In many games with Character Levels, you'll probably never reach the highest level possible. Maybe this is just because of scaling and pacing of experience, and the game simply isn't long enough for you to naturally reach the maximum level. Can make a player wonder why the developers bothered to make such a pointlessly out-of-reach level cap.
The common "endgame level" tends to be around the "halfway mark", usually. In some games, this is actually where your stats begin to max out anyway.
Note that this is not just about games with really, really high level caps, but for games where poor pacing of experience means you won't get anywhere near it without absurd amounts of Level Grinding. A game can have a level cap of, say, 30, but if you reach about 15 by the end of the game, it counts. (Likewise, if the level cap is something like 999, but is easily attainable by the end of the game, this trope does not apply)
Note that Tropes Are Not Bad. This can be a useful gameplay feature for games with very open-ended and sandbox-like gameplay. It makes it hard to predict what level the character will be by the time they get around to finishing the main storyline or simply get bored of exploring. If the player reaches the maximum level beforehand, a part of the game will have stagnated, thus taking away from the experience. After all, what is the point of receiving a reward in experience from a quest or mission if you have already maxed out your level? In addition, some players see a rather high level cap as something to accomplish before they are truly finished playing, provided it does not require days of repetitive grinding for little to no payoff.
Contrast Absurdly Low Level Cap, although the two are by no means mutually exclusive.
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Most of the Metroidvania iterations of the Castlevania series end with the main character around level 50 (and the max being 99).
In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the hardest respawning enemies in the game, the Guardians, only give 1 exp when you get to about level 70. After that, there's no point in grinding anymore. You take out the last boss in a few hits way before you reach 70. If you really want to try to max out your level after you hit 70, you can abuse full-screen hitting attacks in rooms with 10+ enemies, but even that takes close to an hour to get a single level.
In Harmony of Dissonance, once you hit level 53, all non-boss enemies are worth 1 exp (and all bosses get to this point at level 59). Reaching Lv. 99 after that would take over a year of just killing bats.
In Order of Ecclesia, after you beat Hard Mode Lv. 1 (the level cap is set at 1), you unlock the highest level cap, that being Lv. 255, as opposed to merely Lv. 99. Once one reaches around Lv. 80, even an entire run through the story won't get you even one level.
First Person Shooter
Halo: Reach, while having the average-ish 50 ranks, requires 20 million experience points to hit the level cap, the distance between rank 49 and 50 being 3 and a half million alone.
Played with by the Call of Duty franchise, starting with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (well, the console versions; PC didn't get to do that until Modern Warfare 2). Players are able to level up (the cap is different for each game), unlocking new weapons, support equipment, and Perks as they go. At the maximum level, the player has the option to "Prestige", reverting to level 1, essentially starting again. Later games use this to unlock unique cosmetic elements and extra Custom Class slots, but the early games simply let you start climbing the ladder again, up to five times, not really gaining much of anything for your trouble.
With Call of Duty ELITE for consoles, it's now possible to have your 1000 hours of gameplay time actually shown to the world. Plus, though Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 started with 10 Prestige levels, people were getting to Prestige 10 and had nothing further to show, so it was increased to 15th Prestige, then now 20th Prestige. At 80 levels a Prestige, that means leveling up 1600 times. Which means, when something goes wrong and an account is hacked or data lost, you better believe there will be people calling Customer Support. (Who, except in cases of mass resets or widespread viruses, can do absolutely nothing to modify in-game stats. It even says as much on the Support web site, but with 1000 hours of playtime, you can't really fault people for trying.)
Battlefield is a somewhat notorious case for this - Battlefield 2 in particular has the average player go through about sixteen ranks, but the low amount of points gained per kill makes it take forever to actually rank up without going to specific point-farming servers (the requirements, in fact, were actually lowered when it was discovered that the highest-scoring player account would take two years to reach the highest rank).
Subverted in both Borderlands and Borderlands 2: both have a starting level cap of 50 and the Final Boss area only has enemies around level 32note Gaining 18 levels increases your health by about a factor of nine and Anti-Grinding makes that kind of level advantage almost impossible to obtain.. However, the New Game+ starts where the first playthrough left off and goes exactly to the level cap.
Hack And Slash
In Diablo II, the pace of experience slows down to a crawl by the mid-80s. A handful of people do reach 99, but it takes an insanely long time. Most characters will have attained optimal skills long before this.
This is because shortly after it was released, Diablo II ended up with hundreds of Level 99 Hardcore Barbarians on Battle.net, much to the chagrin of the game designers who were certain reaching level 99 in Hardcore (where dying even once permanently ended your game) was impossible. Several nerfs to the signature Barbarian skill (Whirlwind) were applied, only for other game-breaking abilities to be uncovered in other character classes. Finally, they simply applied a patch that set all experience gains for level 80 or higher characters to be 1/10th normal, all past level 90 to be 1/100th normal, and past level 95 to be 1/1000th normal (most non-boss enemies, even on Hell difficulty, give only one experience point per kill at that level). By mathematically guaranteeing that players would need to kill 10 enemies per second, 24 hours a day, for nearly a year to go from level 98 to level 99, they finally succeeded in killing off interest in attaining the maximum level.
Its sequel Diablo III also applies. Pre-patch 1.0.4 the cap was at level 60. Patch 1.0.4 added 100 extra "Paragon" levelsnote (which permanently increase your character's Gold Find and Magic Find in addition to the usual stat increases) on top of that, so yes, the cap is now at level 160. Considering that monsters are the same when capped at level 60, you can guess how hard is to get level 160 (the game designers try to make it as hard as getting level 99 in the previous game). To put this in perspective: it takes about 23.5 million XP to reach level 60. Getting to Paragon 100 requires nearly 10.5 billion XP - enough experience to level 445 characters to the original level cap.
After patch 2.0, though, the level cap on paragon levels is entirely gone, meaning the player can keep leveling up into infinity. Even then, after a certain point, the levels become mostly meaningless. Each paragon level now gives the player a chance to level up one of sixteen stats, and each one can only be leveled up fifty times, except for a base damage stat and a defense stat. By Paragon Level 800, the player will have maxed out every stat except the base stats, so grinding past that point will result in a (by that point) insignificant stat growth, when the players characters are so strong, they're basically unkillable.
The original MMORPG example was Asherons Call — the level cap was logarithmic, with the hard cap on experience being 4 billion at level 127. Given that the game was launched at the same time as Everquest, which had a level 50 cap, this was rather jarring for the time. It took most of a decade for any character to actually reach the cap, although MMORPG inflation made it easier a few years after that. A later update changed the cap again — to 4 billion experience points per skill, putting the actual level cap near 300.
In Phantasy Star Online, you can plausibly play through the entire story on even the highest difficulty level at about level 80 or so, especially if you're playing online or multiplayer. The level cap is 200.
It isn't as bad as it seems. There's no diminishing return. Rather, people rarely hit 200 because you have SO MANY CHARACTER SLOTS
Well, that and the fact that, even earning XP at the fastest possible rate, it takes close to 1000 hours to reach the Level 200 mark...
To give an idea of how ridiculous Phantasy Star Online is for this trope, Level 200 requires 82 million experience points in a game where enemies on the highest difficulty seldom give more than 400 XP a pop. And thanks to the exponential experience requirements for level-ups, you pass the halfway mark to the level cap at Level 182...
If there's a level cap in Kingdom of Loathing, no one's found it yet. At around level 130 even the Hopeless Boss Fights are doable. Of course, generally players with levels that high have automated level-grinding.
For those who think 130 is on the low end: The game was originally designed to be beaten at level eleven, with a major overhaul in 2007 increasing that by a whopping two. As for actual ability, let's just say a properly-prepared player could beat Her Naughtiness well before level 13 if the game let them try.
They have actually been nerfing the naughty sorceress' actions and priorities and such since, but players keep plugging away and finding ways to 'beat the system' so they don't need to use the wand. One of the more interesting discoveries was that bleed damage carried over from the second battle. One person ended form 2 with heavy amounts of bleed. At the time only two bosses had multiple forms, and so this wasn't ever really looked at. By using bleeds up til round 28, and keeping the NS from removing the buffs with a potato, then attacking to beat the form before the 30 round limit, one player managed to 'roll over' the damage into the 'first round' of combat vs the sausage, the round you typically automatically lose before you can make a move. Bleed damage was applied first. And cumulativity was a bug. These are no longer the case.
The de facto level cap is 256, as a result of unsigned integers being used to store player stats (in Kingdom of Loathing, a player's stats determine their level, not the other way around). Not that it counts for much, since you can dominate almost anything the game can throw at you with a primary stat of 845 (level 30); level 256 requires a mainstat of sixty-five thousand and takes years of powerleveling to attain.
In Lost Souls MUD, the maximum level is 675. According to developers, the limit only exists because of integer overflow problems on XP values, and if anybody were to actually reach level 675, experience would be re-implemented using floating point math, removing the cap.
EVE Online has close to 400 skills, which while only have 5 levels each, can take upwards of a month or more to max each skill.
Depending on how you set up your characters, it'll take 20+ years to skill up everything to level 5 if no new skills are ever introduced.
In Mabinogi, reaching the level cap is most likely impossible, as the ideal way to level is by rebirthing back to level 1 every week or so, adding to the total level. Some say the total level cap may exceed 9000.
Apparently, the "current level" cap is 200. The exploration level cap is definitely 25. But all that really matters for are those who seek to gain as much AP as possible in as little time as possible. The maximum you can get each week while still having a life outside the game doesn't even get close to the cap until your total is many thousands high and your character a veritable engine of destruction already.
In Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE, the level cap is 97 (98 in the japanese server), but to get from 95 to 96 you need more experience than from 1 to 95. And then to get from 96 to 97 you need two times the experience you needed to go from level 1 to 96.
Bots, before it got taken down, had a level cap of around 2900.
In the Third-Person Shooter MMO S4 League reaching level 100 and "S4" rank requires 63,703,100 EXP. The most experience you can gain from a 30 minute match is 1280 exp so it is estimated that you would need over 1036 days of continuous nonstop optimal playing. Of course, Alaplaya has included an Anti-Poop Socking that would cut off all exp and pen gains after playing 8 hours per day. Luckily levels don't matter at all obtain weapons which are given out for free or purchased at the shop for extremely cheap prices. The only things that are affected by levels are the channels players can participate in and clothes that change the appearance of the player. All clothes give the same bonuses so levels stop mattering at all after level 20.
Everquest now has a level cap of 100. This may seem low compared to other games in the genre, but keep in mind that, even with the regular "exp smoothing" administered to the game in recent years, it still takes an absurdly long time to reach that 100 cap. And that's not even getting into Alternate Advancement points, which, while easier to get than general levels by a wide margin, only have a theoretical cap (and one imposed by the game on silver accounts) that inevitably expands each time an expansion hits whether or not the level cap is raised. Everquest II has a very similar system.
If there is a cap in Dungeons of Dredmor no-one has found it yet, you can comfortably beat the game in around the mid 20 range and you stop gaining stats from your levels if you don't have anywhere to spend your skill points, so even if you grind, your level ups become pointless at around the 30+ mark. At ridiculously high levels◊, the XP bar will begin freaking out and demand more XP than a player is ever likely to gain across all their characters and then start rolling back to zero if you keep going. The jump from 98 to 99 alone takes 197828720 XP. The game just was not built with anyone reaching those kinds of levels in mind.
Ancient Domains of Mystery only has character levels go up to 50, but weapon skills, on the other hand, go from 'unskilled' to 'grandmaster'. Most PCs will never reach grandmaster within the span of a single game, but those that do are unbelievably fearsome with their chosen weapon.
Role Playing Game
Secret of Mana does this two different ways, the first cap being with character levels. The level cap for the three playable characters is 99, in a game where you can comfortably finish at level 50, and HP will max out at about level 55 or so. Past level 60, the characters become powerful enough that the enemies in the final dungeon are pathetic, even without magic spamming.
Dragon Age: Origins has a level cap of 25, which is impossible to reach without the Elfroot grind or Ostagar exploit. Getting to level 20 gains you a class-specific achievement, while new characters in the Awakening expansion start at level 18. Awakening itself is an aversion, however; if you import a level 25 character, it gives you just enough content to go up to the increased cap of 35 before the Final Boss.
Dragon Age II plays it utterly straight again. The level cap is 50, which has only ever been reachable through a since fixed bug exploit; in a single playthrough, you can go up to level 25, tops, which is about one fourth of the XP needed to reach the cap. The likely explanation is that the cap was set with future DLC campaigns in mind, but all planned DLC levels after Mark of the Assassin (including an Expansion Pack) were Cut Short.
Hyperdimension Neptunia gives you the option of this. The default level cap is 99 and you'll have opened up every purchasable item and be strong enough to pound all the foes if you hit it. DLC gives you the option of bumping it up to 999, so you can max out every stat for every character and improve your odds at the DLC dungeons.
In the Pokémon games, you're likely to beat the EliteFour with Pokémon around level 50 or so. Later generations have added endgame content that will probably bring your Pokémon up to level 60-70, even though the level cap is 100. Of course, Red and Barry have teams in the 80s.
In Golden Sun, the highest tier spells are learned at around level 54 and you can go up to 99, but you only need to be about level 30 to defeat the final boss of the first game, while level 40 is enough for the final bosses of The Lost Age and Dark Dawn.
Legasista has a straight-up hellish level system. You can beat the game at around level 40 to 50, if you find some good equipment in the random dungeons. Those same random dungeons are the best way to grind exp, and getting to the level cap of 99 is hard, but doable. Then the curveball hits you: the actual level cap is at 999, but the level curve increases a hundredfold after 99. Why? According to the game itself, "so that you wouldn't feel like the EXP you gain at max level isn't wasted." Oh, and there's six classes for each character to max out, as well. And you'll likely want to run a three-man party for the most of the game.
Fallout is generally more likely to fit Absurdly Low Level Cap, but the second game plays the trope straight with the level cap being set to 99. That is outright impossible to reach with a character not geared for it (high Outdoorsman skill and all related perks) because of the in-game time limit of 13 years. Without Level Grinding, it's entirely possible to finish the game before reaching level 24 where the two best perks become available - or if you go for Sequence Breaking, you can finish the game at level 2 (not counting the tons of XP gained during the final mission). Oh, and all skills max out at 300% which is Awesome, but Impractical as nothing in the game have skill checks above 150. Finishing the game has one NPC rewarding the player with a cheat item that can be used to powerlevel.
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, while there's an achievement for reaching level 50, you can go beyond that if you keep increasing your skills. However, all your stats max out at 100, meaning that while there's no level cap in theory, in practice, you're not getting past level 81. And even the cap of 81 is absurdly high; you can finish most of the game's quests long before that, after level 40 or so that level-up bar moves at a snail's pace, and the enemies' levels usually cap somewhere between 40 and 50 (the Volikhar Master Vampire has the highest possible cap at 53). The highest level character in-game is the Greybeard Arngeir, who has a set level of 150. The Dawnguard expansion includes an achievement for killing a Legendary Dragon, which only start spawning at level 78.
Of course, due to Good Bad Bugs, it's possible to see your friends play the game as a level 81 very, very, early in-game.
Patch 1.9 adds a new feature that basically removes the cap altogether. Once you've got a skill to 100, you'll have the option to reset it to 15 (and get all your perk points in that skill refunded), allowing you to level the skill up again and ultimately increase your character's level past 81. The game even keeps track of how many times you've done this with each skill. With this change, you would need to reach level 255 to acquire every single skill perk. And you can still level up beyond that, though it has no benefit whatsoever, and every level after level 255 is an Empty Level. In theory, there's no level cap, but enterprising players have discovered that having more than 255 unused perk points crashes the game, making the effective level cap 510. For a game in which the highest-level killable enemy (the Ebony Warrior in the Dragonborn DLC) is level 81.
Mass Effect 1 has a level cap of 60, which is impossible to achieve in one playthrough (because levels 51-60 are unlocked by beating the game) and difficult to achieve in two (because of the ridiculously high amounts of experience needed to gain the last 10 levelsnote it takes more XP to level from 59 to 60 than it does to level from 1 to 45).
Mass Effect 3 increases the level cap back to 60 (once again impossible to achieve in one playthrough), but with a twist. Your Mass Effect 2 levels carry over intoMass Effect 3, meaning that a max-level character from the second game will start the third game at level 30. However, this trope still applies; a level 30 import Shepard that does everything possible in the vanilla game will end up somewhere in the mid-50s, meaning you either have to start a New Game+ or get at least three story DLC packs (From Ashes, Leviathan, Omega) to reach the cap. There is an achievement for that, but it can also be unlocked by reaching level 20 in multiplayer, which does not take nearly as long if you focus on leveling a single class.
255 is the typical level cap in the Star Ocean series. The Last Hope breaks this tradition by dropping it down to 200; however, earning half of the Battle Trophies of a character bumps it right back up to 255. Then again, when you're trying to defeat bonus bosses with millions of HP, and earn Battle Trophies that require inflicting max damage, you'll want every last stat point you can get.
While the first Paper Mario averted this trope (level 27; just above what you'd end with) Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Super Paper Mario, and the Mario & Luigi series play this straight. In both cases, the cap is 99 (100 in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time), but it's not needed to achieve 100% Completion. The Amazy Dayzee in both of the pre-Wii Paper Mario games is the only enemy that will give the necessary Star Points to do so, however. This isn't hard to do in the first Paper Mario, since these creatures only appear in one predictable place and give enough Star Points to max your levels early on, but doing so in the Thousand Year Door requires supreme patience. Just maxing out badge points alone to 99 requires 32 level-ups; a few more than you'd typically beat the Final Boss with.
Bowser's Inside Story also about halves the effect of each level up after 50, making it even more pointless. Doesn't help that you need to keep resetting the final dungeon to even find enemies worth fighting for more experience. However, once you get to "rainbow rank" you can kill most bosses in one hit.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has this with its level cap. In theory, it's level 100, but in practice... not only does the effect halve as you go up, but the amount of experience required to get there means you'd have to spend an additional 60 or so hours just grinding to reach it. In a game which usually takes about 35 hours to complete. On the bright side, if you do get there, even the final boss dies in one turn.
In the Kingdom Hearts series, you'll likely reach the end of the storyline around level 50, while the level cap is 99. There are usually a few Bonus Bosses that require you to level grind a bit, however.
Birth by Sleep takes this even further. The game is split into three storylines, in which each protagonist has to start at level one whenever you start their story, regardless of how many playthroughs you've already finished. In order to avoid having to grind back up whenever you start with a new character, the storyline is meant to be finished by the time you're in your low 30's, even though the maximum is still 99 like the previous games. Even then, one of the game's bonus bosses can be beaten quite comfortably at level 50. The other, not so much.
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded has a level cap of 99. While that's not unusual, the amount of EXP required for higher levels is. In total, about 10,000,000 EXP is required to get all the Level Up chips.
Of course, it is possible to double the effectiveness of each Level Up chip, effectively allowing the player to reach level 99 when he has accumulated the experience to approximately reach level 50.
The Tales Series usually has a level cap of 255. Game content typically lasts you till level 50-60, EXP modifiers notwithstanding. Even with 10X EXP though, you're liable to still only be in the upper 100s by the endgame.
In Digimon World 3, the level cap is 99, but most Digimon can achieve their unnecessarily powerful top-level Digivolutions by about level 60-70. While the final boss does require massive offensive and defensive power to beat, by that point in the game you have access to items which can boost your attack power and other parameters without having to fight, so it's entirely possible to beat him at level 30.
In Digimon World 4, the cap is 999. Even playing through all three difficulty levels, you're unlikely to reach 300.
In The World Ends with You, you end the game around level 50, and the max is 100. You'll probably have to do a lot of grinding to finish the post-game content, though levels aren't very important; they only increase your HP, Bravery, and ability to adjust drop rate by temporarily lowering your effective level.
Knights of the Old Republic had a level cap of 20, which could easily be reached halfway through the game if no experience was missed. Complaints of this probably led to the second game having a max cap of 50. Of course, it was very rare for players to hit 30 before the end of that game, making the extra twenty somewhat superfluous (it is possible the level cap was set with some of the Dummied Out content in mind, especially as the developers were quite willing to finish up some of it and release a patch re-adding it), though its possible for Dark Side players to exploit a glitch that spawns infinite enemies and (tediously) reach that cap.
KotOR II was advertised as not having a level cap, which for all practical purposes is true. It probably would be literally true if the game engine supported it, but levels can't be procedurally generated; all information on leveling up is stored in (obviously finite) tables.
Planescape: Torment seems to have NO level cap, though it's pretty much impossible to get an insanely high level without exploiting glitches. You're only supposed to beat the game at the high 20s (and if you don't use glitches you won't get much higher). With an hour of glitch exploitation, one can go as high as level 200. The experience for one level up caps at 250000, and very late level ups won't give much more than increased health.
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, with its XP cap of 8,000,000, which means level 31 to 40 depending on class. Normal finishing level is maybe a bit under thirty, and the cap is so absurdly high for 2nd edition Dungeons & Dragons rules that even the new special abilities introduced in this game can't make for meaningful content for so many levels. Wizards cease to gain any new powers at all long before the maximum.
The original Final Fantasy I applies if you're using an average strength party. The final boss can be beaten at level 25 or so well before the level cap of 50. If you're playing with a weaker party (say all mages) or playing a duo or solo run, you're grateful for the ability to level. Even at level 50 a solo Thief or Black Mage has a hard time beating the final dungeon.
Final Fantasy X plays this straighter than the rest, given the nature of the Sphere Grid. And that's not even considering if you want to start replacing nodes with the HP needed to max out your counter while using the "Break HP Limit" weapon skills. There's actually nowhere enough nodes on the entire grid to max all stats including HP and MP even if you go through the 100-1000 hour effort (depending on how many leveling-up shortcuts you abuse) of clearing all nodes and replacing them with optimal versions and activating them with all characters, so. Depending on if you count the practical level cap or the theoretical, it's either absurdly high or unattainably high.
It also plays it straight with blitzball players' levels. The cap is 99, but you can easily win all of the important items that blitzball has to offer by a much lower level. Players only gain XP by performing actions (passing, shooting, making a save), and considering the length of BB games, few players will gain that much each match. Higher-level passing and shooting abilities increase the amount of XP per action, but they require substantially more HP to perform, and since HP goes up with level, low-level players can't abuse the highest-level abilities to level up quickly. Probably the fastest way to get a full level 99 team is to move the two players lined up as defenders as close to each other as possible and constantly spam the best passing move they can handle, making sure to rotate different players into those spots if one wants to keep the team evenly leveled.
Final Fantasy XI is currently capped at 90 and will be raised to 99, though for the majority of the game's lifespan the cap was 75. And boy, did you need all 75 of those levels.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance had its max level cap to 50, so the average level for an end game party was about 30 to 35. The sequel had the level cap to 99, so most parties would be around level 50 by the final boss.
Final Fantasy XIII was both an aversion and a straight example. The game capped the Crystarium (essentially a Skill Tree whose nodes have to be purchased by spending Crystogen Points) and expected you to have unlocked all available node by the time you unlock the next Crystarium stage after a specific plot event. On the other hand, it eventually opened up side portions of it that you weren't expected to use until the post-game, and the post-game complete cap removal requires grinding to take advantage of.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 on the other hand, is a complete aversion. You will max out your characters in the process of getting 100% Completion without ever needing to grind for it.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII seems to be all over the place with this: while there's no traditional levels to speak of, your stats naturally max out at 5000 Strength, 5000 Magic and 50000 HP. These are also your permanent maximum base stat values, which you can increase by completing quests multiple times in New Game+. However, all equipment directly increases your stats and thus counts towards your normal maximum stats, but even with that, you're lucky to reach 2000-3000 in either stat with every quest completed and endgame equipment on your first playthrough: this is where the said New Game+ comes in, which gives you an option to double your maximum stats to 9999, 9999 and 99999 respectively and greatly strenghten your equipment, but even with those benefits, it'll take a good while to max out even a single one of your stats by finishing said quests multiple times, especially since every one of them gives you a smaller stat increase after the first time you finish them.
Final Fantasy Adventure can be beaten at level 40 with some effort and the best equipment. If you took the time to level up to around 50, the final boss becomes much easier. At level 60+, you can win with your eyes closed blindly swinging your sword. However, the level cap is 99, which requires an absurd amount of time to reach given the EXP gains of the enemies in the last area.
For NetHack, the experience level cap is 30. This sounds reasonable for a fifty-floor dungeon; but, around experience level 12, conventional methods of level-gaining - kill stuff - are no longer efficient. A more regular interval emerges for experience levels 20+ but getting from 12 to 20 looks daunting on paper. A wily player has to develop other strategies to compensate for the growing violent horde while scraping together whatever other experience levels they can for the endgame.
NetHack's monster-scaling algorithm means that avoiding leveling past the minimum required (you have to be level 14 to unlock part of the main quest) is a viable strategy, as being a lower level means weaker monsters will be generated.
Etrian Odyssey played with this trope just a bit in its first game; The player's level cap is 70, but beating the story final boss can be done at slightly lower than 60. However, its Bonus Dungeon pretty much demands you to use all those 70 levels. However, this is played even straighter in the sequels: The level cap has been increased to 99, but not only you should be able to beat the main game at 50-60s, your characters' level cap is also 70 at natural, but can be increased by retiring those characters which resets their levels but ultimately increases their level cap by 1 per retiring. Yes, you need to retire your characters 29 times plus one last time to give a maximum stat bonus to finally reach their level cap.note If you want to do the math, that means you need to raise your character to 69 + (29 x 55) + 69 levels...... that's 1733 LEVELS The third and fourth games are slightly more merciful - defeating each of the Bonus Boss dragons increases your level cap by 10 (or 9 for the third). But then again, even with grinding someone to lv 99, retiring them and doing it again to get the maximum number of skill points possible, you still can't max out every skill.
Played straight in the story mode of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, but averted for many of the optional areas. Just like in the main series Pokemon games, your level cap is 100. It's entirely possible to beat the main story at level 40 or lower, and the post-credits storyline doesn't require you to be much higher than level 60. But there are still a lot of dungeons even after that, and you will need to be at or near the level cap for some of those.
The earlier Rune Factory games had a maximum level of 99, far beyond what you needed to complete the game. Rune Factory 3 bumps this up to 10,000.
Zoids Legacy has a level cap of 99 despite the game being easily finishable in the low 20s.
Present in the Suikoden series as a whole. In fact, it may be one of the more extreme examples. You see, in the series, each new level requires 1000 EXP to reach—the catch is that the amount of EXP awarded to a character after any battle is calculated based on the character's strength/level vis-a-vis that of the defeated opponents. Fairly soon, monsters that gave a good chunk of EXP required to reach a level will give out a mere pittance, and even the hardest encounters in the game will eventually yield a mere 5 EXP per encounter (the average minimum possible EXP). When, precisely, this happens depends on the individual game in the series, but it's usually somewhere in the 60s or 70s, for a game where the level caps at 99. Only the most determined Suikoden players will see characters that have reached level 99, and probably no one has done it legitly with the large number of playable characters (since not all of the 108 are playable) ...
The level cap in Legend of Legaia is 99. Even with extreme grinding, the levels granted are stingy, and you'll probably beat the game somewhere between levels 35 and 40. If you want to beat the obnoxiously difficult Bonus Boss, you'll want another ten or twenty levels on that. If you want to complete That One Sidequest and actually get usable Juggernaut magic, you are required to be at level 99. Even grinding every single day for a few hours, that will take a long time note An optimized strategy grinding nonstop from level 45 to level 99 requires about 20-22 hours of pure tedium, and it can require much, much longer if you don't know what you're doing
In Chrono Trigger, the level cap of 99 is impossible to reach without serious grinding, especially if you want to do it in a single playthrough. It's possible to reach about 50 to 60 if you complete every single sidequest in the game and exploit time travel to run through the Dark Omen several times. Lavos can be beaten at this point without too much trouble. Grind your way up to 99, however, and you'll be basically unkillable. New Game+ is the most fun way to grind, but Crono will probably max out far before everyone else.
Chrono Cross takes this straight into Anti-Grinding territory. The level cap is 99, and you only gain a level after defeating a boss, with some minor stat growth for a few battles after each boss. The maximum number of levels you can gain in a single playthrough is 48. Meaning, if you want to hit the level cap, you'll need to beat every boss in one playthrough, start a New Game+, beat every boss again, beat the game again, and start over for a third time.
Interestingly enough, the levels themselves also have a secondary use: for every level you have, that character can cast a summon spell once if they have one equiped, which consumes one of the stars signifying their levels and which they get back by sleeping in a Trauma Inn. Their stats don't seem to decrease even if they're down to their last star, though.
Clash Of Heroes: Depending on the campaign, you'll be around level 7 to 9 when you reach the final boss after completing all the sidequests, out of 10 possible. If you want to get experience, you'll have to find an area with random encounters and walk around until you trigger them. Random encounters rarely are higher than 7, so this takes a while. Better yet, you might have to do this for your units as well if you need to use one you haven't used much before (or simply haven't had access to yet).
Name any Idea Factory/Compile Heart game. Anygamethey made. Chances are, the level cap is going to be at 999.
In Ys VI, the highest level is 60, but the EXP values drop to 1 for all enemies at level 55, so it takes many hours of grinding to reach the cap, which you need to do to beat the Bonus Boss.
In Dragon Quest I, the level cap is 30 at 65535 EXP, but you can curbstomp the Dragonlord well before then, around Level 24 (you need a minimum of Level 20 to have the least chance at beating him).
And in Dragon Quest IX, the level cap is 99; you'll be needing over 65535 XP per level when you get much past 50! Oh, and did I mention that XP is not shared between vocations (classes), so you could be a level 99 warrior but only a level 1 mage? And you can reset back to level 1 if you want, in order to get more skill points and a "special" item related to the vocation...
Cheaters in Progress Questindicate a memory-allocation-based level cap of 2^31, possibly amended to 2^15; a lower one for non-cheaters might exist, but reaching level 99 requires over 20 real-life years of continuous "play" (in a game launched in 2001), so it doesn't make a whole lot of difference.
In Anachronox, the maximum level is 99. Reaching this level, however, is nigh-impossible. Enemies don't usually respawn, so you can't kill them over and over for experience. Add on to that the fact that the game uses Dynamic Difficulty, and it's basically a useless cap.
Xenoblade has the usual level cap of 99, but the endgame level is around 80, higher than pretty much every other game with that cap. You'll also want to hit the cap for some Bonus Bosses. (Especially since the bosses go up to around level 120, and because the level difference between you and the enemy heavily figures into whether you can even hit the enemy successfully and vice versa.)
The Witcher has a level cap of 50, yet reaching this level requires far more experience than you would get from completing every quest and killing every boss. Getting anywhere above level 40 in a full playthrough is not only time-consuming, but unnecessary, since you gain less experience from killing enemies per level and you'll have gained enough talents to comfortably finish the game well before then, anyway.
Both Demons Souls and Dark Souls have a level cap in the low 700s range (around 709-713 depending on the starting class). Both games have you normally ending your first playthrough in the low 100s with their 60,000+ soul requirement, with amount of souls needed to level near the cap being in the millions. And due to the Diminishing Returns for Balance of raising stats in both games, it is utterly unnecessary unless going for a specific build.
While Dark Souls II goes beyond its predecessors in sheer number by having a max level of 838, no matter which of the eight starting classes is chosen, it's actually less relative to the amount you'll be reaching (endgame is usually around mid-late 100s) because the cost of leveling up compared to the amount of souls enemies drop is less than it was in the previous games.
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale has two level systems: Merchant, and Adventure. The game is designed to take advantage of the New Game+ system that sets in if you ever finish the storyline or fail to pay the required amount of money needed each week. Each adventurer can level up to 99, which can take many playthroughs of the story, and even being level 99 is no guarantee that your adventurers will survive the Bonus Dungeon's Boss Rush mode. As a merchant, you gain more perks such as larger inventory, a larger store, and other benefits to help you make more money. The merchant level cap is 99, but the added privileges stop at level 50.
Guardian's Crusade had a level cap of 65535, even though you'd probably be facing the Final Boss at around level 50. This limit is likely due to it being the maximum value representable by a 16 bit integer.
Touhou Labyrinth can be beaten with characters in the 100+ range. The post game Plus Disk content will probably require a level upwards of 500. The actual level cap is far higher than that.
In Sequence the Bonus Boss is typically beaten and the game 100% completed around the mid to late twenties depending on your luck with item drops. The technical level cap is 34, after which it takes ten billion experience points to reach the next level and being insane enough to actually reach it would probably cause the game to crash.
In Resonance of Fate, completing all the side quests and playing through the game in a normal fashion will let your characters reach somewhere between levels 80-90, which is more than enough to take on the final boss. However, the level cap reaches all the way to 300, with a maximum of 100 in each weapon (handgun, machine gun, and hand grenade). Reaching at least 200+ is vital for having any success in Neverland and the highest arena stages. Unlike other examples, though, levels have absolutely no bearing on stats other than total hit points: The game has no armor or defence mechanic, so you'll always take the same damage from a level 1 Mook at the beginning and end of the game, and increasing your characters' attack strength comes from customizing your weapons.
In Terranigma, the level cap is 50; the exp cap is 999,999. But you reach level 50 at 802,435XP, so the last nearly two hundred thousand experience points are purely for Bragging Rights anyway. To further add to this, most players will typically finish the game between levels 33-37 (experience range of 80,000-100,000).
The level cap in Soul Blazer is 50. That sounds low, but the amount of experience required to get there is impractically high; you have to reach the cap of 99,999,999 (that's one less than one hundred million), when the strongest enemies give a mere 4,000. For comparison, level 25 requires a total of 150,000 experience — and at that point your attack and defense are the highest they can get without accessories, and your HP bar has already reached its maximum length and changes color instead to signify additional HP. Your Hit Points max out at level 47 (59 million XP), and after that the levels do nothing at all.
Parasite Eve has a weird case of this. The cap is 99, but you learn your last ability in the early 30s, and the high 30s require a ridiculous amount of EXP (around 200,000!). However, once you reach level 38, level requirements become far, far lower (a mere 4,500 EXP).
It's also and odd case since leveling up only increases your HP and other base stats by a few points. The majority of your stats come from tweaking your weapons and armors, which they can all be capped to 999.
Sailor Moon: Another Story has the typical level cap of 99. Hitting it without cheats takes ages, as higher levels require progressively larger amounts of EXP. However, you only need to be around level 40-45 to survive the last few battles, and anything above 50 makes most characters almost godlike (in fact, at level 48-49 some of them start to hit the HP cap, which is 999).
Mugen Souls has a level cap of 9999, similar to Disgaea. However, it's not made by Nippon Ichi but instead, it's from Compile Heart in collaboration with G Crest.
Might and Magic IV and V: World of Xeen has a very high level cap you will never reach, and it's not because of a lack of XP — rather, you have to train your characters for an exponentially increasing fee to advance in level. Monsters and treasure never respawn, so there simply isn't enough gold in the entire world to reach the cap.
In Live A Live, the level cap is 99 - for a game where each character's final skill is learned at level 16 and the hardest bosses can be comfortably beaten in the mid twenties.
In EarthBound Zero, the level cap is 99. It takes over 100,000 Exp. points to get to this level, and you can beat the game at levels 25 to 30. Also, Ninten and Ana learn their final PSI moves at level 35.
In MOTHER 3, you'll likely finish the game with most of your party around level 60 when Lucas and Kumatora learn their final PSI. The level cap here is also 99.
The level cap in Golden Sun is 99. Your typical player will still only be in the upper 20s/lower 30s at most through normal gameplay by the final dungeon, even if you've pursued every side quest and defeated the Bonus Boss.
This is mainly because the game and its sequel, The Lost Age, were meant to be one game. The Lost Age still applies here though as the cap is still 99, and you're likely to be in the 40s/50s by the end of the game. While you may want as many levels as possible for the Brutal Bonus Boss, most of the main strategies for beating said boss involve summon spamming, where the only stat that matters is whether you are faster than the boss or not.
This is a constant in Role Playing Games developed by Zeboyd Games. Breath of Death VII, Cthulhu Saves the World and the last two episodes of Penny Arcade Adventures stop granting skills to your characters at level 40, but if you keep grinding nothing prevents you from going to infinity and beyond. Penny Arcade Adventures does not have ways to reliably level up beyond 40, however.
In Lennus II, the level cap is at it's usual 99. However, it is possible to finish the game in the mid 30's due to it's absurd experience requirements for the next level. Made even worse when you realize that the game splits experience among your party members. Even good battles will give Farus and his party not enough experience as the endgame was designed to be beaten around those levels.
Given the level of late-game enemies and bosses, and when the major persona selection starts to peter out, Persona 2: Innocent Sin sets you to reach the mid-to-high 60s out of a possible level cap of 99. There are a couple very high-level personas up near the cap, but due to the limited enemy selection it is a grind. If you're mad enough to do it, you've earned the Game Breaker awaiting you.
In Heartache101, the player's stats can be raised up to a cap of 100. The three uses of stats are to pass storyline checkpoints (which use a simple "Is the stat higher than this value" pass-or-fail check), to give correct advice to girls when asked (where points in the relevant stat increase the chance of Ferdinand's advice being correct), and to determine how many relationship points are gained when spending time with girls. Storyline checkpoints never require any value higher than 50, advice will reach 100% chance of being correct somewhere between 50 and 60, and it is possible to max out relationship values for girls without any stats ever even reaching 50.
Both Cursed Treasure flash games have a very high level cap, but the highest level you'd ever want is Level 41, as that's the minimum level needed to max out all the skills. However, the most EXP gained from a single map is nearly 1,700 (at least, that's the case for the Level Pack), and since EXP needed for the next level is current level x 100 note for example, EXP needed for Level 18 is 17 x 100 = 1,700, that means repeating that map many, many times. Worse, you'll likely get a Brilliant rating on all the maps way before maxing out all your skills!
Turn Based Strategy
Nippon Ichi games like La Pucelle Tactics have ridiculous level caps where you can get to 9999 even though the maximum level needed to win the game is around a hundred. You actually do need huge levels to kill the Bonus Boss, however.
Disgaea is a great one for this. Level cap is a whopping 9999, but you can easily finish the main storyline around 80-100. Of course, no one really goes straight through the main storyline, so levels are usually 200 or so for endgame. The other 9799 can be gotten with New Game+ fairly easily, though, since you get access to some awesome high-level areas. Also take into consideration the Reincarnation system, which can be used to restart a character at level one with some of their previously gained skills and increased stats. The level cap can be hit several times over.
Phantom Braveescalates since you can level both weapon AND character, meaning you can beat the final boss (and probably the first bonus boss) if you have the optimum skill/weapon/created character loadout for such a task at around 40/40, some have gotten it as low as 30/30 (Pump those weapon HP skills!) And not only is the max level 9999, but, while the highest character re-creation level in Disgaea gives you 10 extra skill points per time, Phantom Brave can give you as many as 255 skill points each time. A character that has gone to 9999 twice at 255 points each will likely hit the 'true max.' It also supports an extra digit in the stats column. (at this point any attack resembles the scores from Gigawing) Here as an example is a 9999999 attack mage.
Since the release of the Epic Level Handbook in Dungeons & Dragons 3.0, there literally was NO level cap. You could make a level 1 million wizard if you took the time out to do it (although it would be useless because no sane Dungeon Master would ever let you use it, or put the time into running a campaign where it could be used), but still technically possible.
In practice, it's difficult to get a character from level one all the way to twenty. In a pencil and paper RPG, real life tends to disrupt the game before that point and if you're lucky you have a group that can play once a week. Be grateful if you have a DM motivated enough to keep the game going that long. Also, modules and monsters written for this level are less common. For this reason, Pathfinder hasn't yet released rules that go beyond this level (aside from a brief few paragraphs for just in case.) And their adventures paths take characters from level one to about level sixteen.
The third-party Immortals Handbook contains encounters and adventures for characters of levels well into the hundreds. One wonders the kind of screwed-up XP charts that would result in such an insane level system existing.
The power level stat in Exalted, Essence, has an soft cap of 10. Most magical beings (including the majority of player characters) begin their existence with Essence of 2 and have relative caps. The most common way to increase Essence is through age and extensive meditation — until a character is 100 years old, they may reach up to Essence 5 with each increase taking months equal to the new rating. To reach Essence 10, the character must be several thousands of years old and devote a year of nothing but meditation for the final enlightenment. Characters can go on world-saving (or destroying) adventures even at Essence 5. Theoretically, one can go for higher Essence ratings than 10, but the authors do not see the point of providing rules for those eventualities.
The old BECMI Dungeons and Dragons series had a level cap of 36 but you can evolve into a four-dimensional immortal being with the last ruleset, Immortal, telling you how to play this. You can then reach the top of the of the immortal hierarchy and become leader of your faction. However, there is more, if you become leader of your faction and give away all your power to be born a perfectly normal mortal and succeed in becoming a immortal again and then succeed in becoming leader of your faction and then give away all your power again, you will apparently be hunted down and destroyed irrevocably. This has only happened twice ever in the history of the immortals. You are not really destroyed, but recreated as something called an Old One something that is to immortals what an immortal is to a human -way to powerful for a human to imagine or role-play so the game ends. The Immortal module, however, hints that there is something beyong even Old Ones. Reaching this would require a LOT of time and a Dungeon Master who has a even more time and a lot of creativity since he must create almost all the Immortal level material and adventures himself.
In Esgrima Online, You could reach a level above 100. The highest level players are around the 105-150 level.
In Monsters' Den: The Book of Dread, There is no real level cap, As long as you keep going deeper and deeper into the Den of Endless Evil (That you reach when you complete one of the two story modes).
Bleach Training has a 3-Digit level cap of 999, although you can finish the game at around level 80 or so.