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Games with pointless/counterproductive leveling.

KiteGr

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I love leveling in RPGs. I love how you become stronger with every victory and kick the assess of enemies who gave you trouble before.

In the recent years however I've come across plenty of games where in an attempt perhaps to keep content relevant introduce scaling that make leveling pointless.
Lets discuss the worst offenders here.


Final Fantasy 8.
The original Sin of counterproductive leveling, this game introduced enemies and bosses that scale with your level, making it mostly work against you. It's better to focus on gaining magic to junction them into your attributes with endgame buffs while staying lvl1 and watch everything melt.


The Saga games.
These games pride them selfs for giving freedom, but with the ability to visit an area any time you want, comes the enemy scaling that makes all battles equally difficult, even if you are on early or late game. Some bosses have fixed or less liquid stats to prevent players from beating them to early on, but that creates the even bigger issue of crawling through a dungeon with enemies at your level, only to hit a brick wall with a boss intended to be fought way later. Thankfully, the later games made certain areas have less liquid enemies, so if you come later you'll make a difference. The worst offender is the very first Romancing Saga (ps2 remake) where the battles count also as the passage of time and once you've done a set number of them you'll get booted to the final chapter. Also it's super hard to avoid them.


Diablo 3 (after patch).
The leveling procedure shouldn't exist in this game. If the world scales with you, then there is no point to it other than forcing you to change gear every few levels and unlocking your skills slowly that could had been done through other means.


Kingdoms of Amalur: The reckoning.
Another game where leveling appears to make you stronger by making you watch bigger numbers, but in the long run it works against you. Like Diablo, the only benefit here is the skill points you gain, as the areas, the gear you find or craft, all scale to your level. Leveling only helps at making your old gear useless. The good news here are that the zones have a level cap, so you can eventually outlevel them if you come back much later.


What's your opinion on games with level scaling?
Should these games even have leveling?
What other games can you think of where leveling works against you.
 

Boneless

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Yes level scaling sucks and is lazy development. Guild Wars 2 also has it. I refuse to play any game with scaling. People who like or defend level scaling are babies.
 

Griffon

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Lightning Returns was fucking stupid too. All the enemies got scaled harder and harder, not by your level, not by your story completion, but by your playtime.
The game will easily softlock you if you take your time.

Shame because otherwise it's actually pretty good.
 
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cormack12

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I always hate reaching that point of a game where you've done all the main quests, done all the sidequests and yet the game still has you underlevelled for the next area/questline. It's fucking stupid. I also don't like levelling to unlock extra abilities and you end up using really cool ones for the last 15% of the game.
 
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Xeaker

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I love to powerlevel too and destroy bosses.

Lost Odyssey

I hate games that reduce the EXP you get the higher your level is.

Trails of Cold Steel Series

Same as above. The higher your level the less EXP enemy give. I HATE THAT!

Suikoden Series

EXP Scaling

Rogue Galaxy

Exp Scaling

Legend of Dragoon

Enemies give so little EXP that it takes forever to level up one level. Mostly you just level up from bosses unless you fight very rare Unique Monsters.

TESO

Stopped playing this game after they put level scaling in the game. You actually get weaker the higher you level until you reach max.
 
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Rykan

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The thing about Final Fantasy 8 is that it actually works well if you play the intended way. I went through the game again a couple of years ago. I didn't run from any fights, I did no grinding whatsoever and just went through the game normally. When you play it like this, FF8 works fine. It's refreshing to not have to grind, especially for an RPG of this era and the challenge is about on par with other rpgs.

The issue is that FF8 breaks down the moment you deviate from this intended path and you become aware of how the scaling works. It's one of those games where ignorance really is bliss I guess.
 
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KiteGr

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Yes level scaling sucks and is lazy development. Guild Wars 2 also has it. I refuse to play any game with scaling. People who like or defend level scaling are babies.
Actually I'm also aware of GW2 being an "active" player myself, but I gave it a free pass for various reason.
  1. In GW2 you can only scale downwards. It serves to block you from harder and more complex areas before you are ready or made them relevant through the story.
  2. While you can't trivialize low level areas, this is an MMO that relies on group play with other players. You can't just go and mess with new player's game by nuking any challenge they encounter. In fact, one of their main selling points is how easy it is to co-operate with randos you encounter without requiring a single extra click or change in strategy. Besides, the early areas are so easy, that once you get there with end-game gear, you can still one-shot things even when downscaled.
  3. Unlike the Solo RPGs I mentioned, MMOs are intended to be playable for decades, so it's best for the older areas not to get trivialized (unlike other MMOS I won't mention). The alternative is spending most of your time in the few end-level areas of each expansion and never bother again with the low level ones once you reach max level.
  4. Finally, GW2 is the only MMO I know, that doesn't rise the level cap on it's expansion. All lvl 80 gear is relevant and 80% of the total zones are on the exact same max player level. Only on 20% of the zones you get downscaled, with rewards and drops also staying relevant. Essentially GW2 doesn't have any leveling beyond the early game.
In the long run, GW2, and most MMOs abandon their leveling as a mechanism after a while. GW2 is the only one to make all the old content relevant to this very day.
 
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Tschumi

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Final fantasy 12 would, truly, be my favourite FF game by a lot further if it's skill tree.. minigame was less pants.
 

nkarafo

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The Witcher 3 also has level scaling but only for the loot and the weapons/armor sold by the vendors. It does turn the looting/trade system into shit. Like, you can try and kill a very high level monster (higher than you) and after much patience and skillful combat, you are rewarded with the same crap you would if you killed a monster on your own level.

You can also re-talk to the same vendor over and over and he will have different weapons/armor for sale every time and always around your level.

It's pretty broken.
 
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Kev Kev

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i also hate games that limit how much you can level your characters

FFXIII for example, which i just played, limits how much you can spend the XP that you earn lol. seriously!? come on man. one of the best parts about combat is the rewards you get (XP, gil, items, AP, etc.), additionally your rewarded by handing the upcoming monsters and bosses their asses on a silver plate. when you limit how much a player can level, you take half the fun out of combat, imo. i hate that.

when you add in monsters scaling up with your level? well that is a game that i will likely not be playing for long.
 

Sorcerer

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When I played Final Fantasy 8, I maxed out all the character levels (99 I believe) before I left the first disc. It was easy because 1000 experience points is always a new level. That never changes. It did not take long either. I did not find the game difficult in any way because of this. I had a close call with the final boss, but did that without dying anyway.
 
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DonkeyPunchJr

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Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the few games where it actually works well IMO. That game is more about how you set up your characters/jobs than just about levels and #s though.

can’t think of any other examples. But shame on Saga especially. IIRC Romancing Saga actually has quests that become available after a certain # of battles, then become unavailable after some other # of battles. So if you take your time just exploring and battling at your own place, you can actually lock yourself out of lots of the game’s quests as well.
 
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Bragr

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Assassins Creed comes to mind.

One of the things that so freeing with retro games is they don't put in collectibles and weak RPG mechanics at every turn.
 
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Lunarorbit

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Last few Assassin's creed games have been the same way. Beginning of the game it region has a recommended level ranging from 1 to 45 (or something in the forties anyway). By the end of the game every region has the exact same level which corresponds to your character level minus 2. What was it all for? Ah........yeah. Skill points.
Yup! But don't worry, if u buy ubisoft points you can fix the level scaling issue.

Actually don't know if that was removed but ass games are notorious for leveling up not feeling very significant
 
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lh032

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Elder Scroll Oblivion.

Worst ES game ever.

Leveling system makes no sense.
 
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DonkeyPunchJr

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Elder Scroll Oblivion.

Worst ES game ever.

Leveling system makes no sense.
God I hate that game’s leveling system. It’s really 3 problems:

1. level scaling everywhere, even trash-tier bandits get endgame-level equipment and stats when you level up enough

2. leveling system where you can get drastically different stat growth depending how you play, so you can easily gimp yourself permanently.

3. if you play the way the game seemingly wants you to play (i.e. for your primary abilities you pick the ones you intend to use the most), you level up too fast and get shitty stat growth. The optimal way to play is very counterintuitive and requires annoying micromanagement.
 

Griffon

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Final fantasy 12 would, truly, be my favourite FF game by a lot further if it's skill tree.. minigame was less pants.

I genuinely prefer the original release over the Zodiac Job System. The grid was the same for everyone and you just got whatever you wanted. The new job system in the re-release is ass.
 
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lh032

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God I hate that game’s leveling system. It’s really 3 problems:

1. level scaling everywhere, even trash-tier bandits get endgame-level equipment and stats when you level up enough

2. leveling system where you can get drastically different stat growth depending how you play, so you can easily gimp yourself permanently.

3. if you play the way the game seemingly wants you to play (i.e. for your primary abilities you pick the ones you intend to use the most), you level up too fast and get shitty stat growth. The optimal way to play is very counterintuitive and requires annoying micromanagement.
Yep, agree on all of that.
 

Kuranghi

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I thought the levels in D3 was just a way to gate access to skills so you don't get overwhelmed with choice if a new player + even if you aren't then it limits your choice for a few hours and forces you to really think about synergies you maybe wouldn't.

I also like having that adventure before settling into the grind, even after adventure mode was added I'd still usually do one story run with each new class I played for fun and to hear the character dialogue.
 

nemiroff

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Horizon ZD, Octopath Travelers, Forza Horizon

I'm confused.. Why is Forza Horizon mentioned in this context.. I mean, in FH doesn't have level scaling (at least in SP, don't know about matchmaking), which is expected from similar types of racing games. You literally set the difficulty yourself before each race event. What am I missing.
 
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saintjules

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I'm not sure if it's relative to the discussion so maybe a side topic. I remember when I completed Chrono Trigger. It was the first game I ever played where there was a NG+ option and to where I would carry over my EXP/LVL over to the new game.

When getting to the enemies, they were at the same levels as when you first started the game before NG+. I never understood why they couldn't scale to something more challenging. You're technically overpowered at the start since everything carried over. So that's kind of my gripe with NG+ most of the time. I don't see a point for it (when it comes to battles at least) when enemies didn't scale.
 

cireza

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Final Fantasy 8.
The original Sin of counterproductive leveling, this game introduced enemies and bosses that scale with your level, making it mostly work against you. It's better to focus on gaining magic to junction them into your attributes with endgame buffs while staying lvl1 and watch everything melt.
So this is basically a game design that forces you into a thought process and using its features, rather than letting you by brainlessly leveling. Looks like good game-design to me.

Lightning Returns was fucking stupid too.
Lightning Returns has one of the best game-design I have seen. No levels. You have to clear quests to gain stats. The world is entirely open and lets you manage everything in whatever order you want. And it offers many powers that you have to take into account to achieve your goals, like stopping time or teleporting. And the battles themselves are fantastic. Such a brilliant game.

Lost Odyssey
Another great example of game that forces you into a thought process, so that you can't win by leveling. Don't you guys actually enjoy thinking about a difficult situation and finding the solution in how you set your characters ? This is exactly what makes RPGs interesting...

If the games are designed so that you can't easily gain levels... then maybe that you are not supposed to win by doing this ? You guys are doing it wrong to begin with.
 
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Amiga

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Souls games/Nioh have the best system for this. but my favorite progression is Zelda games. completing quests and and treasures mean something.
 

FritzJ92

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I'm confused.. Why is Forza Horizon mentioned in this context.. I mean, in FH doesn't have level scaling (at least in SP, don't know about matchmaking), which is expected from similar types of racing games. You literally set the difficulty yourself before each race event. What am I missing.
Forza has pointless level up system that is used to just spin the wheel for cosmetics or cars. The whole influence system is just pointless and the game could function and be just as fun without it.
Isn’t that the topic of this thread?
 
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AJUMP23

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Call of duty, level up the player, level up the guns, get better at pew pew.
 

jigglet

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I hate games that do this. RPG's as OP said. Rubber band AI in the older Mario Kart games. SBMM in PvP games.
 
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This is actually one of the biggest reasons I'm struggling to enjoy FF14.

My character has far far out leveled the main story quests, but the game has made it clear that any level/skill/gear progression is pointless. Every single dungeon and any worthwhile content gimps your level, skills, and equipment down to what the devs want you to experience. If any over the top effort/customization I put into my character is just going to be stripped away, then I just stop caring about my character. I'm about 100+ hours into it now and I think I'm done, I'll go play an RPG where I get to enjoy the fruits of my grinding.

It's Anti-RPG to me. RPGs are really fun because they allow you to play your way. Want to avoid grinding and experience the difficulty as intended? Want to spend time grinding and obliterate everything? Want to avoid all exp and make the game more challenging? RPGs typically allow for this, but FF14 tries too hard to force the players experience to be a specific way.
 
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Ikutachi

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When I played Final Fantasy 8, I maxed out all the character levels (99 I believe) before I left the first disc. It was easy because 1000 experience points is always a new level. That never changes. It did not take long either. I did not find the game difficult in any way because of this. I had a close call with the final boss, but did that without dying anyway.
Yeah, people blow it out of proportions.
 
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Saber

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Skyrim(Elder Scroll games)

- If you are a mage or a fighter you will be stagnated to level up since your primary attributes will reach 100 and you will be forced to level something you don't like...unless you reset your skill level and returns to be weaker.
- Leveling Heavy armor and Light armor is the most mentally ill mechanic ever created. In order to level up you have to...take damage? The thing you avoid doing on principle(because otherwise you die) is a mechanic? Also, the more armor you have the less XP(good luck leveling good and refined armors) you earn because it levels up with damage received(meaning difficulty level holds your progress).
- Speech leveing is boring and not attractive. Leveling up depending on how much you buy or sell(the more expansive is the item the better). Intimidate and persuade will never be garanted, even if you reach level 100, have perks and support itens some NPCs are immune to it. Also, level 100 speech grants you mediocre discounts.
- Being a mage sucks, absurdly high mana costs(even with perks), resistance everywhere(90% of entire game has frost resistance) and npc reducing skills, sometimes rendering them immunes. Difficulty levels also slows your progress. Friendly fire from mid or high tier spells doesn't allow to pick followers(theres an ability that stops friendly fire but its bugged like 99% of the game). Master frost spell Blizzard deals damage to the player(because of a bug it may not deal damage to enemies).

Bethesda big brain
 
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Nautilus

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Enemy Scalling is the bane of any system.

I still can't fanthom who thought it would be a good idea to make enemies level alongsidr you.

At that point, why have a leveling system to begin with?
 
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Nautilus

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Horizon ZD, Octopath Travelers, Forza Horizon
as far as I know, OT doesn't have level scalling.The thing that happens in that game is that enemies get bumped a fixed ammount for every chapter you complete.

So if you grind and/or take your time doing things on your own pace, you will be rewarded for it.
 

jaysius

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Any game with a MASSIVE skill grid/tree/whatever that has incremental 2%-3% gains in stats.

This is a slightly different issue but it's still an issue.

Games like that Squeenix shit of a few months past.

Mostly all shitty GaaS games have this issue.

Shitty balancing like this is LAZY dev's don't need to think about making a progressive difficulty curve to make the game more compelling. The numbers on gear get bigger but the impact remains the same, and the difficulty isn't changed, it's all pretty awful.

So many games had this all through gaming, like RPGs where you go into a new town, go into a weaponstore and find COOL NEW WEAPONS with higher power levels, and if you didn't buy those, then your ass was grass in those areas, so it wasn't really an OPTIONAL thing to buy said weapons, you HAD TO or you'd just have a bad time.

There have been games that have done this right, but so many do it wrong.
 
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kanjobazooie

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The thing with the SaGa games is that not only are the rules often obscure, but the game is actively trying to defeat the player.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I used GameFAQs in all my playthroughs. That was part of the SaGa experience to me. :messenger_tears_of_joy:
 
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Andodalf

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Oblivions system was fine, it was just horribly bad that non combat skills counted the same as combat for your enemy level scaling. Needed a separate level like Runescape
 

RoadHazard

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I hate enemy/world scaling so much. I don't understand why any developer would think it's a good idea. It's such a great feeling when you're eventually able to take down enemies you had no chance against earlier in the game, and world scaling completely ruins that. It makes leveling feel pointless, and is simply stupid. I don't buy games that I know have this issue.
 
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