For a very long time, the entire point of heirlooms was to bypass the wonky leveling mechanics in WoW. Mainly the fact that items scaled in power, smoothing (?) the power curve. The % increase to xp gain has been a perk on top of that, and of larger and larger benefit as the leveling experience has gotten longer. From level 100+, there’s really nothing in game that provides any character growth, it’s just a time tax. Every expansion just adds 4 hours or so to the leveling period.
Shadowlands aims to reduce that time tax – with something near the 20hr mark to get from 1-60. That’s in the realm of most single player games, so not too bad. Heatmaps are going to be interesting… I don’t see why anyone, anywhere, would want to level in any zone that was NOT Legion / BfA. Anything pre-MoP feels horrendous – and unless you’re really strapped for attention, you’re best playing the LFD roulette.
But 20 hours, that’s doable I guess. Certainly less than the current pace of leveling, even with heirlooms. So I guess that’s why Blizz is not planning to have an %XP boost anymore. The item scaling appears to still be there, but I’d be wildly surprised if anyone thinks that’s enough of a motivator in a single expansion cycle (where I assume item levels make sense).
Taken from another lens, I see heirlooms as a band-aid for the larger problem – time to level. That problem generated other problems, primarily the value of a level. The level crunch should get rid of the value problem, where you spend 20 hours and get nothing for it. The time to level reduction is pretty much required, given Blizz’ persistence to only put relevant content at max level. I mean, aside from the art, what’s different from a player at level 30 and 119? The rotation is 95% the same, there’s no real grouping aside from guilds, crafting is entirely meaningless. The Class Trial option gives you nearly every permutation of gameplay for a class – and it doesnt take 20 hours to complete.
But that’s a larger rant.
Right now, Blizz is cutting leveling time, reducing a significant problem’s impact. Removing %XP from heirlooms, in this expansion, removes the practical need to buy them. Curious if they will do the same to the Refer a Friend bonus…