The Daily Grind: Are levels in MMOs overrated?


Today’s Daily Grind question comes from an anonymous Kickstarter donor who wanted to see just how many cans of worms he/she could open in three words:

Are levels overrated?

I’m a sandbox fan who favors skill systems, so naturally I’m not the world’s biggest fan of leveling systems in MMOs, but I’ll admit that even skill systems are usually numerical, with lots of little levels instead of one big level. No, the problem isn’t numerical levels by themselves.

The problem, as I see it, is that developer overreliance on level-based systems to gate and pace content formalizes an unwelcome verticality in a virtual world, resulting in the many churn-through, linear themeparks the genre now offers. Sandboxes and sandparks can get by in spite of levels, but they have to work so much harder to do so — consider the Guild Wars games, for example, which rather overtly use levels to block off and funnel players through upper-level areas, even though levels are otherwise relatively useless.

Do you agree with our donor that levels in MMOs are overrated? What would you do instead?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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