When I was looking into whether I wanted to take EQ2 for a spin, one of the things that caught my attention was the practice of "level locking". EQ2 offers a pair of toggles to disable exp from killing enemies, exp from completing quests, or both. The latter option still allows exp gain from discovery and some other sources, but cuts off the vast majority of experience. This intrigued me because it seems so counter intuitive.
The whole paradigm of the persistent MMORPG is to spend time to get character progress, the most visible form of which is in the form of experience. EQ2 doesn't really have WoW-style level-capped PVP brackets (it does offer some level-capped repeatable quests for faction), so why would players decide en masse that they wanted to THROTTLE their exp gain at a time when most companies (including, in the view of level lockers, SOE) are working to INCREASE the rate of exp gain?
What's so bad about leveling too fast?
There are two major issues associated with fast leveling in EQ2.
The first, and most important in my view, is out-leveling content. I'm going to hit level 20 having spent my teens entirely in a single zone. The catch is that there are five zones with content in that level range. That isn't true all the way to the level cap, and I will probably be back on alts somewhere down the line. That said, I'm largely here to experience the game, and missing a large chunk of the game (and/or playing it after it has become trivial) seems counterproductive.
The second issue is that it is hard to keep up with various non-experience areas, such as crafting, gear, and alternate achievement points (EQ2's talent equivalents, earned via completing quests and discovering locations on the map). Though I suppose that lagging in these areas can help add some challenge back into the game, you are going to want to catch up eventually, and that can end up feeling grind-ish if you try to do it all in a sitting.
How did this happen?
The current situation is not entirely without its merits - it certainly makes things easier on classes that are not solo powerhouses (such as my Dirge, a class better known for providing major buffs for party/raid members than for solo prowess). Still, one might wonder how the game got to the point where I'm even asking if the experience is coming too quickly.
The answer may lie in EQ2's focus on group/raid content. Though they do offer a full-featured mentoring system (high level friend temporarily drops down to group with low level buddy), the group content that's getting the most attention is the stuff at the level cap. Just as Blizzard has done, it is easier to skip players past the existing content than it is to reinvigorate the older stuff, and that goes double for a game that wants a greater focus on group content but may not have the low-level population to support it.
Still, one has to wonder whether it's in the long-term best interest of the game to put players in the position of potentially skipping so much of it. Perhaps the majority of serious new players are jumping in to join their friends in raiding, but I find it hard to believe that I'm the only one checking the game out for its leveling content. I love my incentives enough to start a whole blog about them, so when even I am considering voluntarily cutting my exp gain in half in order to see more of the sights, that might be a bad sign.