WoW: Hunting Two Ways and Leveling Concerns

Just a few miscellaneous thoughts on World of Warcraft that weren’t quite worthy of a full post.

Let’s get huntarded in here!

My hunter in the Arathi HighlandsI’m still not sure if I want to stick with my panda hunter long-term, but she’s in her mid-twenties now, which is higher level than any of the other hunters I’ve made in the past. I’m finding that I have mixed feelings on this class.

On the one hand, the removal of minimum range makes questing without a pet a viable option, and I’m actually finding a petless hunter pretty fun to play. Since they can use pretty much all their abilities while moving, it’s a very mobile class, and it’s finally fitting the fantasy of the agile archer class I’ve always wanted.

I’m also finding focus a more interesting resource than I gave it credit for. The back and forth between rapid fire instant spam and long cast times to regain focus provides a unique cadence to combat, and it strikes the balance of requiring careful management so you’re not without focus at a crucial moment while not ever feeling focus-starved. I now want a rogue ability that can be used to regain energy.

On the other hand, hunter is an incredibly “vanilla” class. I feel as though any creativity Blizzard had to give the class went into designing increasingly exotic pets. All of my abilities boil down to shoot a red arrow, or a blue arrow, or a green arrow. They’re mechanically and visually uninteresting. There’s really no reason why I need to have both explosive shot and arcane shot other than to have more than one focus dump.

Every class has something that makes you feel awesome. Mages have living bomb, blizzard, and pyroblast. Rogues have shadowstep and killing spree. Warlocks have… everything.

My hunter and her pet fox in the Arathi HighlandsHunters don’t have anything like that as far as I’ve seen — and I’ve looked far ahead in the spellbook. It’s a mechanically sound and enjoyable class, but it lacks spice. It has no wow factor, no sex appeal. Even just giving the various attacks more exciting visual effects would go a long way to making the class feel better.

I also still don’t like micro-managing pets in a group setting. Although on the plus side, collecting and naming different pets is kind of fun. I’m sure later on I’ll have to just get whatever the most raid-appropriate pets are, but for now, I’m just picking them based on what’s appealing to me. So far I’ve got a white fox named Kumiho and a gray mastiff named Anubis.

The sad state of leveling:

Something’s struck me while playing my hunter: Leveling is really screwed up now.

It’s not that it’s not fun anymore, though it’s definitely less exciting than it once was. But it all feels incredibly slapdash and poorly planned.

For one thing, there’s no excitement to leveling up anymore. While I think the new talent system is a vast improvement from an endgame perspective, it takes some of the fun out of leveling when you don’t have that talent point to spend every time you ding. Getting 1% haste wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it was better than nothing. Since all of a character’s power comes from gear, leveling up is essentially meaningless unless it’s one of the levels at which you gain new abilities.

My Pandaren hunter running through the Ruins of Gilneas in World of WarcraftThat brings to my next point: Whoever planned out the acquisition of new abilities must have been drunk. For example, my hunter learned a grand total of one new active ability between levels three and ten, a very bland single-target snare. Then, at level ten, I earned six abilities all at once — not counting the myriad of pet abilities that also opened up at that time.

Does this make sense to anyone? Anyone at all? Wouldn’t it be better to portion out abilities slowly and steadily, instead of this feast/famine shenanigans?

There’s also the speed at which leveling takes place now. I’d say leveling has become much easier, but it was always insultingly easy. Now it’s just faster.

I don’t personally care for the speed of leveling now, at least in the first few dozens levels. I’d prefer a Guild Wars 2 style leveling curve, where each level takes roughly the same amount of time across the game. I can’t complain too much — we do have the option to toggle off our XP, and I do so frequently.

But it has unpleasant side effects. Character leveling has become much faster, but profession leveling has stayed the same, so you almost invariably outlevel a zone long before you’ve gotten your professions to the appropriate level. Also, I’m not sure if it’s because of CRZ or what, but it seems incredibly hard to find resource nodes in low level zones these days.

My hunter on the Wandering IsleDungeons are also absurdly fast, with most groups full of experienced players covered in heirlooms and filled with the “gogogogo” attitude. Low level dungeons are sprints to the finish, with boss fights usually measured in seconds. How could an inexperienced player learn anything from them?

I do wonder what new players think of the Speedy Gonzales leveling. Are the grateful there’s minimal grind, or are they put off by outleveling every zone before they’re even close to finishing its storyline?

Which brings me to my key point here: I’m starting to wonder if the half-assed approach to leveling is bad for the long term health of the game. I recall Ghostcrawler saying that WoW has always bled players at about the rate it does now, but it also gained new players just as fast. The recent subscription crash is due to a lack of new blood, not the departure of the old guard.

I still enjoy leveling. But I have the advantage of perspective. I know what lies ahead. It’s hard for me to put myself in the shoes of a new player after so long, but if I was new, I think I might make the assumption that all of WoW is as illogical and poorly tuned as leveling. And even if someone does make it to endgame, they’ll have learned nothing about how to play the game properly — though, to be fair, that’s always been a problem.

Let’s not even get into the imbalanced circus act that is low level PvP…

THAT WAS A WORTHY FOE:

My monk flying over the Krasarang WildsOne little advertised feature in patch 5.4 is that rare spawns in Pandaria now show up as skull icons on the minimap. I quickly discovered that the world was full of rares hidden just off the beaten path, and rare-hunting rapidly became one of my favourite in-game activities. The higher level ones present a decent challenge even to well-geared players, you can earn lots of fun vanity items and other loot, and it’s a much more fun (if slightly less reliable) way of getting lesser charms than dailies.

I did most of my rare-hunting on my monk. Brewmaster spec was a good way to stay alive before I mastered the fight mechanics for all of them. I eventually killed enough rares with her that I decided I would attempt to earn the achievement for killing every last rare in Pandaria. More importantly, I would so without using any guides or outside assistance.

It took me several weeks of off-and-on searching, but mostly, I enjoyed it. Pandaria’s a very beautiful place, and I was able to find new rares on almost every journey.

As time went on, I began to puzzle out the secrets to finding rares. It became clear to me that there was one rare of every type in each zone, and their locations usually (not always) obeyed a basic logic. Jinyu are usually near water. Mogu are usually found in Mogu ruins.

My monk kneels over the body of the final Pandarian rare championAs I grew closer to my final goal, I was able to use this knowledge to point me in the right directions. I could remember, “Okay, I’ve killed everything in Kun-Lai except a Jinyu, so I’ll only check around the lakes.”

The last few were tricky, because I wasn’t sure what I was still missing, but at last, I finally hunted down my final target: a Saurok in Krasarang.

It was… *Sunglasses*

My monk's "Glorious!" achievement for killing every rare in Pandaria…Glorious.

YEEAAAAAHH!!!!

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4 thoughts on “WoW: Hunting Two Ways and Leveling Concerns

  1. HaHa – grats on the rares! They are easier to find now that everyone is grinding Timeless Isle. My priest still gets stomped by a few of them so I haven’t got the achievement yet.
    Yeah, the talents distribution is a little wonky. Some talents you get before you have the spells to support them, others you get so late you never get to use them leveling up.
    Hopefully this is on the “fix” list for WoD.
    I like the more “streamlined” leveling myself since most of my “fun” in the game is at max level. I haven’t really progressed enough in GW2 to get a feeling of how their leveling is – my poor character got stuck at level 4 or 5. All her gear is broken with no money for repairs, and you can’t get money for repairs with broken gear so…I haven’t been back for a while.
    I’m going to give TSW a shot this weekend and see how it plays 😀

    • Hey, good choice of timing. They’re doing a Golden Weekend, so you’ll get double ability points.

      If you’d like a guide, shoot me an email with when you’re planning to play, and I’ll try to be on at the same time (my own schedule permitting). I’ve got a low level Lumie running around Kingsmouth.

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