WoW: Wearing My Level Cap

So that’s it.  Little Echoes, who started her life as a newly-minted Tauren Druid in late November, has just graduated to a full-fledged level 80 powerhouse less than two months later.  Despite playing WoW off and on since launch, this is my first level 80 (I had five level 70’s when Wrath hit).  The 1-80 experience, assisted greatly by the Tour Guide addon and the new Dungeon Finder system, wasn’t blindingly quick, but it did progress rapidly and smoothly.  Considering I took a few serious chunks of time off and wasn’t playing every night, two months sounds like a good amount of time for a casual ascent to the level cap.

And of course, it hit me, as it always does the few times I’ve gotten a character to a level cap in any MMORPG.  The Wall.  The XP bar disappears, and the push to do more to level disappears.  For 80 levels, that’s been the driving force: more XP for the next ding.  And now that’s gone.

It’s a bewildering sensation that plagues all level-based games, because it’s akin to throwing your car from fifth gear to first at 90 mph (that’s 120 kilohectres for our metric friends).  Some folks consider the leveling game the prologue to the “real thing”, mostly because they spend a finite time leveling, but a potentially infinite era at the cap.  It’s when you can raid and do Manly, Serious Stuff like battlegrounds and stressing out over incremental gear upgrades.

Usually what I do when I hit the cap is to take a few days off, to get some perspective and make sure that I wasn’t pushing so hard to get there that it’s going to be depressing and anti-climactic to experience.  Then I reassess my goals: what do I want to achieve with this character in the short term and long term?  Do I want to start a new alt?   Raise more money?

The one thing that drives me to level cap more than anything else is guild gating — that unseen feature where you can’t do stuff with your buddies and the guild because they’re at max level and able to handle content that you’re too young for as of yet.  Now, I can.  Maybe I’ll never be fully Tier 50 gear or whatever ridiculous number they have these days, but I’ll be able to run small groups and even casual raids, and that’s just fine with me.

Things still left to do on my checklist for Echoes:

  • Finish getting enough gold to afford epic flight training (and my epic flight form)
  • Get 80 badges to purchase two 10% +XP heirloom items for my goblin hunter in the next expansion
  • Finish going through the zones in Northrend — I still have four zones worth of quests, loot and gold to go
  • Gear up a bit more — nothing excessive, but it’s nice to be able to do guild stuff when I’m in the mood for light raiding and heroic 5-mans
  • Getting my perky pug achievement/pet, and in so doing, get the 50 pet achievement and another pet (skunk)
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7 thoughts on “WoW: Wearing My Level Cap

  1. battlechicken January 29, 2010 / 9:16 am

    I think it’s interesting that for some players, the game “ends” at leveling, and for others, it’s only a beginning. For instance, I have a few friends who hit level 80, play that character for 2 or 3 weeks, and then immediately go into leveling another, or 2 or 3 more at a time. Their one or two 80’s aren’t particularly geared, nor are they interested in seeing them geared out. For them it’s about the leveling and the variety.

    Then there’s my husband, who spent the past 3 weeks leveling from 25-80 on his shaman. He’s an awesome leveler, mostly because he wants to get it over with. For him, leveling is a means to an end. He enjoys leveling, for a little while, but then he’s only interested in getting to 80, gearing up, and getting into raids.

    That’s what makes it fun: there are so many ways to play!

    Grats on 80 again! 🙂

  2. James January 29, 2010 / 9:44 am

    Instead of going for the 80 badges, do the tournament quests/dailies and get the chapmion’s seals. They can be spent for to buy the heirloom gear. And it’s a lot of fun doing those dailies, not to mention quick! It’s very satisfying when you complete it all and get the Crusader title!

  3. Fuzzy January 29, 2010 / 10:53 am

    Congrats on 80! Enjoy it while you can. Seriously, before you lose interest 😉

    Here’s my story:

    1. Get epic flight training – a guildie actually loaned me the money for this, even though I insisted that regular flying was a-okay with me.

    2. Get badges/gear – at the time I was playing, Ulduar just came out but I wasn’t geared for it yet, since the only remaining upgrades I could find for my Warlock were in Naxx 25 (which I never finished, though I did get to see Kel’thulzad once) and Eye of Eternity 25 (which I never found a group for – most of the groups I found were for 10-man, and we always fell short in phase 3).

    3. Finish zones – I think I finished half of the zones in Northrend, but loot/gold is a moot point once you hit 80, so the only thing keeping me going was the plotline and possibly the quest achievement.

    4. Grinding reputation – The only ones that really benefited me were Sons of Hodir, the Kirin-Tor, and the Wyrmrest Accord, and I was high enough on those. For some reason, I didn’t bother to check out the Argent Tournament.

    4. Getting achievements – I was trying to go for “What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been” but burned myself out shortly after Children’s Week. By the time the Midsummer Fire Festival came around, I didn’t feel like logging in anymore.

  4. Tesh January 29, 2010 / 1:24 pm

    “I think it’s interesting that for some players, the game “ends” at leveling, and for others, it’s only a beginning”

    This is *exactly* why I love Guild Wars for letting players start at the level cap. I really wish other MMOs would let players just jump into the raiding game out of the box, if that’s what the players want to do. If leveling is a chore to endure to get to the part where the “real game” starts, why make players slog through it?

    To be clear, I’m not a raider, and to me, the leveling content *is* the game. I’m not foolish enough to think that all raiders like grinding through the part I love, though. I just think it’s unfair and bad design that I can totally ignore their world, but they have to play through mine to get to theirs.

  5. Misanthrope January 29, 2010 / 4:05 pm

    You know, I HAVE a DEVO powerdome. I should try wearing it while raiding.

  6. Bane January 29, 2010 / 6:37 pm

    I’ve got an Energy Dome too. I found that, true to the Devolution philosophy, you actually -lose- XP when wearing it. Great for the level 80 Wall, as you can just back off to 79, take the Dome off, and ding over and over again!

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