Do You Care How Long It Takes To Level Up?

WoW Grant Level

Leveling up in WoW was sometimes a little too streamlined

When I started playing MMORPGs, all of those many years ago, I was obsessed with progression. If I wasn’t leveling up, I wasn’t going forward and if I wasn’t going forward, I felt like I was having a wasted gaming session. It wasn’t that was I particular keen on the raiding endgame either (I’ve still never really developed a taste for it) or desperate to “complete” the game but I just wanted to feel like my time online was productive and worthwhile. No doubt a lot of this had to do with the fact that I started off playing Everquest in which it took a horrendously long time to do just about anything, let alone hit the level cap. Now things are different though.

Games like EVE aside, leveling in traditional themepark MMOs is evolving and changing partially thanks to games like World of Warcraft. It’s becoming much more of a streamlined and quick process rather than a struggle for survival against overwhelming odds with stacked everything against you. Whether or not that’s a good thing is perfectly debatable. However, regardless of the time and style of progression, my views about that journey towards the level cap have changed significantly in quite a short period of time. I now no longer care about measuring how “successful” my gaming session was or how quickly or not I’m accruing levels. In fact, I barely look at the experience bar at all these days.

So why the change in attitude? I’m not sure really. Perhaps it’s to do with the fact that leveling is pretty easy now in most games and not something you actively need to struggle against. It’s not like we lose experience anymore when we die (a la EQ) and risk the chance of de-leveling. Perhaps it’s also got something to do with the fact that hitting level 85 in World of Warcraft shortly after Cataclysm was released left me feeling quite disillusioned with the whole endgame environment and now no longer feel the rush to try and hit the cap. Or perhaps I’m just mellowing out and taking my time to enjoy the journey more than ever before.

Still I’m curious about how everyone feels about it. Is knocking through those levels a priority to you? Are you in a rush to hit the level cap? Or do you not care about those sorts of things at all?

Do You Care How Long It Takes To Level Up?

View Results

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-Gordon

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46 Comments

  1. ziboo says:

    Nope, never power-leveled and never will. It’s a huge world to see and explore so I do. I’ve been play EQ2 (randomly admittedly) but I’ve never max’d a level in that game yet. WoW I have 3 sitting between 81-84 with no motivation to ding 85.

    In RIFT now some guy was bragging in Head Start about reaching 50 3 days after launch with 2.4 days played. People blasted him in their version of trade. Why rush and OMG talk about no life!

  2. wilhelm2451 says:

    The problem is that I cannot easily separate levels from the rest of the MMO experience. Levels make you more powerful, give you access to new spells and skills, enable you to explore new areas that were previously too dangerous to visit.

    So I am somewhere between Yes and No, and you did not leave me a “gray area” choice, so I had to choose yes. As slow as I do progress through games, I never lose site of the fact that levels are power, and power is what lets you do what you want in the game.

    Until you run out of levels.

    • Tesh says:

      Seconded, with a rider of “since way too much content is gated by level/power, and almost all I do is explore, slow leveling is onerous… unless it’s fun to just play”.

    • Gordon says:

      Very good point. Of course games now end up giving us alternative means of progression to gain power specifically through itemisation or AAs. One way or another it is just a grind for power though. I guess EVE is the only thing that comes close to being different?

      And yeah, should’ve come up with more of a “grey” response. Next time :P

  3. Wulfy says:

    I deliberately took my time levelling my new Goblin main in Cataclysm, forsaking all herilooms or other fast-track methods. It’s all about the exploring and adventuring for me. You get xp all the same anyway!

  4. Espoire says:

    It really depends; if I enjoy levelling, then I’d prefer it be as long as possible.
    If I enjoy the endgame more than levelling, then I’d prefer it be as short as possible, even if I do enjoy levelling some.

    (And obviously, if neither is the case, not playing the game, so I don’t care either way.)

    So far only one game I’ve played has had more fun in the levelling than in its endgame: Dungeons & Dragons Online.

    • Gordon says:

      Lots of people prefer the endgame experience and I think that’s totally valid. Makes me wonder why MMOs don’t just offer a way to create a pre-made character at the level cap to avoid the whole leveling process completely.

  5. Kierbuu says:

    When I start a new MMO I care about exploring most of all. I try to learn all the little out of the way places in every zone. Then I get interested in trying to get the best gear I possibly can at any given level as I go “up”. Finally, after I’ve explored everyplace with one ‘toon and gathered all the gear with a second one, then I get interested in leveling as fast as possible. Turns into a fun challenge.

  6. It seems to me that the more I care about getting max level, the less interesting the game becomes. Not only because I’m motivated by something besides simply enjoying the game, but also because I tend to be ignoring a lot of the game to get to the top level. Of course, if I feel that I just have to grind to advance, I’m going to lose interest, too. As a dyed-in-the-wool Explorerer, I’d rather not have content be gated by levels as other comment writers have said.

    I’d rather simply enjoy playing the game and progressing my character at a reasonable pace. As soon as I feel the need to race through levels, that’s a very bad sign for me.

    • Gordon says:

      “As soon as I feel the need to race through levels, that’s a very bad sign for me.”

      I don’t find it a bad sign, personally, but I do recognise that it means I’m trying to get to a stage of play that’s not immediately accessible and that’s a fundamentally flawed system.

  7. Pitrelli says:

    I think back to how long it took to get to 60 in vanilla wow and it made me smile, it took me an age however they are as fond a memory as I have after years of MMO playing and its something that the new breed of insta ding games havent replicated.

    Id actually like an mmo to launch without an xp bar as it would remove the artificial target of ‘must get 3-5′ bars of xp to be a successful night and just let us get back to enjoying the actual game for what it is.

    I just actually ordered final fantasy xiv for £5 off amazon and Ive heard they have xp caps per day so will be interesting to give it a go and see how it compares to other releases.

    • Gordon says:

      Level caps is an interesting idea although it does handicap new players who want to try and catch up with their mates :(

      • Xenovore says:

        And there’s my biggest issue with level-based MMOs: If I start playing later than my friends, I’m “gated” from playing with them. Then either they have to put their game on hold to allow me to catch up, or start a lower level alt. Both rather lame solutions to the problem…

  8. Bhagpuss says:

    Well, first off I really don’t like those poll choices. I voted “Nope” because of the options given it’s the least inaccurate, but it really doesn’t reflect my feelings about levels very closely.

    Levelling up is the main point of playing MMOs for me, in that I equate “levelling up” with “exploring the world”. Levelling up allows you access to more and more parts of the landscape, of the lore, of the story and of the game mechanics. Levelling up is the equivalent of turning the pages in a novel, and like a novel when you turn that final page, when the number on your character’s level ceases to change, that’s it, finito.

    I don’t do end-games. I level characters towards the maximum level, generally not reaching it. Characters who do reach the top go into semi-retirement, making room for the next one to level up in their stead.

    Consequently, I find levelling in almost all modern MMOs somewhere between “too fast” and “much too fast”. Mrs Bhagpuss hit 50th in Rift this weekend and was immediately at a loss for what to do. Max level in a month is just far too fast. My mage is at 48.5 and will hit 50 next weekend I’m sure. What happens then? We have no interest in raiding, heroic dungeons, or grinding reputation. We’ll level up other characters, of course.

    I’m really interested to see how GW2 works out with its “flat” levelling system, where it takes exactly the same experience (and theoretically time) to do level 50 as to do Level 1. Unfortunately, I suspect this will mean it takes an unpleasantly short time to do each level rather than a luxuriously comforatably long time.

    • Gordon says:

      Indeed, I find games like WoW now far too fast to level up in. And they keep making it faster. I guess in Blizzard’s eyes it’s to allow as many people as possible to experience the “endgame” content.

      In terms of flat leveling systems, yeah they very much appeal to me. Looking forward to The Secret World just for that fact.

      • SKapusniak says:

        You know what would actualy get me to buy stuff from the LOTRO store and get me playing the game again (I have a lifetime sub)?

        ‘Remove Rest XP’ and ‘25% XP Nerf’ Potions, instead of the XP Boosting ones :P

  9. slowthought says:

    No and yes. Switched to a skill-based game recently, and playing feels a lot more relaxed compared to leveling games. On the other hand, I literally ‘ding’ every two minutes (yes, it’s Darkfall) which is very rewarding.

  10. Imakulata says:

    I guess my English was not good enough to understand your point, are you talking about the time to get through a single level or the time to reach endgame with a new character? Regarding the former, I stopped caring. Sure, with most games I played you get new abilities or stat increases only at a level-up and a new ability can increase the character’s power significantly and/or improve gameplay but there is a limited number of abilities I think one can master – I don’t find it possible to use a character with hundreds of abilities effectively unless the game tempo is changed to match a typical strategy game. That would leave the game designers with a “choose 2 out of 3″ choice: They can make leveling up fast (i. e. a single level takes little time), they can attach meaningful power upgrades like new abilities to all levels or they do not need to come up with a lots of abilities which turn out to be of no use or any other kind of meaningless power upgrades.

    I don’t consider the levels themselves a reward – when I played RO (Rangarok online), the high levels were important milestones for me because the leveling up happened rarely. But a milestone can be “finish zone X” or “get to Outland” in WoW too.

    If it’s the latter – the time to reach endgame, I like that to be short. I do not find the external-award-driven (the award is the character’s power and new content that can be done on the character) leveling to be as fun as the internal-award-driven endgame. Of course, there is an exploration element – but there’s only so much content to explore and once you run out of it, it’s the treadmill again until you prove yourself to be worthy enough to get another small piece of content to explore.

    That doesn’t mean leveling has to be short too – I would not mind a game that offers endgame options on lower levels; I understand it would be hard to balance opposed to current system where the characters can be assumed to be at the same power level when starting endgame but it feels to offer the best of both worlds – the ability to avoid endgame for players who want so, ability to get to endgame quickly for players who want so, and ability to switch between them at will for players who want a change of pace.

    • Gordon says:

      I guess I mean time to reach the level cap.

      • Imakulata says:

        Is it the right question to ask? It’s based on a couple of assumptions like:
        - you can only be promoted to endgame when you’re done with the leveling game/mid-game/however you call it
        - the existence of challenging endgame and relaxing leveling game

        Of course, the assumptions might be true – e. g. how many people, given a choice between an easy way to reach next level and a difficult one, would choose the latter (even if extra awards were attached)? A minority for sure.

        I guess I should choose the last option because I don’t really care about level cap per se, I just want to reach the part where I have fun and stay there.

  11. numtini says:

    It kind of depends on the game. I absolutely hated WoW levelling. Of all the possible ways of “grinding” solo-quest-grinding is my least favorite. I would prefer even EQ’s camping a spawn to it. My only interest in WoW was getting to the point I could group and raid.

    On the other hand, in a game like AO or COX which had randomized group missions, I loved the leveling game and never had any desire to hit maximum level.

    Oddly given that it’s mostly solo-quest-grinding, I’m loving the leveling in Rift. I think because the Rifts and invasions give me a little bit of my group game right as I level and make the whole thing feel less lonely.

    • Gordon says:

      I’m enjoying the dynamic nature of RIFT a lot too although I’m quite aware that once I hit the level cap, I’ll probably get really bored with the game as I can’t imagine leveling up alts to be very much fun.

  12. Daria says:

    I’ll put it this way, I’d rather not care about levels. The only time I do start to care is when I feel I’m being left out of events because of it. I’m in a very large RIFT guild now where most of them are 50, and it just kills me that they are continually putting groups together and asking for help and I can’t join them. So I’ve found myself rushing through lately (I’m 49 now). I’d much rather stop to read quests, explore the whole zone to open up the maps, find all the artifacts etc. I usually do that stuff on Sunday mornings when the pace is slow online.

    RIFT seems to have the same design problem that WoW does, in that you reach max level way before you’ve explored all the zones or done all the quests. Then you have little motivation to go back and do them. And we were all worried that the map was going to be too small. :)

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah keeping up with others can be an issue and one I’ve battled with before. I was always quite a slow leveler but found myself in situations were I had to force myself to rush in order to keep up with my friends and guild mates. The only solution is for everyone to agree to weekly level caps.

  13. Epiny says:

    It’s not that I don’t like powerleveling, or I don’t like end level content… I’m just jaded because of the lack of longevitity most MMOs have had recently. The sooner I get to max level the sooner I run out of content. I just focus on staying with my friends now.

  14. Klepsacovic says:

    It depends on the character. If I just want a max-level character, then yes. If I’m trying to play around, explore, and have some fun, then still yes, but I’d want slower leveling in that case.

  15. One thing I never do, is rush. But I do adjust my leveling rate from time to time, depending on the game and the situation. If I’m playing a new game with a guild, like Rift for example, I want to stay with the average and not get too far ahead or behind the curve. It’s more important to me to have friends to play with than to be the first to get to levelcap.

    • Gordon says:

      Staying around the same level as my peers is important to me but something I find very tricky to manage. Either they zoom ahead of me or – like my brother – take so long it’s almost painful :D Trying to find that balance is really tricky…

  16. Sharon says:

    I only care about how long it takes to level if the leveling curve is too short. I need a poll option that says, “Yes. I care, because I’d like it to take a long time.” ;) I don’t want leveling to be fast or easy.

    I really enjoy the leveling game, since endgame in most MMOs is the whole raiding treadmill thing. The problem I’m having with Rift right now is that I hit 50 on my rogue about two weeks ago, and I’m starting to run out of things I want to do with her. I thoroughly enjoyed leveling in Rift. I just wish it had lasted longer!

  17. Shadow-war says:

    In games with levels, I power my way through them. Games with “secondary” levels (renown ranks, AA points) I rush through the primary level, and let the secondary come as I play. Skill-based games, I tend to focus on one skill at a time until master is achieved, there’s a reason why my 13.5 mill SP character in EVE has just shy of 6 mill SP in missile skills.

    • Gordon says:

      Out of curiousity, do you power through the levels because you want to hit the cap or because you find yourself getting absorbed in the game? Or both?

      • Shadow-war says:

        Partially because I want to be at the cap, but that’s not really the motivator for me. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase about “the maximum being the minimum”, and that phrase pertains to me I think. Obviously, I enjoy PvP games, and the competition that is core of that type of gameplay. I find the most fun comes from playing games where both sides are playing at the absolute peak of ability. It’s like watching two world-class MMA combatants struggling for a takedown or submission. When the matches are outclassed, or end before anything could really happen, the enjoyment is negligible. Sure a quick superman-punch knockout is crazy to see, but if it happened every time, noone would enjoy it (try and watch Olympic level fencing for an example).

        Of course, there are some games and occasions where the level isn’t important, for instance, summoner level in LoL is important, but doesn’t always make-or-break the success of the match, unless heavily skewed. However, Champion level can have a much greater impact upon the outcome of a game, and you see strategies that are entirely based around maximizing that differential between the two teams (jungling).

        I haven’t been earnestly involved in a primarily PvE, “leveling” MMO in a number of years. However, when I was in the past, I powered through the levels because raiding was what the game was about, and the leveling was the pre-amble. I genuinely did not care for the journey in the new generation of games. Even in my days of heavy EQ2 playing, I was indifferent to the idea, and just wanted to kill dragons and experience big, social, group battles.

  18. amcl says:

    I do like to level quickly, but only to keep up with you ;-)

  19. Nils says:

    I wanted to vote
    “Yes I care. I want to level fast, but have leveling to top take a long time”

    Where was that option ?

  20. Shane says:

    I’m all over the map, and often my objectives and priorities differ on a character to character bases, so none of the voting options really fit for me.

    When I roll a new toon, quite often I do it with a specific objective in mind. In many cases, that objective requires me to be at level cap, and in others, my objective is to stop and smell the roses so to speak.

    For those times when level cap is required (for instance I’m leveling a Warrior in WoW with a specific arena comp in mind), I really do wish there was a way to fast track the leveling process. I understand that the first 84 levels are there to teach me how to play the class, but having played the game for as long as I have, and being a bit OCD about researching everything I can before actually investing time in the toon itself, I find the grind to be a bit of a waste of time. It will be a PvP only character, and while I know that PvP exists long before level cap, it doesn’t really reflect the experience at cap.

    On the other hand, I also roll toons for the sole purpose of experiencing the game world (or experiencing it from the other faction’s perspective, etc), and in those times, I often get frustrated that I’m moving too quickly. Granted, out-leveling a zone doesn’t mean I can’t stay parked there long enough to take it all in, but it throws my internal risk-reward-o-meter out of whack, and it definitely lessens the experience for me.

    I imagine that I’m an exception to the rule, or at least part of a very small minority, and I understand just how challenging it would be to create a game where I could move at my own pace, no matter what that pace is. It’s hard to imagine a game that ditched levels as it’s primary progression mechanic, yet still offered enough content, etc to make you feel like you’re growing withing the game world. I know that there are games out there that have tried it, but I don’t know of any that have figured out the magic formula to keep everyone happy.

    • Gordon says:

      “It’s hard to imagine a game that ditched levels as it’s primary progression mechanic, yet still offered enough content, etc to make you feel like you’re growing withing the game world. I know that there are games out there that have tried it, but I don’t know of any that have figured out the magic formula to keep everyone happy.”

      I would love to see a MMO master this style of progression. I think the closest we’ve come are sandbox games like EVE.

  21. vortal says:

    Just one word:
    No…….I really don’t care, I actually prefer more time as long as there is enough content to go with it. Doing the same old stuff everyday gets really boring, but exploring new stuff for a very long time is very fun, especially with friends.

  22. Chris Braun says:

    Back in the good old days, we were just happy to be in a fantasy world with other people. Levels used to mean something when they were hard won and took effort to obtain.

    Now they are dolled out like candy because gamers have a sense of entitlement. They grow up with everything given to them so why should a MMORPG be any different?

  23. Allison says:

    oficial de Ben Heck Vía Gizmodo Post

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