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I used to be torn on my feelings on enemy level scaling, but I finally picked a side: it sucks

DragoonKain

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I used to sit on the fence on my feelings regarding enemy level scaling. On one side, when enemies in games scale with you, it keeps a challenge and prevents you from just mowing through enemies and always keeping you on your toes. On the other hand, with no level scaling, you get a greater sense of progression with your character and the work you spend building him up and maybe grinding for resources to invest in him. It gives a sense of accomplishment.

I'm playing Darksiders 3 and the game finally made me pick a side. Enemy level scaling blows. Keeping difficulty there throughout doesn't come close to being worth sacrificing that feeling of accomplishment and progression you get building up your character. I love feeling like the hard work I spent leveling my character up has paid dividends and you feel the difference when you fight enemies. It's a cool feeling when you build up your character, go back and fight enemies you were just struggling with and you take them down much easier. It's one of the best things about gaming IMO.

Darksiders 3 doesn't have it and while it's a cool game and I'm enjoying my time with it, so far this is far and away the biggest drawback. Also, level scaling makes backtracking and revisiting old areas of games an absolute chore, because the enemies aren't a walk in the park, it just becomes tedious.

So, that's my verdict, finally.

Where do you stand on enemy level scaling?
 

SuperBonk64

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I used to sit on the fence on my feelings regarding enemy level scaling. On one side, when enemies in games scale with you, it keeps a challenge and prevents you from just mowing through enemies and always keeping you on your toes. On the other hand, with no level scaling, you get a greater sense of progression with your character and the work you spend building him up and maybe grinding for resources to invest in him. It gives a sense of accomplishment.

I'm playing Darksiders 3 and the game finally made me pick a side. Enemy level scaling blows. Keeping difficulty there throughout doesn't come close to being worth sacrificing that feeling of accomplishment and progression you get building up your character. I love feeling like the hard work I spent leveling my character up has paid dividends and you feel the difference when you fight enemies. It's a cool feeling when you build up your character, go back and fight enemies you were just struggling with and you take them down much easier. It's one of the best things about gaming IMO.

Darksiders 3 doesn't have it and while it's a cool game and I'm enjoying my time with it, so far this is far and away the biggest drawback. Also, level scaling makes backtracking and revisiting old areas of games an absolute chore, because the enemies aren't a walk in the park, it just becomes tedious.

So, that's my verdict, finally.

Where do you stand on enemy level scaling?
I just want to say thank you because I was gonna play this game next but I'll skip it. I don't enjoy level scaling.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Never a fan of enemy scaling either.... even if it's partial scaling.

If a game needs to fill empty space you've been to with monsters, then have more powerful monsters..... not level 60 rats.

To me, a perfect game would be:

- No scaling
- Most locations you've been to and already cleared out are forever cleared
- Only certain locations (meant for re-looting or re-doing quests) can have respawned enemies, but not enemy scaled

If the game devs want the game to feel fresh without enemy scaling, then don't make characters overpowered. Purposely make it so no matter what level you get or how good weapons you find, you will never be the most powerful being in the game. Make it so many enemies will always be better even if you have a Sword of Doom +1000
 
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Dice

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It absolutely blows. Especially in open world games where you level up to fight gods then go back to your first area and somehow the rats could eat demons for breakfast... that is, if the demons hadn't leveled up, too. It just makes everything a boring inventory management thing. I think not only should you encounter more serious enemies as you go, they should sprinkle in past enemies in later areas. DMC does this now and then where an enemy that was once introduced like a boss comes in later as a mob add.
 
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I dislike it too. It makes it seem like you are not progressing, especially if the enemies look like they should be low levels (ie still wearing t-shirts but can be bullet sponges) :/
 
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kittoo

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Yupe. Hate it. Its a lazy device to make sure the gane remains challenging to the player. But it doesn't even make sense even then. I don't want respawns in areas which I've cleared, let alone respawns with enemies which are just as powerful as before, no matter what my progression has been.
The sense of satisfaction when you easily now Vanquish an enemy which was giving you problems earlier, because youve levelled up is unparalleled. Scaling ruins that.
 

LegendOfKage

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Darksiders 3 doesn't have it and while it's a cool game and I'm enjoying my time with it, so far this is far and away the biggest drawback. Also, level scaling makes backtracking and revisiting old areas of games an absolute chore, because the enemies aren't a walk in the park, it just becomes tedious.
Odd that you'd pick Darksiders 3 to talk about this. When I went back to previous areas, between getting new powers, leveling my abilities, leveling artifacts, and just getting more skilled at the game, I felt like a complete badass.

The game does expand on previous areas with much harder monsters, so maybe that was more of what you were noticing. New areas of old environments can definitely match your skills and abilities, but going back to actual old areas in old environments was pretty much always much easier than the first time though.

I find it interesting that the new Borderlands game is supposed to allow players to make this choice for themselves. You can either play classic mode, where you can get way too over-leveled for the enemies in an area (not to mention out-leveling gear drops or your co-op partners), or you can play a mode that keeps all the enemies (and the gear they drop) right around your level. You can also switch back and forth between the two choices, if I remember correctly.
 

Vader1

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I’d rather have enemies be consistently challenging, I don’t care about being op in games and would actually prefer if I wasn’t.
 

Mistershine.

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Odd that you'd pick Darksiders 3 to talk about this. When I went back to previous areas, between getting new powers, leveling my abilities, leveling artifacts, and just getting more skilled at the game, I felt like a complete badass.

The game does expand on previous areas with much harder monsters, so maybe that was more of what you were noticing. New areas of old environments can definitely match your skills and abilities, but going back to actual old areas in old environments was pretty much always much easier than the first time though.

I find it interesting that the new Borderlands game is supposed to allow players to make this choice for themselves. You can either play classic mode, where you can get way too over-leveled for the enemies in an area (not to mention out-leveling gear drops or your co-op partners), or you can play a mode that keeps all the enemies (and the gear they drop) right around your level. You can also switch back and forth between the two choices, if I remember correctly.
Borderlands has always had that as an endgame option with Ultimate Vault Hunter mode. On normal difficulty the world and enemies max at level 30 and have no scaling, True Vault Hunter is the same but with the level cap lifted, and Ultimate has enemy and area scaling.
 
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I’d rather have enemies be consistently challenging, I don’t care about being op in games and would actually prefer if I wasn’t.
That's just because you are not wanting to play an RPG. Which is fine, but that doesn't mean the rest of us who want to play RPGs be stuck with level scaling.

Look, I see your point. You want your games to be about your personal player skill, like with first person shooters like CoD. Whereby the game is hard or easy depending on how good a shot you are. But with RPGs, it is suppose to be the character who gets stronger. The player skill should only be a minor part of it. The whole point of RPGs is to have the character itself becoming stronger, not telling the player to get stronger. That's the difference.

There are entire genres of games like FPS and 1v1 fighting games, where you get to face constant challenges. But RPGs is about portraying an in-game character who gets stronger, and if you remove that by level scaling then it isn't an RPG anymore. Bethesda is basically in the process of doing what you want, and so far they are only keeping the RPG audience because we managed to get the level scaling removed with mods. I am not touching level scaling because it is basically removal of RPG elements.
 

bhunachicken

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I can sort of understand why level scaling would appeal to game developers: it makes the whole design and testing phase easier; there's no need to constantly tweaks things because you've discovered that the player is too powerful or too weak at a certain point.

But, as many have pointed out, level scaling doesn't work. It's only good on paper.

It's actually what stopped me from playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey. I got bored of feeling as though I wasn't making any progress in the game or becoming more powerful.

I remember the first time I encountered level scaling, all the way back in FF8 on the PS1. It was plain ridiculous that the first enemies you encountered in the game were still able to dish a huge amount of damage even after you're 20 hours into the game, due to them being scaled to match the party.

Putting level scaling into a game means you might as well ditch the progression system altogether.
 

o'dium

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The whole point of levelling up is so you can get stronger. That’s the point. So when enemies scale with you, you no longer gain power, and it feels shit.

A proper game would change the scale depending on story place, so that late game events are scaled to be harder.

But if I spend 500 hours putting in XP I expect to be able to just walk though most things.

So yeah enemy scaling sucks imo...
 

Dontero

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Enemy scaling is just lazy way out for designers.
Instead of hand tuning every encounter/place/etc. they just dump level scaling on players heads.

What is worse level scaling actually can actually make you weaker. Good example of that was skyrim. If you by any chance took non combat stuff soon game would get harder and harder for you. Fallout 4 is another good example. As you lvl up you hardly get more power but enemies get their HP. So you soon meet lvl where you weapon damage can hardly progress while enemy hp just increases without problem. So at very high level you will be fighting true bullet sponges.

So yes level scaling sucks. It is just lazy aproach to game design.
 
Oct 16, 2017
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Enemy scaling is just lazy way out for designers.
Instead of hand tuning every encounter/place/etc. they just dump level scaling on players heads.

What is worse level scaling actually can actually make you weaker. Good example of that was skyrim. If you by any chance took non combat stuff soon game would get harder and harder for you. Fallout 4 is another good example. As you lvl up you hardly get more power but enemies get their HP. So you soon meet lvl where you weapon damage can hardly progress while enemy hp just increases without problem. So at very high level you will be fighting true bullet sponges.

So yes level scaling sucks. It is just lazy aproach to game design.
Fallout 4 is like that because it isn't really an RPG but a shooter disguised as one. Bethesda wanted to appeal to gamers like Vader1, so they made the game with no real upgrades via level scaling. And the only reason leveling even exists is to pretend it is an RPG game. An attempt to keep the old fans of the franchise around by wearing a disguise.

There are many people who are quite happy to play Fallout 4 with level scaling, but they are also the same people who are happy to not have any levling period because they just want to play a shooter. I see level scaling as nothing more than a betrayal of RPG gamers, to keep leveling in the game but only cosmetically. Essentially only pretending to have an RPG.
 
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McCheese

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I too dislike level scaling, but for open-world games, they need to do a better job of telegraphing which areas you should and shouldn't be in. Recently started playing Dragon's Dogma, and man, it's way too easy to accept a DLC quest early on and get one-shotted by enemies, with no clear indicator that they are way higher level than you or that you probably shouldn't be attempting the quest.

But it is fun when you can return 20 hours later and one-shot them back :D
 
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DragoonKain

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Odd that you'd pick Darksiders 3 to talk about this. When I went back to previous areas, between getting new powers, leveling my abilities, leveling artifacts, and just getting more skilled at the game, I felt like a complete badass.

The game does expand on previous areas with much harder monsters, so maybe that was more of what you were noticing. New areas of old environments can definitely match your skills and abilities, but going back to actual old areas in old environments was pretty much always much easier than the first time though.

I find it interesting that the new Borderlands game is supposed to allow players to make this choice for themselves. You can either play classic mode, where you can get way too over-leveled for the enemies in an area (not to mention out-leveling gear drops or your co-op partners), or you can play a mode that keeps all the enemies (and the gear they drop) right around your level. You can also switch back and forth between the two choices, if I remember correctly.
Really? Weird. Those big rock enemies that were among one of the first bigger enemy types you find in the game can still kill me easily if I'm not careful and I'm on level 25 now. I don't notice a significant change at all. At least in terms of damage I receive from enemies. I haven't noticed me killing any enemies much faster either. I'm in the Bone area right now. Maybe I will later on.
 

Dontero

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Fallout 4 is like that because it isn't really an RPG but a shooter disguised as one.
RPG has nothing to do with progression system. You can have RPG without any levels or statistics. Only requirement for RPG is to have choises and consequences (and by that i mean meaningful ones). The more non-linear something is the more RPG it is.

Fallout 4 is poor rpg because it lacks of good C&C not because it has less statistics.

This is the same reason why Destiny/Borderlands aren't RPG despite it having armor, weapons statistics and so on.
 
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RPG has nothing to do with progression system. You can have RPG without any levels or statistics. Only requirement for RPG is to have choises and consequences (and by that i mean meaningful ones). The more non-linear something is the more RPG it is.

Fallout 4 is poor rpg because it lacks of good C&C not because it has less statistics.

This is the same reason why Destiny/Borderlands aren't RPG despite it having armor, weapons statistics and so on.
You are describing adventure games, but not RPGs. RPGs is where the physical skills of the player is not linked to the skills of the character. I can have a character who is a sharpshooter, but not requiring that the player be a godly fps player. Or that the character being smart in-game and not requiring the player to solve hard puzzles. The segregation of the player from the character.

Having armour and weapon statistics is not RPG, that works just as well in a straight FPS. RPG is when the player character isn't actually reflecting the player directly. Where you could become what you are not. If you need sharp reflexes in real life to play an RPG, you are not playing an RPG anymore. Hence all the anger in the last few years at all the real time combat leaking into RPG gaming.

That was why VATS was invented in Fallout 3, or why time slowdowns are in the upcoming FF7 remake. Those things exist because otherwise the player would not be able to roleplay a character stronger than the player's own skill level.
 

Kadayi

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I get the intention (too always keep you on your toes), but the implementation often leaves a lot to be desired, especially in open-world games. I think @StreetsofBeige taps into some good ideas. above You've got to gate stuff off in some fashion or make it abundantly clear to players that 'here be dragons...' though personally, I despise immersion-breaking numbers above enemies heads.

RPG has nothing to do with progression system. You can have RPG without any levels or statistics. Only requirement for RPG is to have choises and consequences (and by that i mean meaningful ones). The more non-linear something is the more RPG it is.

Fallout 4 is poor rpg because it lacks of good C&C not because it has less statistics.

This is the same reason why Destiny/Borderlands aren't RPG despite it having armor, weapons statistics and so on.
^No lies detected. I think that the D&D model of level progression has become so universally ingrained in peoples heads that for many if it has levels 'it's an RPG' versus a game with RPG elements. Frankly, there's more RPG to Crusader Kings 2 than there is to a lot of games that get passed off as RPGs these days, and that's essentially a dynastic strategy game at its core (skill progression and C&C up the wazoo).

Agreed. If I’m getting better I want to be dominated
Corrected for accuracy.
 

TheCockatrice

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May depend on the game however the excuse that you level up to get stronger is kinda stupid these days. You're never getting stronger even without scaling in most games since as you level up you also progress to enemies who are as strong as you so unless you just enjoy feeling overpowered and easily one shotting lower level enemies for no reason or feel the need to go back to lower level zones then sure I guess it sucks. SWTOR has level synch or whatever it's called and I think it is a great idea that my level gets scaled back down to the planet's level just so I can enjoy the story and have a tiny bit of challenge even though they sadly made the game easy as fuck. WoW's implementation was also good since now I could easily enjoy and explore a zone fully. TO be fair, I only like it because I always feel the need to be challenged not to be overpowered and if the content progressively gets better then it is perfectly fine. Now if it's a stupid ass game where you only grind and has bare-bones content, then fuck that.
 

Trogdor1123

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I typically hate it too. It makes very little sense as well. If I work hard and get better at something it doesn't mean everyone else does automatically....

One way I do like it is when I go into an area for the first time and that area is "set" to my current level permanently. If I enter at level 5, they stay at 5 forever. If I enter at level 10 they stay at 10 forever. There should also be areas with a level floor of course to be tougher content.
 

Birdo

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I agree. The whole point of an RPG is to train your character to be stronger than the enemy.
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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It can be done properly. Breath of the Wild uses a level-scaling mechanic based on things you've accomplished in the world, so as you progress you'll encounter more powerful Bokoblins and more dangerous Yiga ambushes. It helps keep the world "dangerous" as you reach the mid and late game stages. It's a very old concept. Shmups used something called "rank" to automatically adjust to the well-performing players and make the game more challenging as they progressed, the most infamous example being Battle Garegga.
 

Griffon

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Scaling is just the devs putting bars that fill when you kill stuff, but it actually doesn't affect anything.
 

Three

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What exactly is the point of levelling if all enemies level with you? You might aswell have no level system at all.

Enemies getting tougher at later parts of a game is fine though.
 

Saberyoko

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It's understandable if some may prefer scaling because they want more challenge. But scaling actually breaks all the meaning behind RPGs, which is leveling up and becoming stronger.
I like to think that KH series gives those people at tool if they don't like RPG mechanics, by giving an option to null the xp gained. Some games on the other hand are very bad at this, like Skyrim.

If a game wants to do it, at least do it properly.
 
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Pagusas

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I dislike it too, but I understand the problem devs face with it: how do you make a game truely open and “go any direction you want from the beginning” if you as the dev are basically choosing said direction for the player by preselecting which areas are populated with impossible to beat enemies at lower levels.
 

bhunachicken

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One way I do like it is when I go into an area for the first time and that area is "set" to my current level permanently.
Are there games that do this? I thought about this, but figured that you could get into a weird situation where you could wander into zones earlier than you should do and end up making the game too easy for yourself.
 

FranXico

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Level scaling is shit game design. Oblivion ruined those types of games for me. When you are playing the game and a random encounter with bandits has them fighting with the best weapons and armor in the game you know it sucks.
Same for me, Oblivion did enemy levelling up the worst possible way. No matter how much I levelled up, I kept getting my ass kicked. Pretty soon all of Cyrodill was infested with Trolls. Ridiculous. Defeats the purpose of player progression.
 
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Graciaus

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I enjoy it in final Fantasy tactics especially in difficulty hacks. Steamrolling a game because you know how to play it isn't always fun. Proper scaling still lets you be stronger then the enemies.

The only other game I can think of I liked is lost odyssey. But that basically makes you the level the developers intended at all times.
 
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Are there games that do this? I thought about this, but figured that you could get into a weird situation where you could wander into zones earlier than you should do and end up making the game too easy for yourself.
Worse, you get into a siuation where a unque magical sword you get as a reward, which was suppose to be an end game item, ended up being its weakest version because you accidentally accessed it at level 1.
 

KungFucius

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My preferred approach is no scaling with underpowered enemies avoiding your character unless you engage. I have zero interest in repeating the same fights over and over again while exploring. Respect my time please.
 
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Recently, I enabled level scaling in The Witcher 3 (from about level 20 or so) and it was great. I really liked the consistent challenge and the atmosphere of danger that it created.

Even more recently, I played Nier Automata. That game DESPERATELY needed a level scaling option.
The combat system was really great, but once you get to a higher level, there is nothing in the open world to challenge you. You can pretty much breathe on any enemy and they fall to bits. If the game was able to present some kind of ongoing challenge to me, Im sure I'd have spent much more time watching a bare-assed 2B chopping up robots. Such a waste.
I support games having level scaling - especially if its optional.
 

Dontero

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You are describing adventure games, but not RPGs.
Adventure games are linear and you don't play role. Which means no C&C.
Read the name. Role-Playing Game. A game in which you play role.

RPG is when the player character isn't actually reflecting the player directly.
Where you could become what you are not. If you need sharp reflexes in real life to play an RPG, you are not playing an RPG anymore. That was why VATS was invented in Fallout 3, or why time slowdowns are in the upcoming FF7 remake. Those things exist because otherwise the player would not be able to roleplay a character stronger than the player's own skill level.
Total wrong. RPG has nothing to do with form of game-play you use. It is all about ROLEPLAYING.
RPG literally can be straight up quake 2 gameplay but it needs to have plenty of important C&C.


Best way for comparison is Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre. FFT is barely RPG because game is almost completely linear while Tactics Ogre presents you with plenty of important choices that lead to different endings, characters living/dying, story branches and so on. Those games have more or less same gameplay but only one of them is considered good rpg. FFT is still great game but not great rpg.
 
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Deleted member 752119

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To me seeing your character getting much, much stronger than enemies you had trouble before is best part of RPGs, which also exists in hard ass games like Souls/Bloodborne.
Yep. There’s just no need for it. I enjoy getting over powered and steam rolling through enemies. And as you note devs can still make hard games without scaling for people who want challenge.
 

Fbh

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Yep, enemy scaling really kills the sense of progression which is one of the most rewarding aspect of a lot of games with leveling/rpg mechanics. And a well designed game with sufficiently varied enemy variety and good encounter design does absolutely not need it to remain fun, just look at all recent FROM games

Not to mention that enemy scaling often makes games feel more boring and repetitive. If 30 hours in I'm still fighting the same enemies in a similar way and it's taking the same amount of effort as when I was 2 hours into the game, I'll probably be bored unless the game really has some top tier combat.
 

Ahjumbie

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It does suck in almost all games I've played . Only a couple of games I think have had decent scaling . I think it was one of the modern Fallouts where you first entered a "zone" and the enemies would scale to your level but then lock at a small lvl range . So if you did come back later on they would be push overs with the exception of things like deathclaws that would always be close to your level (but not necessarily above)
 

ClanOfNone

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Oblivion really set the shining standard for terrible level scaling. It was around long before, but in Oblivion it damn near ruined the experience for me.