Over at Blog Azeroth, Ringo Flinthammer asks:

…WoW’s latest expansion, Cataclysm, only raised the level cap by 5 levels, in addition to the other content it added. Was Blizzard right to make this call?

My answer:

Yes.

Given the nature of the expansion and Blizzard’s current philosophy regarding characters and how we spend time in-game, I believe their decision to make the level cap 85 instead of 90 was unequivocally the right one.

At Fun In Games, Naithin points out that “each level felt about right in terms of the content it consumed”, and I agree wholeheartedly. Getting from 80 to 81 felt about as long as it should have – and keep in mind, here, that I’m saying this having just leveled my Death Knight from 73 to 82. I know that the XP curve from 71 to 80 was just dramatically reduced, but even so, 80-81 didn’t feel like a brick wall the way 70-71 (or 60-61, back at the beginning of Burning Crusade) did.

80-81 felt right, and honestly, if we’d had the same amount of content but twice as many levels, we would have felt like they were just throwing levels at us – or, if they increased the XP required per level, like we were hitting that brick wall. (84-85 already requires nearly ten million XP!)

The amount of content is important, too, because when people are considering how short they feel the top-level game is, they’re forgetting that the top-level game isn’t the entirety of the expansion. In fact, truth be told, the new content for 81-85 is in the minority of the new content added for Cataclysm. We have two new races, with associated starting zones; moreover, the entire face of the old world has changed, with new layouts, new quests, and new storylines.

In other words, this is not just an expansion for characters 80-85. This is, primarily, an expansion for characters 1-85. Blizzard has made it clear – between the new races, the shallower leveling curve, the newly-redone zones and quests, Recruit-A-Friend, and certain perks like getting mounts at level 20 – that they actively want us to be leveling alts. If we focus only on the benefits to our level-capped characters, we are no longer playing the game Blizzard wants its players to play.

The bottom line: Cataclysm offers plenty of 80-85 content and provides it at the right pace, and Blizzard’s intent is that we get to 85 and then roll a new character. So yes: five levels are enough.

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