WoW: How New Leveling Killed My Desire to Play Retail

Before getting to the heart of the matter in this little humor post, a little contextualization is necessary. Like many dangerous players approaching their thirties, WoW was the first big video game hit of my life. I still remember, coming home from college, fantasizing (this is the right word) about my future journeys in Azeroth, as well as the journeys I was about to embark on, “attached” almost to my personal. Wow, that was also my first real online experience. I realized, literally, the power of the Internet, and the fact that people can be connected in wonderful worlds.

All this to say that no other video game in the world makes me more nostalgic than WoW. The satisfaction of making your character stronger, teaching him new techniques and rubbing shoulders with more terrifying monsters and moments is something I have not found anywhere else.

mood ticket

This article is a mood post. This is obviously very subjective, and only reflects my “intimate” feelings on a question.

Sesame, do not open

And the years passed. I was forced to let go of WoW for a while, although the MMO continued to live in my thoughts, in a more distant way. And a few years ago, a few months after the release of MOP, I said, I installed the game. The graphics became beautiful, and I immersed myself in the joy of the world of WoW.

But very quickly, another feeling started to tickle me. The levels follow each other at full speed, and the evolution of my character does not give me as much pleasure as before. No need to open my quest log to read, role playing style, the exciting missions available to me, where to go and who to defeat. Everything is shown in minimap, which has become a high-end portable GPS. Dungeons, once sacred moments from which you emerge exhausted but happy, have become turbo-booster devices. No more greeting or connecting with other adventurers. The group is created automatically, then separates, and you are teleported to the next dungeon. And repeat again. The small taste of completing a dungeon turns into fast food-style force-feeding. We are chained. Time flew by. There is no time to linger.

World of Warcraft

And I haven’t told you yet Sesame. Small “bonuses” that bring your characters directly to level 50 or 60, within the content of the latest expansion. So there is the leveling completely dissolved in space-time. Exit the joy of learning to discover his character and his class step by step. It is delivered turnkey, ready for new moments. Of course, the sesame seeds are optional, and Blizzard doesn’t require us to start our adventure at level 50. But they sealed the coffin of Leveling up is laborious but oh so exhilarating.

The Waste of a Wonderful World

I re-read the beginning of my post, and I admit it’s a bit old, who thinks “it was better then”, etc. But let me explain why, in my view, leveling the “hard way” is cool. Besides the “satisfying” part of improving your beloved character level after level, there is also the challenge of loving Azeroth and its wonders.

As a teenager, when my father asked me “how big” is the world I roam around, I replied that it would literally take me several dozen hours to walk with my troll to cross even a continent. And he was trapped. It’s okay: a few years later I realized I was exaggerating, because Kalimdor is only 20 kilometers from north to south.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

But it’s the same: kilometers and kilometers of beautiful scenery. From frozen tundras to dry deserts, through dark swamps and lush forests. World of Warcraft is also a unique world of incredible depth. All have NPCs, each with a story, anecdote and secret. And I passed the verse on the architecture of the cities, the detailed decorations on the things in the buildings, and of course the huge bestiary of each small region. World of Warcraft, as its name suggests, is a world, a real one. Carefully crafted for nearly two decades by highly talented developers. But that, we tend to forget when we teleport from dungeon to dungeon at the speed of light, without time to do a quest, because “too long and not enough EXP value”.

The titan turned into a two-headed hydra

So what’s left of the WoW of my teenage years when each new expansion sweeps across too many regions to explore all at once? When each new continent is cleared and then all the previous ones are no longer available? If it’s possible to get to level 50 without leaving Orgrimmar, by chaining the same dungeon run?

It is with WoW Classic, in 2019, that Blizzard gives an answer to all these questions (and to all old nostalgics like me). Going back to basics is certainly exciting, but it can also be read as an admission of weakness. Directly related to the failure to create a unique gaming experience that satisfies veterans, casual players and new players alike.

Personally, I want to enjoy each expansion at my own pace, without being forced to rush through opuses that I didn’t have time to practice when they were released. The gaming experience, at Retail, seems horribly cut to me. And this is a shame, because for me each extension has its share of delicious details and luxurious regions, easily buried after the induction of a new opus.


After long weeks of waiting, players of the Classic version of World of Warcraft can finally rejoice: the Wrath of the Lich King expansion finally has an official release date! The experience bonus “Happy Travel” is also making waves!

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