(Picture "borrowed" from Wow Insider)
As you may have noticed, I have levelled a lot of characters. Some of them more recently than others, but still they have all been somewhere on the levelling curve over the last few years.
During that time, the levelling process has changed massively. When I first made my older characters, I can remember that mobs in the start areas were aggressive and had red names.
You had to plan how to kill them and death was indeed possible!
Similarly mobs out in the rest of the world were challenging but not too difficult, always level appropriate, but required you to actually think about what you were doing and to be careful in your explorations.
I remember my shock when I next made a new character to find the start area had been "nerfed" and that the mobs were no longer aggressive. In hindsight, I can see why this has been done, to appeal to new players so that they don't get killed straight away and ushers them gently into the rest of the game.
However, I do feel that the rest of the levelling curve has been made slightly too easy.
Don't get me wrong, I am not looking back at the old ways with rose tinted glasses thinking that was the best! There were times when I purposefully chose to ride around and explore rather than do my quests because I just couldn't kill the mob that I needed to kill, and this went on fairly often until a friend took pity on me and came and helped.
I just feel that perhaps they went a bit too far in the other direction.
Players today are coming in and not meeting any challenge that makes them want to improve to be able to overcome it. The questing is linear (which is a good thing!) but there is also nothing that provides a bit of friction.
Yes I'm aware that its all about getting to end game and people want to rush through the older content, but why should they be able to do it at the expense of actually experiencing the game?
Players are rushing through to end level and then hitting the wall of not actually being able to kill things straight away, which just maybe is where the problem of people wanting "free epics" to outgear things quickly so they can just zerg through it comes from?
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people being able to level quickly and I'm not saying that the levelling curve should be as steep as it used to be pre-Cata - I'm just trying to think what is making people leave the game and is there a way it can be fixed.
Maybe it is the lack of a challenge for many people - and I'm not talking about the few percent that do progress raiding etc. That's not something that I can enjoy or even do! I am talking just about the basic joy of having a slightly difficult challenge and overcoming it, even if it is just how to kill mob X to get object Y to hand in for some shiny XP