Just wondering how other people think about this...
I started playing STO 3 weeks ago (january 19, 2012) and I haven't been able to play as much as I would have liked. Still, I'm already at lvl 43 (Rear Admiral, Lower Half 3). I'm pretty sure that I'll make Vice Admiral before this week is over. So, in just 1 month I will have almost reached the max level. This seems very fast to me. Other MMO's I've played took me much longer to even get close to that.
I feel that maybe leveling is much to easy in STO. There is not much satisfaction in reaching the next lvl, when you have to do so little for it. Just do 2 episode missions or a couple of patrol missions and you hear "congratulations captain". Even after reaching Rear Admiral, getting to the next level (say from 40 to 41) takes very little time or effort.
When I started playing, I did not think I'd make Captain for at least some months. When I made Lieutenant Commander after just a few days I thought, wow this is great. Then a week later I made Captain. And another week later I was a Rear Admiral... It didn't feel like I accomplished much. Yeay, a new ship. Super, next week I'll get my next.
Don't get me wrong, I love the game! It just feels to me as if everything goes way to quick. So, like I said, I wonder how other people think about this. I'm looking forward to reading your replies.
I know some people will want to tear me apart for this, but the reason for the flat leveling curve is pretty simple - lack of content. The episodes are just about enough to get you from 1 to 50 with a few of them left after you hit the cap. There are some small gaps which you will have to bridge with a fleet action or two, but other than that, it's absolutely no problem to reach the level cap within a week or less. For the better or worse, if it took any longer, you'd have to do a whole lot of awful, randomly-generated exploration missions and dig around the user-generated content to get your level ups.
EDIT: That said, I'm not sure there's a clever, useful way to improve the whole leveling experience. I'd love being able to play for a month or longer before hitting Vice Admiral, but imagine the insane amount of episodes it would take to provide actual content for such an amount of play time. Maybe they should take the best, most popular user-generated adventures, put them on the "official" episode list and make them part of the leveling process. I wouldn't mind if the whole thing took a lot longer. I like STO a lot, but I just can't get myself to play it much after doing all the STFs and experiencing every episode 2 or 3 times. I want more stuff to do!
There is indeed a lack of content, there can be no denying it, this past year was pretty hard (to put it as mildly as possible) when it comes to new things to do. My boss, who started playing the game when F2P launched hit 45 monday. He is about 80% done with the Romulan front missions right now, so he will likely hit VA before he even starts on the Cardassian front. Personally I see this as a major problem.
When he hit 45, he pointed this out to me, and asked what will he do when he finishes up all of the front missions, now that he is max level. While I can point out to him there are 6 weeks coming up where we get a new mission every week, thats still only 6 new things to play through. As far as goals for the future, the only real one left before him is to 'grind to get eq' playing the STF's and wait for the next big thing.
It is my fervent hope that we will see more lower/mid level content(scalable mind you, like they changed the rest of the missions) to fill this gap, and to more importantly LOWER the xp awards so that a player actually stays in a grade longer then hours. I point out this later part because it has a secondary knock on. Right now, as things stand, there is ZERO incentive for me, or realistically, any player to purchase any cstore related item that has nothing to do with VA. Take the Exeter class for instance. I like the ship design, alot, but I will not purchase the ship because in all honesty, I dont get to use it. Looking at a purchase like that from a money=value standpoint, its a losing proposition.
All I can hope is that in the near future the situation will change to make it so that I can feel that its worth it making long term investments in lower level items.
these are games that I personally have got to endgame in less than a month.
CoH/V - roughly 3 weeks
Rift - 4 weeks (endgame before end of free sub from purchase)
Champions online - roughly a week
DCUO - 2 days.
STO - roughly a week
this is playing 4-5 hours a day on average.
its not that uncommon these days, a lot of MMO's seem to be more focused on keeping players at endgame than the journey to it, which makes sense in a way, because you feel a degree of investment in an endgame character, and existing and new players can experience new content when released if set up for endgame only (new people can get there quickly)
STO has certainly sped up in recent months, but its not the fastest out there!
Well, it's not as super fast as DC Universe, but it also features much less replay value IMHO. Now that practically any kind of officer can handle any type of ship, why reroll if you want to switch from an escort to a cruiser etc.?
As for the "endgame" - seeing as there is no higher tier of STFs or any other "big thing" on the horizon, there is very little motivation to grind the new STF gear to begin with. Most other MMOs send you to endgame dungeons, raids or whatever so you can gear up for even greater challenges, but STO is so easy and fool-proof, you can finish pretty much the whole content, except maybe the actual STFs, with green gear and zero clue what you're doing.
Think of it this way: the leveling curve is presently quite intent on you reaching level 50 before you generally get to end-game storywise. For example, during the double XP weekend I got my Kimberly from level 1 to 50 around the Devidian arc of the Klingon War... which left a lot of story content to go.
So, assuming this is as designed, then this is the following conclusion I'm drawing: the developer generally mean for you to spend most of your time playing the game at maximum level. This isn't a foreign concept in itself - the much lauded Guild Wars works like that too.
The level-progression then serves one purpose: training the player. Your time spent leveling up is time that you get used to an increasing array of powers and abilities. Since you start small, it prevents you from being overwhelmed until you're quite used to it by level 50.
In Guild Wars, you hit max level before you left the tutorial island (if you were doing the later expansions.) But this was a good thing, because character progression was not about leveling, it was about building your 'deck' of skills and abilities. The entire focus was on the endgame.
STO is somewhat similar - the endgame has a lot of ways to 'broaden' your character.