Offline Leveling — Not So Terrible

April 28, 2010

Following the news of Age of Conan’s new offline leveling system, I logged into the game to check it out for myself. Sure enough, a new feature window has appeared in the lower left hand corner of my character selection screen. The deal is 4 levels right up front, to allocate to any of my characters over level 30, with the promise of an additional level being added to my available level pool every four days.

My first instinct was to think, “Wow, what utter nonsense. Aren’t games meant to be played?”

However, I’ve since changed my mind. Yes, games are meant to be played. But games are meant to be fun, too. And doing something like grinding from level 78 to 80 was most definitely NOT fun. Considering the amount of experience required to level up at such a late stage, I can’t help but think how an offline leveling system would have really benefited me then.

I gave my alt one level just to test things out. Then I accidentally clicked again and gave myself another level. Ugh.

This isn’t just for lazy people, folks, and I’m speaking as an AoC player with a level-capped toon. There are plenty of scenarios I can come up with where this system might come in handy. To recap my own personal experience, I ran out of solo quests when I hit level 78 and couldn’t find other people to do the groups quests with. There were also times where I finished up all the available quests in a zone, but found myself still slightly too low for the next one. In both these cases, I was subjected to the dreaded grind — through the daily villa instances, the Wanted! and Old Tarantia quests, or just good old fashioned mob-killing. Sure, I sucked it up and did it, but to be honest, I could have really done without that. And what about people playing casually who have no time to keep up with their friends who level at a much faster rate? No one likes being left behind, and having the option to add a level here and there will at least give those people a chance to minimize that ever-widening level gap.

And of course, there’s the matter of leveling alts. Maybe there was a zone you absolutely hated, and the thought of going through it again for the third or fourth time makes you sick to your stomach. Well, no need to hurl, now you have the choice to skip it all together.

The key word there is “choice”. You don’t have to take advantage of offline leveling if you don’t want to. It just gives players another option, and options are great.

Can it be abused? Sure, I’m willing to bet there will be those who will misuse this system. It’s going to help people get to max level and endgame more quickly, no doubt about it. But hopefully, those using offline leveling won’t be relying on it as their sole means of getting to level 80 (not to mention it would be completely idiotic, since gaining levels from 30-80 using this system alone will take you approximately 200 days, which begs the question — why don’t you just get off your ass and play? Trust me, you’ll achieve your goal much quicker this way.)

Perhaps they could have implemented this system another way, like only make it available for people who have at least one high or max-ed level character on their account (much like the conditions behind gaining my level 50 Bear Shaman, or a level 55 Death Knight in World of Warcraft when the class was first implemented.) Nevertheless, I don’t see offline leveling as a terrible thing that would destroy the game. And if a new player is going to give him or herself levels this way and skip over content just because they can…well, then I’ll just shake my head and ask why they’re playing the game in the first place.

This system is only meant to be a helpful tool, not a free passport to endgame. The journey through AoC is a phenomenal and breathtaking experience, and is definitely worthwhile — not to mention the expansion will also be bringing in a lot of new and exciting content. If you want to miss all that, then all I can really say is, “It’s your loss.”


  1. The main concern of course is that people will get their level 50 alts for free (like yours if I remember right), then use this system to level them to the cap while playing another toon, either level capped and raiding/pvping or just leveling a different toon. Then you’ve got people at end game with no idea how to play their level capped character.

    It’s not a very valid point for two reasons

    1) There are ALREADY people at level cap in ANY game who have no idea how to effectively play their class in a group.

    2) It’s going to be pretty obvious when someone shows up to the raid in level 30 or 50 greys and drastically low stats.

    Still, it’s weird and I want to not like it. On the other hand, it IS a great tool to just give you a hand. It’s really no different than EQII’s extra experience for having a bunch of level capped characters. Sure you CAN abuse it, but it’s meant to just speed up your leveling. AND keep you subbed even when you are taking a break, of course. Nice little byproduct there.

    • Right, my experience is that there will be people out to abuse ANY system. But I can see a lot more people using offline leveling legitimately (call me naive or whatever, but I truly believe this) and there’s no sense punishing them because of a potential few bad apples.

      Also, to add to your points, I give you 3) if you’ve gotten the chance to create a new level 50, that means you’ve already leveled a character to at least 50 (as that’s one of the pre-reqs). That should have given you at least some idea of how the game mechanics work, and being able to pick up a new class will be a much less complicated affair (like me with my Bear Shaman…it was confusing at first, but I managed a lot faster than I would have if that had been my first character) Also, keep in mind you can only use the offline leveling system on a character that’s at least level 30. By then you should have gotten a sense of what abilities you have and how to use them. There are a few more abilities that come after that through your talent tree etc., but pretty much by level 30 you’ve gotten the majority of them.

      You can bet though, when RotGs comes out, I’ll be starting over as a Khitan as a level 1 and no giving myself levels. I want to experience ALL that the expansion has to offer.

  2. Didn’t wow do this too with the death knight?

    I’d approve more if there was a similar system in place, you need to be what level before you unlock a death knight?

    Can you do this on your one and only character?

    • Yep, like I mentioned, WoW’s Death Knight class is pretty much a way for you to skip the first 55 levels on that character, and gives you free gold and bags to boot. Age of Conan has a similar system, except you can create another character of any class at level 50 once you’ve gotten at least one other character to level 50 (this is a one time offer, however.) On top of that, they have now added this “offline leveling” system. It also has a level restriction on it, you can only give levels to characters 30 and over.

      • crap. i must have glazed over that part. apologies.

        Yeah. I don’t know, part of me says, it reduces the number of people playing, reduces groups, reduces the feeling of being amongst other people running around doing stuff….

        but its better than people giving up because they don’t want to grind.

  3. I wrote it up myself last night, and I’ll agree with everything @mmogamerchick is saying.

    I doubt this will reduce the number of players, although now this is similar to EVE where the only requirement other than level 30 is that you have an active subscription to earn the offline levels. I’m leveling my first character (also a Bear Shaman) right now and haven’t had *too* much difficulty finding groups when I need them but bottom line, AoC is a very guild-focused game and guilds want more members at end-game (or at least above level 40 minimum) not only for raids but to help contribute to building the guild’s town.

  4. I think it may be a good idea. That it is optional is a good thing, too.

  5. I think this is a great idea. It will help people with friends keep up if they cant play for a few days or it will kill the grindy feeling of a dead spot in leveling. With the new alternate advancement system i don’t think getting to level cap will be the end all be all of the game now anyway.

    I don’t get why people get their panties in a bunch over this. Don’t worry how others will use it mind your own business and have fun playing your game. Why must mmo gamers worry so much about what everyone else is up to? I hope they aren’t that pushy and nosy in real life it could lead to issues.

    • WordPress said Thac0 was taken šŸ˜¦

      • woot, are you starting a blog? šŸ˜€

      • I’m experimenting with the idea.

  6. I would guess this works only being subscribed to the game if your doing so off line which would be a advantage to AoC as they have that person as a subscriber as in EVE vs the other way around. One advantage is you can log on whenever and exercise the choice to level up when you want to if you have the option.

    However just like in WoW you also end up with people no ever knowing how to play their character. In any game thats given a choice to shortcut the nature of players is that they will use it to their advantage.

    As in all things their are always Cause & Effect or options.

  7. I mean its an option right? Your not forced to do it or anything. Like others have said before it won’t change much to other people skills. If someone wants to level the old way they still can so it doesn’t change much.

  8. I’m always happy to see developers trying something new. Both AoC’s off-line leveling and EQ2’s recent $5/3 days subscription experiments will be interesting to watch.

    Even though I’m not an AoC player, more choices is a good thing, even at the risk of people who’ll run things into the ground. It reminds me a bit of the death penalty “debate” going on in STO. Some people want a DP in order to eliminate the zerging that happens in missions, but they also want ways to mitigate it (via injury packs).

    Never under estimate a player’s ability to optimize the fun out of a game. šŸ™‚

  9. I found this game for $9.99. I’m looking forward to trying out the offline leveling.

  10. […] a slightly more sarcastic approach than the rest of us when discussing the matter, and musings by MMO Gamer Chick who doesn’t find the feature as terrible as it apparently sounded at […]

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