This is a major flashback to 3.5, when the ranger got an animal companion in the same way druids did, but at one half the level progression. With twelve classes in the 5E player’s handbook, balancing them against each other would have been a challenging task.
But there are only two or three specializations for each class.
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So a level 17 wizard/1 cleric can cast ninth level spells from both classes. Edit: There’s been some confusion of how this works, so here it is with more detail.
Page 164 of the mutliclassing rules states: “You determine what spells you know and can prepare for each class individually, as if you were a single classed member of that class.” It then gives an example of wizard/ranger, neither of which prepares spells like a cleric does.
Back on page 54 of the cleric class rules, after explaining how you choose a list of cleric spells to be able to cast, the book reads “the spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots.” Note that it does not say “cleric spell slots.” Then back on page 164: “You determine your available spell slots by adding together all your levels of bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, and wizard…” So when you’re preparing your spells as a first level cleric, you can pick spells of any level for which you have slots, which in this case will be levels 1-9 because when you combine your class levels together, those are the slots available to you for casting.
The paladin is also pretty high in the ranking but only because it can cast spells.
The difference in rest lengths is also tricky to manage.
If the party can afford to rest for an hour, they can usually rest for eight hours.
If you play a sorcerer, you get to choose between dragon blood and wild magic as the source of your power.
Both sound really cool, but the dragon blood is unquestionably superior.
Making them comparable to each other shouldn’t have been that difficult.