WotLK Questing Flaws

In World of Warcraft, players spend a great deal of time leveling their characters.  The first time through is often the longest, and it progressively gets easier and quicker with each additional character leveled.  Now that end game content has become the clear focus for World of Warcraft, the fun of leveling seems to have diminished substantially.

I, for one, still love the leveling aspect of the game.  In particular, the 1-60 leveling experience is phenomenal.  Going from level 60 to 70 in the Outlands, as part of the Burning Crusade is tolerable, and jumping from 70 to 80 in Northrend is excruciating.

Normally, I am a stalwart Blizzard defender.  I am not one to QQ, complain, and raise hell because of gameplay changes.  I often look at “nerfs” and flaws as challenges, and a new aspect of playing the game.  It’s a fun change of pace.  But, I have had a serious issue with the leveling aspect of WotLK these past two years, and I would like to make this little post an appeal to Blizzard to revert to older questing builds.

Vanilla WoW Questing

The original questing and leveling  in World of Warcraft is one of the best gaming experiences I have had…ever.  Zones are rich with content and lore, and there is always a purpose and a set of goals to be accomplished.  There are 4 starting zones to choose from, and with a little travel, any beginning character can begin their WoW journey in a zone of their choosing.

A great part of questing in the first 60 levels is that there are an abundance of zones, often having multiple areas of equal level requirements.  For instance, Alliance players levels 12 through 20 can choose to grind quests in Westfall, Loch Modan, Darkshore, and Bloodmyst Isle.  If they find themselves out of quests in one zone, they can easily move to one of the others.  With travel by boat making Darnassus more readily accessible via the Stormwind port, it’s even easier now to vary up your leveling plans.

The single greatest part about questing in Easter Kingdoms and Kalimdor is the abilty to compile quests, often referred to as quest stacking.  Quest stacking simply refers to gathering as many quests as possible, going out into the zone, and c0mpleting them all before returning to cash them all in at once.  Why is this so great?  Because it saves time.  One of my largest annoyances in WoW is traveling for quests.  While vanilla WoW does have its share of “Go to Darnassus from Hinterlands” type of quests, there are about two to three times more that fall in their respective zones.  Starting off in the Barrens at level 12 or 13 can yield seven to eight quests at a time, with Westfall bringing in almost 10.

Quest stacking yields a very rewarding gameplay experience, and drastically decreases the wasted time of traveling.  I’m not going to lie, I have played WoW for 5 years, and I truly despise completing two quests, turning them in, only to have one more opened up, travel across half the zone to complete that one, then travel all the way back to have two more opened, both of which take me to a quest giver in opposite sections of the zone I am in, further branching out my leveling.

A player who chooses not to quest stack can very literally spend just as much time traveling and they do completing the actual quests they are doing.  This is a time sink, and a huge energy drain on players. Many abandoned toons have fallen victim to this plague!

Burning Crusade Questing

Blizzard seemed to have stuck with quest stacking for Burning Crusade, which is great, but the experience points required to level were drastically increased upon release.  This was remedied as WotLK got closer by decreasing the amount of XP points required per level.

Burning Crusade was much more linear in terms of questing, which makes it the best of the three installments of WoW in those regards. As mentioned above, vanilla WoW is the king of quest stacking, but it still has its random, “make and incredibly long journey to talk to this Gnome, who will then send you back across the world to gather 5 flowers, and upon returning, will send you again to a far away land to get your reward.” In BC, they pretty much eliminated this type of quest, allowing players to stay in the zone for the fully allotted level range.

Wrath of the Lich King Questing

Woe is me.  Rather, woe is questing in WotLK.  The actually quests themselves are very cool.  Blizzard always impresses me with some of the quests they come up with.  But the questing layout is completely flawed, and a complete drain of players’ time and energy. 

I do not work for Blizzard, nor will I claim what I state here is fact, but I do have my theories.  Blizzard want to make questing and leveling a fun part of the game.  But it is apparent that their true focus lies in end game content.  Fine by me, I love end game as much as the next person.  But it would seem there was an oversight on their part in WotLK questing.

Very literally, I don’t think there was one time where I stacked more than 5 quests…and that was a rare few occasions.  Immediately upon entering Northrend, you are sent on one or two quests, only to return to have 1 or 2 more made available. If there happens to be more than that, then it is likely an NPC sending you to another NPC quest hub halfway across the zone.  At times, I had 3 or 4 of these types of quests available to me without even completing the first quest hub I was in.

Here’s how my leveling went:

  • Complete quest 1 and 2
  • Quests 3 and 4 open up, with quest 5 taking me to another NPC
  • Turn in quests 3 and 4, with quest 6 opening up, and quest 7 taking me to another NPC
  • Turn in quest 6, quests 5 and 7 still in my log
  • Quest 6 turn into quests 8, 9, and 10, with 10 being yet another NPC.
  • Turn in 8 and 9, and 11 opens up, with 5,7 and 10 still in my log.
  • Turn in 11, and quest 12 takes me to a new hub. That makes 4 quests taking me to new quest hubs, all of those following this same type of outline.

What’s cruddy about all this is the amount of time spent traveling to and from quest hubs.  It just doesn’t make any sense to have players traveling half the time they are leveling.  It really, really frustrates me to no end!  This is a huge, negative impact to leveling.  Let us enjoy the content, and let us immerse ourselves in the WoW world, instead of dropping us in point A, then removing us and placing us in point B and C, with very little time to enjoy the areas we are working 0n.  BTW, even with epic flying at 70 in Northrend, it’s still a time sink.

Here’s how I would like to see thing laid out for Cataclysm:

  • Quest Hub 1 yields quests 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Turn in 1-6 and obtain quests 7-13
  • Turn in 7-13 and obtain 14-16 (quests start diminishing here)
  • Turn in 14-16 and obtain quests 17 and 18, both of which take the player to 2 new quest hubs, which follow this same outline.

Is this extremely linear?  Yep.  Is it original?  Not really.  Does it immerse the player in the zone they are in, giving them a greater sense of fulfillment while questing?  Absolutely.  Does it reduce travel time?  Absolutely.  Does it make questing less of a grind?  Depending on how you look at it, sure.

I love questing, I really do.  But WotLK leveling really turned me off.  Blizz, if any of you read this fledgling site (and I think some of you might), I hope you take a strong look at questing in Cata.  Maybe it’s too late with Alpha going live, but bring back the quest stacking.  Sticking to what Vanilla WoW brought to the table was a smashing success in regards to questing and leveling. That build and questing structure was pretty much spotless.  Bring back the fun, and eliminate the grind!


  1. Elbozo - Azuremyst says:

    Hmm… At first when i saw the title i was puzzled, because ienjoyed questing in WotLK. Quests were pretty varied, most of them had interesting storylines or were happening in interesting places. But, the points you brough up seem logical, there was kind of an issue with progress of quests, you were given an option to skip the end of the questline if you wished to. Which was a waste tbh, since most of the players would move onto the next part of area, to pick up new quests.

    On the other hand i wouldn’t say that Classic wow quests were ideal. Blizzard since then has much improved on the quest objectives themself, even though those are just a variation on kill stuff/collect stuff. My biggest gripe (noticed it recently when leveling various alts) is that there are gaps in certain level ranges! I’m forced to go to areas i don’t enjoy that much, only because there’s not enough quests in the one i like (it’s especially noticable when you don’t use any heirloom items and level up only via quests). When i was playing in vanilla WoW, the leveling up process was much more lengthy (IMO, much more enjoyable), cause you didn’t only rush for last level… well, you did, but you did pretty much every instance you could come by, change leveling areas more frequently, it all fit the slower XP gain perfectly. Now, when you can’t moderate your leveling progress you blaze through areas, and those XP “gaps” are far more noticable. I usually ended up in Wetlands or Redridge Mountains after being done with all quests and being unable to do anything else then… grind mobs or switch areas, since i was too low leveled to do “higher tier” quests in that areas.

    It’s not a big issue, since blizzard’s goal seems to be making leveling up new characters a completely new expirience in cataclysm, so we can expect better planned out Quests, XP progress, Hopefully Quest rewards (lets face it, in vanilla most of quest rewards were crap. Maybe items lost most of personality when you got lots too choose from, but at least you don’t end up doing a quest as a mage which only grants you plate boots as a reward) and many more. Also, put some life back into barren areas like Silverpine forest, which has scarce quests, so rarely people go there, since Barrens got so much more to offer!

    If they make things more organised, put in some involving stories, who knows? Leveling might be even more enjoyable then ever – especially on 1-60 range.

    Well, 2 more things for my wall of text.
    1. I wish they added some low level instances! It seems that Blizzard has completely forgotten about those. I know, real fun starts after lvl 80, but i had lots of fun doing lower level dungeons too. Maybe they not fit in the current formula (well, hopefully not, i don’t want more AoE fests again), but it’s still an enjoyable expirience. As i said, give some drops that everyone can use, Make bosses more then Elites with different names and we got ourselves a lovely treat. And new low level places would be even more fun. On the other hand, random instance tool makes going to low level place so mechanic that it’s defying the purpose. Attunements for low-level dungeons? I dunno, going to those instances now is completely different then how those were done in the past. I blame the massive nerfing for scrubs…

    2. Well, another gripe i’ll have with reachable higher levels is the uneven gear progress… It feels wierd each time, when you reach Outlands that you get so awesome items, after the crap you had in 1-58 range, and same when you hit northrend. And now, when ppl were raiding ICC for sooooo long, working for their epics, bam! New expansion comes out, Green is new Purple. Don’t get me wrong, i don’t care if my gear gets dated, and i go back to wearing greens, but still, we’re getting 3rd expansion and we got the same thing, no smooth flow, it all feels chopped up. At least i don’t get the feeling of smooth progression, i always think in terms “ok, now to outlands, 10 levels there, and northrend time for 12 more levels”. Not like it’s the smooth progress of storyline or anything, just more like a chore. I know that blizzard doesn’t have in their interest to make all smooth again, with all raids up to level 85, each instance having heroic mode for lvl 85, so you just enjoy the flow, and at the end get lots to choose from to gear up and get raiding. But it’s annoying when you feel the cracks in the WoW entirety.

    Uff, sorry for really really big wall of badly written text, but had to give my 2 cents on that matter 🙂

  2. The First Brough says:

    I hope blizz changes questing in cataclysm for the better also.

  3. Roberto says:

    Quite simply… /agree. I loved leveling my toons in vanilla wow just for the reasons stated. BC wasn’t too bad but still had a lot less quest stacking. WotLK totally turned me off to grinding. After only 2 levels on my main I was leveling an alt (that ended up at 80 first) simply because I was so bored with: get 2 quests, do those, get 2 more. The only stacking you had was if you flew around the entire zone and gathered 10 or so quests. Total time sink. That’s why I ended up doing my leveling almost entirely in dungeons.


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