In most MMORPGs, once a player reaches max level, he or she has limited options to further increase the ability of their character. You can do dungeons, world encounters, raiding, or PVP. Most players can only concentrate on one or two of these, depending on how casual they are as a player. There is one alternative however: create an alt. Many players will create alts, but will ultimately keep coming back to that first character, or “main.” But what if you could make that alt more powerful than your main, merely by hitting max level? Shaiya, by Aeria Games accomplishes this through a difficulty system. Here is the system as outlined by their website:
- Easy – This mode should only be played by those who have no experience playing MMORPGs. Level cap is 30, experience gain is 2x, and no special skills are available.
- Normal – This mode is for players who have some experiences with MMORPGs. Players must reach level 50 in Normal mode before Hard mode will be made available.
- Hard – Level requirements are much harder in this mode, but Status and Skill Bonuses are increased. Players who reach level 50 in Hard mode will unlock Ultimate mode.
- Ultimate – Level requirements are the same as in Hard mode, but Status and Skill bonuses are increased and players can use exclusive items, skills, spells, and bonuses only available to Ultimate characters. WARNING!!! Characters who die in Ultimate mode will be deleted if not resurrected within 3 minutes. This mode is only for those players looking for the Ultimate experience.
As you can see, as you reach max level in one difficulty mode, you upen up a harder mode, allowing you to create a new, more powerful character. I see this system having both pros and cons. On one hand, your new alts will be vastly different and more powerful, ensuring a new play experience, but you must abandon your previous character; twice if you make it to Ultimate mode. As stated above, many players identify with their first character, kind of a “coming of age” feeling. Leaving a max level character behind, one that is inherently inferior will be tough for many players. This new mechanic, however, allows those with the time and effort to achieve something more casual players cannot: rewarding them with superior characters. I can see this having a large effect on PVP near the beginning, but will even out eventually as more people ascend the difficulty modes. All in all, I think this is a new twist to MMORPGs in general, and I will be interested in seeing how it turns out. Shaiya is currently in Open Beta.