Content Locked Behind Levels?

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In games (especially in MMOs with linear progression) I expect that certain content will be ‘locked’ behind levels. Things like raid content especially. Then there are games that seem to lock everything behind obtaining some magical number, and those games I’m not quite as fond of. I feel that locking content, behind levels in specific, deters a certain group of gamers who may otherwise enjoy that aspect of the game and continue to play because of it.

Lets take housing for example. In WildStar housing is locked behind obtaining level 14. Now, that’s not a huge amount of leveling in the grand scheme of things, but then there are fabkits and other useful housing items that are also level locked. Even some decor is locked behind a level. Motivating people to play your way is one method of doing things, sure, but for the truly casual gamer all this will do is deter them from sticking around.

In games like EQ2 housing (in specific) is not restricted by level. Casual and hardcore alike are free to decorate to their hearts content starting at level 1. Aspects of housing, are of course locked. For example if you want the best of the best, you’ll need to work towards it. Working towards it does not always include leveling or adventuring. It could include finding methods of earning in-game currency in order to afford the items you want, or hiring players who are level appropriate to obtain rare items for you. There are workarounds to getting what you want.

How do you feel about games locking content behind levels? Does it have to be this way? Does it not matter to you any more because it’s simply the way things have always been? When World of Warcraft released Warlords I was pretty excited about garrison, but then I saw how locked behind leveling they were. It’s great for your main and your first run through the content, but what about all those alts who wanted to have a garrison too.

Is there a point to playing games where everything is just handed to you and there is no progression locked behind levels? Even Sims 4 has gone the rout of locked content where you need to level up your skills before obtaining certain house items – though this can be bypassed with cheats at least.

Thoughts?

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3 Comments

  1. I agree on level locked gear, drives me nuts. I understand the point of having SOME gear level locked but I miss the days of being able to farm cool items for my alts in everquest and have them running around with them at level 1.

  2. I actually hate level locking. Perhaps progression quests to show how to use something, which quests you gain at a certain level, but the actual locking behind levels of certain game features/functions just annoys the crap out of me.

    My most-hated level locked feature is gear. “Can’t wear a helmet until level 15, can’t equip a shield until level 20,” etc. My 2nd most-hated is level-locking the ability to use a mount. The rest I can live with, but those 2…… ugh. They are enough to make me hate level-locking content in general.

  3. pasmith

    I actually like having things locked behind levels as long as the requirements are reasonable. In other words as long as most players will get the unlocks under the normal course of playing a game. So like Wildstar’s housing at 14 I’m fine with.

    In games where the requirements are reasonable getting something unlocked feels like an additional reward for hitting a milestone.

    What I don’t like is when stuff is locked behind levels in such a way that it’s really a struggle to get to for casual players. Like, I dunno, what if housing required you to be level capped and have a certain gear score? That I wouldn’t like since a lot of players never bother to worry about gear score or even get to cap.

    One of the few things I dislike about FF XIV is that mounts are locked, not behind levels, but behind a quest line. That quest line requires you to do a few dungeons before you get to the mount-unlocking part. As a casual player I’m not really interested in doing those dungeons (since I play on console and the controls don’t feel nimble enough for group content); I’d rather putter around, crafting and gathering materials and just kind of watching the world go by. So at this point I only have 1 character who can ride a mount, which kind of dissuades me from playing.

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