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Wondered what the consensus on hell levels are? Seems that these have been identified as one of the aspects of EQ that were rightfully 'retired' in future games as they were not player friendly and they made people ragequit. Within the following paragraphs I hope to explain why I thought they were a good idea.
Firstly, each game has a set amount of time to achieve maximum level. In my experience every game since EQ has had a levelling curve that was simply too quick or easy (for example, I hit 80th level in GW2 6 days after release). Hell levels added a road bump in the levelling process and provided a window were the levelling speeds slowed and brought the community together as slower levellers caught up with the quick levellers. I know on VZ, possibly due to the team ruleset, when I hit max level I went to certain camps and buffed people to help them along.
Hell levels were a pain in the arse but they were there for all and they forced people to explore the world or exchange information in order to hit 'sweet spots' to minimise the impact of such levels. Camps within the game became known for each hell level and, on Vallon Zek (my server), intense pvp would happen over these spots. I presume on the PVE servers there were lengthy queues for these camp spots. I know that I sat at zone in Lower Guk waiting for spots to open and chatted to people and built groups at the zone in to xp whilst we waited. In no game since have I felt the need to group whilst I level to max and my involvement with the community has been limited to my RL friends in game and to a certain extent my guild (if I could be bothered to join one).
I know I am likely to be flamed (as I was in SWTOR forums previously) but I really feel that whilst I hated them in game (at the time) they were actually a positive thing for building the community and encouraging group play due to the better xp gain per hour provided by group play.
So, what do others think?