In Global Agenda, I'm approaching level 50 -- the upper limit -- with one of my four toons, my medic. The support role was one that I enjoyed in EVE, too; anywhere from a third to half the time in fleets, I would fly Scimis and Guardians. So it's not much of a surprise that class appealed to me in GA. I am surprised at how quickly I'm reaching that upper limit, though, given that I've only been playing this game a few weeks. But there's no particular magic about level 50. As far as I can tell, you hit the top of the skill tree at level 30, and you only pick up access to a few additional items and weapons between there and level 45 (rather than additional skill points). And between levels 46 and 50, the only things you seem to unlock are the more garish appearance "dyes" that allow you to customize your armor.
Of course, there's still quite a lot of ground to cover before I reach the upper echelon in terms of armor, weapons, and items even in just the medic class. Some of the top end weapons and items cost 30,000 "tokens" each, a unit of currency you gain in the game at only a few hundred per PvP or PvE mission. And there's still lots of tactics I want to master for this class. And after I feel like I've mastered the medic, there's three other classes to play (I've started characters in each). So there's still quite a lot of game-time ahead of me here, and a good bit to write about, too.
And, as I mentioned before, GA rewards player skill much more than toon skill or gear in any case. Once you hit level 30, if you're good at FPSes, you're a credible threat to any other player, regardless of other factors.
Still, as I approach GA's upper limit for the medic class, it got me thinking a little about EVE's lack of an upper limit. A couple of weeks ago, an EVE player that's becoming disillusioned with the game started a thread on Failheap about starting over with a new character to try and rekindle his enthusiasm for the game. The thread quickly morphed into a thread about "What would you do if CCP reset the universe: 0 SP, 0 ISK, 0 territory for everyone?" A surprising number of people -- approaching a couple of dozen -- responded in horror that they'd stop playing EVE entirely due to the need to re-climb the skill tree! "No way in hell I'm gonna grind through all the core skills again. Just about starting to feel comfortable at 50 mil SP," was a typical response.
The response made me laugh, though, because I only recently passed 50 million SP with Ripard... right before I canceled my subscription. I spent the vast majority of my EVE play time with far fewer SP than this. But here's a bunch of veteran EVE players, at the very top of the game, who are saying that if they "only" had as many SP as you or I do... they wouldn't want to play EVE!
Says interesting things about the game, don't you think?
It got me thinking that EVE really differs from just about every other MMO in this regard. In any other MMO, after some months, or a year at most, you'll find yourself at the upper limit, theoretically equal with those who have been playing the game for its full lifetime. Granted, they'll have somewhat better gear than you will, probably for quite a while yet. But there's nothing really missing from your experience relative to theirs. You have access to the same items, content, and play-styles. The difference between a one year player and a seven year player is just a matter of degree.
Meanwhile, I poured myself into EVE for more than three years, and never even got close to the upper echelon players. And more than that, I never would have, even if I'd played for another five years. Or ten. The nature of EVE specifies that they'd always have more SP than me, more ISK, more ships, more access, more game-play choices than I would have. Always. Forever. And those players don't hesitate to let you know it. ;-) Having played EVE since beta is a badge of honor among that set.
And of course, EVE also differs from most MMOs in that you can very easily be killed in EVE by someone with ten times your SP, in a ship costing one hundred times more ISK than yours does. This can happen without you even having the slightest chance of killing or even inconveniencing your foe. And it can happen regardless of your relative skills in EVE. If I have a Titan and you have a battleship... I win. It doesn't matter how good at this game you are.
Like I said, it's very different in GA.
It even seems to generate a different sensibility in the game's players. EVE players are famously extremely hostile -- even nasty -- to one another. And that hostility comes out at the drop of a hat. I was exposed to a ton of it during my CSM run, for instance. Hell, "You fail at this game. End yourself," should practically be written on the log-in screen. ;-) And I start to wonder if the relative invincibility of long-term EVE players is the cause of this instant hostility. Because the player dynamic is very different in GA. Players -- even enemy players -- are much more helpful, friendly, and respectful to one another in that game. And I think it has a lot to do with the fact that a good enough short-time GA player is a credible threat to long-time players.
That's certainly not the case in EVE!
Believe it or not, EVE was my first MMO. Before I started playing, I'd always been a little dubious of the genre. But as I look for a new MMO to be my permanent home going forward, I can't help but think this lack of an upper limit in EVE and the impact that it has on the player relationship dynamic is going to color my perceptions of other games that I try.