I've decided to accept Blizzard's offer as Lead Leveling Experience Designer and as my last act as an independent blogger, I'm giving you a sneak preview. Okay yes, there is such a job; they made it in response to my endless whining about the marginalization of the leveling experience and progressive trivialization of content.
So here we go: All raids will be unlocked by the raid before and all expansions are unlocked by the last raid of the previous box. In other words, progression starts with level 60 MC, goes up to AQ40, then moves on to leveling in Outland, before again going Kara...BT, then Northrend. You get the idea. The general concept is the title: Lowbies don't do Molten Core enough. This is something on which all teams have agreed: Molten Core was the pinnacle of raiding. If players hadn't liked it, why did they spend so much time in there, make songs about it, and even another game recreation?
More seriously, lowbies don't do Molten Core, or any raid, enough. There's a whole lot of content that they will likely never see because it doesn't fit neatly into the "race to 80 and then race to get gear for whatever the top raid is" method. Iapetes and I were talking about this recently, batting around ideas from raiding to mini-heirlooms. We settled on the most logical solution: Molten Core.
Expecting 40 sub-80 players to get together for a raid isn't reasonable. Even if it gave 50x the XP of normal questing and grinding, it will be such a hassle and take so long to form that it wouldn't be worth it. So let's cut that down to 10. And then let's add our most favoritist bestest friends ever: Garrosh and Varian.
Picture this: You run BRD and along the way pick up some bits of lore. Or not. Maybe you get some loot, which will last a little bit in Outland since there's no more gear reset from Azeroth to Outland (there still is, I mean in this picture that I am typing; hang in there, I have a few hundred words to go). There's this big bad down there, in the Molten Core, and he is mean to puppies. So while questing in BRD and saving a princess, you discover this and so with your respective best friend and a few dozen random NPC soldiers, you go running down to MC. Varian and company do tons of damage against trash, but won't trivialize bosses, so you still get some challenge. Yes, you can actually wipe. No corpse run though, the NPC priests will cover for you. It is meant to be challenging but not irritating.
The goal is to give some of the good parts of the MC experience, while making fun of the bad ones. As you kill bosses the NPCs will gain the respective piece of tier 1, building up until they are fully geared for the fight with Majordomo Executus. Then they switch to FR-based clown suits for Rag. Meanwhile you get absolutely no gear off any boss. However core hounds drop hundreds of gold each, so loot them!
In the end you defeat Ragnaros and are awarded some awesome prize. Maybe a weapon that will last a few levels, perhaps a piece or two of gear (great time to fill itemization gaps in the early BC blues), and of course more than enough XP to make the raid worth it.
These would be phased events, somewhat like Battle for the Undercity, so completing them won't mean you can't come back and farm it normally (if you want to for some reason). There could be other raids, with similar mechanics. I think AQ40 would be a great candidate as well.
The goal is to make leveling seem more epic, as if it were a true struggle (for the characters, not for us), rather than just a long grind before the real game starts. It would give a small taste of raiding without too much pressure.
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