I have never played World of Warcraft. The thing is, whenever a new MMO is released, people often give feedback wherein MMOs just copy the WoW formula and slap F2P onto it for quick profits. As I try out these new MMOs, I notice that they all have a linear story, meaning the users are almost always given direct orders as to what to do next. It's not a discover-new-quests-as-you-explore-the-game kind.

Since they say that these are just copies of World of Warcraft, I want to know if WoW has linear story progress as well? Most I see is that people complain that the quests are too linear on these new MMOs. If WoW is indeed linear too, how come they aren't complaining about WoW doing that?

Can anyone enlighten me please? As much as I'd like to give WoW a try, the installer files are just too big for my puny connection to handle and isn't worth justifying getting especially if I'm just going to check out some minor specifics in the game.

  • Some quest lines linear but most quests lines are independent of one another. Which means you can skip every single question between 1 and 60 if you want and still do every quest between 61 and 90 if you want.
    – Ramhound
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 14:12

4 Answers 4


If WoW is indeed linear too, how come they aren't complaining about WoW doing that?

The quests in world of warcraft are a completely optional path to progression. The quests do not stand between you and your friends at the level cap.

Quests are a fast way to level up, but there are plenty of other things available to do.

There's also enough quests in the game that your can do different sets of them on different characters. Playing different linear quests is more fun than replaying the same linear quests.

Are World of Warcraft quests linear?

In the sense that each quest tells you want to do, and completing quests open up more quests in a "quest chain", yes.

However, there are some elements in World of Warcraft that mitigate the linearness.

  • Quest layering: generally you're given 2-3 quests at the same time in the same area and you get to choose what objectives to go for first. This is an opportunity to try to optimize and it adds variety to the tasks.
  • Distractions: gathering skills and mini-pet combat break up the quest grind.
  • Alternative scenary: At most level ranges, there are 2-3 different zones you can go to for at-level questing.

For starting players, some advice. As races have been added to the game, the starting areas have gotten more and more linear. The starting quest sequences for Worgen, Goblins, Pandaren and Deathknights are very linear and are not optional. If linear questing is something that bothers you, avoid those areas.

  • The first part of the answer is simply not true. The zone phasing is triggered only by the specific quest in the zone. Secondly, zone phasing DOES stand between you and your friends. Only zones without phasing tech are Outland and majority of Northrend. Also, at the end you shot at your own knee by basically saying - avoid starting area which are using phasing tech.
    – StupidOne
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 12:04
  • Quests do not stop you from leveling... wow.joystiq.com/tag/level-without-questing Also - group content is instanced, not phased - so quest phasing doesn't play a role.
    – Amy B
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 13:07
  • I'm not questioning ability to level up without doing single quest (e.g. via battlegrounds), however, I disagree with "the quests do not stand between you and your friends" and "there's also enough quests in the game that you can do different sets of them on different characters". I recently leveled up new character to play with friend. Without any experience boosting gear in higher level zones, some quests are not optional at all if you want to play in specific zone, e.g. Mount Hyjal. Not all group content is instanced, e.g. Ring of Blood.
    – StupidOne
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 14:08
  • Ring of Blood is a quest chain with no prerequisite. You can do zero quests and join your friends who are doing that. Mount Hyjal is a solo questing zone. Yes - solo quests are gated by other quests. It's not a big surprise. The article mentions access to the Pandarian continent as blocked by a quest chain (true), but that can be defeated by mage portal.
    – Amy B
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 17:51

Having recently come back to try WoW after several years off... the quests are now completely linear, and the whole newbie experience seems completely dumbed down, to the point where I'm wondering if I can stand it.

Sure, you can just kill monsters, but it is very slow sailing that way, so almost no one does. Effectively, the quests are the game, at least before the end game. And that experience no longer feels like you have options; you are just riding the rails.


I wouldn't say WoW has either linear or non-linear quests, but a mess.

The problem is Blizzard did update all WoW 1.0 quests in pre-last expansion, however, he didn't update any quest which came with The Burning Crusade (first expansion pack), so, e.g. from level 1-60 Arthas is dead (unless you play as death knight which starts at level 55), then suddenly, when you step into Outland (The Burning Crusade area), he is alive. Another example are some specific races, like Blood Elfs and Draenei where you jump in timeline back and forth (past -> present -> past -> past -> present).

As for question itself, the quests in the specific area of the game are to some extend linear (e.g. first you need to build the base, then launch attack from it), however, you can jump from one area to another without any kind of penalty (quest wise).

All in all, if you are looking a game for a questing, WoW might not be for you. Experience needed on lower levels is so cut out that in the most case you won't even be able to finish the story or quest chain as you will out level it (well, unless you want to quest without experience reward). WoW is mostly concentric around maximal level and in my personal opinion, I have yet to see another game with so many end-game context.


WoW quests are linear. I played WoW for over 18 months, but in the end it became too much for me ... collect 8 of this, kill 10 of those ... hence I gave it up.

Sadly, most of the MMOs I see are similar in nature and although fun at the start (currently grinding Neverwinter), it becomes quite similar in the end.

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