Quests – The Biggest Grind
Wolfshead posted an interesting comment on my Open Dungeons article from the other week and it made me start thinking about questing and the whole ‘grind’ structure of MMORPGs.
Questing as a leveling mechanic was introduced with the advent of World of Warcraft. Before that quests were simply a means to address story and receive items, they were never designed to be part of the exp level grind. I applaud Blizzard for trying to take the leveling process in a different direction but I would disagree that they’ve made it more enjoyable. In fact, I think grinding up with quests in WoW is far more dull and laborious than grabbing a dungeon exp group in, say, Everquest 2.
I have three big problems with quest orientated leveling:
- Most quests are just disguises for mob killing. For example, I took my Warrior to Nagrand in Outland and immediately stocked up with several ‘master’ quests which, predictably enough, just involved me kill X number of different types of mobs. /yawn
- Quests offer very little variation. Once I’ve done a quest once, I’ve done it a hundred times and the prospect of having to level up another character by doing the exact same quests that I’ve done before is unappealing and exceptionally tedious. There is no room for the diversity caused by social interaction when just soloing a bunch of quests.
- By granting the ‘best’ experience through quest rewards, it’s killed off the appeal and drive to form groups. As I said in my Open Dungeons article, quests leave no room for the unpredictable nature of social interaction.
I believe quests used to be used to drive story, to help immerse the player in the universe and to grant rewards and knowledge but not as a leveling mechanic. Killing X mobs for a quest in order to receive experience is not different than just killing X mobs. The motivation and experience of the player is not changed just because some NPC has a silly reason for needing 10 hormone glands from ravage snailbeasts.
For me, quest leveling is a far bigger grind than exping with a group. I can’t think of any more enjoyable exp method than doing a dungeon crawl through an engrossing dungeon – completing a few quests on the way but not being there just for that purpose. I’d like to see a return to group orientated leveling in which quests are either self-contained stories with defined purposes to them or a soloing alternative to grouping. When they overshadow grouping completely and just become another grind mechanic then it’s utterly counter productive.