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After playing the game for about 60 hours now (level 49) and reading the blog posts by ArenaNet I am wondering why GW2 needs levels. Players are boosted up to 80 for any PVP and have their level reduced to the level of their PVE content so why even have the levels at all?
Reasons to have levels:
1. MMO/RPG tradition- People are used to levels and might not like not having them. TSW doesn't have levels however and people seem to have adjusted to it fine.
2. Progression- Levels are an easy way to measure your character's progression. But, couldn't this just as easily be determined by the number of traits you have unlocked or some other measure?
3. Content scaling/gating- Having levels for not just the player but also the mobs allows devs to provide a clear path of content (1-15, 15-25, 25-40, etc until 80) and allows devs to gate the best content (can't go to Orr until you reach high level). But couldn't content also be gated or scaled based on traits and character strength or just the story progression?
Reasons not to have levels:
1. More open world- Not having levels would allow players to more freely explore the world in any manner they see fit as certain zones would not be arbitrarily gated by level requirements. ArenaNet seems to be big on giving players freedom and options so this would seem like a natural fit. It can be very annoying trying to level in a zone that is appropriate to your level but not getting enough xp early in the zone and therefore not being able to progress to the higher level part of the zone without grinding some mobs or DE's first. ArenaNet said they wanted to remove grind but there it is rearing its head.
2. No leveling/endgame distinction- ArenaNet seems to be struggling to convince players that not having a dedicated endgame for level 80 players is fine because the entire game is endgame (https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/the-endgame-reimagined/). Any game that has a level system is going to have this distinction in content by nature. By removing levels you could truly say that the entire game is endgame and that the game is focused on participating in the world events rather than a hamster wheel endgame.
3. No levels works better with ability system- I personally think that having all skill points come from skill challenges rather than gaining levels would be a massive improvement. Something similar for traits rather than just gaining them passively from levels would be great too. Weapon skills are already earned outside of levels so why not do the same for utilities?
4. Social aspects- Without the level distinction players won't be as segregated as any level system tends to create. GW2 has been designed to create a system where casual and hardcore players can work together and not be antagonistic so why not go the next step and remove a distinction which divides them?
5. Leveling speed- It doesn't really take that long to get to 80 if that is your goal so why even have that relatively meaningless carrot? If the goal is to have people enjoy the game and the world rather than grinding then why include a quintissential grind system and then nerf it to meaninglessness? I think the map completion could replace the level system here as many GW2 fanatics have been immediately commenting on anyone who races to 80 "but what is their map completion?" I think map completion is a far more meaningful metric for this game than levels ever could be.
What do you guys think? Does the game need levels? Are there other reasons for having levels that I didn't consider? Is there any point arguing about it since the game is already released and a change this big will likely never happen?