be pointed out that its only the normal versions of the bosses which have been killed so far not the heroic versions so I don’t think even the top guilds have cleared all content yet.

  4. December 15, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I wrote a blog post in the past about how games such as WoW should push most of their content to the end game. Think how many more instances could have been made if that was the focus of the content in Cata instead of the ‘planned obsolesence’ questlines and levelling areas. I think the stats showed (back then) out of the 80ish instances, only 22 were endgame, rest you did once or twice before outlevelling them. I think that number should be reversed, where you have 60 end game instances to enjoy the gameplay.

    Of course, I am one of those players who don’t enjoy levelling one bit, but enjoy the socializing and fun in grouping once you get there.

  5. December 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    @Tesh: Agreed, this endless race seems to be the focal point.

    @Masith: I don’t think this applies to the top guilds in the world. Back on Eitrigg, there were seven Alliance guilds and three horde guilds that were in end-game instances. When TBC hit, all ten guilds raced to level up so they could have enough bodies to get into the endgame content. While the race to the final boss was completed by the high-end guilds, I remember the first few kills often went to second tier guilds simply because everyone just rushed to kill those first bosses.

    And yes I agree that it is an individual choice. If it makes you happy, I can’t force it on you that you must enjoy what leads to the endgame more than the endgame itself. As long as you’re happy doing what you are doping, the rest is just noise, including my own 🙂

    @Isey: Interesting observation. There is a blog post in there somewhere, especially regarding the viability of the “leveling dungeons” vs. the “endgame dungeons”.

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