Having boosted my level 60 Prot Paladin to 90, I was surprised to find that all my abilities and talents had been locked away. I couldn’t even summon the Paladin mount. It was effectively like being a first level character again – Crusader Strike and Judgment were my only skills. It felt very underpowered after blasting through dungeons on the way to 60.
As I ventured into Draenor, quests started rewarding clusters of abilities – damage boosts, mitigation, healing – and talent tree unlocks.
Thinking about it, I realised this is obviously the mechanic for Blizzard to introduce newly boosted level zero characters to their abilities. I wonder if they could have made it less abrupt by leaving abilities unlocked for characters that were boosting from a higher level, but that would pose it’s own problems – what level did they boost from, which abilities are left, how to introduce them.
The main problem I think is that even though the abilities were gradually unlocked, there was nothing in the way of explanation as to what they were and how to use them. When levelling, you get one at a time and can read the ability text and work out (or look up) how they are best used. With the boost, you just unlock three new abilities and hope for the best.
The other problem is the unlocks are not matched to what’s happening in game, so getting the defensive abilities wasn’t because a quest was about to call for them. It also had the strange effect of making me feel vulnerable – some of the quests were harder than expected due to a lack of skills, which I think would be off-putting for a fresh player.
It seems like there is an opportunity to create an isolated boost scenario which would match the skill and talent unlocks to events and challenges in the scenario. Similar to the Proving Grounds, but tailored more toward teaching. And because it’s quarantined from the game story, it can scale to each expac as they are released, before launching the fresh player into the storyline. It would be a lot of work for Blizzard given all the classes and specialisations, but given boosting characters appears to be the new normal it might be money well spent.