Ashes, Endgame, and The Neverending Story
Cross-post from another thread regarding Ashes putting an end to endgame:
[This is] essentially a never-ending theory discussion until we actually receive in-game statistics.
What I mean by statistics is, strength, will, dexterity, health, mana, energy, etc. For players as well as pve monsters/creatures. I also think that armor and weapon stats should be included. And most importantly: progression.
Will it be like d&d? In terms of raw stats, a Rogue could potentially have 12 Strength at level 1, and still only 12 Strength at level 20, or even in to epic levels. It's also possible for one of the most powerful dragons in the game at a Great Wyrm age/size to have less than 10 Dexterity.
So if the leveling system only really adds one or two character stats every 3-4 levels, then progression will have to come from other areas: skills, abilities, spells, items, magic, etc.
As a different example, in many of the original RPGs, such as Final Fantasy - it's possible to "beat" the entire game without ever reaching max level. Of course, max level makes things much easier and faster to deal with.
Sooo, if the story never really ends, then there's no "end game". And if almost everything is going to be open world, then really clever or skillful players will be able to compete with a min/max character, or still able to provide a benefit other than a numbers game.
A different example: Nexus TK is a game where once you reach max level (level 99), you sell your character's accumulated experience for more stat points - health and mana in particular. There's essentially no limit to how much health or mana you can have - and since many abilities are based on health/mana, there's no limit on how strong you can be (basically). However, a crazy stat warrior will be able to kill things MUCH faster and more efficiently than a Rogue. So much so that the only purpose a Rogue has at the high-end stat game is to lay down traps that benefit the warrior. This also means that a very low stat Rogue can do the exact same job as a high stat one - the only difference being the high health/mana Rogue has more survivability.
This actually relates to the discussion of DPS meters. If the classes are balanced around utility instead of numbers - then it's possible for a lower level character to raid high-end content if he/she is adept at bringing their utility. Based on all of the discussions about the Bard - the entire class is essentially built around its ability to help other classes. So if a level 4 bard somehow has the ability to afford a maxed-level buffing spell ('cause we don't know if there's level restrictions on anything - only node-level restrictions based on accessibility), it should still be useful to bring that level 4 bard to the hardest raid there is - assuming he/she can survive.