I’ve been thinking about the pressure to level to cap over the last few days, I’m not the only one as Wilhelm has an excellent recent post on this topic. MMO developers have for years being pushing players to rush to the level cap so they can become part of the pool of players available to ‘enjoy’ the endgame. Of course its in their best interests to have a large percentage of active players at this stage so that they can enable others to enjoy the activities.
I’ll state here, if you weren’t aware, that I’m not an end-game focused player. The journey is very much more important to me than the destination. In WoW, my first MMO, I played for about five years by being an altoholic – by enjoying the various possible leveling paths on different classes. To date, when I’ve tried to rush to cap to play with others it’s generally left me feeling disconnected from the game and unhappy with the character.
I do make use of the common rested XP bonus in most games, I’m not that stubborn about this. But I’ll avoid XP bonus items and potions, and will even avoid bonus XP weekends if possible. I just dislike having to leave zones and their stories unfinished. Conversely (or perversely?) since I play multiple games I’m not about to spend hours doing quests that give no XP just to finish those stories. I’d rather do it as intended – with some challenge and the rewards that the developer intended.
So in both EQ2 and LOTRO I’m faced with the dilemma of zooming up the levels and not necessarily being happy about it – in both cases this will be my first character to the level cap. All characters in LOTRO are automatically receiving 100% bonus XP in the month prior to the launch of the Helm’s Deep expansion. So I find myself concentrating mostly on the epic ‘book’ quests and the odd extra as I race along. This is actually bad for my character’s development as well, since I’m not managing to complete enough deeds to boost my characters statistics. In the long run I could level a second character at a more relaxed pace to cover story gaps, but there’s always the danger of spoilers if I skip zones that will affect my enjoyment of the content I skipped.
In EQ2 I want to play current content with my guild, so there’s the external pressure to get to the cap regardless of story progression. But in LOTRO I’m in an old, almost defunct guild – LOTRO is my go to game for solo story-heavy immersive gaming.