Please note that we will be mostly waiting for the full NDA drop before we post updated information on Alpha-1, but we will continue to post information that has specific citeable sources from Intrepid.

Zones and progression

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Dungeons, Raids, World bosses, Mobs, Quests, Events, Resources, Narratives and other content within a node's ZOI will have a diverse level range; but will scale with the advancement of that node and its racial influence.[1][2][3]

We don’t have a strictly level 25 zone. Instead, that zone might have some level 10 creatures near the road, some level 20 creatures deep in the forest, and some level 30 creatures up the mountain. These ratios will change based on the Nodes that inform them, becoming generally more dangerous as the Node grows. All this civilization attracts the attention of Things-That-Should-Not-Be. This does not mean that wilderness areas are safe, by any means. Some may be safe-er, but all will have dangers that even the most experienced traveler needs to watch out for.[4]Steven Sharif


Alpha-1 early iteration of the level-up effect by Jim Sanders.[5]

One of the cool abilities we all love seeing and gives us a major dopamine response is when our character levels up.[5]Steven Sharif

Leveling won't follow a traditional linear path, although classic mechanics for leveling exist.[6] Experience (XP) is gained through a variety of activities:[7]

A character's level will be visible to other players.[8]

There will not be level boosts or auto-leveling.[9]

As part of our ideals as a game we're not going to give boosts away. We're not going to auto-level up a character. You have to spend time acclimating yourself to what this game is, to what the world that you're part of is; and that's an investment- a time investment; and that plays towards our ideas of risk-versus-reward; and I've always said our game's not going to be for everybody and that's okay.[9]Steven Sharif

There won't be any damage dampening due to differences in levels in either PvP or PvE.[10]

If I have a skill that does a thousand damage to a target of equal level I don't want my skill to do zero damage to a target that's five levels above me.[10]Steven Sharif

End game

There is not going to be a typical end-game in Ashes of Creation.[11]

Part of the whole experience with nodes is that there is no real end-game, in that the world is constantly shifting every day. Month one is going to be really different from month two; and that's for the level 50s and level 1s.[11]Jeffrey Bard

We want the game to be a living game, which means that all content should be relevant at all times. I’d say that we try to make as little distinction between the leveling up experience and the end game experience as possible. The whole journey is important to us, in order to maximize the fun people have during different stages of the game.[12]Sarah Flanagan

Level cap

The level cap at launch is expected to be approximately level 50.[13]

  • The developers anticipate max level should be attainable in approximately 45 days if you play roughly 4-6 hours per day.[14][15]
  • Alpha-1 has progression to level 15.[16]

Lower level characters will have usefulness in mass combat (such as Node sieges) that is not directly dependent on their level, such as manning siege weapons, helping repair fortifications, bringing proximity-based buffs to key positions, using stealth or scaling walls. These types of things are relevant to the tide of battle and do not require the player to be max-level or have high combat stats.[17]

The idea is not to be a game where somebody can essentially no life for a week and be max level. The idea is to incorporate some significant chunk of time but still respect the casual player, because you know the way we respect the casual player is not everything is driven in our game through the adventuring progression line. Not everything is driven through your class level per-se. There's a lot of different progression paths that are available and make you relevant within certain systems and mechanics within the game; and some of those paths are more casual friendly and some of those paths are more hardcore friendly. So with regards to the adventuring class, the idea is to make sure that investment needs to be pretty significant and that the reward then is respective of that investment.[14]Steven Sharif

Class progression

  • The player can then augment their primary skills with effects from their secondary archetype.[18][19]
    • Each skill in the primary tree will have several augment options from the secondary tree. This is an example of horizontal progression.[19]
    • Augments to primary skills can fundamentally change the way the ability works - adapting what the ability once did to incorporate the identity of the secondary archetype/class.[12]

If a Fighter were to choose Mage as a secondary archetype, the fighter would become a Spellsword. This combination opens up augments that can be applied to skills in their primary skill tree. Fighters have a Rush skill that allows them to rush towards a target; and upon reaching the target, deal an amount damage with a chance to knock the target down. A Mage's escape augment could be applied to the rush skill, which would now teleport the player to the target; thus eliminating the charge time on the skill.[19]

Class progression does not relate to a player's artisan progression.[26]

World events do not directly impact class effectiveness but there may be ancillary effects in terms of availability of equipment, enchantments or tattoos.[27]

Zone of Influence

Nodes are pre-set locations, wrapped in a zone of influence (ZOI).[28]

Every Node is given purview over a predefined geographic area called a Zone of Influence (ZoI). No matter where you go in the world, whether you’re questing, gathering, or raiding, you’ll be helping determine which nodes will develop, and what Zones of Influence will expand. Any area that a Node controls is considered its Zone of Influence, including Vassal Nodes, and all Vassal Nodes exist within the Zone of Influence of their Parent Node.[3]Margaret Krohn

Every node is given purview over a predefined geographic area called a Zone of influence (ZOI). Player activity within the ZOI is weighted and counted toward a particular node’s advancement.[28]

The main thing that differentiates us from other MMOs is that we have a living, breathing, reactive world... Our world is separated into zones, which are then separated into what we call nodes. Nodes are sort of invisible zones of influence that listen to everything that a player does; so as players gain experience from killing things, gain experience from doing quests, gain experience through crafting things, the node is also gaining that experience. Once a node gains enough experience it levels up and then starts to attract NPCs to it .[29]Jeffrey Bard

Each Node can form into towns, but are limited by their neighbors. The Nodes have different levels of advancement. There can only be so many of each level. Think of this as advanced settlements needing more elbow room. Nodes encompass more land as they grow and will require more effort to be sustained. This system is a main driver for change in the world because it creates scarcity. As Nodes advance in stages of growth they will lock out neighboring Nodes from progressing, and will absorb their zones of influence.[28]

There is not a space where you will move in to do something and no node will get that experience.[31]Steven Sharif

Node advancement

Conceptual illustration. Nodes that are in the ZOI of more advanced nodes have their progression capped by the more advanced node.[36] ZOIs will likely be irregular shapes in the game, the circles depicted here are just for the purposes of illustration.

Beginning at Node Stage 3, when a Node advances, it enslaves nearby Nodes and makes them into its Vassals. Vassal Nodes are owned by a Parent Node and must always be at least one Node Stage below the Parent Node. This means that the Vassal Node cannot grow until the Parent Node advances in stage. Vassal Nodes give excess experience to their Parent Node, and are able to have their own Vassals, as long as they fit within the Parent Node’s Zone of Influence. They are subject to the government, alliances, wars, taxes, and trade of their Parent Node, and are able to receive federal aid from them. A Vassal Node cannot declare war on their Parent Node or any of its Vassals. Citizens of Vassals are bound by the diplomatic states of the Parent Node.[3]Margaret Krohn

Citizen and non-citizen player activity (questing, gathering, raiding, etc.) within a node's ZOI counts toward that particular node's advancement (progression) to a higher node stage.[37][38]

The Development Area of a Node is where civilization will appear as the Node advances. As the Node Stage increases, different buildings, NPCs, and services will become available in the Development Area. The higher the Node Stage, the more complex and populated the Development Area becomes. Development Areas will also vary depending on the Node Type - Economic, Military, Scientific, or Divine; we’ll go into further details on each of those Node Types in future posts in this series.[37]Margaret Krohn

The advancement of a node unlocks its unique content, which comes at the cost of locking out an increasing ring of neighboring nodes from progressing to the next stage.[39]

  • Nodes advance to the first stage quickly. This enables NPC services such as vending or banking items.[40]
  • The more advanced the node is, the larger its ZOI becomes.[41]
  • Less advanced nodes (referred to as vassal nodes) that fall within a more advanced node's ZOI can still gain XP, but must remain at a lower advancement stage than the dominant node.[36]
  • The territory expansion algorithm takes into account the nearest coast, neighboring nodes, and the heatmap of players in surrounding areas over the last weeks or month.[44]
    • Due to the way the progression algorithm calculates territorial (ZOI) expansion during node advancement, there is a small possibility that two nodes of the same stage end up being close to each other.[45]

The way that the algorithm expands the territories takes into account a few things: One it takes into account the coast like where's the closest coast. Two it takes into account the neighboring nodes so it can take over and essentially vassal state those nodes, but what's more important is essentially the initial population based on like how players choose their races. Because we have nine different races and four different starting points that branch out, each server's population density is going to dictate essentially the first few nodes that are highly populated and then that initial seed is what's going to determine the node structure as it moves inland into the into the world essentially; and based on the performance and successes of different sieges will determine which nodes that got locked out from the previous the initial advancements what nodes can now be available to advance further. So I really think that with so many variables that are present in the equation of how nodes advance and stay existing with the more variables you have, the higher likelihood there is for there to be a significant diversion in world progression.[44]Steven Sharif

Normally the algorithm that's applied to the node territorial expansion will prevent significant nodes from being in close proximity to each other... There could be a perfect storm where all of the algorithmic progression of territory leads to having these nodes very close to each other because there's certain requirements that should that need to be available to satisfy node vassal takeovers; and it's possible that two nodes would never take each other over as vassals and end up kind of close together and spanning their territories in kind of opposite directions: The Tale of Two Cities kind of thing.[45]Steven Sharif

  • A node does not receive XP from the nodes within its ZOI until these nodes have reached their cap.[36]
  • Players are moved to safety if they intersect with newly spawned assets during node advancement.[46]
  • Citizens of one node can contribute to the advancement of other nodes.[47]
  • The exact percentage of advancement from obtaining items or killing monsters is not going to be explicitly known to avoid "gaming" the system.[48]

Different people have different resources invested in nodes progressing and it would be a little "gamey" if you could know exactly what was necessary at that point because that would disincentivize people from participating.[48]Steven Sharif

Vassal nodes

Village (stage 3) or higher nodes enslave nearby nodes, converting them into vassal nodes.[3][43]

  • Vassal nodes must remain at least one node stage below their parent node.[3]
  • Vassal nodes give excess experience to their parent node and may have their own vassals; so long as they fall within the parent node’s zone of influence.[3]
    • If a node is capped and is both a vassal and has its own vassals, any experience earned from itself or its Vassals is first applied to its own deficit. Experience beyond that is then sent to its parent node.[37]
  • Vassals are subject to the government, alliances, wars, taxes, and trade of their parent node, and are able to receive federal aid from them.[3]
  • Vassal nodes cannot declare war on their parent node or any of their vassals.[3]
  • Citizens of vassals are bound by the diplomatic states of the parent node.[3]

If a Node is a Vassal Node and is capped from advancing further, it first applies any experience earned to its own deficit (see Node Atrophy section), and then applies excess experience earned to its Parent Node. If the Parent Node advances and the Vassal is able to grow, it becomes uncapped. If a Node is capped and is both a Vassal and has its own Vassals, any experience earned from itself or its Vassals is first applied to their own deficit. Any experience beyond that is then sent to its Parent Node.[37]Margaret Krohn

See also


  1. Interview, 19 July 2020 (19:35).
  2. Livestream, 15 May 2017 (30:53).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Blog - Know Your Nodes - The Basics.
  4. Interview: Ashes of Creation on Building Their Virtual World, 13 April 2017.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Livestream, 31 July 2020 (1:05:58).
  6. leveling.png
  7. Livestream, 24 May 2017 (46:27).
  8. Livestream, 25 July 2020 (1:33:37).
  9. 9.0 9.1 Interview, 13 June 2021 (48:27).
  10. 10.0 10.1 Livestream, 25 July 2020 (1:34:55).
  11. 11.0 11.1 Video, 5 April 2018 (40:08).
  12. 12.0 12.1 February 8, 2019 - Questions and Answers.
  13. Livestream, 15 December 2017 (58:48).
  14. 14.0 14.1 Interview, 8 July 2020 (1:07:59).
  15. Livestream, 24 May 2017 (19:25).
  16. Livestream, 30 April 2021 (41:18).
  17. Interview, 8 July 2020 (1:12:51).
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Interview, 18 July 2020 (1:05:04).
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 progression.png
  20. 20.0 20.1 Interview, 29 July 2020 (54:44).
  21. 21.0 21.1 Ashes of Creation class list.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Livestream, 28 July 2017 (19:05).
  23. archetypeclass.png
  24. Livestream, 3 May 2017 (50:50).
  25. Livestream, 18 July 2017 (37:43).
  26. Livestream, 31 July 2020 (1:31:11).
  27. Podcast, 11 April 2021 (54:35).
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Node series part I
  29. Interview, 20 April 2018 (7:22).
  30. Ashes of Creation FAQ.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Livestream, 9 July 2018 (39:32).
  32. Livestream, 29 March 2019 (58:14).
  33. Livestream, 29 March 2019 (29:17).
  34. Livestream, 5 May 2017 (37:52).
  35. Interview, 11 May 2018 (55:16).
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Livestream, 16 October 2017 (50:20).
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 Blog - Know Your Nodes - Advance and Destroy.
  38. A reactive world - Nodes.
  39. Video, 20 April 2017 (0:02).
  40. Npc vending.jpg
  41. Node series part II – the Metropolis.
  42. 42.0 42.1 steven-quote-neighboring-nodes.png
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 jahlon-steven-vassal-nodes-quote.png
  44. 44.0 44.1 Interview, 18 July 2020 (10:04).
  45. 45.0 45.1 Interview, 8 July 2020 (1:00:15).
  46. Livestream, 17 November 2017 (55:27).
  47. node xp.png
  48. 48.0 48.1 Livestream, 26 May 2017 (28:16).