Addition to previous post. When running through concerns about letting players buy L90s I kind of ignored that WoW was originally a game based around getting power via more levels and gear. As endgame became more important the levelling became what you did to reach end-game and start gearing, but at its core WoW is still a game of gear and levels. The removal of a central tenement to the game could be massively destabilising, which is why I’m glad the insta-levelling is not to max level but only the previous expansion cap.
Previously I established that the main concerns that people had about jumping to the previous expansion level cap covered worse levelling content to encourage paying for a skip, devaluing old content, leaving the old world empty, teaching players how to play and immersion. How would I design a system that jumps people right up to starting levels for current content with those in mind.
If WoW was being made today I am sure they would do many things differently. The levelling issues are established. It is a core mechanic of the game so now we are stuck with the problem of letting new players join in with long-term gamers without having to race through 9 years of content.
For the purpose of this discussion, I am going to assume that mentoring/sidekicking (new player jumping to friends levels when grouped has the same immersion issues as instant level ups), levelling zones/characters up/down to make old content challenging (Old players race to see new expansion content. Not many will go back and regrind 90+ levels just to play with a friend) and other systems cannot be applied. WoW has a rigid level structure and is stuck with it so I’ll work within that framework. The ultimate answer might be to break that but I don’t know if that would be workable with an old game such as WoW
My “instant level up” process would be as follows.
All characters start in a similar fashion (though set in the current expansion time-frame), starting in the starter town, killing the wolves and heading to the next sub-zone, but at this point they get a quest sending them to fly into the capital where they join the hero training academy. There, new characters would be put through a boot camp experience, giving a condensed tutorial on how to play the game and throwing in some lore and past expansion experience in mini-chapters.
A sergeant would give an explanation for each expansion and require a player to use they’re abilities or learn mechanics to complete a short scenario highlighting can event or 2 from that expansion. Upon completion of a chapter they level up to that extension’s level cap and leave the not camp to enter the levelling works or carry on in their training. To commence the multiplayer “key moment and feel” scenarios I would send people on a flight to the zone, to give a birds eye view of the place. Don’t worry though, I’m not really sending them on a massive boring flight. It actually acts as the queue. As soon as you have a group for the scenario it jumps to the loading screen. If you reach the destination without a full group fake player NPCs do the scenario with you (messaging thanks, and enjoying waves, pulls and priority targets). While on the flight your “driver” treks you the story of the zones as you got over then.
Using Wrath of the Lich King as an example it would open with the zombie plague and players would need to decurse the defending npcs while some zombies attach the gates and infect people. Dispel enough people and the defenders will fight off the attack. Lose too many and you’ll be overwhelmed. Next we’d have the we’d have the Wrath Gate as a scenario. Tanks would have to aggro multiple waves. Healers keep up Saurfang/Bolvar and dps kill the adds. After a couple of waves the Forsaken show up and you’d have to carry on complete with bad-stuff dance before instructed to retreat. Finally the there would be a story based scenario attacking up to the gates of Icecrown Citadel (with guest appearences from some bosses around the edges of the battle).
This would be 20+ scenarios and possibly up to 10 hours of content (multiple races/faction specific details) to be created so it wouldn’t be easy to just produce. For me that is why it would make good pay-to-play content (although one purchase should do for all characters). Still I think it would be the ideal way to bring a new character up to the level cap in a short enough period that they can play with their veteran friends in the new content that everyone is talking about.
Of course, I don’t see that happening. New 90s well probably be dumped in their capital city with a set of gear and left on their own with little instruction just as scroll of resurrection recipients are today.