Monday, February 05, 2007

The Cost of Leveling in the Burning Crusade

If your anything like me then you've probably been on a slow but steady pace to reach level 70 since the Burning Crusade came out last month. Most people don't seem to be in that much of a rush to get a flying mount and are happy exploring the new zones and quests. However, as my character has added notches to his leveling belt I've started to notice a heart breaking trend. My critical strike and hit ratings are suffering huge drops every time I reach a new level. Its really taken some of the anticipation out of leveling since it seems I am getting a ridiculous amount of hitpoints at the cost of being attacked by the nerf bat.

Even my warrior friends are complaining. Well okay they are always complaining but this time they have a valid reason. Out of all the classes in World of Warcraft they seem to depend the most on the non-attribute stats of Dodge, Parry, Block, Crit, Hit, and Resilience. These are the bread and butter of a tank's ability to mitigate physical damage and they are basically being nerfed each level. Before level 60 the nerf is small and hardly noticeable to the average player. However, in the expansion because of the way the gear scales up so quickly Blizzard decided to multiply this penalty. Now some classes are seeing almost a half percent decrease in the non-attribute stats each level.

All in all this penalty is just a good trick to fight the mudflation of items in the expansion. Blizzard introduces these new items with much higher stats and power in an attempt to get players to buy the expansion and invest more time in their game. Yet Blizzard is a bit smarter then the average MMO company and they know that mudflation can quickly result in ridiculous numbers and overpowered players. So they make the impact of these stats mean less at the new levels in the game. Thus a warrior might squeal when they get a +45 critical strike sword without realizing that at level 70 this is only about 1%.

Now while I don't necessarily like to see my combat stats drop I do realize that Blizzard has a reason behind their madness. Basically they increased the amount of hitpoint/stamina itemization while decreasing the critical strike and hit ratings at each level for one important reason. They want to slow combat down. Previously in PvP combat it was very easy for classes with high burst damage to kill others without even giving the victim a chance to respond. By slowing down combat and giving more hitpoints to each class they are trying to prevent this scenario. After all every time someone is attacked without any chance to respond they go straight to the forums and start a nerf thread.

Still an enterprising individual can see a couple of loopholes in the current system. One of the major ones would be to equip level 57-60 characters with the green drops that come from the level 60 mobs in the Outlands. These items have the increased stat itemization and can be equipped by characters without any major penalties. Not only would a character in such armor rock through the old world content but they would also get quite the advantage in PvP combat.

Still despite the loopholes and overbearing penalties the new system might be beneficial in the long run especially if Blizzard starts releasing an expansion each year. Several games like Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot have already killed the ability of new players to join by letting expansion mudflation go unchecked. At least Blizzard is trying something proactive. And truthfully as long as the new items have higher numbers and better graphics I doubt most players will care about the penalties.