I Love Low Level

Draenei vs Plant

An epic struggle of good vs plant unfolds

Even though I like to sometimes get on my high horse about old school games and mechanics of yesteryear, I’m a big ol’ softie at heart and, deep down, I absolutely adore frolicking around newbies zones with the extra special alt I’ve just created. After all of the stresses of guild management, raiding and loot ladder climbing, there’s something quite blissful about the starting levels of games. A day in noob town is like a day on the farm. Every kill is epic, every loot drop a fortune, every ding a parade. I love low level.

Where “low level” ends and “high level” begins can be a bit of a blur but, end game raiding aside, I suppose I consider the first 1 to 20 or 30 levels “low”. It varies from game to game, of course, but usually most have a sort of newbie experience to help guide players into the game and teach them the mechanics. This is the time when no wrong can be done and almost everyone you encounter is chipper and friendly, eager to help or, more commonly, impress noobs with their twinked big glowing knobbly staff (pun utterly intended).

Low levels and newbie gardens also tend to be some of most polished experiences of a MMO, sometimes even being the best about them (*cough* Age of Conan *cough*… sorry, getting over a cold). Well done low level areas can be just as epic and breathtaking as any raid (well… maybe) and set the player up for the long haul drudge between boring middle age and endgame heaven. For me though, variety is the spice of life and the thing that keeps me rolling those endless alts is a strong selection of staring areas and races with solid, interesting back stories.

Not surprisingly some of my favourite games (Everquest, WoW, Everquest 2… hmm OK not so much the original EQ2 but I’ll forgive it anyway) offer great variety in the race and starting location areas. Aside from picking a new class, starting afresh in a howling tundra, tropic jungle or on a shattered moon can do wonders for the imagination. Besides, sometimes just taking a break from the hectic lifestyle of the level cap can be good for the soul.

So are you a low level lover like me? Or do you itch for the rewards of end game?

-Gordon

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22 Comments

  1. Syl says:

    I love being a newb and explore the world as one. =) but then I don’t think the replay value in WoW is all that great, so I ended up leveling a character twice, not more.

  2. Klepsacovic says:

    I prefer middle age. You’ve got the class figured out and the core of the abilities are there, but there isn’t a lot of pressure.

  3. Scopique says:

    Considering I spend all of my time in the low level zones, I agree! My problem is that once I reach “middle age” in an MMO, the grind ends up killing me: the newness of the game and it’s lower levels have worn off, and I’m never high enough to do the more advanced content XD

  4. Amuntoth says:

    I’ve gotta say I often love the newbie experience more than the end game. When I pick up a new MMO I am guaranteed to get past the newbie zones into the middle age, then there is a sharp decline as the fun ebbs and they don’t introduce anything new or exciting, figuring the enticement of the endgame will get you through. If I make it to end game I often don’t stay long, and there are a few dungeons/raids I’ll do then get bored and roll an alt.

    So for me, MMOs are mostly newbie zones.

  5. Mojeaux says:

    I have to agree. Lowbie zones are usually the most fun in just about all of the MMO’s I’ve played. I especially like games like EQ, where each race has it’s own starting area and content.

    One thing I greatly disliked about Aion was that no matter what class you chose, you were always in one of two starting areas (Asmo or Elyos) and had to replay the very same content on the way to endgame. Very mind numbing once you did it 3 or 4 times.

  6. I definitely like the lowbie zones better. There’s something to be said for feeling like there’s a LOT of game stretching out in front of you and a huge unexplored world. It’s a more relaxed pace, more variety, and more of an “adventure” feel. Sitting in a capital city waiting for a dungeon queue to pop is not fun.

  7. Tesh says:

    I’m a fan of low level zones. There’s a bonus in that they are typically free, even in a sub game; I just fire up another trial.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that level 10 will be the power sweet spot in WoW, incidentally. The goodies they give players once they lock themselves into a talent tree are a nice boost of power. Level 1 players are almost invincible to equal-level critters, and it’s almost all downhill from there, typically… but that new level 10 in WoW looks like fun. I’m looking forward to seeing if my guess is right.

    • Gordon says:

      Totally. I like the sound of the changes coming with Cataclysm. One of my annoyances with WoW is that a lot of classes didn’t get their core abilities until around levels 30 – 40 and it was a real drag. Trying to leveling a Priest for instance was incredibly painful. I like the sound of the new Mastery system which lets you experience a class fully at a much lower level.

  8. Bhagpuss says:

    Absolutely!

    The heart of every MMO I have ever played is the low-mid-level game. That’s usually where most of the development money got spent and it was designed by the “A-Team” devs.

    Later on, when years of expansions have piled on the bloat, it’s the starting areas that get the revamp because that’s where the declining trickle of new players make their decision on whether to stick around after the free trial.

    And on top of the practicalities, being low-level is just more fun. As you say, every piece of gear that drops counts, every new spell changes gameplay and everything just somehow matters more.

    • Gordon says:

      When I played on Nagafen on EQ2 low level was the place to be. Ironically enough the PvP was so much better between levels 1 – 20 and everyone used to roll alts just for it! As players got higher levels, the PvP because a lot more tedious and one sided.

  9. Dàchéng says:

    I recently started a Draenei, and I’m a big fan of the Draenei low levels. What an excellent job Blizzard did on those! I’m not so keen on the human, gnome and dwarf starting zones, though (tell me again, why am I killing those troggs? They don’t even have candles worth taking).

  10. Xerxes says:

    Too intersting but games what i played, i stayed long long time at low levels and i was happy.

  11. WarlockMage says:

    I love both ends of the spectrum equally. I love the rewards of the endgame and the story and sense of adventure the beginning of the game offers. I hate the Middle game because you aren’t as interested in the “newb things” that you can experience earlier in the adventure, and you probably won’t be able to to any of the higher level stuff so it is quite frustrating. (sort of like adolescence really) Neither here or there.

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