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Ol' Grumpy and the return of class-based quests

Hi, I'm Ol' Grumpy. You may remember me from such posts as every single other post with "Ol' Grumpy" in the title. Today, since I have this incredibly uncomfortable rocking chair to sit on, I figured I'd grump about class quests and why I think they should come back.

Back in the day (that day being 2004 to 2005), I leveled the first of many warriors to the experience cap of level 60. At that time, one of the things that set the warrior class (and other classes) apart was a long, involved quest line that sent you all over Azeroth to gather materials and finally face and defeat Cyclonian. As a result, you gained one of three iconic weapons. (Most people took the axe. As a human at the time, I took the sword.) This extremely long quest line took you from Fray Island to the area north of Tarren Mill and then to Arathi Highlands (giving them a reason to exist) and Stranglethorn Vale before bringing you back to face Cyclonian. It was a rite of passage for a leveling toon. As a 60th-level, 70th-level and then an 80th-level warrior, I would often go back and help warriors on the quest to defeat Cyclonian, who posed an extreme challenge to anyone attempting to solo him.

I lamented the removal of class-specific quests at the time it was announced. Now, over a year later, I still think removing them was a mistake. Being soaked in ancient wisdom like a turkey soaked in ancient wisdom, here are my reasons.

  1. Class-based quests provide a means to understand what, exactly, it means to play said class. Not all of them did this as well as others, but the level 60 Rhok'delar quest line is an example of a quest that demanded hunters on it learn pretty much every aspect of the class, from pet management to kiting. Watching my wife perform this quest line showed me exactly what separated a talented hunter from one who didn't understand their class and its potential.
  2. Class-based quests can provide lore and story that makes you feel connected to your choice. What's the difference between a paladin and a warrior? In a game where we have to accept homogenization to make different classes capable of the same roles, doing a quest where you're required to draw upon the Holy Light or channel your inner rage can go a long way toward making you feeling special and unique. The paladin and warlock mount quests were awesome for their lore revelations and teasers of special revelations not yet made. The first time I ever heard of Xororth was when I was helping a guildie get his warlock mount.
  3. Class-based quest lines reward you for rolling and playing an alt. You get a different play experience out of a new character, seeing new content you never got to see before, even experiencing a new take on older zones and dungeons (like, say, the shaman quest that took you to Scholomance) in a way you didn't previously.
  4. Class quests are content confined to one class. You may see this as a weakness of this kind of content, but I don't. Class quests are unique, in the same way that (as an example) removing Volley from hunters was a decision aimed at increasing their uniqueness. A class quest informs your choice of class. It allows you to experience aspects of the class you'll need later in a safe, non-group environment. It's both practice and education, if done correctly.
It's often said that one thing many MMOs need is better ways to educate players about what they'll be expected to do in groups. Class quests strike me as a brilliant way to do exactly that. Using small instance and phasing, new class quests could and should be designed for that very purpose. Let players learn the mechanics and roles in a safe environment, where success or failure doesn't stress a group or cause players to become prematurely disinterested in even pursuing a role with a perception of added difficulty or responsibility.

In addition to that potential use of class questing (which is in of itself valuable), these quests can be used to provide lore and storytelling options not currently in the game. A quest that teaches you why warlocks are allowed to exist in the Horde by letting you provide that very reason? A quest that explores the role of the Sunwalkers in current tauren society? Many in-game class quests end up as just "go to Dungeon X and gather materials for a weapon" quests, when they could be so much more -- and have been, in previous iterations of the game. (Not that getting a cool weapon is a bad thing.) By making variations that allow you to play a draenei Vindicator, for example, you can experience what your racial approach to the class is and why it's relevant.

Class quests are limited content in terms of who can play them, it's true, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. We're willing to gate lore and content behind an item drop (as in the Quel'delar quest line) and for legendaries that only a few (or even only one class) can even hope to complete. Why not just extend this? Making class-based quests teaching tools as well as lore reveals gives them added relevance even outside their stated class. I miss them, and I think the time is coming to reconsider how to return them to WoW.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

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