Heroic Characters

EQ Heroic CharacterSOE’s Heroic Character announcement got me thinking.  In case you haven’t heard, Heroic Characters are free level 85 characters.  They come equipped with a standard set of gear, a flying mount, and all the amenities one needs to be very close to jumping into the end-game action. Once your Heroic Character reaches level 86  you have to pay station cash to continue playing.  The system essentially builds in the ability to take a shortcut, bypassing the first 85 levels, and have a character capable of participating in newer content.

EQ2 is an old game.  Those 85 levels represent many years of development, and its often hard to progress through the lonely zones all by oneself — trust me, I’ve tried.  I like the idea for EQ2.  I’ve always liked the idea when it makes sense.  DAoC let players make level 30ish characters if they already had a max level.  I think EQ2 has even offered this same type of system before if you bought an expansion.

If a game is designed around getting to max level, then something like this cheapens and ruins the entire game.  If we’re talking World of Warcraft, where getting to end-game means absolutely nothing, then what does it really matter?  A new max level character in World of Warcraft may as well be a level 1 for all its worth.

Now the reason question and debate comes if a brand new game offered a system like Heroic Characters.  I find myself wondering if I would still be okay with the idea of people being able to buy their way into an end-game position.  Obviously I’d be completely against this type of thing for a game where the journey is everything… but have I played one of those in the last 10 years?  Maybe the original WoW and parts of FFXIV, but that’s it.  Part of me has to admit that the idea of others having to progress, even if they do it in 3 days, adds to my feeling that the world is growing — it adds to my fun knowing we all have to level together.

Thoughts? Do you have a problem with this system for old games? Would you have a problem with Heroic Characters in a new game?

  • If I could buy a max level character in WoW I’d probably still be playing it. I’m only interested in late game, and I don’t have ANY time/desire to run the dull quests I have already done. I don’t enjoy at all.
    I’d rather take the time playing multiple characters in PvP “leveling” their gear.

    This is one of the reasons why I love MechWarrior Online. I can pay money to skip the parts that I find boring and use my precious gaming time to do what I want.

    I do see the other side….It’s just not for me.

  • A game as old as EQ2, where if a new player wanted to just play with his max level buddies – yes this makes perfect sense. It allows a few levels to learn the toon before hitting max level, and offers solo content galore in maybe farming for low level mats to level up a crafting profession. Also if it’s limited to classes from an expac or two back so as not to piss off subscribers and devoted community – don’t see this being a problem at all.

  • I’m surprised it’s taken this long for a feature like this to show up.

    MMO’s are living ‘worlds’, in that they’re very sensitive to the character age of their player base.

    If you miss the first race through, a lot of the content suddenly becomes next to impossible to really enjoy, because everyone’s moved on.

    As the game ages, you begin to really struggle to grow your player base. You end up with small walled gardens, with only a small number of hardcore players left to cater for. Eventually your game just fades away.

    By allowing players faster ways to ‘get to the *NOW*’ of the game, you continue to grow your player base longer.

    I don’t actually have an issue with it. My only thoughts are that really, your’e short changing yourself by skipping so much of the content that makes up the game in the first place.

  • They’re not the first to have this feature. Mabinogi has long sold characters with higher starting skills than the regular variety. Age of Conan even goes so far as to give you a free mid level character after 6 months.

    Just another step in the pay to win ladder which doesn’t really bug me. However I’d prefer if the -best- rewards were only obtainable by time spent playing. Not character level or character creation date. Maybe something as simple as your odds to get the mystic banana (or whatever) improves with each week of active play against your character.

    Sure you can go cash shop a “magic” banana, but that’s nowhere near as good as the mystic variety.

    Damnit. I want a banana now. 😛

  • This debate simply gives credence to the argument that mmorpg mechanics aren’t fun, but simply a carrot on a stick with the hope you might participate in raid content at some point…

    I’ve been playing Cardhunter the past 10 days…those guys understand gaming and it makes me wish for a Cardhunter mmo frankly.

  • Yes the journey is most important for me, but i disagree

    ” If we’re talking World of Warcraft, where getting to end-game means absolutely nothing”

    That is When the Game starts, ive never been so busy or had so much to do
    farming with Tillers, cooking, fishing, daily pvp on thunder Isle and BGS, LFR, Timeless Isle, AH crafting Gems

    “A new max level character in World of Warcraft may as well be a level 1 for all its worth”
    not sure what this means, and why it means more in any other Theme park MMO?

    i dont mind its just another way to play aslong as long as they counter balance it keeping low level areas populated

  • I think when we look back at MMO’s we will wonder what purpose levelling served.

    Already EqNext is set to have no levels… Gw2 was initially planned without but changed their mind at the last minute. 10 years in the future, levels may be a quaint thing we look back on and womder why.

  • Leveling *is* the game for me. I believe the only MMO I have played in the last decade and a half where I have actually spent significant time at max level is GW2, which has no traditional “end game”. Even there I leveled nine characters to the cap in as many months, so the majority of my hours were still spent leveling.

    I’m not interested in most traditional end-game activities, which usually amount to not much more than repeated instanced dungeon runs to gear up for more repeated instanced dungeon runs, often the same ones with the difficulty turned up. And Raiding, which often follows exactly the same pattern.

    If there were MMOs that began with this content I wouldn’t play them, in the same way I don’t play FPS or RTS games. I’m not a gamer, I’m just someone who has played text adventures, point&click adventures and MMOs for over thirty years. MMOs may evolve into a new form where the leveling game no longer exists, at which point I will re-assess whether they still have anything to offer me. If they don’t I’ll move on.

    For a game as deep, broad and old as EQ2, however, Heroic Characters are fine. I already have more EQ2 characters at 85+ than I’m ever going to have time to play and as Stargrace mentioned in passing recently, an established EQ2 player can easily take a new character from 1 to 80 in a weekend. http://mmoquests.com/2013/09/23/a-weekend-of-alts-eq2-everquest2/

    I’ll probably take one or two of my existing characters up to 85 just because the offer’s there, but they’ll almost certainly never get played. It’s a good idea, though, given the circumstances EQ2 finds itself in.

  • Stuff like this makes me continue to question what the point of levels are again?

    Look at GW2. What’s the functional purpose of levels in that game? The arguement can’t be “so you explore the world”. You are driven to do that, to an even greater extent, by the acheivement system and the desire to acquire the 100% map completion rewards. Sense of Progress? Skill points are earned multiple ways these days.

    They should remove levels from GW2 tomorrow. Probably save themselves all sorts of issues trying to balance lower level content for downscaled players using exotic equipment that a “new player” wouldn’t have. Heck, could have saved themselves all the trouble of even designing the systems for downscaling players and upscaling loot. Could simply turn the “leveling” bar into a “skill/trait acquistion” bar. You fill it 70 times and you get your 70 traits, and after that, it functions exactly like it does today for a level 80 player where you just keep earning skill points. Think of all the resources spent on lower tier crafting items that could have instead have been put into making even more unique stuff that is relevant to the whole player base. If they just took all that lower tier crafted food, gave it endgame stats instead, but at different distributions and with some new perks… man it’d be even more awesome for the variety of stuff existing in game.

    GW2’s world map is the most relevant of themepark games to an endgame player of any such game I’ve played, but it could be even moreso if they’d just ditch the level curve.

  • Not having levels is an interesting idea.

    As it stands now I can only think of a couple of things they bring to the game;

    1) threat assessment – a quick way for players to determine just how dangerous a for they face.

    2) Progression – some people just enjoy watching the numbers go up. It also creates a “sign post” moment for the player, where they can stop, step back an decay late their character.

    In a game purely about skill gain, you progress as such a slow and steady rate that you may never really notice you’re progressing at all.

    My biggest issue surrounding leveled content is the way is fractures your player base.
    They’ve had work arounds, but it’s still an issue

  • How many times have we seen developers gut the leveling experience to enable new players to catch up in the next expansion? Blizzard wasted staggering amounts of time and manpower in Cataclysm revamping the old world content only to set the exp curve so aggressively that you actually cannot play all the way through a zone without outleveling the storyline you’re trying to play. Staying up all night to level is no longer for the hardcore – now it’s casual players who must stay up all night playing because if you log off you will gain rested exp and miss even more of the content.

    Compared to this reality? Absolutely, bring on the paid pre-mades. The solo leveling experience is irrelevant as preparation for endgame group content, and it’s not really a measure of achievement – mostly time – to have done it. No matter how badly you nerf the exp curve, people who don’t WANT to solo are still going to hate having to do so, and you’re just ruining the content for people who wanted to play it.

  • Something like this should only be available to players with a max level character and significant /played time, or released to the player in sections.
    When you suddenly give a new player the keys to a max level tank, you’re only hurting everyone unlucky enough to get grouped with an under geared, button mashing, mechanic ignorant, nightmare.

  • let’s be honest about the issue with giving the keys of a high level to an inexperienced player. If someone is going to be a bad tank, it doesn’t matter if they spend 80 levels “learning” the class or not. People who are going to spend time reading guides online to l2p will do so whether they’re getting an instant endgame character or leveling one up themselves.

    I don’t put alot of stock into the “you have to level a class to learn the class” theory.

  • > When you suddenly give a new player the keys to a max level tank, you’re only hurting everyone unlucky enough to get grouped with an under geared, button mashing, mechanic ignorant, nightmare.

    Leveling a tank character is completely different from actually using it as a tank in a group setting. If somebody has never played a tank before, leveling one would hardly provide any advantage over an instant-max tank.