Do You Need a Level Booster for Shadowlands?

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post comparing four MMO expansions that were all available for pre-order.  Three of them, the expansions for EQ, EQII, and LOTRO, shipped back in late 2019.  The remaining one, Shadowlands, is expected to go live later this month.

There is probably an interesting discussion to be had comparing Blizzard’s longer horizon versus Daybreak’s ability to get an expansion… or something pretending to be an expansion… out every single year.

But I won’t be going there today.  Instead I want to pick up on one of the aspects of the pre-orders that I noted in that post from a year ago, the presence of character level boosters.

The level boost, or insta-levels, or whatever you want to call them, were seen as a solution to the “too many damn levels” problem that a relentless history of expansions… EverQuest will be going live with expansion number 27 this year… had created.

And level boosts were a quick and easy way to get characters into the latest content, the “good” stuff where most of the long term players were.  At least if you did them correctly.

LOTRO introduced one that only got people to the first expansion when there were already two more beyond that.  Not exactly into the “good” stuff.  They later changed that, but for a stretch their boost seemed hardly worth the price.

EverQuest had a decent boost that got you close to the current content.  But that was back when level 85 was good enough.  More than six years later their boost inexplicably still only goes to level 85 while the level cap is up around 115.

The EverQuest II side of the house managed to keep their boost up to date, so it would get you close to the latest content.  The main problem was that boosting up into a high level character left you with mind boggling array of skills and spells to sort out.

And then there was the team at Blizzrd which diligently updated their level boost concept with each expansion, throwing in such a boost with each purchase.  They even put together a little tutorial about your skills and how to play your freshly boosted character.

But that has changed with the coming of Shadowlands.  Blizzard decided to try and solve the levels problem by resetting everybody to level 50 as part of the big level squishShadowlands… and if my theory is correct, every expansion going forward… will get you the 50-60 experience while all of the old content exists in parallel 10-50 tracks.

I’m just going to keep using this graphic

With this change, the level boost option fell out of the basic expansion.  Blizz also knocked $10 off the price, reducing it from the $50 mark that they charged starting with Warlords of Draenor, back when the level boost idea was introduced.

Digital versions of Shadowlands

The question is whether or not the base edition needs it any more.

With the level squish there are certainly fewer levels between a new player and the “good” stuff, the new expansion.  And those levels come fairly quickly.  I had three characters at level cap before the squish and now have seven there with not a lot of effort.

WoWHead reported that the optimum route for a Horde player could get you to level 50 in under six hours.

You can also use an addon like Azeroth Auto Pilot to guide you quickly through.  You’re probably good in about eight to ten hours there as the addon tries to save you every second, to the point of auto-accepting quests as soon as you open them up.  Screw quest text, go go go go!

An old hand at the game can get there in under a day’s play time, so I am sure a new player could get there in two days or so.

But that still represents time and effort.  Blizzard knows this, which is why the level boost isn’t going away.  It is still there in the store if you want it.

Still seems expensive

Furthermore, if you want to spend just $20 more on the expansion and opt-in for the Heroic Edition, you get the character boost plus a new mount and a transmog set.  That is a hell of a deal, if you assume that the store price for the boots ($60) and the store price for mounts ($25) represent their actual value.

If you’re into that, then you’re probably already eyeing the Epic Edition, which for just $40 over the base package gets you all the stuff from the Heroic Edition plus a few more items.

The hard core though, they already know what they’re buying.

Shadowlands Collectors Edition – Physical Items

As the time for the expansion approaches and my need to grab a copy with it, I am leaning towards the base package.  If the character boost was the only factor in my decision, it would be done.  I have more than enough options at the level cap and, unless Shadowlands is really alt friendly, I will probably only end up pushing three or four characters through it total.

5 thoughts on “Do You Need a Level Booster for Shadowlands?

  1. bhagpuss

    If they reduced the price of the base edition by $10 because of the absence of the character boost, how the heck do they justify a $60 price tag for the boost alone in the store? Other than that being what people will pay, obviously.

    When level boosts began to be added to MMORPGs the whole concept was controversial and it definitely felt like some of the pricing was intentionally punitive. Yes, we’ll give you the damn boost but we don’t approve of it even though we’re the ones selling it so we’re going to charge you an arm and a leg so we feel less guilty about what we’re doing. These days, though, with boosts being a standard option in most games, the controversy has all but been forgotten so what the rationale for charging more than the cost of a brand new AAA game for one boost could be defeats me. Other than that being what people will pay, obviously, again.

    As I mentioned in my own post today, though, the things companies choose to sell or not sell in the stores mystifies me, let alone what they charge for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Asmiroth

    Spinning from Bhag’s thoughts, that level skips even exist is baffling to me. It’s an open admission from the devs that the content has no purpose other than a time sink. On the one hand, Blizz did the only reasonable thing here to maintain their assets and address the time sink given their resource constraints. You get a few complete zone quests, and it showcases previous work.

    There’s a French saying that roughly translates to “it’s not the fool that sells, it’s the fool that buys”. Blizz wouldn’t sell something that didn’t make them money.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Archey

    I generally agree with both previous posters but with a slightly different viewpoint. I have found consistently across all WoW characters that I have ever played that I fizzle out hard when I reach level cap. I don’t mind raiding, and I do it when I can, but it always fails to really motivate me like leveling. Ditto for other max level activities like pet battles. And I have several friends the same way, some who won’t even touch raiding.

    All that to say that treating leveling like an icky necessary evil or time sink before “the good stuff” mystifies me. Me and my friends can’t be a total oddity here, but yet the arc of the game has been more and more away from leveling. OTOH, the level squish and de-emphasis on boosts does seem like maybe a small move back in my direction.

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  4. Mailvaltar

    60 bucks… O_o

    I had no idea they’re charging this much for it. Of course Bhag is absolutely right, if people didn’t buy it at that price Blizz wouldn’t be selling it, but boy…

    Imagine paying that much money to not play a game.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – I think the logic, such that it is, is that by bundling the character boost with the more expensive expansion packages you can, as a new or lapsed but returning player, jump straight into the new expansion. The, as I keep putting it in quotes, “good” stuff. If you absolutely positively don’t want to mess around with any old content, you have that option. And, of course, it essentially costs Blizz nothing but earns them $20 bucks more if you feel you need it.

    I thought the $60 price was freaking usury when I first saw it, and remain of that opinion. But I also kind of like the old content and the new level squish parallel paths plan to level 50 has grown on me.

    @Archey – I’m like you in that getting to level cap is most of the game for me. I will chase achievements, unlock mounts, and get flying, but I don’t raid and I don’t even like doing dungeons with Dungeon Finder.

    @Mailvaltar – In a world where people were paying more for leveling services to get them level cap characters so they could raid… leading to stolen accounts and such… that price isn’t horrible. I recall somebody laying out, at the time it was announced, how they might have come up with that number based on other services that Blizz offered, but it still seemed like usury. Other MMOs generally charge much less(how many free ones have I gotten for EQII?), so I am going to guess that part of the pricing is because Blizz doesn’t like the idea so they’ll punish you for using it. But somebody no doubt still pays, and if it keeps the game going and doesn’t require money from me, who am I to complain?

    Liked by 1 person

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