As M18 preview is approaching, we wanted to take a moment to clarify the differences between ratings and the challenge level of content.
While ratings are a good indication of general difficulty, they do not speak to the challenge level of content. The big example of this would be Tower of the Mad Mage. The rating caps on ToMM are not particularly hard to hit for a player who has 24k item level. Despite this, it is particularly challenging content and this is due to the mechanics and damage used by Halaster.
The new dungeon in M18 is currently 23k IL to enter (although this could change as we go through open beta). Despite this, the critters have higher ratings than ToMM. If someone were to use ratings as the only factor in how difficult they expected content to be, then they would expect the M18 dungeon to be even more difficult than ToMM. And that's why we wanted to make this post prior to preview. The M18 dungeon is easier than ToMM and is more accessible to the general player base. In fact, the M18 zone and the M18 dungeon have the same ratings, yet the zone is certainly easier than the dungeon.
So why do we have a piece of content with a higher item level entry requirement, but lower critter ratings? That is due to two reasons. First is that ToMM was an experiment to see how players would interact with extra challenging content. This content didn't fit neatly into our current progression and because of that it ends up being a bit of an outlier. Suggestions have come up to have a special display/label for challenge content like that and we will likely explore those options in the future.
The second reason is that when M16 came around, we set critter ratings down lower than the ideal amounts to ease the transition over as it would take a while for players to gain a good understanding of ratings and how to gear their character as best they can. As a result of that we are bumping up critter ratings more in new modules than we would just from player progression alone as we gradually close that gap to where the ratings ideally should be.
We encourage everyone who has the time to do so to try out the new content when it arrives on preview and share their feedback.