Alternate leveling paths

MMOs seem to me to have a slight problem in the balance of their content. For many there is a disproportionate amount of love and care given to the starter zones for each race or faction. These zones are of course the equivalent of prime time TV adverts – make these zones as attractive and fun to play as possible as they reach the widest possible audience.

This issue is related to alt-play, if you enjoy trying different classes then having a selection of really engaging zones to play through is important – it explains partly why I played WoW so long. I created 10 characters and leveled half of those to the Cataclysm level cap (80). I had to repeat some zones on several characters later on (Hellfire!) but each character’s journey at least began very differently. It’s the same in EQ2, which has excellent starter zones.

At some point though these different journeys will converge on the one or two options at a given level range. Then you can quickly become overly familiar with a zones quests and challenges. This is where the idea of an alternate leveling path comes to mind.

So very far to go…

To date I know of only one game (Runes of Magic) that has given a complete alternative leveling path to bypass ‘the middle bit’, that is to say the zones that you end up repeating on multiple characters as you are funneled towards endgame.  I do feel the concept of adding a whole new leveling path, even if it is ‘accelerated’ is interesting.

Some of the older MMOs have pretty high level caps now – WoW, LoTRO, EQ2 etc. Leveling a character through that many levels, past content you can’t solo and few players are interested in running is a rather lonely prospect. Does an alternate leveling path offer a better approach to guide players in learning the game?

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2 Responses to Alternate leveling paths

  1. Meznir says:

    What’s the alt levelling path in RoM then? I’m not sure I’m completely following what you’re saying due to not knowing that game.

    I’m finding it interestings levelling my monk in WoW atm seeing some of the Cata makeovers of zones I hadn’t yet done since. They definitely put some better / more interestings quests in there; though keeping in the odd fondly remembered quests (or updated versions) for nostalgia. Outlands is looming though and the thought of Hellfire fills me with dread! I might start using the xp buffs at that point to get through it asap.

    Wow sort of has a different xp path now due to the gathering and archy xp changes. I levelled one alt 80-85 through mining and archy and will be taking him to 90 the same way. GW2 seems to level you even quicker through crafting and gathering. I’m not sure these are the “alternate paths” you are describing though.

  2. Telwyn says:

    It’s the concept of adding new zones not just for a higher level cap, but actually to give veterans with alts somewhere new to level through. RoM had a pretty linear leveling path compared to the multiplicity of zones in WoW, then they introduced a new slightly accelerated set of zones to level new characters from 1 to the (then) end game areas. So it was fresh content for encouraging alt creation or starting again.

    Most MMOs haven’t thought of this, you simply have to drink the XP booster potions or equip the heirloom gear and grind your way to the increasingly dizzying heights of the level cap. Personally I wouldn’t have wanted to level a monk to 80 or whatever in WoW going through zones, for the most part, that I’ve done to death. I would have much preferred an alternate leveling path on an enlarged Pandaria continent from 1-80 or at least 1-60 to keep you in the ‘character’ of the expansion longer and to give something truly new for players to explore.

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