14/11/2017

Approaches to Levelling

The other day the subject of how people level came up on Twitter. Or at least it was "the other day" when I wrote the first draft of this post... by now it's been quite a bit longer already. Either way, the point was that I didn't really follow the conversation then, but the subject remained on the back of my mind and got me thinking about my own levelling.

When I first started playing and created Shintar the Commando, I would say my play style was what you could call exploratory. I wanted to see as many different things as possible, including group content and PvP, but I wasn't hung up on any kind of completionism, skipping both Taris and Alderaan in their entirety except for my class story. I figured that being over-levelled wasn't going to be very fun, and there were always going to be alts. I didn't do Taris's main and bonus story arc for the first time until I levelled my Guardian, and Alderaan on my Sage. This way I eventually explored all the game had to offer, sticking my nose into different types of content with every new alt.

Then my pet tank and I became an item, and he infected me with his completionism. We levelled a couple of characters by doing all the quests on every planet, over-levelling be damned. However, eventually he lost his taste for that and when left to my own devices I returned to picking and choosing whatever I fancied at the time, while sticking to the class story as my guiding thread. With XP gains getting buffed, I actually needed to do less and less to keep up with it, but the changes did allow me to revisit some class stories that I had already completed with relative ease. However, there were only so many times I really wanted to replay the same class story in quick succession.

Last year's Dark vs. Light event managed to reinvigorate my interest in levelling by inviting me not to care about the class story for a change and to simply chase levels. For the sake of the achievement I revelled in things like doing lowbie PvP and flashpoints, where I played with the handicap of a limited skill set and unfamiliar specs, and I had a right blast doing so.

However, in the end the whole experience also left me feeling a bit adrift. The class story always served as a sort of anchor for my levelling. I would even say that story is more important in SWTOR than levels themselves. The progression of the two systems used to largely line up, so their separation wasn't that noticeable for me, but nowadays you'll run out of levels to work on long before you've even scratched the surface of all the story threads.

What point is there then in rolling up more alts if I haven't even bothered to re-experience all the stories with my existing ones? If I did want to re-play the consular for a third time for example, I couldn't help but think of the consulars I already have and that haven't even finished their story, even though they sit at high levels. It's a bit of an awkward situation. Part of why I've been able to throw myself into my new flashpoint levelling series with so much vigour is that it's allowed me to level another character with a purpose. If I want to chase levels just for the sake of chasing levels, Galactic Command offers plenty of opportunity for that at the level cap these days.

Sometimes I think that my best bet might well be to try out alt life on another server for a bit - except that there are fewer of those around now than ever. Not having a huge legacy of pre-existing characters lends the whole exercise at least some semblance of freshness, and I suppose I could work towards getting Legendary Player status a second time or something...

What motivates you to create new alts after you've more or less seen it all?

6 comments :

  1. I don't play (or haven't yet played) SWtoR but answering in general MMO terms, what motivates me is the thing people rarely seem to mention - enjoying the gameplay. I like leveling because I like to see the numbers go up. I like to see my gear improve. Most of all, in any MMO that I stick with long-term, I like doing what the game has you do, be that fighting, questing, crafting...

    I like doing it for the sake of doing it, the way I like to twiddle my thumbs or, perhaps more appositely, as I loved as a child to kick a ball against a wall for hour after hour. If something feels satisfying when repeated I like to keep repeating it. It's calming, relaxing and entertaining.

    That's why I make more characters and run them through the same content over and over. I'm not trying to get anywhere or discover anything new. It just feels good while I'm doing it.

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    1. Oh, I do that too... sometimes. Log into a random character and do a couple of quests, then log into another one and do a PvP match. My levelling during the DvL event was a lot like that, after the event had provided me with the initial incentive to create new characters in the first place.

      I just like having bigger goals as well, and I find that those become more of a challenge the longer you've been playing, simply because there are so many things you've already achieved...

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    2. I knew I liked your Pet Tank for a reason! Another completionist leveler!

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  2. SWTOR exemplifies the best and worst of leveling in one game. I loved playing the class stories the first time, but am not a fan of repeating stuff, and the stronger the story the less motivated I am to replay it. I have the same issue with Secret Worlds Legends by the way, strong stories and NPC characterisation but that means I remember it all the more vividly and get bored more in the repeat play.

    My preferred playstyle for alt leveling is as you describe pre 'pet tank'. If I can meander around picking and choosing different elements on different alts then I'm very happy to play through the levels multiple times. But having a strong narrative (for classes and planets) made SWTOR a joy to play through at first, but eventually too restrictive for me to keep repeating. The added personal note to that is I detest pugging stuff or dungeon-grinding (as several people are discussing at the moment), so to me such alternatives to leveling aren't viable options.

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    1. It really is a bit of a strange situation with SWTOR. I, too, don't want to repeat content that I still remember very well ad nauseam. In theory it's quite possible to level a character without doing the class story at all if you want to mix things up (though if you don't play up to the end of Coruscant/Dromund Kaas, you won't have a ship). But then I feel kind of bad for going so completely against the game's strengths... it's not entirely rational.

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  3. Back in the day I used to deliberately level lesser alts without picking their advanced class. It wasn't uncommon to see people in their mid-teens who had somehow completely missed the quest chain that let you pick this once reaching level 10, so BioWare changed it to a menu that popped up. For a while you could decline that choice but I think its now completely forced on you. I made it to the mid 40's on several different characters this way back when the level cap was 50. Certain content was way harder than it needed to be when you are missing most of the abilities!

    More generally I don't level - I just do whatever content seems fun for that session. Most often this will be questing but usually not in any particularly focused way. I've never been one to care much about the gear treadmill so long as I'm regularly getting stuff that is "better" than what I had. Gaining levels is an accidental byproduct of just "doing" stuff.

    I am however a completionist. I ran out of motivation eventually, but for a while there I was doing 100% quests, datacrons and planet achievements on each of my ~20 most used characters. I would refuse to move on to the next planet until I'd done it. With level synch its now very possible to reach max level without ever leaving your starter planet - which I've done from scratch on one character, and finished off with a mid-level alt. Of course I'm not just doing multiple alts in SWTOR, but doing the same thing in 5-6 other MMO's and playing various other games as well. Progress is slow!

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