[GW2] Scaling

SynCaine is right: Guild Wars 2 does not scale perfectly when you visit lower-level zones. As you might expect, a level 30-something scaled down to level 4 is still more powerful than a level 4, and then the content was balanced around level 2-3. I confirmed this when I took a low-30s elementalist into Queensdale and one-shotted elementals with Arcane Blast. Fast-leveling guildmates also report feeling much more powerful in WvW as a 50 scaled up to 80 than as a 10 (also scaled up to 80); this reminds me of WAR scenarios, where you knew you were going to lose when half your team queued up a the minimum level. Scaling does not overcome the fact that higher level characters have more and better gear, traits, and abilities.

Some of that may be a factor of the small numbers involved. This is not hard math: 2 is half of 4 but only 10% of 20, so a two-level difference means a lot more at level 4 than 20. Visiting areas in the teens and 20s, the difference seems less severe, although I have not tested it vigorously. I also expect there to be some scaling tweaks in place by the time we have enough level-capped characters to test scaling over its full range.

As usual, I would like to point out that City of Heroes solved this problem years ago. Your entire group is set to the same level. You can set the content to whatever level and group size you like. Here you would scale the characters rather than the content, but the principle is the same. City of Heroes faces the same problem, that a level 50’s enhancements make him/her far more effective when scaled down to 20 than a level 20 character is, but you can always choose to adjust your challenge level if you want a more authentic level 20 experience.

: Zubon

22 thoughts on “[GW2] Scaling

  1. spinks

    I don’t see this as a problem, honestly, because a lot of the time I’d be downscaling would be to farm lower level crafting materials and while I don’t need mobs to fall over when I breathe on them, it’s not a bad thing for those fights not to be too hard.

    And if I’m going to lower level zones to hang out with friends and help them, it’s not a bad thing to be able to tackle the group events. So I think it’s appropriate for Anet to err on the side of keeping downscaled people on the more powerful end of the scale.

  2. innuendo

    I fail to see the problem as well. They never said it would be as hard and they always stated you would be stronger still, but not auto roll insta gib the whole map.

    I think part of this, more than anything, is you are going down the very first zone in the game. In addition to the mobs there being lower in stat they are also simpler. The level 10 mobs never did a knockdown or a dodge or avoid aoe, the level 25 mobs do all of those things to some degree, and more so for the level 50.

    I was face rolling the starter area at level just because if you know what you are doing the content is tuned to be played by someone who isn’t (level is irrelevant here since it’s not the only metric arenanet uses for scaling difficulty across zones).

    Not to mention, I think the biggest part about scaling is not the content challenge. It’s nice i’m not invcible in low level zones, but that’s not the real reason level scaling is so smart. I scale down, but the reward scales up to my level. I went back to help a friend who purchased after me in his starting zone and I got level appropriate gear and 2 levels of XP just for being in a new zone with him. I was 20 levels above the content, and yes I was more powerful, but it was still worth my time to be here.

    (edit: and this was all accomplished transparently. I didn’t have to, as in CoH go into a menu and pick my level and their level and set it up. The game seamlessly handled all that for me and my friend. I think this is better than CoH’s implementation)

    The hyperbole from syncaine there is pretty severe. To look at only one facet of level scaling and call “fail” is pretty, I don’t know a better word, childish. Strange too, his stuff tends to be more level headed than that.

  3. Chris

    I imagine it’s part of the reason why you scaled down to a level _over_ the maximum for the part of the zone you’re in. You’re _supposed_ to be more powerful than the new adventurer experiencing that zone “at level”: you’re a seasoned fighter who is (ostensibly) returning to areas he/she has been before.

  4. bhagpuss

    As I said in a comment on SynCaine’s blog, I would think this would only appear as a problem to the type of player that’s unlikely to stay with GW2 long-term in the first place. I think GW2 will appeal largely to a much less goal-oriented, achiever demographic than most end-game-focused MMOs and the long-term playerbase will either be quite laid-back about things like scaling or most likely not really even be aware of it.

  5. melianos

    Indeed. While I could still play, I went to Norn starting area as a level25 (roughly) Thief character. Downed to level4, I could kill mobs simply by using “unload” once, or with 2 basic sword attacks.

    I needed to reach level11 creatures to make fights interesting. I was still more powerfull than the usual lvl11 character, but fights were challenging enough.

    I guess it will need some fixing, but thats not really surprising.

  6. SynCaine

    GW2 apologists are insufferable. Even when Anet themselves talk about bugs, the apologists will argue GW2 does not have bugs…

    This is more of the same here. Anet spends time tuning content to make it feel ‘right’, then fails to keep that tuning accurate through scaling (all while recommending players revisit zones and travel to lower level areas thanks to scaling), and yet here we have apologists arguing that no no, the scaling is fine because Anet totally planned to have you faceroll things when you come back to see it.

    Unreal.

    1. drvenkmann

      I do think the scaling but faceroll is tied to how the skill points/traits/gear factor into it, whereas the actual low level characters don’t have that available to them.

      I’m not sure if some sort of system in pve to remove trait points or disable skill slots that would normally be locked off is the answer, or something else.

      I agree that I shouldn’t be one-shotting anything based on the idea of scaling, so what do you think would be viable solutions without overpowering noob area creatures?

      1. melianos

        Well, obviously the scaling down doesn’t scale down enough on attributes.

        But that was to be expected (somewhat), as they couldn’t have had as much feedback from beta as they have now.

        I wonder if a lvl80 character can faceroll lvl40 content.

        1. coppertopper

          That’s really the question. Obviously you can do that to level 5 mobs as they have no conditions or special abilities since a level 5 character is expected to have basic gear and skills.

        2. GLN7

          I’m actually pretty sure he can. He will have triple-modded exotic gear, while the best a lvl 40 can have is double-modded rare gear. He will have 40 additional trait points.

          It’s already considerably easier going back into lvl 30 areas with my 40s character than it was when the levels matched. I can’t see why it won’t be a piece of cake going back 40 levels.

    2. coppertopper

      its bad but not that bad considering its officially 2 days into release. balances will come i expect.

    3. innuendo

      I’m not sure who this was directed at. I left a pretty concise comment discussing what this system does well and what I think it’s goal was.

      Along with that I discussed a pretty serious flaw in your argument in that you were fighting level 1-15 creatures. Regardless of level those creatures are designed to be easy to kill because they are the first creatures players fight in the game.

      I think only the most stringent of arenanet loyalists ever expected level 1-15 content to always challenge you like level 80 content. That’s not what the level scaling is meant to provide. The reason you are getting push back is because you are making a supposition about what the level scaling is supposed to mean.

      I do not disagree that under your supposition level scaling isn’t working. But I will challenge that your supposition that “Anet intended level 1-15 content to always feel challenging” is wrong. And that to categorize level scaling as a failure based on that supposition is disingenuous and frankly…childish.

      The fact remains that level scaling allowed me to go play with my friend completely seamlessly, and at their pace of progression, and my level 35 was still getting level appropriate rewards. If you don’t see that as a success for the MMO market I think you have a very narrow view of the genre’s flaws.

      Seriously though, show some decorum. This site’s comment section has routinely been above par and for one of the content editors to be lowering that bar is uncalled for.

      1. GLN7

        You get the same effect when going back to a lvl 30 area with a lvl 50 character, so claiming that it’s due to the critters being “newb fodder” is simply incorrect. Apparantly, the scaling keeps failing on higher levels as well, due to equipment and traits not scaling well enough or even at all. As it is, the ArenaNet’s claims of all the game being endgame, as you can go back anywhere anytime and due to scaling still have a challenge is not fulfilled.

        Also, the friend you played with did certainly not go at his own pace, as long as you played with him and not only stood back the whole time. A downscaled lvl 35 means so much firepower that you can go forward way more carelessly and fights being way much shorter and easier than it would be the case if the character naturally fitted in with his zone.

        Of course, the system is a huge improvement compared to other games. Still, it does not even remotely keep the promise given. As such, I’d not name it as a success, because it clearly does not succeed in what it wanted to achieve. It is a good evolutionary step, but it needs some work to do as it should.

        1. innuendo

          I was a level 35 and down scaled to a level 15 and the mobs that should be challenging were still hard for me. Veterans and mixed groups.

          If I didn’t play or didn’t try to survive I would die. Try this in WoW and tell me how it works if you’re 15 levels above a zone. You are for all practical purposes invincible.

          And you are taking a weird reading of “the whole game is end game.” I don’t think if you read those quotes in context you would take that to mean “every zone will be the same difficulty the whole time you play the game” and instead it means “as you play the game level 20 in a level 20 zone feels like level 80 in a level 80 zone.”

          I just don’t get the sense that any other than people who take a very narrow reading of the goals of this system ever think it was meant to keep the challenge level of previous zones the same as you level up. And more than once areanet devs said “you’ll be more powerful if you go back.”

          And don’t get me wrong, no where did I say it was perfect and doesn’t need refined. I’m sure there are places it is over or under scaling. But to say the system has failed (…reads your post right below this) is just silly and short sighted.

  7. GLN7

    I agree that with the current state the scaling is in, yes, they did fail so far. They can still fix it, and I think they will, at least in PvE.

    For WvW however, I’ve got little hope. All past complaints about lvl 40 chars roflstomping lvl 15 ones have been brushed aside with the remark of WvW being inherently unbalanced, which, in my opinion, is a really sad excuse. I’d have loved to see WvW be much more involved with “proper” PvP-rules, meaning standardized gear with set values, all skill slots and skills unlocked as well as all 70 trait points useable.

    Of course, this would’ve somewhat trashed the whole thing about finding better loot and leveling up in WvW, at least for WvW itself (could’ve still used it in PvE). But personally, I’d gladly throw this out and have a fair match between equally attributed players, except for numerical balance.

    For numerical balancing, their “outmanned” buff is a huge joke in itself. Instead of boosting the firepower and durability of the few remaining fighters facing the bigger mobs, they give more XP, Magic Find and Karma. The first two actually encourage farming critters instead of fighting the enemy, which is an issue already without the buff. You and your five other defenders lose the keep to 50 enemies and have to see your comrades slaying mosquitos or watching vistas while you cry out for help in team chat.

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  9. Spen

    I think scaling works best within reasonable level ranges. Expecting a level 80 to be challenged by a low level fodder mob is somewhat unreasonable, not to mention the howls of disapproval from players who want to feel ‘powerful’ at high levels.

    To quote Anet dev Matt Wuerffel:

    “You’re definitely going to be much more powerful. It doesn’t take away your traits. It doesn’t take away your gear. It doesn’t take away your skills that you’ve unlocked. But it does work with your damage modifiers and stats, so that you’re able to play content with you buddy that just started a new character.”

    Source: http://goo.gl/PmusR

    Edit: Shortened the New York Post link

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