• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

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

mcz117chief

Member
Sep 29, 2013
10,398
1,390
625
Bohemia
It really depends. In some cases I hate it, in other I like it.
An example when I want level scaling: first area = dragon lvl 15; second area = boar lvl 25. Eight area = human guard lvl 100. That is just pure idiocy and I hate that.
I don't enjoy leveling that just gives you extra points and hp as much as leveling that unlocks more abilities and moves. For example in Souls games you do get a bit stronger by leveling but skill is the most important factor and that is the kind of RPG that I love, that rewards me for my skill not grinding. Having trouble with a boar that is one level above you but wiping the floor with a dragon who is two levels below you is just ridiculous.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Keihart

ClanOfNone

Member
Nov 24, 2018
431
404
300
Souls handled it well for the arpg formula. You could grind for Souls and level up, but individual points/levels only provided small incremental improvements.
You weren't gonna sink a point or two into strength and suddenly beat that boss, but in the process of grinding out the Souls neccessary you were naturally becoming better at the game.
 

Geki-D

Member
Dec 6, 2017
2,421
2,322
505
The only advantage in my book is that at least it gives you enemies that are interesting to fight and give good exp no matter what. I'm currently playing Borderlands 2, beat the main game and I just started and finished Quest For Booty. Started lvl 37, finished it lvl 38. The enemies are only lvl 28-30 so they offer little resistance and they give 1 exp per kill. That just sucks. An option would be to play in Vault Hunter mode but that would mean starting all the story over and I don't want to do that (After I've done the DLC stuff I want to try that lvl 50 raid boss). If the enemies scaled I'd actually still be able to lvl up and unlock more skills.
 

DragoonKain

Member
Nov 13, 2013
1,988
1,292
795
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.
That's actually one of the things I like about open world experiences, specifically RPGs. That you can go anywhere you want, and you might stumble upon a place where enemies are way too strong for you. Then that gives you a choice. Do you explore and try to avoid the enemies or do you wait until you're stronger and come back later? I think that gives you a sense of progression as well. That you can't go everywhere in the world right away. I mean, you can if you want, but you'll likely be killed. I actually prefer open world games to have areas you aren't supposed to explore right away, it gives you a goal to move toward. "I'm gonna level up and come back to this area and fuck up these SOBs that are kicking my ass right now." But I've played games that are like that and I'll wander around in tougher areas and avoid fighting and was able to pull it off, it's kind of exhilarating, but technically the option is still open to you if you wanna give it a go.

Having everywhere completely open to you from the beginning though isn't fun for me. I like having areas that I have to progress toward, being able to literally go anywhere with no trouble really takes the fun of exploration and suspense away from me.
 
Last edited:

ipukespiders

Member
Oct 9, 2006
4,409
2,167
1,300
Thanks to this thread, I've learned AC Odyssey has enemy level scaling. I hope I remember that when I no doubt see it for cheap this winter.
 

DragoonKain

Member
Nov 13, 2013
1,988
1,292
795
Odyssey is still a really good game. I honestly didn't notice it that bad and actually forgot it had it.
 

Pagusas

Member
Jun 9, 2006
11,085
1,334
1,400
Prosper, Tx
That's actually one of the things I like about open world experiences, specifically RPGs. That you can go anywhere you want, and you might stumble upon a place where enemies are way too strong for you. Then that gives you a choice. Do you explore and try to avoid the enemies or do you wait until you're stronger and come back later? I think that gives you a sense of progression as well. That you can't go everywhere in the world right away. I mean, you can if you want, but you'll likely be killed. I actually prefer open world games to have areas you aren't supposed to explore right away, it gives you a goal to move toward. "I'm gonna level up and come back to this area and fuck up these SOBs that are kicking my ass right now." But I've played games that are like that and I'll wander around in tougher areas and avoid fighting and was able to pull it off, it's kind of exhilarating, but technically the option is still open to you if you wanna give it a go.

Having everywhere completely open to you from the beginning though isn't fun for me. I like having areas that I have to progress toward, being able to literally go anywhere with no trouble really takes the fun of exploration and suspense away from me.
I agree with you, but I think devs find it easier just to scale everything than thinking about the intricacies of planning it all out. Id love to see that behavior change.
 

Ixiah

Member
Feb 16, 2018
309
293
270
One of the many reasons why i dislike Vanilla Skyrim.
 
Last edited:

Gargus

Member
Oct 1, 2018
178
201
240
I hate level scaling. Especially in open world games.

I like exploring with a sense of danger, finding someplace I have to run from and remember it for later, and so on. I liked going and grinding for a while so for a good while after I could easily progress till I caught up to areas that were my equal or return to old areas and stomp the shit out of stuff.

Level scaling really makings earning exp and getting perks and such kind of pointless since everything is always around your same level.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trogdor1123

peter42O

Member
Aug 9, 2014
2,640
320
445
I'm 50/50 in regards to enemy scaling. For story missions/quests (like AC Odyssey for example), the enemies should scale or be higher because you don't want to breeze through the story and as you get further along, it should be harder. Outside of story missions/quests, then the enemy scaling shouldn't happen.
 

Zannegan

Member
Feb 20, 2018
765
389
420
If you have the same enemies become more powerful for no reason for the sake of "challenge" (i.e. cheesing ability because your combat system doesn't really take skill into account) then level skaling is the absolute worst. If, on the other hand, you have more powerful enemies (not just more powerful versions of the same enemies) move into a previously cleared area, that's kind of awesome.
 

Bryank75

Member
Jan 12, 2018
1,839
2,044
555
Ireland
Not an rpg but that's what I HATE about Destiny, they go on and on about power and keep raising the power cap but the dregs from the starting area can still kill you as easily as day 1. You never feel truly 'powerful'.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Zannegan

Whataburger

Milk Connoisseur
Feb 2, 2018
6,591
5,058
790
Scaling has always sucked
FF8 would have been slightly better
Oblivion would have left you level up whatever the fuck you wanted
 

Hawke502

Neo Member
Jun 29, 2019
37
19
90
And people aren't mentioning the challange in trying to face enemies that are above your level. Sometimes when im playing The Witcher 3 i get a contract and see its 5 levels above mine i think: "fuck it, lets do this". I maybe even die a few times but after i use quen a lot and dodge the monster's attacks and i finally am able to kill him and earn that much XP i feel like a total badass
 
Oct 16, 2017
104
140
220
what i've never understood: if the enemies all scale up as your character scales up, what in the hell is the point of even having scaling? seriously?...
To keep the fans of the old games.

it's like with the X-com reboot. With the old X-com game, you have a scoring system every month that determine how much you get paid and how happy the nations are with you. In the remake, the scoring system is still there, but it literally does nothing. The remake used a completely separate system to determine payment and faction loyalty, and the scoring system was only left there to PRETEND it does something.

Why do that? Same reason why you have level ups that do nothing; you want to keep the old RPG customers, while getting new action game customers who would be happier if there was no leveling at all. Essentially a way to slowly kick the old fans of the franchise away while attracting the FPS crowd. Hence no more turned based strategy and more about reflexes and aiming.
 

Pejo

Member
Jul 1, 2009
8,649
1,164
1,005
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
I was with you until this paragraph. You literally just described enemy level scaling, lol. This exact thing happens in Skyrim, for instance.

Regarding OP, I'm one of those crazy bastards that enjoys grinding levels in RPGs, it's cathartic, so for me enemy scaling has always been a cop out. I like going back to starting areas and destroying everything.

On the other hand, I really enjoy stuff like in Final Fantasy XII where they have a mix of low level monsters and obscenely hard monsters in the same area (dinosaurs outside of the first town). It helps with worldbuilding if they do it right, and it gives you targets to take revenge on later in the game when you've powered up sufficiently. Even better if they work it into storylines or quests.
 
Oct 26, 2018
4,313
3,457
440
I was with you until this paragraph. You literally just described enemy level scaling, lol. This exact thing happens in Skyrim, for instance.

Regarding OP, I'm one of those crazy bastards that enjoys grinding levels in RPGs, it's cathartic, so for me enemy scaling has always been a cop out. I like going back to starting areas and destroying everything.

On the other hand, I really enjoy stuff like in Final Fantasy XII where they have a mix of low level monsters and obscenely hard monsters in the same area (dinosaurs outside of the first town). It helps with worldbuilding if they do it right, and it gives you targets to take revenge on later in the game when you've powered up sufficiently. Even better if they work it into storylines or quests.
I didn't mean it in an adjusting scaling way.

Some monsters are just so powerful at all times they will never be weaker than your character.

So whether your character is Level 1 with a dagger or Level 99 with all the best gear and 9999 HP, some monsters will always be equivalent to being a hard ass MF equivalized at let's say Level 150. Your character will never come close to it but a Level 99 character will have an easier time than a Level 1 who will die in one hit.

So even someone grinding away to have the best possible character ever will always have a challenging time against these off the charts monsters.

Side topic.... I guess another way to adjust for difficulty is do it the Diablo way. Have tons of difficulty levels and let the gamer choose which one they want to play in. No matter what level your character is, you can find easy torment levels, reasonable ones, and ones that are too hard. Problem is it leaves it in the gamers hands to be fiddling with torment levels on their own.
 
Last edited:

stickkidsam

Member
Jan 7, 2018
521
447
320
I was pretty bummed out that Breath of the Wild used level scaling for enemies. It would've felt great to run into areas with varying difficulty, finding out you're under prepared, and getting to choose whether or not ya say fuck it.

Instead every area felt pretty similar in it's challenges, with no sense of progression in skill or abilities. What would've been really sweet is if the Blood Moon caused special enemies to appear everywhere until the morning arose. That would achieve enemy scaling throughout the world without ruining the sense of progression as you explore.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Zannegan

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
Mar 22, 2017
7,921
8,580
800
I was pretty bummed out that Breath of the Wild used level scaling for enemies. It would've felt great to run into areas with varying difficulty, finding out you're under prepared, and getting to choose whether or not ya say fuck it.

Instead every area felt pretty similar in it's challenges, with no sense of progression in skill or abilities. What would've been really sweet is if the Blood Moon caused special enemies to appear everywhere until the morning arose. That would achieve enemy scaling throughout the world without ruining the sense of progression as you explore.
But Breath of the Wild is not RPG, its an action adventure. There is no levering up system in the game.
 

joe_zazen

Member
May 2, 2017
1,429
1,012
385
It actually has turned me off of gaming to a degree as it is an in your face reminder of how much a waste of time rpg grinds are. And almost every big budget single player game has this now, maybe every single big budget game, idk.

Once you see the systems at play underneath and how the use psychological tricks to keep you pressing buttons like a random interval rewarded rat, well it becomes less fun.
 
Last edited:

EightBit Man

Member
Jun 13, 2019
811
1,424
410
The Netherlands
I'm a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but this is one of the few major issues I have with this game. There are mods which circumvent the issue, but it shouldn't be necessary. Not to mentioning console gamers not even having the option to mod.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Belmonte

stickkidsam

Member
Jan 7, 2018
521
447
320
But Breath of the Wild is not RPG, its an action adventure. There is no levering up system in the game.
Difficulty scaling might be a better term to use then, but whether you are leveling up or gaining more hearts doesn't really matter. The problems scaling poses to gameplay are the same.
 

joe_zazen

Member
May 2, 2017
1,429
1,012
385
Odyssey is still a really good game. I honestly didn't notice it that bad and actually forgot it had it.
game is a giant timesink with micro transactions to make it less of a timesink, so i took it off my personal ‘really good games’ list.

But yeah, the game is for people who find old women wanting to fuck hilarious, and they probably are ok with 200 hours of rpg level scaled grind.
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: MrRogers

Lanrutcon

Member
Feb 19, 2014
8,216
1,667
575
Thanks to this thread, I've learned AC Odyssey has enemy level scaling. I hope I remember that when I no doubt see it for cheap this winter.
Just a heads up on that front: even though the enemy scales in level, you scale faster than them since you get legendary gear, "enchants", moves, DLC super moves, etc. At level 10 you'll get mushed by a 15. At level 30 a 35 is tricky. At 50 you'll walk a 55. In the 60s I was already one-shotting level 80+ enemies. It's like the Odyssey scaling doesn't take into account optimised gear/skill setups. You can do stupid things like having 100% crit chance.
 
Last edited:

Life

Neo Member
Jul 25, 2019
48
32
115
Enemy level scaling is a lazy way to make a game seem "challenging." Most games have shitty difficulty settings with crappy AIs. Decades from now, we're going to laugh at the pathetic games we all enjoyed - because the AI for most games almost never makes you think outside box.
Any game that forces you to grind shouldn't even be on sale. Time is a precious currency and if you're grinding so you can take more hits, or do more dmg, it's practically the same as you playing on an easy difficulty without the grinding.

Imagine a game where enemies learn from your fight patterns - your most used moves - most used items/skills whatever. So the future boss battle that's waiting for you is gonna fight against all that. Decades of research into AI and they can't incorporate something so simple in games? I'm sure they can - but we're all too fucking busy praising the same gaming formulas from 20 years ago. So they don't need to do it.
 
Last edited:
D

Deleted member 752119

Unconfirmed Member
Not an rpg but that's what I HATE about Destiny, they go on and on about power and keep raising the power cap but the dregs from the starting area can still kill you as easily as day 1. You never feel truly 'powerful'.
Yep. I get that it's a limitation of AAA looter shooters. They can't make enough zones and activities for the people who play daily/weekly so it's just re-doing the same few activities in the same few zones and that would get even more boring if you were one shotting every thing while doing patrols, bounties etc.

But that leads to the problem of having a game that's largely meant to be a progression grind have little sense of progression beyond grinding toward max light level with each update that pushes it and being able to do the raids.

I think these endless loot games only really work if they're lower production value games with montly subs like WoW, FFXIV etc. were they can keep content coming out at a decent clip or things like Diablo 3 with it's randomized rifts of higher and higher difficulty.
 
  • Fire
Reactions: Bryank75

KeepersDome

Member
Feb 18, 2014
50
10
320
Most recently I encountered this Assassin's Creed Odyssey which is a game I otherwise loved. I was at the point of why even bother leveling up if everyone will just scale with me. I turned it down to the least amount of scaling which was they can't fall below 4 levels of you, but still, it's a cheap game tactic to keep the game "challenging".
 

IaN_GAF

Member
Sep 20, 2013
625
39
385
Not cool: enemy level scaling
Very cool: spawning new and alternative higher level mobs in areas that the player previously cleared out when he/she decides to come back to snoop around
 

Belmonte

Member
Nov 6, 2018
423
534
325
I don't like much also.

Perhaps if it is very well made and used in small doses but I feel enemy scaling makes the world lesser than the character. I like, when I play an open world, to feel the world is larger than me. Like when I saw an ogre in Dragons Dogma early in the game and I needed to flee to battle him later.

The world should not submit to the player.

And I love my challenging no bullshit brawlers/character action games, thank you, but I don't play RPGs for the same reason. If my character is a legendary full equipped level 99 hero, a simple kobold should not be a challenge at all. There is a simulation aspect in RPGs, even action RPGs, which is absent in more "gamey"(not in a pejorative way) genres.
 
Last edited:

Smasher89

Member
Sep 9, 2012
984
59
410
Sweden
Xenoblade 2 is very interesting in the regard theres no scaling(except a very few fights), battles feels slow but the more you learn the mechanics the faster it gets, like a second playthrough goes way faster, same with a third, not counting it having ng+ .
 

zeorhymer

Gold Member
Nov 9, 2013
1,312
773
610
San Francisco, CA
I'm still on the fence with it. I get that in an open world game, you can go anywhere and have a challenge. What I hate seeing is level restricted areas (ie you can't go to area 1 unless you're level 10) and come back to it as level 30 and everyone is level 30. Why have level restriction to go there if the enemies scale up? I also get tired of just trying to run through a "lower level" area, but can't since everything will kill me.
 

Keihart

Member
Jun 23, 2013
2,297
199
525
It can work if done correctly.
Imagine that there are several objectives in a game that you are allowed to tackle in the order that you want and clearing them would make you stronger, since the developer doesn't know in which order you are going to tackle this objectives which have rewards that make you stronger some enemies should be allowed to become stronger as well to keep it challenging.
Making every enemy level up is horrible obviously because it negates all the progress, but you can justify that some enemies characters are becoming stronger the longer you wait to face them.
Not a fan of making games all about convenience to the player, but pacing the challenge and reward correctly instead.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Fictive

renzolama

Member
Sep 16, 2016
1,704
155
280
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.
It also fits very well in Breath of the Wild because absolutely nothing you can do in the open world is worthwhile for progression anyway.
 

Zannegan

Member
Feb 20, 2018
765
389
420
Enemy level scaling is a lazy way to make a game seem "challenging." Most games have shitty difficulty settings with crappy AIs. Decades from now, we're going to laugh at the pathetic games we all enjoyed - because the AI for most games almost never makes you think outside box.
Any game that forces you to grind shouldn't even be on sale. Time is a precious currency and if you're grinding so you can take more hits, or do more dmg, it's practically the same as you playing on an easy difficulty without the grinding.

Imagine a game where enemies learn from your fight patterns - your most used moves - most used items/skills whatever. So the future boss battle that's waiting for you is gonna fight against all that. Decades of research into AI and they can't incorporate something so simple in games? I'm sure they can - but we're all too fucking busy praising the same gaming formulas from 20 years ago. So they don't need to do it.
TBH, the problem of enemy AI isn't making them smarter/more adaptable/able to learn/etc. It's making them seem to be all those things while also staying stupid enough for players to still win.

Most of what we think of as enemy AI is more art than science and more choreography than tactics. As such, I don't know that the problem of crappy AI and bullet sponge difficulty levels will ever go away. =/