Low-level play is seriously out of whack right now

Nils made a couple of posts on this subject already which got me curious, especially this one. After playing some of my own low-level alts in the past couple of days, I can only confirm that he's not exaggerating. The power inflation at low levels is absolutely insane at the moment.

Example one: I took my level thirty-one protection warrior out to explore and do some mining. In Desolace I aggroed three mobs that were red to me while trying to get to a node. I don't remember the exact level difference, but I believe they were five or six levels higher than me each, maybe even seven. I fought them for about thirty seconds, by which point I decided that this wasn't going to lead anywhere as I was losing health faster than I could reduce theirs, what with the high level-imposed miss chance. So I retreated, ate until my health bar was full again, and then killed the same three mobs comfortably one by one.

Now that just strikes me as wrong, and not just because I couldn't have done that "back in my day". The colour scale is supposed to be an indication of difficulty: grey mobs are trivial to beat, green ones are easy, yellow means medium effort is required, orange means they will be a reasonable challenge, red should be near impossible. At the moment it feels more like everything up to yellow is trivial, and even red mobs only require a couple of button pushes. It's just silly.

Being a warrior, I also found that my rage generation had gone through the roof. Even when I was fighting mobs that died in two or three hits, I was gaining rage faster than I could spend it and as long as I kept fighting my bar was pretty much perpetually stuck at one hundred. So much for rage "normalisation"...

Example two: I noticed that my rogue was getting close to level forty and decided to hop into a battleground before he'd level up into the next bracket, both for fun and to have a shot at the G.N.E.R.D. Rage achievement. I ended up in a WSG match in progress where fifteen of the twenty players were rogues... and they were all one-shotting each other. It was pretty ridiculous really, and I got my achievement very quickly - when people die in one hit, even if it's you sometimes, that leads to a lot of honourable kills. However, gameplay-wise that match was a complete and utter failure. Nobody could run the flag as they would get one-shot the moment someone managed to hit them. There were actually healers on both sides, but they were unable to make a difference in any way, as people went from full health to dead in one global cooldown. I had no urge to go back for another match.

Example three: On the same rogue, I decided to queue for a random instance instead and got into a Scarlet Monastery - Cathedral run. Our tank was a protection warrior on the lower end of the dungeon's level bracket, but he just barrelled through the place like a force of nature anyway. He couldn't always hold aggro, but that seemed to make little difference. The AoE damage from his Thunderclap spam meant that he was top of the damage meter too, as nobody else had any AoE.

Inside the cathedral itself we cleared out the front half of the building in a manic free-for-all as people just aggroed more and more mobs without any negative consequences. Then the warrior ran up the stairs and charged Mograine. "Oh no," I said in chat as the entire second half of the building aggroed on us at once. I hit vanish, fully expecting us to wipe, but the warrior used his Thunderclap spam to get them all on him, and even though he was tanking a dozen mobs three levels higher than him at once, he lived through it quite comfortably. I rejoined the fight when it became clear that he wasn't going to die and we finished the instance.

Once again it was kind of funny in a "this is amazing compared to what I'm used to" kind of way, but at the same time very sad, because from the looks of it this is what all low-level dungeon runs will be like for at least the next two months. Once Cataclysm gets released... who knows? The developers actually don't seem massively concerned, though I also found this quote from Kalgan, where he says that "nobody should be one-shotting at any battleground level" and that those issues will be addressed.

Only a little more than a month ago I said that running Gnomeregan is not like running heroic Nexus in ICC gear, but it seems that even that isn't true anymore now. I'm trying to be positive, but the whole situation does leave me with an uneasy feeling in my gut. After all there's little point in having all these cool abilities if we can just kill anything and anyone with just one hit from our biggest nuke. And saying that the low levels don't matter just doesn't make sense when improving the levelling experience was supposed to be one of Cataclysm's major selling points.


  1. Yeah, I've noticed that on the three main low level alts I have right now. When an L50 Pally wanders into Western Plaguelands and Andorhal, takes on mobs 5-7 levels higher, and comes out unscathed....

    Actually, this is a problem running instances. I can just judge something in BRD after I've given the tank about 5-7 seconds, and still end up pulling aggro. And I don't want to talk about Templar's Verdict, as it will do not only an obscene amount of damage but almost certainly draw aggro.

  2. From what I've heard, the 80+ zones are much harder than what we saw during LK leveling. I imagine that with the remakes of the old zones, the same can be done. Knowing the power of low level characters, Blizzard can make similarly challenging mobs. Beside that, there's still tweaking to do, as already seen with huge ret (and other melee) buffs soon after the patch.

  3. Blizz has said before, and has repeated in the last couple of days, that their protocol is to set the balance for the max level (soon to be 85) and then works backwards through the levels, nerfing or buffing abilities, glyphs, buffs and debuffs to make game play as reasonable as they can for leveling toons. That process has always taken many weeks after a major patch hits the live servers, and expecting anything else this time would be foolish.

  4. I've not noticed _that_ much of a difference to be honest.. I don't feel _much_ more over powered than when heirloom items came in.
    And it's clear heirlooms make hell of a difference - I experimented by rolling 2 dwarf warriors, one of them died a lot.
    In all honesty, I actually love having the signature ability early on, it's always bothered me that you get to a certain level and you have to forget what you were doing and *start again* with a new ability/playstyle..
    I'd rather they buffed the mobs a bit than nerfed the players.

  5. A thought: I've read the suggestion before that the entire span of the leveling curve is something Blizz tries to keep pretty consistent. As such, the race from 1-60 naturally felt slower since there weren't as many levels to cover. Making the race from 1-85 fit into the same time curve will naturally make leveling faster.

    I know, it's sort of a wacky idea, but it could explain why we seem to be able to breeze through things; we're supposed to.

    ...that said, if leveling is too fast, it can be trivialized, which may not be ideal either.

  6. @Anon: I know that balancing takes time, but I don't think I've ever experienced wackiness of this level before, not without it being caused by an outright bug. It just makes me wonder whether I have a very different idea of what's "okay" than Blizzard by now. When a battleground objective becomes practically unobtainable, I think "waiting until Cataclysm" doesn't quite cut it.

    Issy: Maybe it varies a bit depending on class, spec and level bracket? I already commented a few months ago that my low-level paladin seemed slightly overpowered even with no heirlooms, but what I experienced in the past couple of days has simply been a whole new level of insanity.

    And I'm totally in favour of the new system with the signature ability at level ten too... I just don't think that it should become your five-second solution to everything for the next 70 levels. Something as simple as buffing mob health would already help a lot, just so you also get to use your other spells.

    @Tesh: I've read that too, not sure whether I agree with it or not... but either way, my problem in this case isn't with levelling speed, it's with killing speed (the two can be adjusted in relation to each other). Two-shotting things is not particularly engaging, and in the case of my WSG match that part of the game became outright unplayable because the objective simply didn't work with that kind of killing speed.