Me and Arbitrary are currently both rank 37, aka THE END IS IN SIGHT! Actually I feel as though the levelling pressure is off now. I have all the abilities I really wanted from my mastery specs and none of the baseline abilities that I will get between now and 40 are particularly exciting.
Or in other words, I know now how my character will play at maximum rank and I’m having fun with it. I’ll get more xp now regardless of what I do but it doesn’t seem all that urgent. I can play in Tier 4 with my friends (have been able to do this for ages), we’ve been to Bastion Stair, I’ve run around in Open RvR warbands, I pull my weight. Part of this is due to playing as a healer, and because healing spells are never resisted it has always been easy for a healer to contribute at a lower level than tanks or dps classes. But also I have all my core spells now.
The alure of levelling as a mechanic is that players are slowly introduced to core abilities. It’s an easier learning curve than if you were presented with every ability at rank 1. Plus it’s an incentive. Level up some more and get cool new abilities! You get to feel as though you really worked for it (I’m not big on work ethic in games myself but it works for some people!) But on the flipside, if you have to wait until max rank to get important play-changing core abilities then you may be stuck with a character that plays very differently at endgame. You could spend all that time on a character to find that you hate it.
And even if not, forcing people to wait for important abilities affects game balance for levelling characters. They had to tweak Archmages in beta to give them their damage abilities earlier in rank because they were simply painful to level at all.
Xixaz-AP has a super post on the Vault discussing all sorts of game design issues, with suggestions. The one that caught my eye was the suggestion that characters should get all their new abilities for a Tier right at the start of that Tier. So you get all your Tier 2 abilities at rank 12, for example. He also has some great ideas about indirect rewards and bragging rights.
How would you feel about that? Do you like the idea of having kickass abilities available at max level as an incentive/ reward?