#1 Posted by TheSpoonyBard (57 posts) -
#2 Posted by TheSpoonyBard (57 posts) -

So I've been playing Dragon's Dogma for a while now, which doesn't have level scaling in the strictest sense. Enemy types change to stronger versions when you level up, but you will definitely get to a level where you can just decimate even the stronger versions. The flip-side, then, is that there are enemies out there that will kill me even in my current (high twenties) level. Because of this, having no level scaling creates an interesting dynamic in the game. Leveling up genuinely gives you a sense of growing stronger, although I imagine it'll eventually get boring when I'll killing everything off in one or two hits.

On the other hand, there are games like Skyrim or FFVIII that do have level scaling, where I'm working just as hard killing lower level enemies at level one as level fifty (well, I guess with all the perks and stuff I would've gotten since, it's not as hard per se, but I'm still working) or how I can kill dragons even from really low levels.  

Thoughts and opinions on this? Are there other games that have particularly bad or good level scaling?

#3 Posted by Ghostiet (5275 posts) -

I always admired what Gothic I & II and Witcher 2 did. In the first two Gothic's, a walk through the woods had to be a frantic run, because there was no way in fuck you could handle 5 wolves at once. At the same time, if you're smart and cunning enough, you could kill a single orc in one-on-one combat. It would be hard, but manageable. Same with The Witcher 2. Because while by the endgame you'll be just running through mooks left and right, it's the whole point - your character has to be powerful. Challenging enemies don't have to be tied to your level in any way.

Level scaling only leads to stupidity. Oblivion was a terrible example and Skyrim is only a little better - the "oomph" of killing dragons is completely lost at some point.

#4 Posted by Khann (2851 posts) -

@Ghostiet said:

the "oomph" of killing dragons is completely lost at some point.

This was one of my issues with Skyrim. You don't exactly feel badass when a dragon has a hard time fighting some guy in some bandit armour and a mildy glowy axe.

Mods have fixed this issue somewhat, but that's really besides the point.

#5 Posted by BraveToaster (12589 posts) -

I expected there to be level-scaling in NG+ and I was disappointed. Even though I wanted to keep playing, I didn't want to have to run around the world completing quests just to get back to the endgame. They should have made a large dungeon that randomly generated enemies in each room. I don't see how people found the drive to hit level 120+.

#6 Posted by Humanity (9257 posts) -

Level scaling is terrible when done completely wrong like Oblivion where it actually broke the game at one point. I'm much more inclined to figuring out on my own which areas are a no go and which I can handle with a bit of finesse. I rather have the thrill of walking up to a beat and not knowing if it will one shot me or will it be a cakewalk. Level scaling just makes everything fodder and takes out any tension from gameplay. You plow through enemies without hesitation because you know the game won't throw anything at you that you can't handle. Much more fun to claim you beat boss XYZ at level 10 when normally you're supposed to face him at level 25 and now you are rewarded with all this great loot earlier on - rather than just going through the game at a steady boring incline.

#7 Posted by yoshimitz707 (2453 posts) -

@Khann said:

@Ghostiet said:

the "oomph" of killing dragons is completely lost at some point.

This was one of my issues with Skyrim. You don't exactly feel badass when a dragon has a hard time fighting some guy in some bandit armour and a mildy glowy axe.

Mods have fixed this issue somewhat, but that's really besides the point.

I still find dragon battles really hard past level 50. The ancient ones can go through my 600 health in like 3 seconds of breath.

#8 Posted by Viking_Funeral (1791 posts) -

Depends. I hate running through areas of low-level goons that harass me, and I have to take half a minute to destroy them. It kind of feels like killing those old pop-up ads. Easy to do, but still annoying. The best fix for that, I suppose, is having them run away... but that's got some immersion issues, and can be equally frustrating when some weird quest requires you to kill those level 1 goblins.

Oblivion is probably the worst example of level scaling. Skyrim was (slightly) better than Oblivion regards to that, but the FMOD for Obilivon was better than Skyrim. A good balance of some level scaling with a variety of monsters and potential for running into major trouble.

#9 Posted by golguin (3928 posts) -

It should be a mix of both for rpg like games. Some areas should have a level range and other areas should be able to keep up with you to continue to provide a challenge. Some games fix the issue by allowing you to NG+ with stronger enemies or NG+ into higher difficulties. I really enjoyed Dark Souls because every new area felt like climbing a mountain. You struggled and struggled until you got a handle on the enemies and finally beat the boss. Then you moved on and realized there was another mountain over there. At the end of the game you feel like you've mastered each area with skill and not with stat boosts. Once you go through the game a few times a lot of the weakest enemies can wipe you out in a few hits so you have to continually stay alert.

#10 Posted by Vodun (2370 posts) -

For me nothing beats the feeling of being completely destroyed by an enemy, only to later return all "Look what I've learned since last time!" and killing them.

#11 Edited by KillyDarko (1888 posts) -

Non-level scaling, definitely.
With level-scaling, 1) you never really feel like your character is getting stronger and more powerful and 2) at the same time, there's also no real challenge-- it sucks either way. So yeah, I voted B.

#12 Posted by demonknightinuyasha (466 posts) -

I chose the 'I'm fine with both' option but really there should have been a fourth option that says "a mixture of the two". I think really the best way to do it is to have areas that are defined as being within certain levels, but to have it scale to a certain extent. So like this area with goblins will scale with you from lvl 1 to lvl 5 but if you come back to it at level 10 you will be a bad ass. That way you don't get the issue of static levels where you tend to either trounce it or it trounces you, but it's not the issue of something like say oblivion where you suddenly have every common bandit running around in the rarest, most powerful armor because they are all matching levels with you.

#13 Edited by Clonedzero (4200 posts) -

properly done level scaling is the best.

without any level scaling, what ends up happening is most fights are either really hard or way too easy. neither fo those are much fun.

skyrim did a good job with level scaling imo. kept the game challenging without being too obvious about it.

EDIT- i actually feel level scaling (well done level scaling, oblivion's was horrible btw) is the best way to do it. i dont need to start fighting rats then only fight dragons at end game, thats crazy talk. that doesn't feel realistic. a hero is a hero. i dont need a huge DBZ powerlevel climb to show that. having normal people become trivial fights sorta ruins most of the game for me. if you're saying you need super magic powers and enchanted armor and weapons to beat a dragon, then what you're saying is the person behind all that gear doesn't matter. a "level" in an RPG is pretty arbitrary. it means nothing. my RPG character at the start of an RPG is the same as at the end, he's the same person, usually only a short amount of time (weeks, maybe months) have passed, why is he suddenly able to do all this stuff? rips you from the story cus some people want a power trip. a level scaling system keeps the world feasible to all creatures and possibilities, while challenging the player.

if you can in context explain to me the difference between a level 1 fighter, and a level 20 fighter without using any arbitrary rpg terms. go ahead. its like the old D&D scenario where an enemy takes a dagger to the throat of your parties level 20 fighter and threatens to cut his throat if he does anything. he says screw it and fights back simply cus he knows daggers only do 1d4 damage and he has over a hundred hitpoints so whats he care? it ruins the immersion of the game when stuff like that happens. when 2 weeks ago in game time an ambush against 5 bandits was a serious threat you had to worry about, is now a game of wack a mole where you one hit everything and they pose NO THREAT to you. its crazy.

#14 Posted by Humanity (9257 posts) -

@Vodun said:

For me nothing beats the feeling of being completely destroyed by an enemy, only to later return all "Look what I've learned since last time!" and killing them.

I think that's the quintessence of a proper Role Playing Game.

#15 Posted by JoeyRavn (4974 posts) -

You know how in Oblivion you could fight bandits in glass armor? That's ridiculous, but I don't dislike level scaling if it's done properly. A mix of both is fine, if you ask me. Have set levels in which enemies can move, so as to allow room for some variety from time to time, but not enough to let them catch up to your level. That way fighting enemies can always be kept fresh, but at the same time you feel like you're doing some progress.

#16 Posted by MattyFTM (14384 posts) -

Both have their place. If you want a truly open world RPG, you have to have level scaling. You can't have a "go anywhere, do anything" game if your low level character is going to get slaughtered if it leaves the early area's. And that type of RPG is awesome. However, more restricted RPG's also have their place too.

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#17 Posted by MegaLombax (391 posts) -

I'd go for non-scaling. I love to grind for levels, and I'd be nice to feel like my efforts paid off.

#18 Posted by Clonedzero (4200 posts) -

scaling should be done with complexity. not with anything else.

some bandits should always be a threat to you. they are humans, humans are obviously capable of killing stuff pretty good. bandits however are undisciplined and such. thus they basically just rush you and only have basic gear, spells and abilties.

now, a "high level" enemy shouldnt be any harder hitpoint wise, but should be harder due to their increased complexity. them being able to counter your abilties, being able to block, having more advanced gear and spells. that sort of thing.

lots of people seem to thing "well if i cant squash bandits like bugs when i get high level, i dont feel the progress, whats the point!". progress should be felt in complexity of your character. the amount of options you have in a fight. having access to more advanced abilities and spells makes fighting bandits easier, but not trivial.

anytime i play a game where i suddenly become a walking god of death to anything lower level than me, its an instant disconnect from the game for me. im no longer immersed in the story, and to an RPG, thats the worst thing possible. it just makes me feel like i'm playing a spreadsheet (oh im level 20, this level 5 creature is no threat, i do 200% damage). how is that fun? thats not a story, thats not a character. if im not a person anymore in the game, but a crazy walking god capable of takign on armies of low level guards, i dont feel like im part of that world, because my character is obviously playing by different rules than the rest of the world. that is BAD GAME DESIGN.

so level scaling is good. purely from a narrative and story standpoint. that is the standpoint any RPG fan should make a priority.

#19 Posted by Canteu (2821 posts) -

No scaling but level ranges.

A +/- range from a base set level is a good way to do it. But never exceeding their max level range keeps them in the correct class of difficulty, while bringing variance to the fights as you encounter the enemy type multiple times.

Example. Goblin base level of 5 but with a +/-3 range, so between level 2-8. Allows you to encounter them early, and get to know them, then as you level they remain a minor challenge, but once you out level their range you still are able to come back and get that feeling of having grown in power.

#20 Posted by D_W (1163 posts) -

Both are fine, but I prefer level scaling because I'd rather feel constantly challenged then over powered. Especially in turn based RPGs where the skill of the game usually is in how you build and equip your characters rather than your ability to act and react. Completely destroying an enemy at any point really takes me out of the narrative and feels to video game-y instead making the world feel alive. Also I find a game tends to be pretty boring and poorly designed if you can ever get the point where you can one shot every enemy. (Like say, Final Fantasy X, where you can get so strong you can one shot the final boss.)

#21 Posted by believer258 (11911 posts) -

@Clonedzero said:

anytime i play a game where i suddenly become a walking god of death to anything lower level than me, its an instant disconnect from the game for me. im no longer immersed in the story, and to an RPG, thats the worst thing possible. it just makes me feel like i'm playing a spreadsheet (oh im level 20, this level 5 creature is no threat, i do 200% damage). how is that fun? thats not a story, thats not a character. if im not a person anymore in the game, but a crazy walking god capable of takign on armies of low level guards, i dont feel like im part of that world, because my character is obviously playing by different rules than the rest of the world. that is BAD GAME DESIGN.

I don't feel like it's a spreadsheet. I feel like my character has learned more about combat and grown stronger; the numbers are just a representation of that tucked away somewhere.

Yeah, it's pretty fun when you can go destroy enemies that once gave you a lot of trouble. It feels something like "TAKE THAT BITCH!"

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#22 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

Depends on how it's done. I've finally gotten Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and i really like the level scaling there. If you're out in the open then all enemies are non-level scaled but if you go into a cave or other location for a quest then enemies scale to your level (if they were lower than you), or at least i think it works like that. I really like that. On the other hand, Oblivion is probably the game with the worst level scaling I've seen or heard of. It's so fucking rigid. It doesn't matter much to me to be honest, i can play both, as long as they're done well.

If you're gonna implement a level scaling system like Oblivion, better not put it in at all. There's no sense of progression, and when it comes down to it, that's one of the cores of role playing games.

#23 Posted by Scooper (7881 posts) -

I do like a more linear RPG. I find them to be more interesting and immersive most of the time.

#24 Posted by ExplodeMode (852 posts) -

I dislike all level scaling. Getting beat up and running away only to come back later and win is a great way to feel progression. Feeling like something is impossible or being afraid of seeing that monster only to have it slowly morph into being easy and that monster being a joke is what RPGs are all about to me.

You could complain that, 'now the game is too easy.' But I think difficulty lowering overtime as you progress, with hard spikes once in a while to keep you paying attention, is something you earn in an RPG. You could say using a better weapon makes the game easier, and it does - but it's supposed to, just like building your character should.

#25 Edited by Tennmuerti (8103 posts) -

Pure enemy level scaling to player is a design copout of a developer being unable to balance their game properly in the first place. It should die in a fucking fire.

I want to feel like I'm getting stronger relative to the same type of enemy, I want to come across tougher challenges in harder parts i'm not yet supposed to be in. And i sure as hell don't want a feeling that the whole world is rubber banding to me all the time. There are better smarter design approaches to keep up the difficulty for the player. The exact same rat/goblin/deathclaw/dragon/whatever should not be giving me the exact same level of challange at the start of the game and towards the end of the game. A dragon should be fucking me in the keister when i'm a lowly peasant in some rusty chainmail. A rat should die when stepped on in my boots of ownage +9000.

That said a hybridization can work for a bit, but if you've been playing games for a while you can quickly find the level scaling obvious. But I am yet to see level scaling done competently in a game.

(yes Skyrim also failed, sorry but the lulzy first initial dragon fights being less difficult then a bear is a prime example)

#26 Posted by TentPole (1858 posts) -

It is really hard to make non-leveling work. But when a developer puts in the effort and gets it right there is nothing better. Leveling is just lazy game design in comparison.

#27 Edited by GTCknight (695 posts) -

@TheSpoonyBard: I voted option B. My reasons are the fact that when I play an open-world RPG, I should feel like its an actual world. As in, if I (early levels mind you) walk up to a skilled warrior and pick a fight; that warrior should straight up kill me without even trying. However, if I were higher leveled (in other words better trained) than that warrior should be the one who dies and I should be the one who barely has to try.

I hated Skyrim I watched the all day marathon on the site and even played some of it at a friends place. I thought it was terrible. In both cases I witnessed a two-handed weapon one shot every enemy on the screen. I even put the difficulty on its highest setting and all that did was make me have to swing an extra time to kill the harder enemies. Then of course hearing how it will simply send in armies of dudes armed with whatever element your weak to.

I've been playing Dragon's Dogma and I love it! The way they did it makes me feel like I'm in a real world. Only a few hours ago I killed my first Drake (the one in the woods down south) at level 40. It was a grueling hard fought battle. I dodged its lunges and flames, I used just about every healing potion I had brought with me (I thought I had enough, I was wrong). But, in the end when I made that last swing of my blade and watched it cut out the Drakes heart; I felt so relived. It felt so good to have killed that thing after having spent days trying to avoid it.

That's the way, I personally think a open-world RPG should handle it. No level-scaling it allows you to really believe your in a fully realized world and not one that's been tailor made for you.

#28 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

Portal 1 and 2 had great level-scaling. At the beginning, you were trapped in baby rooms that opened up more and more and eventually you were sailing across giant chasms like a badass.

#29 Posted by phampire (285 posts) -

Generally I don't like level scaling, a big appeal of RPGs is a sense of progression and increasing power/awesomeness. Different, stronger monsters that pose greater threats is more interesting. Diablo 3 has no level scaling (except for when more players join) so you can breeze through earlier acts and difficulties if you choose to play them. That being said I think that Skyrim handled scaling well and any annoyances can be fixed with mods. For example the Deadly Dragon mod (http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/downloads/file.php?id=3829) keeps dragon fights epic and dangerous but it also adds more dragon species.

#30 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2775 posts) -

I think scaling bosses is fine, and i think you can even scale low level enemies. But I think scales should have limits so that trash enemies can be quickly dispatched.

I think the ultimate RPG would be one based on a real ecology & economy. If you kill a lot of a certain kind of enemy in an area you should not see them as often. You could even have interesting side effect like if you kill all the Wood Goblins they are not there so more wolves hunt, kill all the wolves and there are too many deer and rabbits. Too many herbivores means you cannot collect herbs because they all get eaten. Thus, some goblins you should leave alone, some wolves after you attack them should be allowed to skulk away...so the ecology stays stable.

Kill all the bandits and the roads become safer. Make the roads safer and more trade occurs. More trade means teh cities get more items. More items means the late game of the RPG has more gear to buy. Yet, if you play as a thief you want some bandits to stay around. Less bandits on the roads means more guards in the cities, so working a city is harder as a thief or assassin. Heck even if you play as a noble knight you might want some gossip that can only occur in a seedy bar full of thieves...kill them all and suddenly you access to rumors stops. Everything you do in an RPG for the good should visibly improve things or change things, anything you negligent to do should cause some different harm or some good.

#31 Posted by upwarDBound (654 posts) -

Level scaling when done well is unobtrusive and allows for greater exploration of a game world without having to grind levels.

#32 Posted by MildMolasses (3221 posts) -

I'm very much a non-scaling person. I never play games for a challenge. I come to a game for the story and game mechanics, which is largely why I never play anything beyond the default setting. The exception to this is RPG's which I will almost always drop down to the easiest difficulty setting. The reason for that being that I want to see what the world has to offer and there is nothing satisfying to me about having to struggle through parts of it, especially when it comes to game styles I'm not overly familiar with (ie managing party members in DA:O) Essentially, I want to be able to level up and decimate everything in my way without every single enemy growing stronger with me. I would much rather there be pre-defined difficulty spikes related to new areas which would allow me to level grind until I can yet again decimate everything in my path. If the enemies of DD scaled with me to the point where I was fighting for my life every second I was out in the open, I would absolutely detest every single second of that game

#33 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7617 posts) -

Very much depends on the game. In Morrowind, I loved starting off as a pennyless prisoner, barely able to hit a rat with your sword, but by the end of the game you're at the point where you can kill a god with your bare hands.

In Guild Wars 2 though, you're always scaled down to keep the area you're in and enemies you're fighting against challenging. But that's an MMO, so keeping a good level of challenge and competitiveness is a good thing.

#34 Posted by addictedtopinescent (3645 posts) -

Non-scaling, for all the reasons everybody already mentioned. As someone already mentioned it works best if the enemies have a small level range. I don't hate level scaling though I'll still enjoy games that scales.

#35 Posted by Jayesslee (105 posts) -

I personally think it's so satisfying to encounter an enemy that demolishes you during the beginning of the game and then coming back later to kick its ass.

#36 Posted by RedRavN (400 posts) -

I really enjoyed the sort of hybrid style that was done in fallout new vegas and in dragons dogma. I feel like you have to have some scaling in a truly open world game or clearly mark where the lvl ranges are, otherwise it gets frusterating. Kingdoms of amalur had an interesting method but it was flawed because you ended up overleveling the maximum scale for each region which took away from the fun of the game. I ended up skipping a lot of content so that the rest of the game would not be too easy.

#37 Posted by Svenzon (720 posts) -

I liked a little bit of both. The best way to do it is to have certain areas scale to your level and have some areas where you need to be powerful to survive. Having no scaling at all can be fun, but it can feel very artificial too.

#38 Posted by Chroma_Auron (112 posts) -

I generally prefer no level scaling do to how it adds the thrill of being somewhere you shouldn't and the danger. Games like Gothic 1 and 2 did it well were you were weak and had to grow strong. When you became strong, you still had to be careful as the world was still dangerous but you were more capable of surviving. The games I have played that have level scaling like borderlands never felt different. I never felt stronger or weaker, just the same.

#39 Posted by The_Ruiner (1059 posts) -

I like the Dragon Age style where enemies level within a range. Like enemies can be level 30-50 based on your level, and in some areas they will be 1-20 based on your level. You need to feel like you gotten powerful enough to decimate enemies you were wary of in the past. It's very satisfying. But you also always need a place to go where you might get your ass kicked.

#40 Posted by Example1013 (4834 posts) -

@MattyFTM said:

Both have their place. If you want a truly open world RPG, you have to have level scaling. You can't have a "go anywhere, do anything" game if your low level character is going to get slaughtered if it leaves the early area's. And that type of RPG is awesome. However, more restricted RPG's also have their place too.

Actually you can, MMOs do it just fine.

Anyways, as far as level scaling goes I liked some of the level scaling parts of Oblivion, where as you level up you run into more powerful versions of monsters, but I didn't like the way the random outside-area spawns scaled. People would never leave town if there were risk of running into a Minotaur Lord on the side of the road. I was fine with the powerful Daedra near the Oblivion gates, but I feel like there's a better way to do it than just respawning them every once in a while.

I absolutely hated that Skyrim locked dungeons into a level range after you ran through them, because it offered no reason to go back whatsoever. I'd actually rather have Oblivion's scaling than level-locked dungeons.

Really I think that non-scaling mobs is the superior system, and I believe that with smart design one can account for any possible drawbacks even within an open-world game (even going back almost 20 years Cerulean Cave is locked off until the character beats the Elite 4, although I'd definitely say discouragement is better than outright locking off areas).

But I don't mind level scaling mobs. Really, the one system that I absolutely fucking hate is scaling loot. If I get a unique item, it should be unique and powerful, not one of 5 versions that I'll receive based on what level I'm at when I start the quest. It's really counter-intuitive to make scaling unique items, because that actually punishes me for doing content at low levels and rewards me for blindly grinding out to high level before I take on that content, just to get something cool. It's much more appealing to me if either that content is either locked off until I'm high enough level to use the unique item, or the unique item is locked off until I'm high enough level for it to be comparable to other gear.

#41 Posted by Demoskinos (14835 posts) -

I'm fine with level scaling. I'm always getting a challenge that way. I HATE being insanely more powerful than everything in the game. It makes the combat boring.

#42 Posted by Moonshadow101 (567 posts) -

Both.

Not either, which is different from both.

It's a tough balance to find, but the ideal RPG, in my opinion, manages to both present a consistent challenge and allow you to feel like you've made actual progress. If that balance can't quite be found, I tend to fall on the side of not using level scaling. Makes the world more consistent and my character's advancement more meaningful.

#43 Posted by benspyda (2034 posts) -

I think smart level scaling so that you don't even notice it. Wolves and small animals should be a problem early game but not scale (a level 56 wolf makes zero sense). Human and other primary enemies should always scale so they are always a challenge. So essentially what I am saying is Skyrim.

#44 Posted by RandomInternetUser (6789 posts) -

Just depends on the game, really. Both have their places, but between the two I do prefer non-level scaling enemies.

#45 Posted by Chroma_Auron (112 posts) -

@Example1013: The loot complaint is very true. It kills of interest in exploring and going off the trail or story area's. Borderlands was like that for me where I felt more like I was grinding and wandering around for nothing. Worse was the fixed level loot that would end up being useless because I had leveled high enough, exploring around, where it wasn't special.