Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Level Locking: Being a Real WoW (or EQ2) Tourist

In The Instance #150, Scott Johnson and Randy Jordan talked about Blizzard’s plans to allow players in World of Warcraft to stop gaining experience so they can remain at a level. In EverQuest 2 we call that level-locking and is a practice I used when I felt I did not have the appropriate number of alternate achievement experience points when I was leveling my ranger. But in WoW, would anyone besides a low-level twink want to level-lock? After all, the game begins in Northwind and level 80, right?

Looking back at my time in WoW, the 4 month journey to 60 (the level cap at the time) was a wonderful time and level 60 was the end of the game for me. I’ve heard that with Wrath of the Lich King, the leveling in the original and Burning Crusade zones is much faster in order to get players up to “the game” faster. To me, that is pushing players past the best part of the game.

If I were to return to World of Warcraft, I would definitely level lock. I would roll a Horde-side hunter and visit all the cities I couldn’t visit on my Alliance paladin. I would go through and do as many of the quests as I could. Well, I’d race through Stranglethorn Vale, but who in their right mind wouldn’t? I’d also see what pets I could train. Would I have to level lock to do this? From everything I’ve heard and read the answer is yes.

In EverQuest 2 we have a small but growing community of players who once their first toon reaches the level cap will then create another character and use level-locking to experience and enjoy all the content they missed the first time through. EQ2 players are actually rewarded for this style of play as the players amass AA points which makes their characters much more powerful and better able to handle the more difficult content in the old world zones than those who just race through the game to level 80.

Would such a play style catch on in WoW? I don’t know. Blizzard just doesn’t give their players the benefits when engaging in that kind of play style that SOE does. Scott and Randy estimated that 5% of WoW players would use level-locking. If only half of those players were engaged in a explorer type play style, that would still be more players than are currently playing EQ2. Maybe that is a small number to WoW players, but that is a rather significant number of players to the rest of the MMO world.

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