Funcom released the 1.07.2 patch to the live servers today, which added the new “Offline Leveling” feature to the game.
Senior Community Manager Oliver ‘Tarib’ Kunz posted the official announcement in the AoC forums:
With this new feature you will get additional levels gained over time that can be allocated to characters in the character selection screen if you wish. It is designed to earn and allocate additional levels to gain over time even while being offline and it’s only available to put on characters that are at least level 30.
The system started off today with giving each active account four levels to distribute. Every 4 days from now on there will be one additional level added to your pool. In character selection screen you will be able to assign these levels to any of your characters. The only requirement is that the character is at least level 30.
The mentioned 4 days are real-time days meaning it doesn’t matter if you ever logged in with your account during those 4 days or not, the additional level will be added to your pool. It is a requirement though that your account is active and has a running subscription.
If all your characters are level 80 and you can’t therefore use these additional levels at the moment, you will keep on gaining levels but won’t be able to assign them to a character unless you start a new one and that one reaches level 30.
It’s important to mention that this feature is completely optional. So you could also choose to never assign any additional level from your Offline Character Progression pool to any of your characters.
Please note: once you have assigned a level to a character it can not be reverted. Customer Support would not be able to take that level away from your character and add it back to your pool. So please be careful when assigning these levels. There is also a button to assign all available levels to the character currently active in the character selection screen. Please make sure you have the correct character selected when using this option.
Naturally, the bloggers and posters who don’t play the game saw this and went off half-cocked on the idea. Shocking, I know; I never would have foreseen that type of reaction…
Here’s how it’s set up. As the announcement stated, all accounts received 4 levels today. Every 4 days, another level is received. Despite the phrase “offline leveling” the timer is running whether you are online or offline, the only requirement is that you have an active subscription. The login screen now has an Offline Leveling frame at the lower left where you can choose to apply accrued levels to any of your characters who are level 30 or higher.
I will only say this once: everyone who bashes this idea had also better bash EVE Online for their offline real-time skill training system.
While giving entire levels seems a bit extreme, in the end the base concept behind this isn’t much different from the Rest XP everyone loves in all the other MMO’s. While you’re logged out, your character is “resting” and accrues a bonus to earned XP. The longer you’re logged out, the more Rest XP the character earns. Bonus XP means you level faster, right? Now consider this: other than playing 24/7 you have no way to avoid Rest XP if you wanted to slow down and smell the roses. Everyone else who sleeps, works, etc. is going to build up a little or a lot of Rest XP and during that time will level faster than they would otherwise. In LOTRO, for example, many players use their Destiny Points to buy additional Rest XP.
In contrast, Funcom is putting control of the situation in the hands of the players. These “bonus levels” are not simply tacked onto your character; you have to specifically apply them yourself. Otherwise, nothing changes for your game if you choose to not use them. It’s not like your character you haven’t played in a year will suddenly be level-capped and you lost out on all that leveling content.
Furthermore, it would take 200 (196 for existing characters who got the free 4 levels today) days to get a character from level 30 to 80 using only offline leveling. That’s 200 days of subscribing to the game, paying Funcom their $15 per month, but not playing that character and not using those offline levels for anything else. If you play that character, he’ll earn XP and level on his own, and I’ve already mentioned that AoC’s new leveling speed is perhaps too fast already. With those considerations, is this really all that game-breaking? No.
So what is this good for? For a long time I’d heard of content gaps where players had no choice but to grind several levels. This may have been great for skipping that, though I hear there’s pretty much content for every level bracket now. Personally, I’d be tempted to skip the Tortage experience on an alt but there’s the level 30 minimum to apply the offline levels. My Bear Shaman is level 35 and I’m dying to get him to 40 so he can get a mount, but this being my first time through the game, there’s no way I’m going to apply any of the offline levels to him. So for me and Firjanon, this new system means bupkis. For veteran players who may want to skip quest chains they didn’t enjoy and help get their alts to end-game where they want them, this could be a great boon.