The level bump in MMO betas

I’ve been thinking about my experiences in the AoC open beta PvP weekend, and how it’s shaping my decision to buy the game or not.

For those who might not know, Funcom gave each open beta player a token that bumped their level up to 20 from the previous cap of 13. Your character was moved out of the starting area and into one of the three main cities, based on your race.

Getting moved and having your level increased can be disorienting. I’m still under NDA for the WAR beta, and all I will say about that is I’ve experienced similar bumps there, and it definitely throws me off. So I’m aware that part of my reaction to Age of Conan last weekend had to do with the level bump.

There’s something precious about building your character organically in an MMO. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t identify with a 20th level character who’s been bumped from 13 the same way I would if I had leveled the character those 7 levels. I’ve never considered buying a character from friends who are quitting games for the same reason. That relationship with the character (wow, dork alert there) is what ties me to the game world. Without the experience of growing a character, I don’t feel as connected to the world around me.

That’s why I haven’t completely ruled out buying Age of Conan. I’m aware that my disjointed experiences in the open beta aren’t going to get me to buy into the virtual world the same way a real level 1 character will make me feel. It’s like I’m driving someone else’s car, or dating someone else’s girlfriend. Well, not so much the girlfriend part, that would probably be a lot more fun than any MMO beta. At least until I got caught.

So I’m still torn. Bildo said in the comments of another post to just buy the game. He’s right in the sense that I’ll feel more connected to my character, and everything that Funcom has designed to help me develop that character will be experienced in the order they intended. I know that’s true, and that’s what I love about MMO’s. I really enjoy that first 20 to 30 levels of making someone new and seeing a new world.

I’m torn because of the performance issues, the bugs, the unitemized areas and a little voice in the back of my head saying “Wait a month! Wait for the reviews!”. I guess it’ll come down to whether I want to make a leap of faith, and chalk up my unease about AoC to the level bump disorientation, and hope that Funcom gets the bugs and performance issues polished up quickly after release. I’m still not sure which way I’ll go. I haven’t pre-ordered, but I may still swing by a Gamestop next Tuesday evening, just to see if there’s a copy lying around. There’s something about the first week of an MMO that is almost worth the price of admission, even if the game itself isn’t worth playing long term.

Decisions! I suck at ’em.

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3 Responses

  1. My opinion is always to buy the new MMOG, because always love the opening of new games, even if they end up sucking (AA) or losing steam for me early on (LotRO).

    My advice would be to either wait for reviews (which are usually a week or two after launch), or to just drop the cash and chalk it up to the fact that you do seem to like the core of the game and remember that even if it doesn’t work out at first these games do patch.

    I mean, you have who knows how many more months until WAR hits or even any other MMOG.

  2. I am seriously tempted to buy Aoc as wow becomes ever more boring and easier but I may stick it out until WotlK. Just posted a new article about world of warcraft honor botting if you are interested 🙂 – World of warcraft honor botting

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