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.
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?