Am I too used to fast-leveling now?

[disclaimer: prefacing every sentence with In My Experience or In My Humble Opinion would make this post awful to read, but in essence this is all about my experiences and opinions - many readers may disagree of course]

I’ve talked on this blog before about feeling that the leveling speed is off in MMO games these days, certainly this was my experience of leveling in Rift, SWTOR and is also true for Neverwinter. That’s not to say fast leveling is intrinsically bad (well actually it is) but if you can’t experience all the content on level in a zone there’s something wrong with your games leveling curve. It seems in these games that you barely have time to catch your breath as your character rockets towards the level cap. It makes the enjoyment of zone storylines and zone factions (with rewards to grind towards) rather difficult as you out-level the quests or faction reward items too quickly.

This has had a negative impact on my experience of those games and leaves you all too quickly at the end-game wondering what to do with your character. But there’s a more insidious aspect to this trend of speed-leveling. Having gone back to more traditional games like LOTRO and EQ2 I find myself unhappy with the questing pace and too used to having the questing trail laid out before me.

LOTRO

In LOTRO I’ve found the leveling through Rohan (and to a lesser extent Isenguard) to be a real slog. The drive to get a warhorse ASAP to finally experience that gameplay mode had me racing through quest hub after quest hub as fast as possible. I was even skipping some quest text (there is SO much of it in LOTRO)! I’m on a break from this game at present and if I do go back it’ll have to be at a more deliberate pace. It’s a game to enjoy at a saunter, not a sprint in my mind.

EQ2

With Everquest 2 I have faced the twin problems of level-speed extremes and content ease. I’ll preface this with the statement that it’s a marvelously deep game – there is just so much content to be found. Found is important here since a lot of it isn’t that obvious – it’s the old-school idea that you go find people and they give you stuff to do. Not all of them are in quest hubs (though they’ve become more common as the game has aged) and not all of them are in easy to find places. So you can easily miss quests, maybe important ones. I do find myself consulting the wiki a little too often when playing EQ2 as I don’t want to miss out on the good stuff as I play through.

Leveling speed starts fast and then slows down rapidly as you reach the mid-game. My insta-dinged shadowknight has been crawling his way towards the cap but it’s slow going – this shouldn’t be a problem of course but I fear I’ve become so used to fast leveling that I get frustrated too easily now by a slower game. I’ve resisted the temptation to drink loads of XP boost potions, that still feels like cheating but what if the game is designed to encourage that?

I need to do some thinking about my approach to these two games before getting back into them again – I think they both need a different mindset to enjoy them properly. At least with the deliberately slowed leveling pace of Free-to-Play SWTOR my leveling trio can enjoy the leveling experience without feeling as rushed…

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3 Responses to Am I too used to fast-leveling now?

  1. In the rush for a mass market of subscribers, MMORPGs are dialling down the difficulty to open up end game content to all. I used to play WOW, I enjoyed it despite it being a slog to level my hunter. It was a time when the journey was as important as the destination, where you met like minded people who were also struggling to level and friendships were formed before you even thought of entering dungeons. There were long attunement processes required to unlock keys to the first raids. It took time to learn a class, develop a character and build friendships and the grind of levelling served as an apprenticeship to this. Those who went through these times really were achievers and there was an awe about players that carried items you knew took skill, dedication and time to earn.

    Changes to levelling to encourage casual players ruined the game. Too many people could just stroll into raids without the proper gear or experience and so Blizzard began to make boss fights easier, dungeons easier. Everything became geared towards the “now generation.” The game is too hard? No problem, we’ll make it easier. You haven’t found players to do group quests or dungeons with? No problem, we’ll make it easier to do that to. You can’t be bothered with attunement? Ok, we’ll ditch that too. Whatever your problem, we’ll fix it, just keep giving us money.

    Companies have no problem butchering what works as long as it appeals to the widest audience and earns them money. Unfortunately, it means that the sense of adventure and the joy of the story are lost in the unquenchable drive for loot.

  2. Pasduil says:

    > if you can’t experience all the content on level in a zone there’s something wrong

    I used to think that too at first. But then I started making alts and was glad there were some things for them to do that I hadn’t seen yet.

    > In LOTRO I’ve found the leveling through Rohan (and to a lesser extent Isenguard) to be a real slog.

    I suspect the problem is not so much the speed of leveling as the grindiness of it and too many quests being the same-old-same-old. I’d have been happy with fewer but better and more original quests.

    • Jonny 5iVe says:

      “But then I started making alts and was glad there were some things for them to do that I hadn’t seen yet.”

      THIS!!

      I lost all my interest in SWTOR when I started playing around with new characters and advanced classes, only to realise that I’d be doing exactly the same quests, in exactly the same order, over and over and over and …

      At least with RIFT, WoW, EQ2, etc., you get multiple areas to quest in at the same level.

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