Druidic Update – The Newbie Zones

So for the most part the druids are going well and most are about level 5 and starting to get the feel for the early game. So this update blog is going to be about the tutorial zone experience.

Given the speed I level at I need to be able to enjoy the lower zones as it takes me a lot longer to out level a lot of them with my limited game time. A game with a poor starting zone (even one that has the “best end game ever”) is going to struggle to hold my interest.

Not only does a tutorial need to capture my imagination but after completing the tutorial I want to have enough information to play the game beyond the introduction with some level understanding about the games mechanics.

For the Druid class challenge I am going rate each of their tutorial zones on the following:

Overview – what background/story did I learn from playing the tutorial.

Level on Completion – what level or skill power was I when the tutorial finished.

Tutorial to Starting Area Transition – the flow between newbie area and the next level – is this disconnected or a logical step onward in your story.

Fun to Replay – is it entertaining enough to survive the many alts you may make or does it get dull very quickly. Can the tutorial be skipped.

Just a Few More Quests – is the new zone engaging and drawing me into the game world enough that it is hard to press the log out button.

DCUO

Overview

The tutorial starts you off in a ship controlled by the evil Brainiac – with an outside helper hacking in to give you directions. The setup is straight forward and provides a little gear and instructions on the fight mechanics. It also sets you up with reasons to continue your characters story beyond the starting area.  At the end of the climatic fight you are dumped into a police station and given the next quests to do.

Level on completion

By the end of the tutorial I was level 3 and had a special attack and increased one of my weapon and skill ranks.

Tutorial to Starting Area Transition

Not the worst I’ve experienced but you do go from escaping a spaceship and into a police station which has a reasonable level of disconnect to it.

Fun to Replay

Low replay value and tutorial does not appear to be skipable while you are in it. It is very fast however apart from the cut scenes.

Just a Few More Quests

Frustratingly if you stop the tutorial during it you are reset right back to the start. Once I was done with the tutorial for the third restart due to family interruptions I quickly logged out.

Everquest 1

Overview

Your player wakes up in a jail having been ambushed by dastardly kobolds. Now you need to join into the rebellion and escape from your captives. The game has a nice series of quests in a quest hub that teach you all the mechanics of the game.  At times the tutorial information feels a bit of a heavy dose of learning that breaks any immersion you may have had but to be fair it would be hard to do it any other way.

Level on completion

Once you are in the starting quest hub you can exit the tutorial at any time through a portal. Given the current experience I am receiving you could be comfortably 8-10th level when leaving.

Tutorial to starting area transition

The exit to the new world gives you a new quest to move to the starting city. The game zone beyond the exit is still very low level and there is a clear path onward to follow.

Fun to Replay

It isnt the worst in the world for replay – the quests are all stock standard but given the fact you can leave at any time it never feels like you are trapped in an endless tutorial. Some of the later content is fun with a group and completing the entire kobold quest chains is a lot of fun.

Just a Few More Quests

Progress is a lot slower in Everquest 1 but the quest chains were fun enough to have me logging out thinking about what I could achieve the next day.  Quests are stock standard but there is something about EQ1 that will always be dear to me – its first mmo bias I guess.

Everquets 2

Overview

A long time ago there use to be a newbie island that would take you through the basics of Everquest2’s mechanics. Now days each of the factions (good/evil) have two options. Good can start on the island of New Halas or the Fae zone of Kaelethin. Evil your options are Neriak (which is a dark elf city) or Gorowyn (sarnak – think dragon men).

The New Halas newbie zone I chose has you rescued from a ship wreck and wake up saved by a friendly gnome or halfling (sorry I cant recall and they all look alike (sorry again gnomes and halflings who clearly know they look nothing alike)).  There you go about your questing helping other shipwrecked survivors and moving through the starting zone uncovering a fairly interesting story.

Level on completion

The New Halas and Neriak zones open up with quest hub leading on to quest hub until you should be around level 20 before you need to make a move to the next area.

Tutorial to starting area transition

Beyond 20 there is a little disconnect if you head to Butcherblock although from memory there is a quest or two to get you there.

Fun to Replay

Given four areas to start with there is plenty of replay value to be had.

Just a Few More Quests

With the well thought out flow of breadcrumb quests leading on to next hub after next hub it is easy to loose track of the time and end up a little late to bed.

Once you have picked the starting zone you cannot skip it although it might be possible to run to the exit without completing quests.

Rift

Overview

Each faction runs through its own tutorial zone with standard breadcrumb quests. It gives a nice background to the wars that were before and culminates with you being sent back in time through a rift in order to prevent the current day apocalypse.

Level on completion

With some experience boosts and the streamlined quests you should end up about level 9

Tutorial to starting area transition

The transition is well handled at first with entry level npc’s but as the zones progress the events in the tutorial area do become a lot less focused on.

Fun to Replay

Given that there are only 2 tutorial zones that you have to go through the replay value is quickly lost. Rift seems to have worked this out too and at some point they removed a lot of the quest chains, increased the experience gained and get you out of the tutorial zone in a very short time.

Just a Few More Quests

Rift newbie experience is over quickly and I found it easy enough to log out once I had got through it. I haven’t worked out why but somehow Rift quests always feel grindy like no other questing based mmo I know. I did not see any option to skip the tutorial.

Vanguard

Overview

There is no real tutorial zone for Vangaurd. Each of the different areas have their own low level areas with some basic breadcrumb quests to lead you on.

Level on completion

The first zone you can be 10+ before leaving

Tutorial to starting area transition

Kind of moot point without tutorial zones!

Fun to Replay

With only 3 starting points for the myriad of races it does get a little dull to replay.

Just a Few More Quests

Your characters get nice gear upgrades and some fun places to explore – I always found vanguard kept me looking for that next quest hub when I should have been logging out. I will miss this game a lot.

World of Warcraft

Overview

From Mist of Pandera onward every race has their own starting area although the dwarf and gnomes still merge quickly into a shared zone. Quests give newbie gear, coins and often a bag and are easy to complete. The entire new character experience feels very polished in Wow, the passage of 100 million people have worn the stones very smooth indeed. For each of the classes upon completion of the intro zones they will find themselves in their capital city and a breadcrumb quest board to lead you to the next questing hub. Given that the experience required has been lowered a lot over the years it is easy to out level a zones content before finishing the quest chains.

The worgen starting area I am in has the back story of the werewolf race and the fall of their city.

Level on completion

The newbie experience ends about 10th level for most classes.

Tutorial to starting area transition

These are some of the best transitions – breadcrumb quests lead from each hub and your character continues to improve as the story around them unfolds. At later levels the zones begin to disconnect but a lot of work was done in the Cataclysm expansion to give a cohesive story from 1-60th level. Beyond 60 you go back in time to the Outlands zones then forward but not current day from 70-80 in Wrath of the lich king. Then closer to present day in the 80-85 Cataclysm zones then finally to present time in the 85-90 Mists of Pandara zones.

Fun to Replay

For the most part the zones are very repayable. Experience is acquired swiftly and upgraded gear drops frequently enough to give a sense of achievement. For the veteran WoW player there is limited replay value but that is the nature of an old game.

Just a Few More Quests

I tend to quest until I get to a starting city which seems to be a logical break point. The worgen starting zone I am currently doing is taking my druid 1-10th level or there abouts before you reach the Night Elf city. You cannot skip the worgen tutorial.

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2 thoughts on “Druidic Update – The Newbie Zones

  1. C. T. Murphy says:

    I’m not a big fan of quests leading players along constantly. What you call disconnect, I call “hey, go explore!”. Nothing makes a game feel apparently linear than a single quest chain that pulls you along the entire world on a single rope.

    • melbrankin says:

      The quest hub idea was very heavily used in Rift. Not sure about when the breadcrumb quest followed by hubs became the normal quest way. Perhaps when WoW adopted it for their Cataclysm revamp of zones.

      Sadly, as often is the case, when warcraft does something other mmos follow.

      Of course if you dont then you are just a badly designed game and if you do then you are a wow clone 🙂

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