So the new big title, read SWTOR, will have levels.
Not that I'm surprized even a bit disappointed. Altough I do understrand the choice Bioware did to level down the learning curve and to lower the difficulty to balance the game.
Sadly I don't have more experience of non level based MMO than SWG.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the pros and cons of levels.
In the end they really lack the feeling of character customization and ownership.
I read Bioware would answer to the later with storyline. I am afraid it isn't enough.
It is an interesting feature, but when people will realize their (hero?) story is quite the same as most of all others [insert class name here] they will be disappointed. Moreover when they'll find the supposedly choices would limit the character story.
At first I thought, in SWG, the ability to choose your skills was really the only part that made it interesting vs levels. Then I found out a few embedded layers.
The first one is there where no mandatory templates to join a hunting group. As long as you could hold a weapon you would be welcomed. I also liked how 20++ grouped, noobs, players could still kill a dark jedi... after many cloning and aggro management.
The second one that's often forgotten was switching skills. Usually in a MMO you have to delete and redo either all your skills or your character. SWG had this really smart feature: you delete a skill only when you needed skill points. So going from Master BH to master Cook you would slowly loose your uber combat skills. Yes it's some kind of grinding, still where much difference between your toon and a fresh new one.
The third one is zone limitations. Contrary to level based MMOs in SWG you could venture to anywhere in the world, provided you knew how to mange aggro or being grouped with the right people. There where very few places where you would be 1-2 shots killed because of "levels" differences
The fourth one is equipement. There where much less feeling of having items only for a few levels then switching them for higher ones. Was it a bad thing? I don`t think so. The crafting system made it so players could keep looking for better crafted items. (Note that I'm against decay, explanations will come in another blog)