Dragged it out, but here I am
Roughly a month after Shadowlands released, here I am at 60. I was in no particular hurry and have probably been left far behind by my guildmates. However, if you gulp you can get indigestion, so I’ve been chewing slowly and steadily.
My approach has been to take one toon up a level, then another, and then another, with a level’s separation between Grimm / Illume / Jasra / Floramel. So, today I popped 60 on Grimm which means when I next level Illume, she’ll pop 59, and so forth.
This has worked pretty well before, but there’s a problem with Shadowlands.
In the past, there has been a barely-visible set of railroad tracks under your feet, but they took multiple paths to max level. In BC we all started in one place, then took multiple paths out of there. In Wrath we started in two different places. Same for Cataclysm, with a reversion to the BC model in MoP and WoD and BfA, and a great multiple entry model in Legion (the best IMO).
But here, in Shadowlands, we’re locked on to very strong tracks, and they will not abide deviation from a given path. You don’t advance from one zone to the next without achieving certain key points – Maldraxxus is the most blatant, with its five runes. Get all five and you’re off to Ardenweald.
I do see that there are flight points available to all zones at some point, but I’m not sure if you can actually fly to one out of sequence. Something to look into.
So, overall it’s been a slice, but it’s been an increasingly boring slice. Hopefully once I complete all the storylines I will have more choice in what I do next, but right now it feels like some bloke in Irvine is playing the game for me. The levelling game feels like it’s been written out of the story so we can rush into endgame. Seriously, why not eliminate it completely if that’s how you feel? Publish a comic book and be done with.
I’m pretty sure that this game would be a lot more playable for my alts if I maxxed out one character before levelling any of the others, but that basically means I needed to have foreseen this and adjusted my playstyle before I ever played. Pretty stupid assumption if I’m honest. Never trust a software engineer – or game designer – to be particularly smart.
The most annoying part of this is that Shadowlands would be easily playable as a four-starting-zones game, ala Legion. But they chose not to do it that way. Reflect on that.