Why Not Have Leveling Up And Raiding As Two Separate Games?
I think most people would agree that your typical themepark MMORPG is a real dichotomy of gaming. On hand, it presents a journey of progression through leveling, creating a character and then traversing a vast virtual world, accruing power and knowledge as you go, often either alone or in small groups. Then on the other hand, we have the end game experience, a sequence of complex and challenging raid encounters for large, well-prepared cohesive teams and multiple groups. The simple fact is though that these two forms of gameplay are completely different and utterly unlike each other, practically two separate games in their own right. So why not just admit this truth and keep them apart?
I’ve written before about how I wished sometimes that, much like a single player RPG, MMOs would end and give the player a sense of closure. I felt this way strongly after playing Cataclysm and getting fed up with the prospect of a never ending eternity trapped in WoW. All I wanted, after the hours and hours of play time I had invested in my character, was to have one final moment of amazement undertaking a grand quest or finishing a single group dungeon in order to complete everything and be done with it. Cue end cinematic, credits and my graceful departure from the game.
Of course not everyone feels that way and some of us love raiding and the challenges it brings. Although not my cup of tea, I can totally understand and appreciate this perspective. However, I have noticed that most of these types of players, unlike me, view leveling up as a boring necessity required in order to reach their final goal of raiding and I can’t help but think that that’s a little unfair for them. Why should they be required to invest the several dozens of hours it takes to get their character to the level cap just so they can raid? And why should they be required to repeat this process every time they want to try out a new class? Surely life would just be much easier if they could start raiding from day one.
It’s a really strange concept – almost completely unique to MMOs – that such two totally different, yet equally valid, styles of play exist in the same form of game. They are also heavily intertwined: you cannot raid if you don’t level up and you cannot get any sense of completing the game if you don’t raid. Seems like a real shame to me and I’ve often wondered if this all just exists because every other MMO does it rather than due to any genuine reason to enhance playability and pleasure. Surely a designer or developer must have sat down at some point and wondered why on Earth we have this strange mix?
Wouldn’t it be interesting to bite the bullet and separate these two forms of games? Why not produce MMOs have offer no such feature as raiding and actually allow us a means to finish and complete the game? And likewise why not create MMOs that have no concept of leveling but allow players to jump straight into raiding? Surely this would allow developers to focus on much challenging and interesting raid encounters and other forms of gameplay that truly reflect this style of gaming more?
I know it sounds strange to think about splitting these two separate aspects of MMOs but maybe that’s just because no one’s tried it before.