Using World of Warcraft’s latest expansion as an example, many bloggers recently pontificated on the uselessness of adding new levels to MMORPGs if your character didn’t grow in any useful or noticeable way.
“Leveling, as in playing a roleplaying game where you expect your character to advance and evolve, has never been worse,” said Murf Versus. “When you level up in Battle for Azeroth, you get nothing. No talents, abilities, or anything of any kind of merit whatsoever.”
In An Age sees this kind of leveling as a punishment, saying, “You get nothing but weaker during the leveling process. That’s literally insane game design.” The Ancient Gaming Noob agreed, adding, “Why have more levels when it is pretty clear you can do without them? The answer, to my mind, is because people expect them.”
Forge on for more MMO essays, including thoughts on WildStar’s sunset, EverQuest classic, and hidden secrets that communities are uncovering!
“Gaming ultimately isn’t about permanence or achievement for me. It’s about having fun. […] I got a lot of memories out of it. So in a way, even when they shut down, MMOs are still permanent in the ways that matter.”
“Another big one is navigation. We didn’t have in-game maps either. Nor did we have a mini-map or even a compass. Yeah, there was a skill called Sense Direction that would tell you which way you were facing but you had to be constantly clicking that thing forever before it became reliable enough to use. Of course I eventually learned that the clouds in the skybox always moved the same direction, which made the skill mostly irrelevant. We did have some maps online though. There were people who spent their time using the ‘loc’ command to make line drawing maps of each zone, eventually complete with roads and points of interest. Now most games have all this information available in-game. No more binders full of maps somebody spent hours making.”
“It was a subtle sort of magic, this factional association. At first I felt like I did in every other PvP situation, soaked in sweat and mouse-looking in every direction for threats. Eventually, though, I came to associate the starting base as home and its inhabitants a tribe that would at least be around to maybe help. And while I did try to grow myself, I started to slowly realize that things I would have considered vendor trash in other MMOs could be of use to others in their own efforts.”
“DDO is a very odd game. Playing it feels like I stepped through a portal into some alternate reality where MMO design evolved along entirely different lines.”
“The game remains my favorite MMO of all time, but I’ve had a strange relationship with it toward the end of its life. I stuck around through some of its rocky times, even when almost all of my friends had long gone. I found a few different guilds, and sometimes even just stuck it out completely on my own. The point at which I left was when the writing on the wall became too clear to ignore.”
“At some point the Warcraft developers/designers started hiding things in the game for players to discover. I’m not exactly sure when that was, but it seems to have really ramped up during Legion. The secrets are often hidden deep within other secrets, with the ultimate solution leading to a reward like a mount or pet.”