In his retrospective on Lord of the Rings Online’s 15th anniversary, MOP’s Justin penned a paragraph about a part of the launch of the game I had completely forgotten.
“But what I do remember — quite vividly, in fact — is how the game began. You see, there was a head start for players who had pre-ordered, but Turbine did something really interesting for that by restricting everyone to a level cap of (wait for it) level 15. In retrospect, this was a genius stroke. It let people get in and start having fun without racing ahead and getting too far ahead of the Day One population.”
I played LOTRO in beta, but I don’t think I played at launch, or if I did, I certainly don’t remember this, but I freakin’ love this. Of course, I’m sure the people who preordered wanted a bigger “advantage” than just being first and getting the best hobbit names, but I just absolutely adore this idea for slowing people down and not letting preordering become such a boost that it’s almost pay-to-win. Instead, people who preordered would get to use their time to try out multiple characters instead of charging up the vertical leveling track. And as Justin noted, it also helps keep population bands together, similarly to how progression servers work.
What would you say is the best format for an MMO headstart? Have you seen one work better than this?