Patch 10.1, Embers of Neltharion, has arrived on the Dragon Isles, delivering a new max-level zone, Zaralek Cavern, more dragonriding glyphs and skills, more world events, cross-faction guilds, and a new item upgrade system, to name just a few features. The Dragonflight roadmap demonstrated Blizzard’s commitment to expanding the end-game well beyond the content of previous expansions. This deluge of content is one reason why Dragonflight should replace Battle for Azeroth as the primary leveling game for new players. Indeed, it will happen when the next expansion drops, but Blizzard should act now and not wait.
A Time Skip and a Clean Slate
The in-game time between World of Warcraft expansions varies from weeks to a couple of years. Dragonflight, however, begins three years after the conclusion of Shadowlands. The longer time allowed the world to catch its breath after successive world-ending threats. Azeroth still has lingering issues (Sword? What sword?), but the peace treaty between the Horde and Alliance is holding and the two factions are uncovering the mysteries of the Dragon Isles together. The end of the Horde/Alliance conflict, time skip, and player customization does not make Dragonflight WoW 2.0. It is more than enough to serve as the introduction for new players.
Battle for Azeroth was the middle chapter of a story spanning expansions. As such, it can be confusing to a new player. There is little background on why the factions are at war, or about Azerite. Once the player hits 60, they’re whisked off to the Dragon Isles without any closure. Time has passed and suddenly and we’re all friends. This lack of continuity hurts the immersion of the game and a player’s connection to it. I saw this when my nephew started playing WoW and I played with him. We had a blast leveling up to 10 on Exiles Reach, but once in Zandalar (He rolled Horde. Nice), it was jumping from one quest to another for the sake of completion. He didn’t understand the background of what was going on, and quit by level 20.
Dragonflight‘s focus is on the dragons and the story envelopes the player in their history and evolving challenges. It is a great fantasy-rich way to start playing WoW. Besides, Chromie Time exists for the adventurous to experience past conflicts, and learn why there’s a giant sword sticking out of Silithus.
The Dragon Isles Leveling Experience
Dragonflight can maintain the existing zone based progression for first-time player. Even after adjusting experience, the campaign and side quests, Renown quests, dungeons, and professions, offer a wealth of activities to advance a player from level 10 to 70, and still have Isles content to complete along with end-game questing. The thrill of a new player Dragonriding for the first time at level 10 can not be overstated. Shifting Shadowlands to Chromie Time was the right move, and this would be another move to lure players.
Level 70 Keeps Getting Better
Patch 10.1 introduced the revamped item upgrade system to help players, particularly solo and casual, power up to prepare for what is to come. The reagents for the new systems, flightstones and crests, are earned through almost every activity, and can even be found within Disturbed Dirt and Expedition Scout Packs. Adding them to campaign quests allows players to stock up for upgrading their gear upon hitting 70 for a quick catch up.
We can only speculate on the 2024 roadmap, but I believe it includes10.3 and 10.4. Whether we enter the Emerald Dream, sail beyond the western horizon, and/or cross space, our adventure will take us beyond the shores of the Dragon Isles. Those wide open zones of wonder should then be made available to all players now, as a preview of what World of Warcraft can and will accomplish. Dragonflight will become the leveling game when the next expansion hits, but players and Blizzard would be better served if it happened before 10.4.
What do you think? Dragonflight now or later?