Leveling Up - Is it an outdated mechanic?

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I will start by saying that I am arguing almost entirely from the perspective of multiplayer games, not single-player games.

While leveling up in single player games does sometimes present some problem with balance, it does not usually end up being a problem because nobody really cares as much if a fight against NPCs is unbalanced. If it is in our favor - we enjoy being powerful, and if it is not in our favor - we enjoy the challenge of fighting something that is hard to defeat. Generally speaking.

The situation is quite different in online games though, and let's be clear, when I say online games I mostly mean MMOs. Leveling up serves two main purposes, as far as I can see.

First, it teaches people how to play. If you started somebody off with 10 skills they would have no idea how to use them. It makes much more sense to start them off with only 1 or 2 skills, and build up their arsenal over time so that they can learn to use it.

Second, it makes people play for a certain amount of time, forces them to grind and level before they experience the end-game content such as dungeons and PVP.

So here are the problems.

While it is useful to teach new players how to use their character, it does not need to be so long. Leveling up a character to max level might take days or weeks, depending on the game and how often you play. That is an incredibly long time for what is, basically, a tutorial. Not only is it possible to teach people at a much faster pace than that, but one also needs to consider that a huge chunk of the playerbase for online games are already veterans.
So as far as using the mechanic of Leveling to teach people HOW to play, I think there is good evidence it is an outdated method of teaching.

So moving on past teaching, there is the use of leveling as a grinding mechanic. It keeps people playing longer. If you have to spend at least a week leveling up before you can experience the real content, you will be on longer and theoretically be more profitable. This probably made more sense at a time when all online games were subscription based, but after innumerable failures the market has shifted toward the free-to-play model.
On top of that, grinding actually drives some people AWAY from playing games. Perhaps this is a personal gripe, but I know there are many who agree with me. After a certain point one gets tired of having to level up a new character yet again when all you really want to do is just jump in and play the game. One might argue that leveling up is part of the game, and to an extent that is true, but it brings me to the next point.

The majority of an online game is tailored for max-level play. The PVP, the dungeons, and gear, etc. There might be some interesting quests, zones and dungeons in the early stages, but most of the content is not able to be experienced until max level is reached. Imagine if you were required to run around Skyrim farming bandits before you were allowed to enter the coolest dungeons, or finish the main questline? (Yes, it is technically much HARDER to do some things without leveling up, but it is not impossible and not disallowed)

The prerequisite of leveling up is, in essence, a time-waster. The end-game content is not going to be easier because you are max level, it was specifically designed assuming you ARE max level. It is designed to EXCLUDE you until you reach max level. Consider the Dungeons and Raids in WoW, which have a difficulty progression that has nothing to do with your character level, but you still have to reach max level before you are allowed to participate in those things.

It is not an achievement of any sort, it is not as if only the best players reach max level. Everyone reaches max level, it is the norm, it is expected. Since we are all going to be max level in the end anyway, why are we required to jump through the hoop of leveling up before being allowed to participate in the content of the game?

I have other gripes, but I think going in to those would be entering into a large tangent that takes away from the main point of this thread.

I think it's all part of the fact modern MMOs are a complete mess because they've all tried to take core designs from one big MMO, innovate in 1 or 2 areas, instead of starting from the game up.

At the moment an MMO is almost two separate games stuck together. I'm not convinced levelling up is outdated, because, for example EVE has levelling and EVE is a well-designed (ish) MMO, but the design behind levelling up + end game content is horribly flawed along with so many other MMO aspects (practically 0 MMOs even know what they want the 'massive multiplayer' part to actually do. For a lot of content WoW uses it like an incredibly inefficient lobby system)

Realm of the Mad God is another example of an MMO that knows what it's doing and that has the idea of levelling up to give a sense of player progression, but it takes space over the course of a couple of hours and neatly ties in with all their other mechanics (specifically permadeath) instead of being some sort of hideous hybrid

Well I'm a bit tired, so sorry for any spelling or grammer errors!

Duncan Hempeck:
While it is useful to teach new players how to use their character, it does not need to be so long. Leveling up a character to max level might take days or weeks, depending on the game and how often you play. That is an incredibly long time for what is, basically, a tutorial.

I think the tutorial part of leveling up is just a nice sideeffect that is used by many designers, it makes sense to use this time to teach the player. At the same time though (in most mmos) you will note, that the closer you get to max level, the less frequently you will get new skills/powers/possibilities. Simply because the tutorial part is not needed anymore. The "getting stronger" effect is much more visible.

Duncan Hempeck:

So moving on past teaching, there is the use of leveling as a grinding mechanic. It keeps people playing longer. If you have to spend at least a week leveling up before you can experience the real content, you will be on longer and theoretically be more profitable. This probably made more sense at a time when all online games were subscription based, but after innumerable failures the market has shifted toward the free-to-play model.

In my experience F2P games profit even more from leveling systems than games with monthly fee. While games with monthly fee will get one or two month worth of payment, F2P games could possibly sell you items (for real money) like exp multiplier (for limited time), gear with more exp-gain (for limited time?) or even full levels (for li... I'll stop now). A lot of people who started a F2P game and are staying longer than a week, are likely to spend money to progress (faster).

Duncan Hempeck:

On top of that, grinding actually drives some people AWAY from playing games. Perhaps this is a personal gripe, but I know there are many who agree with me. After a certain point one gets tired of having to level up a new character yet again when all you really want to do is just jump in and play the game.

But there are also other types of players. I know a lot of people who are enjoying the leveling up process in games, and dislike the endgame, even in games like WoW.

Duncan Hempeck:

The majority of an online game is tailored for max-level play.

Thats sadly true. That may be my own interpretation, but it feels like this started with WoW.
A lot of games I know from befor WoW had more to do in lowlvls, or even had nearly impossible to reach levelcaps.
For MMORPGS I remember Ragnarok Online.
For MUD's (yeah... I know... OLD... But I like them...) I remember stuff like "Morgengrauen" (A german MUD, so even the people who actually know what a MUD is most likely wont know it.)
And there are more, but those are 2 that are important to me.

Duncan Hempeck:

It is not an achievement of any sort, it is not as if only the best players reach max level. Everyone reaches max level, it is the norm, it is expected. Since we are all going to be max level in the end anyway, why are we required to jump through the hoop of leveling up before being allowed to participate in the content of the game?

Again: Sadly true.
But I think, leveling systems could be used in a better way. It's just that most games (I know) aren't good in providing lowlevel-gameplay that is worthwhile more than once and concentrate on "endgame". The second problem is, that for most games "endgame" starts with maxlevel, and not with reaching a certain skill/level/gear/group combo.

At the end I would say that if we are talking about WoW leveling is a big issue... Leveling up a new character in this game wouldn't be so much a problem if the levelcap would still be 60. But since the game "starts" with maxlevel, and maxlevel is rising every mayor update, a new character has a long way to go, without new things to explore or in some cases not even other players at your level, this can be very boring.

So I would say a leveling system is not categorical good or bad, it must be used correctly by the designer and fit the game.

Meh, I've been a long term supporter of systems that don't have levels. It's doable, it's easy and it's not a hassle. There is merit in systems with levels but...sometimes people cling to it for the sake of clinging to it. Which may lead to problems as they get sidetracked. I'm not really against levelling systems it's just that...too often they ARE used for the sake of having them without thinking whether or not they are needed or why they are needed. balance goes to hell or is a bitch to maintain, trap options and mathematically solved builds enter the equation when they probably shouldn't. It's just so annoying.

I like the process of levelling up tbh... I enjoy the growth, the evolution and think it offers an extra element of fun to a game.

World of Warcraft is a mess, but then again it has been around for longer than what many of the original developers thought possible. The game is built upon original code developed circa 2002-2004, which has been incrementally modified over the course of nearly a decade. Heck, the only way to really fix the game would be to probably do some serious statistical crunching to get all the numbers back within reasonable levels, tune leveling so people aren't rushing through the cataclysm low level content like a bat out of the underworld, and rebuild the end game so as not to be so heavily challenge focused.

Currently it feels like they are tearing the core end game community apart with how they are handling things in Pandaria. Time requirements to raid at end game have gone up due to mandatory luck token grinding, raids are no longer efficient sources of Valor Points, and social issues born from peer pressure and "old vanguard" thinking abound in core raiding guilds. A lot of guilds can't even maintain a 25 man roster anymore.

Well I think it's fun to start off with this weak little toon that you get to watch grow into a badass. It gives you attachment to your character. You've reared them from their infancy. Bonus points if you get to add that little customisation and personal flavour. That's your toon then. There's a certain security in that what you've created couldn't be replicated in an instant.

You highlight a few problems with the MMO genre, that there is this undesirable cut between levelling and endgame, and that the levelling process is often mind-numbingly boring, but taking out the progression isn't the answer. Take the progression out, and it's not an RPG anymore. Cool, so it's a new genre. Try it. It won't appeal to the MMO crowd, I can assure you.

I agree mostly. Levelling is there to give the user a sense of progression, but there are better alternatives. Personally, I'd like to have the character add traits, perks, and stats on a more intuitive basis. So you've killed someone. You gradually increase in your effectiveness at killing people in a certain way, or when you make potions you become better at them, and the riskier and more adept combinations you make, and the greater your affinity, the more your skill at potion-making grows. A non-linear character progression would be great, too, so playing for longer doesn't always mean you're better than someone who's just started. Though I take it from a role-play perspective. The protagonist as the character's avatar should reflect playstyle, decisions, etc. A bunch of bad decisions and your character may gain negative traits, but not in the same way as de-levelling. Take Crusader Kings 2 as a prototype for trait-based, and non-linear character progression.

Sometimes, levelling is a substitute for true combat depth, artificial difficulty. Grinding is more a test of patience than skill. I'm ok with some grinding, but when it becomes mandatory to play loads of repetitive random encounters just to fight the next boss, I tend to lose interest. It can get so boring just fighting the same enemies over and over again. Notable exceptions include Disgaea and Persona since they have lots to offer in tactical depth and variety. No two stages in Disgaea are the same, and the item world keeps things fresh by having random dungeons.

I think leveling up is fun until it stops being a challenge. Not really against grinding per se, but against becoming so over-powered everything is a cinch to do.

It is an entirely fair question to ask "So if you remove leveling, then what?" But as others have pointed out, there are plenty of alternative systems that can still be fun and offer progression. The Elder Scrolls games have, in my opinion, one of the best progression systems to date.

DoPo:
I'm not really against levelling systems it's just that...too often they ARE used for the sake of having them without thinking whether or not they are needed or why they are needed. balance goes to hell or is a bitch to maintain, trap options and mathematically solved builds enter the equation when they probably shouldn't. It's just so annoying.

This is more of the point I was trying to make. People need to ask WHY is leveling needed.

Since some people have brought up the point of liking levels because it adds a sense of growth and progression, I feel I should bring up a point about that - hopefully without going into a different subject.

You have to be careful with power and progression in a multiplayer setting. In both PVE and PVP you need to keep players balanced in relation to each other, as much as possible. You do not want a situation in which one player is exceedingly more powerful than others, be it PVP or PVE - though I would argue it is a bigger problem for PVP. And I think most everyone can agree, Leveling is NOT a system which keeps players balanced in relation to each other. Players start at the same level, and if they play long enough, end at the same level. The entire process between - the process of leveling up - does not assist game balance.

I think most games like CoD keep the leveling/unlock system because the grind means higher player retention. Higher player retention = more word of mouth sales for the next title in the series.

I can't say I'm a big fan of it. I prefer games with a more level PvP playing field. It's fine to have levels, so long as either 1) there are no benefits, it's just a number or 2) the benefits are only cosmetic.

Korica:
The Elder Scrolls games have, in my opinion, one of the best progression systems to date.

Well... let's agree to disagree. The Elder Scrolls has pretty much the worst leveling scheme I can think of. Boring skill grinding, yuck.

I think it's very simple: They could remove it, but leveling up in multiplayer games is the most basic mechanic designed to lengthen the game, especially when it comes to MMORPGs. The longer the players play your games, the more money you make.

I think the normal model of leveling up is outdated.

I once thought that leveling up in general should be a thing of the past until looking at the "dota" system (Dota 2, League of Legends, etc). On Dota, leveling up is a core part of the gameplay. The game's balancing, gameplay, and tone is set by leveling. Unlike an MMO, you don't keep your levels after the match is done. Leveling up is a part of the actual game as opposed to an obstacle for the inevitable "endgame".

It's only a MMO problem really, and a big part of the reason behind it is that WoW is so successful that pretty much everyone has been playing that for the past decade. And what it comes down to is a critical MMO design flaw. In a typical game you have a starting point from which the player progresses until they reach the end. But with monthly subscription MMO's of course you want to find a way to keep people playing after they 'beat' the game. WoW has compounded this problem by being so successful and long run that the 'end game' has become the game. This concept keeps people like me well away because there's no way I'm sinking 50-100 hours or however long it takes of time into a game before I get to the 'fun part'.

Actually one game that did a pretty good workaround of this was Guild Wars by simply having a very low level cap that you reach about 1/3-1/2 way through the main story line.

Korica:
snip

Well, it depends on what you think the multiplayer game is going to achieve. If you have a shooter, arbitrarily putting in leveling system is dumb, since it doesn't strengthen the core mechanics, i.e. shooting. When a game is build around leveling (like most MMORPGS are) then you simply can't remove it, since the game since getting stronger, better, more powerful is sort of the main thing the game has going for it.
It should be also said that we as human beings like big numbers, we like to have more than the other guy.

And it should be said that, not everyone is in MMOs for the end content. That may be the games focus, but for some people it's about journey, not destination.

You could have a MMO where you can progress only by acquiring better weapons and equipment.

The player will still have keep coming back to grind, but now only for necessary credits and/or rare drops.
It doesn't even have to be a big departure from the old way, as you could still have class-restricted, non-tradable gear with all the high skills and abilities tied to the items.

I love leveling. i think any game that has a level cap is crap jut for that. if in 1993 we managed to make games without level caps where level progression was determiend by exponential formula, we still cant get that done?
Bah, the good old days in Tibia when me with level 20 can go and beat up a lvl 100 because he gained that lelve though endless grinding and not actual player skill.... then they made it like wow, and it fell apart (loosing players since 2007, mostly bots playing nowadays).

There are games without leveling, and they work, but leveling in my opinion is a great addition to any game. and it does not need to make you somewhat significantly stronger either. it can be acess to certain items, a tradeoff nerf of other attribute, whatever. you can balance out leveling. not to mention some games use machmaker to aim at your level players anyway.

Korica:
The Elder Scrolls games have, in my opinion, one of the best progression systems to date.

TES have leveling.... you cant prove a point against levels with TES leveling system.

veloper:
You could have a MMO where you can progress only by acquiring better weapons and equipment.

The player will still have keep coming back to grind, but now only for necessary credits and/or rare drops.
It doesn't even have to be a big departure from the old way, as you could still have class-restricted, non-tradable gear with all the high skills and abilities tied to the items.

you have. its called Eve Online. Except there is no restrictions, you can buy the ship another person made. even if your a newbie and he is a 10 year veteran. sure there are "Skills" but they are trained in background (even when your offline) and there is abosoluteny no need for skill grinding. its all about ISK (ingame money) and how well you can make them. if you specialize, you can have as good skills as a veteran in your speciality within a month.

If you have a functional system that works instead of leveling, one that is good and useful, then go for it. If not, then please understand that the leveling process is a tried-and-true method.

Let me explain what I mean. I will compare my subject of rants (Final Fantasy 8) with my top RPG (Persona 3).

A leveling system is - at its basics - a means to determine that the character has grown beyond his normal limitations. It breaks down into a math figured out by a bunch of programmers that he now rates over this guy in power, technique, stamina, etc. This is the system that proves that your character has learned how to handle himself against threats to a constantly-growing expertise. Persona games have it that your own character gains advantages from progressing socially, physically, and Persona-ly - all of these dependent upon using them effectively. When you fight more with a sword more than a Persona, your level goes up, but not the Persona. When you focus more on the Persona, it goes up sometimes faster than the user. And Social Links? Tons of opportunities and rewards.

Put that up against a game whose system is effectively NOT a leveling system now... FF8 has levels, but they are entirely meaningless. As yourself, you are no more separated from your average monster at level ten than you were at level 100. About every ten levels, the monsters ramp up and are still able to meet you at your level. This is wrong. You spend the entire game killing things, and you are most-assuredly killing more of them than they are of you or anyone else, especially since you'll get pulled into combat every 15 seconds. In-game, many of these monsters should suddenly be a breeze because you've killed 400 of them and know everything about them ever. When you have no level system effectively, everything you do is dependent on some other factor, and the answer in this case was the junctioning, which was crap.

The sort of game that uses leveling, like an RPG, should do this because you don't have else unless something unique comes along. Now, the Sphere System of FFX worked. You make your own paths, characters effectively choose their own powers and upgrades, and handle things your way. The levels wouldn't matter here because you are building your character, stat by stat and power by power. But unless you're really inventive, leveling systems are just easier, because it's something recognizable and functional.

This is the biggest reason why I stopped playing Guild Wars 2 fairly quickly, but am still playing The Secret World. One has a level system that went to 80, even though the actual progression of your skills stopped at level 30 and the other has a new take on evolving your char that doesn't involve levels.

Levels were created in RPG(real RPG not pc or consoles.) as a mechanic to measure character progression, later on other systems independent of level like Storyteller were created and in computer games the no level approach has been broadly successful in the past(Ultima skill system is a great example.)

It was far more necessary on paper to be fair and while I like it there are better options for certain types of games it would make MMO's more dynamic if they could ditch the wow model and go back to a skill based system or something else.

I fully agree with the OP. I highly dislike the levelling systems found in most current games - including many single player games.

They are out of place in competitive shooters, but the same logic applies to any kind of competitive game. More experienced people are already more skilled than beginners. Giving them more health, better weapons, or more gadgets on top of that just makes life even harder for beginners. The only thing I find acceptable is to offer a wider variety of guns and gadgets, as long as none of these guns and gadgets are outright better. And, of course, cosmetic rewards - cool outfits, titles and stuff. That's motivating people plenty enough in other games.

I find levelling in its current form also very problematic in MMOs. Guild Wars 2, who tried to improve here, just killed it in terms of absurdity for me. Progression works like everywhere else here, but if you go back to low-level areas, your level is scaled down to the level of the area. This in itself is good - it makes visiting low-level areas worthwhile, and you can also play together with friends that have lower levels. However, it is also absurd: You gain levels, but effectively you never really become more powerful - no matter where you go, your enemies are always as strong as you are. Well, your character does become a bit stronger, so you will have an easier time in low-level areas, but it's much much less pronounced. So I was really wondering: why include this levelling system in the first place? Why make your character start out with 500 hit points at level 1 and end with 50 000 at level 80, if it doesn't make a difference at all? And, by the way, how realistic is it that an experienced warrior can endure 100 times more punishment and dish out 100 times more damage?
Why not start with 500 and end with, say, 1000 (and analogously for the other stats)? This way, you would still have level progression, you would still become more powerful over time, but you could still play with friends and have fun, you could still find challenges in the easier areas. But you would have an easier time balancing the game.
And, again, you could also provide a sense of progression by giving access to a greater varieties of weapons, spells, tools and what not.
And there are other ways to prevent level 1 characters to access all areas right away, to direct characters to follow some story or something like that. Like, you need to gain a certain reputation, or finish some quests, before the ruler of city X allows you to enter.

And mind that Guild Wars 2 is already a big step forward compared to older games. If I have to play dozens or hundreds of hours before the actual fun content is accessible, in the end game, that's just crap. Like the OP said.

And the aforementioned EVE has the worst progression system of all in my opinion. Let's say you're a relatively new player, and you want to fly a certain space ship you don't have the skills for yet with reasonable efficiency. What can you do to achieve that goal? Nothing, absolutely nothing. If you're unlucky, you have to wait several real-life weeks until you can fly it. This game actively dis-incentivices playing it.
This game disadvantages new players worse than any other. If you're an experienced player, you have the advantage because of your experience, of course, but you can also earn magnitudes more money per hour, every ship you fly has better stats, you can equip every ship with better equipment, you can fly a much larger variety of ships, and you can fly much better ships of a similar type. You're just much better off in every single way.

Level progression in single player games often goes wrong too. A game should become progressively harder the more you play from both a gameplay and a story point of view: you get better at playing it, and you want to overcome worse enemies as you fight your way to the villain. But what happens in many games that a game gets easier over time because the developers didn't manage to balance it well.
I understand if levelling is necessary for games like Skyrim. But if story and gameplay mechanics are not enough to motivate a player to continue playing story-driven games like Mass Effect 3, then you're doing something wrong.

Leveling up is a reward in itself, by leveling you are improving yourself in a game, that is why many people have and continue to enjoy it. However, the problem mmo's have run into is that people seem to only care about the end game rather than the journey, which breaks with traditional pen and paper mechanics, where an adventure was its own reward, sure you get gold and items, but then what? More adventure. Modern mmo's are all about the end game and the rewards are useful only in the endgame. Leveling up stops being a feeling of empowerment and slowly becomes a mindless task. A problem with many games today is that they've devalued leveling up to make you feel like you're not progressing. Some games can get away with this with strong story and character development, but in mmo's you inhabit your own unique character and few allow you to grow in that direction.

I'm going to use the elephant in the room WoW as an example of what I mean. In classic WoW you had a reward at each level after ten (talents), each level you progressed, sometimes you got an ability as well. Then they changed it to every two levels, and if you pay attention to yourself, each level is now less engaging. Now we got to modern where it is every 15, and levels have ceased really to exist other than to justify the grind.

Leveling up isn't intrinsically bad, its just poorly implemented. It should be a method to keep people engaged with a game. It also elongates games, a hallmark of subscription mmo's, which is also not bad, as long as the journey to the end is fun and enjoyable. Unfortunately, mmo's these days have forgotten about the leveling content in favour of endgame, as mmo players rush to the endgame, as they have been taught that is what's valuable. Here is where level-less games come in, but they have the problem of giving a player no feeling of empowerment other than gear, which can also be a terrible system.

Glad to see somebody who not only agrees, but offers up some great reasons why.

CloudAtlas:
Why make your character start out with 500 hit points at level 1 and end with 50 000 at level 80, if it doesn't make a difference at all? And, by the way, how realistic is it that an experienced warrior can endure 100 times more punishment and dish out 100 times more damage?
Why not start with 500 and end with, say, 1000 (and analogously for the other stats)? This way, you would still have level progression, you would still become more powerful over time, but you could still play with friends and have fun, you could still find challenges in the easier areas. But you would have an easier time balancing the game.
And, again, you could also provide a sense of progression by giving access to a greater varieties of weapons, spells, tools and what not.
And there are other ways to prevent level 1 characters to access all areas right away, to direct characters to follow some story or something like that. Like, you need to gain a certain reputation, or finish some quests, before the ruler of city X allows you to enter.

One only needs to look to one of the most popular examples, WoW, to see what happens when you let numbers get out of hand. I think if you look up a bar graph of item stats in WoW, you can actually see a proper exponential growth curve. Somehow you go from 100 Health, to 6000 Health, to 5000000 Health. It makes utterly no sense.

This is one of the reasons I cited the Elder Scrolls as an example of good progression, more specifically the recent entry of Skyrim.
The numbers could obviously use some tweaking - and keep in mind Elder Scrolls is not a number oriented game - but they are INCREDIBLY tame compared to the MMO genre. You start with 100 Health and can finish the game with only about 250 Health. If you completely invest 5 points and completely master a weapon type, you only increase your damage by 100%.

No matter the cries of "PEOPLE LIKE BIG NUMBERS!", two points still stand.
First, if you let big numbers keep growing, they will get WAY out of hand. Especially in a continuous online environment which has content updates.
Second, letting big numbers keep growing makes games VERY hard to balance, especially for PVP. And many people love PVP.

I don't know any character progression system that doesn't have leveling up.
The only difference is that some of them have the leveling up in the background and show the player something else.

^TES games have leveling up. But instead of the game placing points based on your class, it gives you those points to invest wherever you want. But it's still leveling up.

I wouldn't say that leveling up itself is outdated, but the way in which it's implemented and used is. The fact of the matter is that some people find it highly rewarding to level up - it provides you with a nice little sense of achievement when you learn that your character has become more powerful (even if the leveling system used renders the level gain fairly superfluous). It's also one way of tracking progression - level brackets are a good way of progressing the story, guiding the player from one area to the next, letting enemies gradually build in strength until the 'final showdown'.

... Unfortunately, things don't usually pan out as epic as that. With World of Warcraft, that old long-running joke that you spend most of your (WoW) life killing boars was actually reasonably accurate; and if you weren't grinding, you were completing trivial tasks. 'Go here, kill X creatures, come back. Go here, collect X items, come back. Go talk to X, come back.'

Because an awful lot of MMOs are using World of Warcraft as the starting point, it means that there isn't an awful lot of deviation in terms of the MMO model as a whole. I'm gonna shamelessly attribute this to the mentality of, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it". WoW continues to reap in millions of pounds a year, and inevitably the MMO companies want a slice of that profit. Unfortunately, they ignore the things that WoW doesn't do well, and ultimately their games lack what WoW will always have above other MMO's - accessibility and familiarity.

One of WoW's biggest selling points has been that it can run even on the lowest end of the gaming PC spectrum. MMO developers now want to go bigger and brighter, and that sadly means leaving players without decent hardware out in the dust.

I'm actually deviating from the point, so to get back on track..

I seriously think more MMOs need to incorporate an Elder Scrolls type leveling system, where your abilities improve as you use them. It gives you an incentive to experiment with different abilities, and also helps you to tailor your character to what you want it to be. The trouble with giving players a set number of abilities and very little variation between them is that everyone ultimately ends up the same, and you feel as though the choices you make are worthless.

I realize that giving the player the option to create builds (like in Guild Wars) also runs that same risk (because some builds will undoubtedly be stronger than others), but at least they have the option to play the way they want, rather than the way which is 'tried and tested'.

I knew I remembered something...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zn81sY7pqI&list=UUUzj5q3v-6umt_NOCR709Ng&index=31

A well-reasoned opinion on the issue.

I can't help but think of Monster Hunter. It has no leveling system. Just fighting monsters to acquire materials for better gear. Then using that gear to kill bigger monsters, then taking those materials to make even better gear. Which again will be used to hunt even larger monsters.

I don't really play MMO's but when my friends who play WoW go "hey you can get a level 80 character free now! You should totally grind until 90 so you can raid with us!"

Giving a 80 account seems bizzare to me, you miss all the leveling up if you like that kind of thing yet for people who hate grinding for levels you still have grind another ten to get to endgame. I get the impression that WoW is all about good endgame content now so why not give a level 90 character for free as well and be done with it?

Now there's leveling up in LoL which is essential to the entire game. The amount of times I have died because the guy I was against hit 6 milliseconds before I did and just all in'd me out of nowhere...

Then again levels are strictly one way with no "trees" and the like. It's "max skill X, Y then Z with your ult whenever you can"

Like how Katarina should always max W then Q then E in that order. Anyone who maxes Q first is wrong >:(

Unless you are REALLY countered and can't get in to last hit without lobbing blades for a distance

Eh, I'd say it works quite well in games where you don't have to grind for hours and hours, and can choose attributes that can be suited to a situation in the game (like in Skyrim & Dota). It has to be carefully considered though...levelling up in Mass Effect sucked in my opinion as it was either too detailed or just left in as an artefact.

x-Tomfoolery-x:
I can't help but think of Monster Hunter. It has no leveling system. Just fighting monsters to acquire materials for better gear. Then using that gear to kill bigger monsters, then taking those materials to make even better gear. Which again will be used to hunt even larger monsters.

That does not work in mmos though or any game with a rotating player base. The new player does not want to have to grind through three years of content just to be able to play with his friend who convinced him to buy the game.

Little Gray:

x-Tomfoolery-x:
I can't help but think of Monster Hunter. It has no leveling system. Just fighting monsters to acquire materials for better gear. Then using that gear to kill bigger monsters, then taking those materials to make even better gear. Which again will be used to hunt even larger monsters.

That does not work in mmos though or any game with a rotating player base. The new player does not want to have to grind through three years of content just to be able to play with his friend who convinced him to buy the game.

Pfft. Nope. You don't have to grind through 3 years of content to be able to play Monster Hunter.
You can get a decent set of gear in less than an afternoon.

x-Tomfoolery-x:

Little Gray:

x-Tomfoolery-x:
I can't help but think of Monster Hunter. It has no leveling system. Just fighting monsters to acquire materials for better gear. Then using that gear to kill bigger monsters, then taking those materials to make even better gear. Which again will be used to hunt even larger monsters.

That does not work in mmos though or any game with a rotating player base. The new player does not want to have to grind through three years of content just to be able to play with his friend who convinced him to buy the game.

Pfft. Nope. You don't have to grind through 3 years of content to be able to play Monster Hunter.
You can get a decent set of gear in less than an afternoon.

Problem is, Monster Hunter doesn't change. When you buy Ultimate, you don't expect that in four month your gear to be worthless because there isn't going to be a major content patch with new gear. It also doesn't have a horizontal armor grind curve because the fact that you need better gear to take on G monsters since they do more damage. Sure maybe if your really insanely good you can win with lower-grade armor but there isn't much of a point to putting that disadvantage on yourself.

So if monster hunter kept making new levels past Rank G, then it would essentially require you to go through the entire sets of gear to get that one. If they added Rank B, F, S, and so on till G is far into the past. Than unless they have some short cut, you will most likely need to go through all previous rank to get to the new one.

Maybe i'm wrong, I don't know how the Monster Hunter MMO deals with it unless they keep making new monster types and not increase anything from Rank G which seems kind of dull since it would never get more difficult. Although maybe that is the point.

The only way I can see it now is that they basically start voiding out old content with new content which isn't good...

MMO's? No thats fine.

I'm completely sick of it in shooters though. Particularly Battlefield which adopted the COD model of level to unlock gear then kill to unlock attachments. The difference being Battlefield is more about teamwork than kills and thus the focus is shitfted in a negative direction. BC2 was better in that once you had a red dot or a scope for a class you had it for any gun in the class. Only issue there is that levelling was glacial.

I'd like to see more "horizontal leveling" systems- ones where power doesn't increase but specialization does. It'd be more fun to build a character this way, especially if the the system was designed in a way as to incorporate more play styles into it. This would primarily work for PvP shooters, though, but it would be nothing short of lovely if this kind of leveling was built with the underrecognized Pick 10 system from BLOPS 2.

I don't mind leveling up when it is used in a way that makes sense. RPGs like Skyrim and traditional dungeon crawlers usually work for me.

However, I hate the idea when it is applied to shooters. I can't stand leveling, unlocks, and perks that exist in nearly every shooter nowadays. Why do I have to be "x" level to use this weapon? In reality, I could just walk over, pick one up and use it with no problems at all. Why should I be "y" level to call in this support option. Why shouldn't I be able to just pick up a radio and call in that airstrike? In my opinion, they are only features to pad gameplay. I don't see them as adding any value to the experience.

Sure, I tolerated the above features for a while. Back when I played Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142, I was happy enough to accept unlocks and whatnot. Then I grew up and realized that it doesn't add anything. Once you unlock everything, that's it! It's just another shooter with gobs of support options, weapons, and gadgets that you will probably only use a fraction of.

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