I was talking with a friend of mine about leveling in Guild Wars 2 and his thoughts were about how markedly different it is than Guild Wars 1. The more I thought about it, the more I think the leveling systems are relatively similar.
First off, the starting max level for characters in Guild Wars 2 will be level 80. Being so high, the first thought that comes to mind is the style used in most current MMO’s, which is a system where each level takes more and more effort to gain, and the amount of time it takes to get from level 79 to 80 is ridiculous compared to the time between level 10 and 11, for example. The Guild Wars 2 developers have already said that this will NOT be the case. The amount of time it takes to get from level 2 to 3 is the
same amount of time it takes to get from 79 to 80. So, then, why 80? After playing in the first beta weekend, the level has been put at 80 simply to throw a gate to the different areas. In my opinion, that’s it. If it took me, one of the slowest levelers ever, to go from level 1 to 8 in just a couple of hours, then theoretically I would reach max level in about 20 hours! That’s nothing! Gamers will reach that overnight the day it releases. Any pre-purchase head start will easily see max level characters before official release.
This is exactly like the system in Guild Wars 1. The max level in Guild Wars is 20, and is amazingly easy to reach, hitting max level WAY before you get that far into the main storyline. So, essentially ArenaNet made the leveling in Guild Wars an extension of the tutorial, and Guild Wars 2 will play the same way. If level 80 takes only 20 hours to achieve, leveling will have the same feel. Progression, then, will come from the same source that Guild Wars uses, and that’s elite skills, loot that meshes with playstyle, and player skill. Guild Wars 2 will seperate those who can play, and those who can’t. A themepark that will refuse to hold your hand. Finally.
The leveling and questless mechanic of Guild Wars 2 also brings about something that was unexpected but completely welcome, the removal of “gray” questing! I might finally level at a decent pace! Now, I care about story in my games. The individual small stories create the overall large story that builds the game world. So, I always feel like
I’m missing something when I find my quest log filled with “gray” or “green” quests that I’ve completely outleveled. The only reason to do them is for the story, and when the rewards that go along with it end up being vendor trash, the want to drop them is strong. So, thats where I usually hit my wall in most games, getting stuck in the quagmire of quests 10 levels below mine with the completionist in me yelling that I must finish them anyway. However, in Guild Wars 2 this isn’t a problem. Every event and quest you do, unless you head to areas much higher than your level, will be performed on or slightly above your level!
There was one time, in the beta chat, where a player was complaining that he “outleveled” the area and came back to beat a bad guy he couldn’t beat before, and still was beat down. The general response: “Well, find others or simply become a better player”. Just like in Guild Wars 1, your level doesn’t hold much power. The power lies in your skill.