I guess we can call early game in ToS everything before level 400. It’s a critical topic for new players, because allowing them to rush to endgame to experience all the new content is a nice idea, but they’ll make the decision to stick with the game for the long haul way before ever reaching any endgame content.
1. The game is way too easy
Killing everything in 1 hit before level 400 is a turn off for many people. Nobody wants to continue playing a game where every challenge that gets put in front of them is easily conquered with no effort. They want some kind of challenge and memorable experience when encountering monsters and bosses in new areas, which is the bread and butter of MMORPG’s instead of seeing everything explode at sight like a Pinata. The way the game feels right now is everything in sight dies as soon as your character enters the screen before level 400. This is neither challenging, memorable nor engaging.
2. Story bosses are not memorable
One of the first things people think about when playing a new MMORPG is epic boss battles. This isn’t the case in ToS before level 400. The story bosses can be killed way too easily and the rewards are outdated and therefore killing them doesn’t feel engaging and rewarding.
3. Make new players familiar with end game content early on
There should be story quests forcing you to do level dungeons, challenge modes, hunting grounds, raid dungeons, ARTS, etc. at least once to make new players familiar with end game content and advertise party play. A simple pop-up window, that everyone closes immediately, explaining everything is not enough.
4. The game has too many maps with no purpose
A possible solution could be to turn deserted maps into fever maps or spotlights with higher monster spawn, end game rewards and boss battles as soon as you enter said maps and progress through the game. This could be done every 50 levels or so as a special event for newly created characters.
5. Your class choices don’t matter in early game
Unless you happen to choose a shop class, or run a full support build on accident in the beginning, there’s no consequence to which class or build you choose before level 400, because everything dies so easily. This was an advantage of the class circle system before Rebuild, where it felt like every circle you took mattered. Maybe it was a bit too extreme back then, so a balance needs to be found. Maybe the scaling of skill factors per skill level can be scaled down at early skill levels, so skills show their full potential later on instead of giving level 50 characters attack skills with 10.000% skill factors.
6. No items you find in early game are relevant for end game
This includes level dungeon drops, unidentified equipment, old equipment with stats, normal drops, rare drops, etc. The only exception to this rule are the rewards from finishing whole episode quests. What is the incentive to farm for new players? There are a lot of players out there that like farming in MMORPG’s, but don’t want to wait until end game to do so. Maybe this can be combined with the fever maps / spotlights I mentioned earlier where one maybe has a chance to get Practonium, Bless Shards, Blessed Gems, etc. This would also be a great opportunity to make low level Hunting Grounds more relevant again. They were intended as farming places, but all of them are deserted except the highest level ones.
7. Stat points don’t matter
Make stat point statues and potions obtained through story quests give more stat points. Why are only certain classes allowed to switch their stat points through attributes? Let’s say, if a Sheriff has a base stat point allocation of 50% Dex, 30% Str and 20% Con, it would add a lot of build variety, if one would be allowed to switch this around and run a Con build with 20% Dex, 20% Str and 60% Con instead.