It is time once again for an article about character advancement. We’ve covered some of the normal ways to progress (levels, skills and traditional AAs) and even some crazy ideas like Endless Grind Points. Today I want to look at another alternative to traditional progression. This concept is another one of those on the “far left” when it comes to advancement.
In the simplest of terms Heroic Levels would be additional levels beyond or in parallel to the traditional leveling scope. They should be viewed as “non-traditional” progression and would clearly define the history of the character who possess that level of advancement. What does that mean exactly?
I imagine heroic levels to be achieved only through actions. I’m not talking about grinding mobs or doing quests either. These levels would indicate immediately where a character, and by association, a guild stands in the progression of the end game (just an example, it could be any criteria). To illustrate this lets say that to achieve HL 1 you need to defeat six two group raid mobs. When you do so you level up. To reach HL 2 you will then need to best three additional two group raids and a three group instance. This would progress until you defeat the final content for an expansion or time period.
The benefit to this is that the levels don’t have to be as powerful as traditional levels. They are heroic in deed, not in power. Of course they could be both. It would also help developers channel players through content as they intend. It would help reduce excessive content jumping if the power you got from a heroic level was of some benefit to defeat the next tier of encounters. I want to stress that the heroic level shouldn’t be a necessity though. Skill and tactics should always prevail.
Beyond keeping players on the straight and narrow the biggest benefit I see is that this is a true method by which “bind on pick up” can be eliminated. I’ve frequently heard developers say they do not want players to get raid rewards without raiding. I’ve suggested many things in the past as compromises on the issue (see bind on guild). Heroic levels fits this bill far better. Items can be level restricted by heroic levels and then made bind on equip. Sure, you could sell a top tier item to another player but unless they did the raid themselves they’ll never be able to use it.
This would also spur competition and reduce the amount of false claims that go along with it. After all, it would be hard to claim you defeated Tarinax if you didn’t have the associated heroic level. As an additional feature I think it would be great if the game tracked when a character achieved the heroic level (and for that matter any level) like EQ2 did. When it came to the power curve developers would know exactly where players stood at all times. Raid encounters can be designed with a certain heroic level in mind. Players would also know which content they were intended to do and recognize that to do other content it will require a lot more skill and ability. At least in that sense it is win/win.
The only word of caution I would say is that these levels should also make the character at least slightly more powerful. I say this because of the generally poor reception that was received by the ward system of Warhammer Online. Progression was literally delayed by making wards not a benefit but a necessity. No amount of skill could overcome the ward system and once you had five wards almost all the encounters were beyond trivial. Heroic levels are meant to be a reward for achieving content and not a barrier to it (other than the items that are generated).
It is just one more of those interesting (to me) ideas I’ve had. I’d love to hear some feedback about it as I did with EGPs. I just think there should always be some form of noticeable progression for characters. A little bar keeps me going. As soon as it stops my play time declines to just “when we’re raiding” or “when we’re doing an instance.” This wouldn’t quite help that but, like EGPs, it is another facet of engaging the player.
Original Copy from Epic Slant