Max Level Before Launch

Guild Wars 2 officially launches today, yet many players are already max level.  The first player to reach level 80 did so by crafting the last 20 levels with all of his guild’s materials.  Some players in GW2 used cash shop exp boosts and stacked them with the fresh kill exp boosts on zones that were untouched, and then likely added on to that another exp boost.  Fat stacking these exp boosts probably gave an inordinate bonus to their leveling ability, but the fact still remains that this was a legitimate form of leveling in every case, and players have reached the end before the game even launched.

What does that say about the game?  What does that say about the player?

People rushing to the end often do so for bragging rights.  I mean, what else are you trying to accomplish in GW2 by rushing to the end when you do the same things at level 80 that you did at level 5.  There isn’t raiding, PvP advantage is minimal at best, and you can’t do the dynamic events solo.  Even if a whole group gets to the end first and starts on the PvE content, it’s just to grind tokens for cosmetic gear or some upgrades.

If that’s how you like to play, I won’t knock you for it.  I respect that you like to race and rush to the end.  All I ask is that you respect everyone else, and don’t start complaining that GW2 has no content when you’ve skipped 95% of how the game was meant to be played — especially if you plan to play Mists of Pandaria in a month.

Then there’s the game side of this ability to rush to the end.  I wish game’s like this couldn’t be “beat” in 3 days.  I wish the journey was much longer.  Don’t get me wrong, there is *plenty* to do in GW2, but something is wrong if players are able to reach the end before it even launches.  I know the days of reaching the max level in 6 months are long behind us, and I won’t pine for the good ole days, but don’t you think we need a little bit more from every developer — a little bit of effort — to try and squash this slash and burn play-style?  Maybe it’s inevitable in themepark games.

I haven’t decided yet if ArenaNet meant for GW2 leveling to be this quick.  Even playing a lot less than most people, trying to 100% zones and smelling the roses, I’m in my mid 20’s.  Many in my guild are in their 30’s.  It’s not difficult to level at all.  Some content is challenging — very challenging — but exp gain is swift.  I would not be surprised at all to see it slowed down each patch by just a tad to make it slightly slower giving the cash shop exp boosts a means of making the exp back to this level.

What are your thoughts?  Are players reaching the max level before a game releases a poor reflection on the game or the people themselves?  I think I’ve made my case for how I believe it’s both, but I’m curious to know your thoughts.

  • If they want to stay up for three days crafting and manipulating the system to stack xp bonuses, let them.

    If the game’s leveling pace is fun and rewarding for most players, then it’s fine where it is. Changing it jam up some dude with OCD is pointless.

  • How are devs supposed to keep the most progress driven players from “beating the game” so fast without seriously impinging on everyone else though? the only thing to effectively control something like that are mechanics like artificial caps, diminishing returns on EXP – the way FF14 actually attempted at launch. and that did not go down well at all.

    Generally I don’t think reactions, regulations etc. that are based on extreme exceptions are ever the way to go. just because these players are max level now doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to do in GW2 and as long as the great majority of all players does not reach level 80 within any ‘unreasonable’ time, I don’t see how it truly matters. especially since levels don’t matter that much in GW2 to begin with.
    I agree though – exp gain IS swift. whether I am ‘done with the world’ once I hit 80 though, is probably the more important question….in any case I am trying to make this last as long as possible. 🙂

  • I think it’s less about impeding the handful beating the game before launch, and more about looking at the rest reaching max level a week later.

    The frontrunners are only a sign that the rest are shortly on their way.

    As I said, though, It’ll take me a while and I’m enjoying the journey because there -is- a ton to do in the game.

    Regardless, GW2 and other themeparks are a mere shadow of what MMORPG character progression was in the past. Whether or not that is bad depends on if you like the never-ending journey feeling or reaching the end to unlock more.

  • I don’t think it reflects poorly in any way. It’s awesome that there are dedicated and organised players that are able to do stuff like this and it really doesn’t say anything about the game, since to anyone playing it is clear that GW2 has A LOT of content. It’s almost like the game is at its 2nd or 3rd expansion, not just at launch.

    I do agree that a small adjustment to the exp rate might be needed, but I think it’s not a big issue.

  • Why worry about what other people do? In an ideal world I’d give the player full control of their leveling speed with a slider that went from no xp at all to instant max level. Let people how they want to. I’d set my adventure xp to about 60% of where it is now but I’d put my crafting level-up speed up by at least 100%, maybe quite a bit more.

    The developer’s role in this is to design systems so that the widest possible variety of playstyles don’t conflict and so that my fun isn’t your grief. Early days yet, but GW2 looks like it’s taking a better shot at that than most.

  • I feel leveling this fast is consistent with the game’s internal logic.

    GW2 has several systems in place that reinforce the idea that leveling isn’t very important. When you go to PvP, you’re boosted to 80 (and the game is saying “your time spent leveling is less important than an even playing field”). In lower level PvE areas, your level is reduced to match (“your time spent leveling is less important than challenging content”).

    If it took 3 or 6 months to cap in GW2, the above design choices would be terribly out of place. Think of the player angst if you erased their 6 month time investment and booted them down to level 5 when they play with friends. Or the complaining by the hardcore players when they joined PvP after 6 grinding months, only to fight 1 hour old characters boosted to 80. “They didn’t earn it!”

    Now, all that said, I would love to see a new game focused on a very long leveling “quest”, in the vein of EQ. I think such a game should eschew “endgame” entirely, however, so that it is clear the journey itself is the reward. Honestly I think we just need more good sandboxes, since they tend to fall into this category of play much more naturally, anyway.

  • So the first in the race to 80 needed 2 full days.
    In WoW vanilla, max level 60 was reached in 6 days, this was almost 10 years ago, without XP from crafting XP from Pvp etc.. And this was also in an era where bragging rights were not as powerfull as today.

    I am sure that if you launch WoW vanilla today as a new anticipated MMO, you’ll have max level character in 3 days. We must not forget that the visibility of bragging rights have increased a lot, so they appeal to more people, and those people are ready to commit way more.

    So at the end of the day it does not mean anything.

    I would look at the mean rate of ‘completion’ of the game as a figure to judge speed, even more in GW2 where whatever is your current level, all zones are meaningfull to the character.

  • Well dont blame the players here blame the game and his failure (3 days to end the game!!!!) lol thx god i didnt fall for this game GG GW2 not even a 3 monther now this is a 3 dayer lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • It felt even faster in WvW. Defending and taking objectives and the occasional PvE – gained 1-1/2 levels in a couple hours while just playing the game (no hearts in WvW!). And they increased the item drop rate.

    I don’t know what could be done to slow things down except a blanket exp nerf on every activity, maybe with an increase in coin drop to
    make up for it. There are just so many unique ways to gain exp – one of the great things about the game. Make any one of them less effective exp wise and some of the fun but unnecessary side pursuits (exploring all of the POI/Vistas in Divinitys Reach for instance), becomes that much less attractive.

  • I think it’s fine. There are always people who will figure out how to exploit certain mechanics to be the first to max level. I remember Athene doing this in WoW with a group of people helping him kill nagas on a beach where the respawn rate was ridiculous. If that’s fun for them then more power to them. It wouldn’t be enjoyable for me and I have no desire to play that way. I feel like the pace thus far in GW2 is fine. I’m enjoying the rate at which I progress and not too worried about what other people are doing. The ability to go back and play with friends or do content regardless of my level is a really nice feature. I also like that I am constantly playing with other people without the restrictions of traditional grouping mechanics or having to devote blocks of time to a specific group.

  • I prefer the faster leveling honestly. I like to play and feel like I progressed.

    I never really got the whole EQ nostalgia. I played the game when the servers went up for about 6 months. I went back a few times over the years. The game never had a sense of adventure or progress for me. Between the length of time to level and the death penalty I basically never did any real exploration. When I did I was severely punished.

    I spent most of my time in a group farming a spot for hours. Not really compelling game-play so I left.

    Maybe my experience would have been different if I joined a guild or something….

    Going back to the question, my answer is “we’ll see”. I really enjoy the game right now. I like the way all the classes play and I want to try them all. I haven’t gotten bored of the events yet but I may. I enjoy the leveling pace as well.

    A few months from now I could be burnt out at 80 bored of everything or I might be chugging along. Either way I’ve already gotten 60 dollars value out of the game and enjoyed the experience so I’m not worried either way.

  • Here’s the thing – what does ArenaNet care if someone powered through in a day or two? Their business model is not built off recurring subscription revenue. The only losers in this scenario are the players who burned through content without even bothering to experience it. ArenaNet gets the same revenue either way.

    This is exactly why I’ve come to prefer ArenaNet’s business model over almost any other.

    One, it’s a proven, solid model. They’ve been in business for how long, and have launched two successful MMOs; that’s a lot more than can be said for many, many studios (even Blizzard hasn’t launched two MMOs).

    Two, all of ArenaNet’s ongoing budgets are built primarily around that single purchase; nothing I’ve seen in the cash shop would seem to indicate that the cash shop will be otherwise, unlike most F2P offerings. This is going to be reflected in nearly every aspect of their design – from the lack of significant grind to stretch out subscription, to the time-vs-convenience items meant to combat said grind.

    As mentioned above, this isn’t exactly like players burning through vanilla WoW – ArenaNet intentionally designed their game without the typical leveling curve. Like so many other typical MMO mechanics, they discarded it as inconvenient and unnecessary to the moment-to-moment fun of their players.

  • It’s fine really. So what? Woot! made it to 80….. ummm, now what? Have fun at 80 by yourself.

  • I think it’s moronic on the game companies part since they want people to keep playing and a big motivation goes away when you hit max level. I mean I could see them meaning for it to take 3 months and it ended up taking 2 months, but did they really not figure out that somebody could get to top level in a few days by CRAFTING? WTF.

  • And this wasn’t even remotely possible in EQ1 at launch. You could stay up all night for a few weeks and stll not be max level. Or even close.

  • @Sanz

    A game that took three months to max for these type of people would take an “average” person years to max. They would literally go in shifts to try and get first whatever level.

  • Something to consider that I didn’t put in the original post, but was brought up by someone here already, is ArenaNet’s business model.

    Assuming content is meant to be done quickly, and leveling is meant to be fast, it makes sense that they add lots of expansion content to the game in the form of paid expansions.

    Getting players to the end, experiencing all the content, gets them more eager to buy the next box.

  • Agree with you on this one. Maybe they should put time dependent skills in as Eve Online do and have horizontal as well as vertical progression. And why don’t they make XP a diminishing return? If you can have a rested bonus as in WoW, you could similarly have a hyperactive unbonus to restrict XP gain over a period.

  • I cannot see any way this significantly impacts the player base. If anything, it illustrates the availability of the range of achievements in the game.

    GW2 has managed to appeal to a remarkable range of play-styles:

    Explorer: The world is very large and is densely populated with challenge-reward loops that urge players into the corners of the map (or up a tree, cliff, etc. to “see what’s there.)

    Collector/Completionist: Every zone has highly visible goals to complete – vistas, hearts, gathering, locations of note and rewards for completing each of them and all of them.

    Combatant: Everywhere you turn there is opportunity for combat. Random mobs, heart quests, roaming public quests, skill challenges, and so on. Fights are everywhere!

    Craftsman: The “discovery” system in concert with the huge variety of ways to receive mats (quests, combat, collection) and the substantial XP rewards from doing so make crafting mysterious, easy, and rewarding.

    Loremaster: Every race/class has a personal story that ties into what you see in the game. The story is made of quests that are more or less interesting, but more importantly have tangible rewards while they are educating you about your world. There are numerous “lore only” plaques, random conversations between NPCs and references everywhere to the world around you. I knew nothing about Ascalon before GW2 – in two days I’ve learned about 25% as much as I know about Azeroth, without even trying.

    Realm vs Realm: Server pride! Nuff said, because I don’t want to write a novel.

    So if some people want to minmax their way to end level, they’re only navigating the most efficient path between these methods to get there. That’s not a failure of the game, it’s a success of elegant and flexible game design.

  • Levels mean nothing in Guild Wars 2. Stop worrying about it, stop giving it credence. The game is not designed around level. It’s design around completion. Level is just another Achievement with multiple stages that helps track your progress. These guys rushed that achievement which is silly because it has no particular award.

  • The leveling part means nothing to me anyways, I’m auto scaled anyways, I get to skip the leveling part for pvp. The levels seem to MAINLY restrict the prettyness of the gear you wear.

    Why complain? Who cares? It doesn’t MEAN anything to me, and it doesn’t mean anything that someone got 80 in this game considering how it’s designed.

    I think that’s fantastic overall.

    GW1 could be max leveled in a day as well, the leveling grind has never been one of the more important aspects of any game anyways as far as I have ever been concerned.

  • WoW does this actually in some ways. Think about the rest XP system. If you do not play often you accumulate rest XP, this gives you an XP bonus. If for example, MMO devs used a rest XP system where the normal leveling curve was X and the rest XP was X/10, it would make it so that leveling outside of rest XP would really cause you to hit the wall. Now too dramatic would be a problem. But there are many ways to slow people down if that’s the desire.

    The bigger dilemma I see is that if you slow down the hardcore gamers they will be your most vocal critic. Do you really want to piss off the dude who will rip your game non-stop in as many places as possible? Because of this fact it seems most games have given up.

  • It’s likely anyone hitting 80 already has skipped past an awful lot of the content in favor of the “path of least resistance”. I know the first character to hit 80 did PvE to 60, then powered to 80 via crafting by having his guild send him materials.

    If you’re doing the same thing at level 80 that you’re doing at level 5, then I don’t see hitting 80 as “beating” the game — I see 100% World Completion as beating the game. All that character did was get to the point where he’s no longer getting EXP for experiencing the rest of the content.

    If said player decides being 80 automatically makes the rest of the content boring, well… that’s on them.

    Any developer of any RPG without a subscription feea would be THRILLED to have people playing their game for 50+ hours over 3 days before needing a break. That’s a lot of content to throw into a game — and that’s just to RUSH to 80.

  • I am not sure why they would bother. The pve in this game is the most fun by a wide margin. I say just enjoy it and take it easy.

    If you were playing Rift, where the pve is pretty boring, then yeah, get through it as fast as possible.

    Since I’m boosted to 80 for pvp… I hardly give a stuff in this game.

  • Does anyone think that there are way too few servers for the people that bought the game? even the over flow servers are higher in capacity than the home servers what gives?

  • I think you nailed it with the fact that the themepark design kind of sets a pace of leveling. Your goal is to keep up with the content trail they lay in front of you and depending on how easy they allow this is how fast you will get to the end of ride. Unfortunately with the “I want it fast and now” crowd that our society has turned into, people naturally “want it fast and now”.

    The pace could have been slowed with lower exp gain etc but it would turn off that majority crowd and they don’t make money if less people play. Then again these people that hit max level as you said really don’t have much to do now. So it’s a double edged sword sort of. I for one kinda hate that they made the 100% completion of zones because that is going to slow my leveling down lol. Something about the game isn’t keeping me wanting to play 24/7 though and I’m going to toss my 2 cents in on what those things are I think.

    This first ones minor and that is Overflow. I’m not a fan but I see how and why it is in place, to fight lag and give us a better experience off the bat. I’m hoping that in a few weeks we won’t ever see the use of overflow since people will be spread out in different zones but we’ll see. The idea of myself being in a clone/instance in a mmorpg never feels right though. If the world is not fully connected you lose a part of the social aspect.

    Second is lack of grouping in general. I see no reason leveling up to group at all. I can solo basically everything so far. Sure I guess there’s some dungeon content at later levels but the lack of a reason to interact with anyone in an mmo is never good.

    Finally a few nagging bugs or things that should have been done better. I have an issue with mouse look just deciding to break randomly and instead of the pointer disappearing when I right click it simply stays there and moves all over my screen as I look. No clue if anyone else has the issue since their forums have been down. Which brings up Arena.nets terrible system to upgrade my account with my serial key. Why is there not just a simple “upgrade” or “redeem” code button in my account page anywhere? I literally had to google where to redeem/input my cd key which is pretty bad. And the last two minor ones that are like gnats flying around my head are not being able to show my own name above my head and not being able to see what level anyone in my guild is. Really? These two minor things are in EVERY game, why remove them?

    Anyways sorry for the tangents, I should just make my own blog instead of vicariously posting my books on yours LOL. Was planning to roll on your guys’ server but some RL buddies chose a different one before I knew what was going on. Anyways I think I have alot of zones to 100% so I better get back to that.

  • @ sikk,

    “I have an issue with mouse look just deciding to break randomly and instead of the pointer disappearing when I right click it simply stays there and moves all over my screen as I look” – This is not normal, mine works fine! I would do the usual of re install drivers and clean mouse/mouse mat etc.

    “not being able to show my own name above my head and not being able to see what level anyone in my guild is” – there is also this function press “G” then on the guild pane on the left hand side there is various other tabs that you can select that shows you other information, there is also something about not “representing” that will keep you stuck on the first tab on the guild pane, I don’t know how to fix this as of yet but this stops you being able to change the tabs.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  • What I wonder is: so many people claim here that “levels mean nothing”. That may be right. But if that’s true… why do they even have levels in their game? Wouldn’t it make sense to then just remove them altogether?

    It feels kinda silly to have a mechanic in the game that seems to have little to no impact, that doesn’t give you a long-term goal… and the only reason I can see is “because other games have levels”.

  • I was neither impressed nor concerned when I saw this RSS headline the other day. I just thought, “cool story, bro”. It seems pointless to try to turn a game into work. I felt the same way hearing my buddy tell me how he made himself invincible in Skyrim using console commands. I just asked “what’s the point?”.

    I will be infinitely more impressed with the first person to have 100% map completion on all maps.

  • @Flosch

    Mark of progression. It doesn’t REALLY mean anything, but the act of leveling makes you feel like you’re improving and getting stronger. It also does give you access to things like traits and stuff, so there ARE advantages, but these advantages aren’t game breaking and don’t make one vastly overpowered compared to others. So to me, it doesn’t mean anything, the advantages are there, but minimal, and it doesn’t allow you to completely overpower earlier content.

  • Most people in my guild who leveled hardcore are 80 for 2-3 days ,the purpose is www, being level 80 gives you huge advantage there.

    Personally I dont like rushing trough content as the content in GW2 is great. I would like to slowly explore every area and advance at my own pace, but for www purposes I need one character who is capped if I want be a major factor.- Hardcore guilds are the ones who decide www,tactics and coordination come with membership requirements to cap ASAP for www and to grind high level mats for guild crafters.

    Overall I think game would greatly benefit from the system where amount xp per day was capped, with the idea that there would be minimum amount of time necessary to reach cap (say 1 month). -there are so many different activites you can do while not grinding dynamic events over and over (which is what you do for fast leveling) that its a shame arena didnt implement this

  • @Max: Level 80 in WvW gives you a huge advantage 1v1, but vs. a zerg it’s somewhat meaningless. Right now most WvW occurs in large numbers. When it will be most important is later on when the majority are level 80.

  • I’ll be taking my sweet time getting to 80 and just enjoying the hell out of the game. I’m usually a rusher to end game but the way AN has the game set up. I’m totally fine taking it easy.

  • I think you hit the nail on the head with business model. I think they should really put in lots of the epic questing for end game. Make people run around the world in adventure. It seems the best, most cost effective and enjoyable way to retain players. Give players somewhere to go when they say screw it with other MMOs. It also could incentivise the cashshop in an area that does not effect people much.

  • As someone that did rush and hit level 80 on the 3rd day of head start, one thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that hitting level 80 is just scratching the surface of this game.

    We all know going back to complete zones downlevel’s you so the content is still as challenging as if you were to take it slow. But then there are some pretty crazy events in Orr that you have to be level 80 for and are akin to raiding in WoW. You need an organized team with members doing specific objectives. Also, in order to make legendaries, you need something like 200 skill points (each level past 80 gives you a skill point). So that’s going to take quite a while. IMO, in gw2 like most MMO’s , the real game starts at max level.

    I personally love the race to max level and do it in any game I play. That for me is fun. I don’t think it’s fair for others to judge how I have fun playing a video game.

  • You’ll find that those who are currently lvl 80 make up a tiny percentage of the over all player base.

    Isolated, there’s not a huge amount of content for them to do. Most will require at least a small team of players to really enjoy.

    I think Anet did a great job of simply making levels matter less.

    So what if someone has an 80 next to their name after 3 days? It doesn’t effect my ability to play the game.

    Infact, having those kinds of dedicated players on my own home server could be a HUGE advantage when it comes to WvWvW down the road.

    We’re all in this together. Good luck to them I say.

  • An unmeasurable percentage of the GW2 populace has reached the level cap, whether that was through the path of least resistance or just hours of non-stop play, so what?
    What does that mean to the player who is taking their time and exploring every corner of the world? Nothing at all – and it is not viable for ArenaNet to slow down the experience gains this early into the games life, they may review it as and when more players reach the cap and they have more data available.

    It is neither a reflection of the game or the players themselves – these players paid the costs required for the game, and are entitled to do whatever it is they want to be doing, in this instance, rushing to level 80 – if they then complain about the lack of “end-game” content, leave them to it.

    It is these “rushers” who blaze the trial of online databases and resources that others frequent for details, strategies, advice and overall information.