Really, Why Are There Levels in Guild Wars 2? [GW2]

So, when it seems like everyone else is hitting the level cap or close to it in Guild Wars 2, last night I hit the half-way mark, level 40. The odd part: I haven’t even ventured outside of a level 15-25 zone! Slow? Well… that’s just how I roll. I really do stop to smell the roses. I’ll delve into that unknown cave, I’ll try to beat that random mob that says “group” but I know I can do it solo if I just keep trying. I’ll fiddle with my build over and over until I get it just the way I want it. So, this takes time.

But level 40, without even touching a zone above 15-25. This made me look at how my gaming choice of checking out and completing the starter areas, and maybe the next higher ups, are affecting my character growth. Well, from completing 4 full zones, I have a decent amount of skill points, so my skill choices are fairly nice for my level. However, my gear? All the basic stuff. Since my main upgrades are coming from drops (as drops appear to be tuned to your character’s level, not the level of the area), they just aren’t coming fast enough to beat out what the vendors sell at each 5 level increment. So, my gear is to my level, but it’s bland.

So then, am I hurting myself by being slow? I very well could be, since my gear is so basic for my level. This then begs the question: Why are there even levels in the first place? I’ve mentioned previously how I think that levels in GW2 are a very useless stat. With the majority of zones and dungeons just down-leveling you, and levels coming at such a fast and furious pace that most people don’t even notice them, the fact that the game puts a number to your development seems counter-productive. Guild Wars 1 had levels, true, but you hit “max level” before you were even out of the introductory area. This feels the same, but at the same time, it’s not.

So what do levels prevent us from doing? From what I can see, all the levels are doing is holding us back from getting into the high level areas. That’s it. Maybe, since higher level crafting materials are located in those higher areas, also forcing a level component to crafting, too, but there are plenty of ways around that.

So why even have them in the first place? They’re a time-block, and that’s all. Guild Wars 1, for example, isย supposedย to be played at max level, with power coming from different skills attained, builds, and player skill. Difficulty is decided by the area that you’re in, which is mostly determined by how far you are along in the story. Guild Wars 2 seems to be following the same pattern, with down-leveling of content to make the areas themselves far from trivial. But now, if I were to attack, say, Ascalon Catacombs, I’d be at a disadvantage because my gear sucks compared to my level. I’d be down-leveled, and all the white gear I have is down-leveled, too.

If those levels weren’t there, it wouldn’t be so much the gear that I have, but what attachments I put onto said gear, and how I use it. The gear would be an extension of my playstyle, not just something to replace every screamingly-quick 5 levels. I’m hoping once I finally hit max level, I’ll be able to really start replacing my gear with something nice that won’t be outdated by leveling. But until then, I guess I’ll just be underpowered.

Even if you stop to smell the roses, sometimes you’re left behind in the dust.

\\ Ocho

19 thoughts on “Really, Why Are There Levels in Guild Wars 2? [GW2]

  1. My personal suspicion is that they did it to make it feel familiar to the WoW players.

    GW1 did fine with 20 levels to max – they did it on purpose, to prove there was more to a game than just levels, and that they could keep players playing long after they hit the max – but was always jeered at and dismissed by those who weren’t open to the idea. “Lol, my game has 50 levels, 80 levels, goes to level 200!”

    So GW2 goes to level 80, similar to WoW (until the next unending expansion anyway) so that the insecure (or rather, unused to non-WoW MMO style play) have a standard of comparison.


    • I can totally see that. In order to grab the market that’s already there, they need it to at least have SOME things in common. So now I wonder in future expansions (which GW2 will have plenty of them), do you think the level cap will be constantly raised, too? I absolutely think it will. Despite the levels not meaning anything, MMO gamers do clamor for that number.


      • Now that, my personal gut feel is that it’s unlikely they’ll raise it once they’ve settled on a cap. All the max stat exotic gear and sPvP and WvW is set to be at 80. Having to recalculate and retune everything to be 85, 90, 95, 100 per expansion seems excessively complicated.

        And past 80, you’re still earning skill points – there’s already plenty of 80s who have leveled many times. If you raise the level cap, are you going to award those retroactively? Doesn’t make much sense.

        1 level is calculated to be an average of 1.5 hours in GW2. They must have settled for 120 hours being ok to hit max cap, which seems a decent mix of not too short, not too long.


      • @Jeromai,

        IMHO, the expansions will be horizontal, not vertical: the level cap will stay at 80, but they will add new zones, new races and new starting cities. If they are bold, they will change too some old zones. For example, if the alliance is moving to kill the next elder dragon, the Orr zones need change for reflect the fact they won the battle there. Suspiciouslly, a possible place for a starting city of a new player race, the tengu, is one or two zones near Orr. And a good place for a quaggan starting city is just the sea next to Orr.

        However, all that are my conjectures. We will need wait for the expansions for see how they make them.


      • @Jeromai You make a great point on the skill points, but I think the best builds aren’t necessarily based on skills, as you can pick up all of them over time. It’s based on the trait lines, which aren’t infinite. Expanding them could be easy for expansions. However, Guild Wars 1, like @Joao suggested, was very horizontal in nature. The level cap never changed, and all expansions were tuned for max level. They may repeat this process again, which would still make ALL the dragons still be the threat they should be treated as.

        You’re both right. I take it back… I don’t believe they will add levels now. More content for expansions is really what they will give. See how the other Guild Wars lands fared, for example. It’s a proven successful structure for ArenaNet, and I certainly wouldn’t knock it. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Some drops you get from lower level areas are attuned to around your level, but they still don’t sell well as the market is flooded. Other monetary rewards are based around the area’s level, so really, I may have a couple of gold, but it’s nothing significant. Also, a level 45 white still has better stats than 40 greens and blues. So even if I bought off the trading post, unless I bought the rarest stuff (which I can’t afford), I’d still be replacing it every 5 levels.

      Really, the ONLY real way it seems to keep up with this curve is to run areas that are specifically in your level range, so the heart rewards match your gear level, even if this means skipping over a lot of lower areas. For example, if I wanted to do this, I’d have to completely skip over the level 25-35 areas, and go right to a 40 zone. That’s not my playstyle, though… too much of an explorer to just pass by full areas. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh well, as I said, I’ll hit 80, probably when I’m still in the 25-35 zones, and then with no more levels, holding onto gear will be much easier. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. It’s funny, but in most MMO’s, leveling is the thing that I enjoy the most. In GW2, so far, I rarely even know/look at the level of my character, since it really doesn’t matter very much. What seems to be driving me, thus far, is fully completing all the hearts, views, poi’s, and skill’s on every map. It’s very different for me, and I almost didn’t buy GW2 after playing in Beta since I wasn’t sure I would be comfortable with not being “pulled along” by the story.


    • Yup. Same here… it’s all about those little unfilled points of interest, hearts, vistas, and skill challenges. Which is why I have such trouble leaving the lower zones, and also have been having trouble sleeping… that “one more thing” pull is so strong, it rivals Civilization for it’s pull to keep playing.


      • Funny thing. I finally note a game that you love, that I don’t. I just cannot seem to “get into” Civ games — it’s weird. And I have definitely tried!

        With respect to Guild Wars 2, I also have extreme trouble leaving the lower zones. I have purposed, for myself, that I will avoid new zones unless they are the zone that has my “quest line”. That way, when I play my many alts, I will still have some “new” stuff to do ๐Ÿ™‚


      • Haha! Well I guess there had to at least be one game. ๐Ÿ˜›

        I don’t think I plan on making an alt anytime soon. I think I’m going to max out my first character, at least to max level, if not world completion, before I make another. I WILL of course have to make another. Just not yet. ๐Ÿ™‚


      • LOL. Another difference arises. I feel likely I hardly know you anymore!! ๐Ÿ˜€ I currently have 6 characters, the lowest one is level 6, the highest is 28. I have already deleted 2-3 characters, one of which was a Level 14 Engineer. I admit it, I am an altoholic!


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  7. As a WoW player, I tried my best to fall in love with GW2. Although I don’t hate it, it doesn’t hold my attention. GW2 just feels empty – like something’s missing. On the other hand, WoW could totally revamp their antiquated dance emotes to something more eye-popping and fun like GW2’s dance emotes (except for the Norn dance – big ugly arm flapping event, that is!). I’m pretty sure Blizzard’s not so backward or financially hard up that it couldn’t afford to utilize motion capture.


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