It seems to be an unwritten law that heroes of Azeroth must level up in order to gain power. It’s the same game with the base game, with the previous eight expansions of the MMO and also with WoW: Dragonflight: The maximum level is raised, you have to play for ten levels to overcome the very first gating mechanism of the Warcraftian MMORPG world.
This isn’t just in WoW (buy now ) so, but also in Final Fantasy 14, in SWTOR, in LOTRO and many other online role-playing games. The fact that gaining character levels equates to gaining character strength also makes sense to a certain extent. You train your hero, you do the same actions over and over again and then you get better because you kind of practice. In WoW, there used to be weapon skills for this feeling of progress.
Those are long history. And also the character level should be history in my opinion nowadays, in the 21st century. As already mentioned, this is WoW’s very own content gating mechanism – in this case for endgame content. But now there are so many other gating mechanisms in WoW that the character level only plays a very minor role, don’t you think?
Level phases are getting shorter and shorter
Thanks to XP boosts like the rest bonus, movement speed buffs (such as, quite banal: the mount) and other things, the leveling phase is just a tiny part of the overall MMO experience anyway. With an expansion, you’ll level through the first few zones and won’t even have to work hard to reach the new max level before the end area. The thing!” from the past isn’t even worth the pixels you slap into the guild chat.
You approach the adventures that await you on a new continent in the order the developers intended anyway, and it doesn’t matter whether the purple bar at the bottom of the screen fills up … which many players hide anyway becomes? The story is what bucks most people in new realms, the look, the feeling of embarking on a new adventure. Not the number that rains in sporadically. Or do you see it differently?
Gating Mechanism #1: Item Level
As I said before, WoW really does have enough gating mechanisms, and they’ve become even more numerous lately. The most prominent tool in the MMO developer kit is something like an item level. The higher that is, the more the skills boom. Since the beginning of the WoW era, players have been measuring themselves primarily in item level, then based on values such as DpS and HpS. Then why not classify every WoW area based on item levels and not based on character levels?
It’s as easy or as hard to understand as character levels, and it’s already there. It’s not so much about removing gating in general, but about removing the meaningless gating mechanisms from the game. Item level itself is of course also gated: in the endgame by things like loot lockouts in instances and raids.
Gating Mechanism #2: Reputation
Also for an estimated thousand years there has been a reputation grind in WoW, which is sometimes more and sometimes less extensive. Didn’t get enough reputation? Bad luck, then this item will be withheld from you for the time being. You can do the same thing with game content, and that’s already shown by the fame system of the covenants in Shadowlands: It doesn’t need character levels if it’s just a matter of allowing Y progress over an X period of time.
Gating Mechanism #3: Time
Many WoW players are not particularly enthusiastic about Timegating. This is hardly surprising. When you’re in the middle of a cool story and you have to wait until next week for it to continue, it’s just as annoying as waiting for the new episode of The X-Files in the 90s – the feeling is the same. But that’s exactly what increases the tension and possibly the drama. Yes, that’s also a means of stretching the content, and that’s particularly disappointing when the story doesn’t justify waiting at all.
Suppose, however, that the situation comes to a head and everyone is discussing: What happens next? There’s a great sense of community there, isn’t it? The anticipation is fueled again and again by the conversations between friends and like-minded people and only then does what has helped every MMO to succeed in the first place emerge: community. a community.
Gating Mechanism #4: Currencies
Strictly speaking, the currencies are linked to all previous gating mechanisms. If you do not have the correct character level, you cannot earn currency A. If you don’t have enough reputation, currency B is useless. If not enough time has passed for you to be able to get enough of currency C, the effort is currently for the bin. Shadowlands has felt like it’s taken the currency game to the extreme, so you’d think that gating alone should be enough to restrict players where it’s necessary from a developer’s perspective and keep the content flowing consistently to send.
Everyone do what you want!
I haven’t even touched on gating mechanism #5: ratings. But I think the above examples are enough to show that character leveling is an outdated concept. Let the players do whatever they want right from the start of an expansion. Don’t you feel like the story? Then maybe give them a main campaign and that’s it, but at the same time let them rampage through raids and mythic dungeons. In the end it’s mostly about the loot anyway, and that has the biggest impact on character strength. Why put the one behind ten forced character levels?
The Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2 show how MMO gaming works without levels and how long-past game content remains relevant. The fact that old content becomes 99 percent obsolete with the appearance of new WoW expansions is also a fact , which is a thorn in the side of all kinds of fans. In my opinion, Blizzard needs to rethink. And since that’s not happening with Dragonflight, I guess I’ll have to wait for the WoW 20th Anniversary expansion.