WoW has reinforced for me, in ways I had nearly forgotten, the way that levels swamp all considerations of skill or even sanity. This is especially striking coming off a long binge of Team Fortress 2, where a good headshot kills anything.
Level-related modifiers stack to make it pointless to play outside a narrow range. It would be enough to have the numbers get larger with every level, as they do, so good luck using that 50 damage attack against the 200,000hp enemy. Most games add a modifier based on level differences: it is not just that you get higher stats and better accuracy as you level, but also that you have a bonus to hit lower-level targets, with a corresponding penalty against bigger targets. You also face reduced damage against them, above and beyond their improved defenses, while they get those benefits against you, the lower-level target.
Let’s linger there a moment. Long long ago, City of Heroes had its “purple patch,” which imposed level modifiers. Your 50 damage attack against the 200,000hp enemy would only do 20 damage, and that was before applying the enemy’s defenses. Even if you could take down higher level enemies, it was not worth it for the time involved. (And, just in case you found a time-efficient way to do it, much higher level enemies yielded less or no experience.) WoW feels similar. Asheron’s Call assigns levels to enemies but intends them as rough guides to how powerful they are, with modifiers to experience gains but not relative effectiveness.
This makes fighting an even-con elite easier than a higher-level normal foe. Sure, it may have three times as many hit points, but I do not have an arbitrary accuracy penalty, so I can hit the thing. I can kill a caster six levels higher than me, but it takes a few minutes, and I could get the same reward from killing two lower-level foes in half the time.
I am open to the notion that WoW looks this way due to the way weapon skills work, rather than some additional penalty. A level-based hard cap on weapon skills creates the same effect.