Playing Neverwinter with several friends who have leveled characters faster than us has presented us with the issue of hard barriers to higher level content – we cannot enter a zone that we’re too low level to unlock. Unlocking each zone comes from a specific quest from Sergeant Knox in Protector’s Enclave. This means we cannot enter a zone that is a bit too high level for us to join friends for dungeon runs even if the majority of the party is well over level for the dungeon – you can’t even click on the zone on the map to go there.
Other MMOs do not try and protect your character from over-reaching in this way, FFXIV is my most recent example of this. It is perfectly possible by simply wandering down a path or across a bridge to find yourself in an area full of much higher level monsters. I’ve been chased out of areas a couple of times so far because I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings.
I can remember this happening a number of times in World of Warcraft, it was very easy to go wandering the wrong way across a zone border and find monsters that you have no chance of defeating all around you.
The question then is to what extent should games protect our characters from wandering into such danger? As a proper neophyte to MMOs or a specific game it may be all too easy to get your character killed accidentally. But for more experienced players are hard barriers to such dangers too restrictive?