Level Cap? Why?

Disclaimer: This is now a few days old. Sorry about that.

In response to further fan questioning, the age-old level cap discussion was brought to light again last week on the Battle.net board. While Bashiok's lengthy replies did not necessarily give us any new information, per se, he did give us very thorough explanations of what the team was thinking when it set the level sixty cap on Diablo III characters and how this will logically factor in to expansions in the future.

The level cap is not a new topic by any means, but it has been seeing more discussion as of late. Juystafan's poll shows just what DiabloFans members are thinking when they see level cap: in terms of end-game grinding and regular questing.

So, what did frequenters think? It appears that the current majority in the poll believes something similarly to the Battle.net thread's progenitor: less is less. Aveh, the maker, went on to express his opinion that "having a high and very difficult to achieve level cap is actually a good thing for continued playability. In most games, when you hit max level, you're done. You character can no longer increase in strength other than gear that you might receive. What this does subconciously is actually give less reward for more play time. So when you hit max level, everything you do is less valuable-"

And this is where Bashiok, and the team he represents, begins to disagree (see Bashiok on the Level Cap). Despite that explanation--and other iterations before it--there are still those that explain the "low" level cap with other rationalizations. Raseru, posting in response, may be expressing the sentiments of many when he says that "the level cap is obviously just so in the expansion they can increase it."

Less than an hour later, Bashiok responded:

Official Blizzard Quote:

Why is that obviously the reason? I'm not picking on you, I've seen more than a few people say this. Is it because obviously people wouldn't buy an expansion unless it had more levels? That's obviously not true because LoD sold many copies based on an additional act, new classes, new items, runewords, jewels, charms, cubing, 800x600 resolution, etc. etc. So looking at what expansions provide, how is it logical to say that we'd obviously make level 60 the cap so we could finally have some way to sell these pesky expansion things? If you want to draw the WoW comparison, Cataclysm only offers an additional 5 levels, as opposed to the previous expansions' 10 levels each, and it was still the fasting selling PC game in history, topping the previous title holder, Wrath of the Lich King. And you could make the argument "Well there are a lot of things that go into that beyond just some more levels." And I would say "Exactly." If we felt 99 was the best level cap to have in Diablo III, that's what we'd be doing. We work extremely hard to design, produce, test, and support finely polished games with a strong focus on fun, and that is the obvious reason these design decisions are made.

Let me follow that up with a disclaimer - We aren't thinking about an expansion at all yet, but as levels are intended to pace content (we expect you to hit the last level around when you kill the last boss on Hell) it's not unreasonable to assume that additional levels would be present in an expansion, assuming it did offer additional content we'd want more levels to keep pace with. I don't refute the logic that an expansion could bring more levels, but I fully refute any idea that we're making design decisions that directly impact the core of the player progression system so we can have a bullet point on the back of a box.

Is this a confirmation of higher level caps in expansions? Probably. But since the team is only looking forward to release at this point, perhaps even the current level cap is somewhat in the air. Show everyone what you think about the current level cap here.


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