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What is the point of levelling up?

Physiocrat

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In many RPG games you can increase your base stats such as health or attack strength as you gain enough XP. The best case I can see for it is that it gives the illusion of progression. You see your base stats increase and this is a marker of progress. The problem is this is just an illusion because enemies throughout games typically increase their health level and attack strength which renders the levelling up null and void. Even worse is games with many side quests where you can grind your level really high and the enemies don't auto adjust their stats so you can just easily defeat them. I suppose that is a benefit of levelling up but surely you want the combat to always be challenging?

Am I missing something or is levelling up base stats either pointless or broken?

NB - my argument does not apply to levelling up which gives you a new skill which fundamentally changes the gameplay. For example, remote hacking in Deus Ex Mankind Divided
 

reforen

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The problem is this is just an illusion because enemies throughout games typically increase their health level and attack strength which renders the levelling up null and void.
This is part of leveling up, to access those areas you need to be in a considerable character level to enter a new zone, handle the enemies, survive. If you haven't played DarkSouls (I doubt it) you can try to go to the catacombs during the first hour of the game and you will destroyed, so you go to other zones, level up, increase your stats and when you go back to the catacombs you can access the zone
 
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Tbone3336

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A example I see is if dexterity stat increases, character can then use a bow to handle combat in a different fashion than just a sword. Next Level improves efficiency in use of the bow, making attacks more accurate, which makes harder enemies easier than without this talent.
 

Sander Cohen

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Dark Souls has great system in which you can theoretically beat game lvl. 1 right but leveling up, obviously, you make life for yourself much easier but never where you will be OP. It’s smart. In vast majority of games, if you don’t level up, you don’t stand a chance in next area/map because enemies are already at certain level. It’s physiological, people like to see numbers go up and making a progress happening on screen. Also, getting OP and crushing under leveled peasants is fun.
 

jason10mm

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It makes sense when raising stats makes early obstacles easier/irrelevant so the player can then focus on challenges impossible the beat in the beginning.

BOTW did it quite well IMHO as both player skill and in game leveling are taken into account. Some of the Elder Scrolls games make leveling mostly pointless other than for acquiring new cosmetic attacks/abilities since everything scales with you.

But the reality is the dopamine release reward system for increasing player engagement is exploited by frequent "PING" rewards in this manner.
 
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Most RPGs have fixed level enemies though, so while they progressively get stronger throughout the game they do so in tiers pretty much, so you can always out level the area you are in and feel stronger.

Games where they dynamically get stronger with you then yes, it's a really dumb system. Oblivion is notorious for this.
 

Physiocrat

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A example I see is if dexterity stat increases, character can then use a bow to handle combat in a different fashion than just a sword. Next Level improves efficiency in use of the bow, making attacks more accurate, which makes harder enemies easier than without this talent.

I don't think I have an objection to that as that actually changes the gameplay mechanics.
This is part of leveling up, to access those areas you need to be in a considerable character level to enter a new zone, handle the enemies, survive. If you haven't played DarkSouls (I doubt it) you can try to go to the catacombs during the first hour of the game and you will destroyed, so you go to other zones, level up, increase your stats and when you go back to the catacombs you can access the zone

In more of an open world setting I can see that. The best argument I think would be if you have the stats at a decent level your ability in the game is probably quite good and so are ready to face the harder enemies. That said I would much prefer enemies to be harder because of the way they attacked rather than the damage they dealt and the health they had. I remember playing Mass Effect 1 on hardcore and it was just really boring as I had to spend ages to whittle down the health of stupid enemies
 

Physiocrat

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Dark Souls has great system in which you can theoretically beat game lvl. 1 right but leveling up, obviously, you make life for yourself much easier but never where you will be OP. It’s smart. In vast majority of games, if you don’t level up, you don’t stand a chance in next area/map because enemies are already at certain level. It’s physiological, people like to see numbers go up and making a progress happening on screen. Also, getting OP and crushing under leveled peasants is fun.

How does the Soul's system work? I have been tempted to play it before but was put off by how much of my progression could be wiped after dying that put me off. I have a wife and four kids so I don't have that much time to play games.
 
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Jeeves

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As has been said, it lets you organically decide if you want to go fast and hard, or slow and easy. And it can clue the player in when they wander into a place not meant for them yet. And it's not just stat gains, it's one of the oldest methods in the book for unlocking new skills.

Speaking of stat gains, though, some games (I actually don't know if the majority do this or not) randomize or semi-randomize the spread of stat gains, so that you get a unique experience each playthrough -- usually minor differences but they can contribute to your characters feeling different. Fire Emblem is a perhaps infamous example of this.

Some games do not make good use of exp, though. I recall the leveling system in The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls feeling entirely pointless (nice game though).
 

Moogle11

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It is largely pointless in games where enemies scale to your level. That’s a huge disincentive to me playing those games. If it’s a game with a good story or other things I want to enjoy, I’ll just put it on easy and not fuss with builds since the enemies scale anyway.

In games where enemies don‘t scale the purpose of leaving is to get more powerful so enemies and bosses are easier to take down. It can also be not fun if it requires a lot of grinding to make some required fights doable, but leveling up can be good, mindless, relaxing fun if the battle system is good and it doesn’t take too long. End of the day I play games mostly for the story, characters and atmosphere and for escapism above all. So i don’t mind a little grinding to zone out if the story etc. is worth it.
 
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Sander Cohen

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How does the Soul's system work? I have been tempted to play it before but was put off by how much of my progression could be wiped after dying that put me off. I have a wife and four kids so I don't have that much time to play games.
You collect souls or xp and level up at the bonfire. You put those points in stats that you want like dexterity, speed, HP or stamina level, magic etc. It depends on build you wanna have. Light and nimble or heavy and tanky. Or you can be magic wizard and some combination of those all. If you die, you lose all your xp at the spot you died so you have to go back there and pick it up without dying again in the process. If you do die again, you lose everything.

But, again, leveling up in DS will make your life easier bit by bit but you can’t get OP and crush enemies by the sole power of your stats, They don’t give you that much advantage like in many other games. You still need to learn mechanics or use cheat code and summon a friend or a stranger to beat a boss (and/or clear a path to it).
 
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CeeJay

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levelling is the outcome from practicing different disciplines. It's good mechanism to make your character your own and tailor it towards the type of play that you do. Prefer melee combat then your character will develop into a warrior class, prefer magic and it becomes a mage or wizard, more into ranged combat and it becomes a ranger.

Even disregarding that, do you really want to play a game where your character doesn't go on a transformative journey by developing their stats throughout the game? You would be fighting the same old enemies from start to finish. The feeling you get when you get a new skill or you can do one thing just a little better is something that people want from games and if it wasn't like that it might feel a bit pointless. It might well be that it's an illusion but so what if it's entertaining?

I love those moments where you have a battle early on with no chance of winning and then later on you meet that same enemy and kick it's ass. Or even better when you have to go back to a previous area and absolutely melt the foes that were a challenge the first time you were there.
 

Fbh

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Are there really many games left with a leveling system that gives you nothing but a fixed stat increase?
Leveling up is now usually associated with either skill points or letting the player assign stat points at will to build their character as they see fit.

Other than that I think they still create a sense of progression and reward. Enemies do get increasingly harder but it's often not instantly, in many games it's not like I level up and enemies immediately get stronger too. In many RPG's you can spend hours in a specific area with specific enemies that definitely start getting easier as you level up and get new gear and the difficulty only increases once you move to the next major area or dungeon.
 

Nico_D

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There are many (j)rpgs where levelling up leads to you being a god too.

I agree that without that - even to some extent - makes levelling up pointless if you still need the same number of hits to kill enemies.
 

EverydayBeast

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RPG games comes down to powering up your character, making it possible to beat bosses and sort of emerge as a champion, by 20-30 hours in you're loaded and the game starts to feel a whole lot easier and you can take advantage of these RPG-like elements that allow you to pound away at enemies.
 

cireza

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The simple fact of leveling up gives a good sense of satisfaction, even in games where everything is streamlined and you don't get to choose anything about stats etc...

For example, in Shining Force II. The game is pretty difficult and the enemies hit hard. Every time you gain a level, you can feel the subtle difference it makes, and this is pretty satisfying. Also, the game offers promotions for the characters, which reinforce this feeling of progression.
 

Lethal01

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It's a built-in difficulty select. Any good RPG will provide the player a chance to grind on the side to make a difficult part easier, or you can attempt those same parts anyway at a lower level and perhaps overcome it with a superior understanding of the game's mechanics.
Any good RPG also has a way to lower your level if you actually enjoy fighting just for fun.
 
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Tranquil

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Even worse is games with many side quests where you can grind your level really high and the enemies don't auto adjust their stats so you can just easily defeat them. I suppose that is a benefit of levelling up but surely you want the combat to always be challenging?

I like leveling up so high that I can easily defeat certain enemies in an RPG, it feels earned.
 

Life

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Being able to grind and having random encounters/respawnable enemies is ancient game design - one which still plagues many RPGs to this day. Having fixed enemies with fixed XP and actual progression choice - that's what RPGs should be. But we still give 9/10 to RPGs that still play the same way they did 30 years ago, because MUH SOUNDTRACK, MUH STORY, MUH CUTE WAIFU.
 
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"Games with many side quests where you can grind your level really high and the enemies don't auto adjust their stats so you can just easily defeat them"

That's exactly what I would want from every rpg!! :messenger_sunglasses:
 
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cormack12

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Depends, well implemented you choose traits or multipliers that match your playstyle. Level scaling isn't an issue for that imo. For example, you might level your character to add mulitpliers to stealth bonus damage, so if you hit an enemy from stealth you might do +250dmg as opposed to +50dmg but at the cost of physical resistance so you can't be in open combat too long. However most RPGLites dont work this way, you either break the system if you level properly or becoe a jack of all trades thats breezes through anyway.

Unless you're playing content which requires actual class synergy - which I think WoW did well for a time then it doesn't seem to matter these days.
 

bbeach123

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I like to have level , in a game without one its very hard for me to find a reason fighting monster .

In mid game Botw I just run past everything I dont need to kill . I mean fighting monster in this game doesnt give shit , break your weapon , the combat is not even that good , why would I try to fight the same monster for XXX time then .
 
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hroerekr

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If you get new skills, it does make a difference.
If you can choose what stat to increase, then is a matter of choice/balance and it does make a difference.

If it just increase all stats equally, then it's a lazy implementation to give the illusion of progress.
 

Physiocrat

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You collect souls or xp and level up at the bonfire. You put those points in stats that you want like dexterity, speed, HP or stamina level, magic etc. It depends on build you wanna have. Light and nimble or heavy and tanky. Or you can be magic wizard and some combination of those all. If you die, you lose all your xp at the spot you died so you have to go back there and pick it up without dying again in the process. If you do die again, you lose everything.

But, again, leveling up in DS will make your life easier bit by bit but you can’t get OP and crush enemies by the sole power of your stats, They don’t give you that much advantage like in many other games. You still need to learn mechanics or use cheat code and summon a friend or a stranger to beat a boss (and/or clear a path to it).

Sounds interesting. How likely is it that you will die before reaching the place you originally died and how long does it typically take to take to find it?

Even disregarding that, do you really want to play a game where your character doesn't go on a transformative journey by developing their stats throughout the game? You would be fighting the same old enemies from start to finish. The feeling you get when you get a new skill or you can do one thing just a little better is something that people want from games and if it wasn't like that it might feel a bit pointless. It might well be that it's an illusion but so what if it's entertaining?

I love those moments where you have a battle early on with no chance of winning and then later on you meet that same enemy and kick it's ass. Or even better when you have to go back to a previous area and absolutely melt the foes that were a challenge the first time you were there.
Well I would like them to have a greater variety of enemies and or make the enemies more intelligent as you progress through the game.


On the latter point I agree to an extent as long as it is still challenging, the impact say a Drake in Dragon Age Origins seriously goes down when you are so strong they are an easy kill.
Are there really many games left with a leveling system that gives you nothing but a fixed stat increase?
Leveling up is now usually associated with either skill points or letting the player assign stat points at will to build their character as they see fit.

I'm currently replaying the first WItcher game which doesn't really allow for massively different play styles and has quite a few increase damage done by sword advancements.
Depends, well implemented you choose traits or multipliers that match your playstyle. Level scaling isn't an issue for that imo. For example, you might level your character to add mulitpliers to stealth bonus damage, so if you hit an enemy from stealth you might do +250dmg as opposed to +50dmg but at the cost of physical resistance so you can't be in open combat too long. However most RPGLites dont work this way, you either break the system if you level properly or becoe a jack of all trades thats breezes through anyway.

Unless you're playing content which requires actual class synergy - which I think WoW did well for a time then it doesn't seem to matter these day
I think it can make sense if there are significant variations of possible play style. Thinking about playstyle there seem only to be three major ones - melee, ranged or stealth. Everything else seems a subset of those
 

Physiocrat

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I like to have level , in a game without one its very hard for me to find a reason fighting monster .

In mid game Botw I just run past everything I dont need to kill . I mean fighting monster in this game doesnt give shit , break your weapon , the combat is not even that good , why would I try to fight the same monster for XXX time then .

I think this is one of the reasons I'm not that much of a fan of open world games. I want the fighting of monsters to progress me through levels or progress the plot.
 

Soodanim

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I'm surprised this is a question, because the answer is self evident in any game that I've played. Maybe you haven't been lucky. If you go to an area with stronger enemies then it's going to be somewhere between harder and impossible, and you eventually get to return when you're stronger. You also get to go back through weaker areas and laugh at how strong you've become.

There's also skills trees and other level requirements that allow for ability expansion and often with user choice, which lets you customise your experience and gives the game more life in the form of replayability.

Skyrim will lock dungeons at the level first encountered, so if you're having trouble when you first go into X you can return a bit later for an easier/more balanced time.
 

lyan

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How does the Soul's system work? I have been tempted to play it before but was put off by how much of my progression could be wiped after dying that put me off. I have a wife and four kids so I don't have that much time to play games.
Having played all of them punishment from the wiping aspect of death is really over-stated (well unless for those who only played games that auto saves every 20 metres).

When you respawn from death all souls (the only currency that act as experience and money) held are dropped, but the thing is early game you should be gearing/leveling up asap anyway so you would never be hoarding a bunch of them in the first place. As for losing the amount earned right before you die, that is no more punishing than games with fixed save points, in a sense Souls can be considered more forgiving as you get a chance to retrieve them.

By the time you got through early game farming them is so quick and easy none of this really matters.
 
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bbeach123

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Sounds interesting. How likely is it that you will die before reaching the place you originally died and how long does it typically take to take to find it?
I say about 30% souls come from killing boss (that you can level up immediately ) 30% come from farming an area again and again (that you dont have to worry about dying twice) , 20% come from looting souls item ( that doesnt drop when dead) , only 20% come from killing stuff to opening up map/ progession .

You only need to worry about the last 20% souls lose when you die . Its feel like shit when you lose it but actually its not that much .

You get much stronger from upgrade weapon than leveling up ,and you cant lose upgrade item .

In the end even if you keep dying and lose souls you're not that much weaker than a person who not die at all .

To answer for the question , depend . If you're a careful person , you will not die twice much .
 
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wipeout364

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I like leveling up when it changes the game or makes my character obviously more powerful. I want to struggle in an area and then return hours later at much higher level and absolutely destroy everything there. This is an area where Bethesda games irritate me, I hate games where the world levels with me ,it makes it all feel pointless.
 

Jigsaah

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Leveling is also tied to progression in other ways. Unlocking special abilities and meeting requirement to use certain equipment in some games. I wouldn't call it pointless, but I get your point.

somebody should come up with a world where the enemies levels are static but spread out far enough that wandering into a certain area could mean certain death for your character. FFXI had a system like this, however I would prefer if the game's combat system allowed for a curve where sufficient skill would allow you to escape or be able to fight the enemies and maybe even kill a couple. I think Assassin's Creed Odyssey is the closest thing to that.

The system should allow for realism though, which is what Odyssey lacks. Sure you could be level 45 going up against level 50 enemies. Just because of the lvl difference you have to stab them 20-30 times to kill them, yet they can kill you in 2-3 hits. It should be more like difficulty scales the AI, instead of the health and damage. The same should be for leveling. Become amore efficient protagonist should be tied to a tangible improvement in your actual skill, rather than filling up a bar by completing remedial tasks.

Shit I need to make this game before someone steals my ideas.

I was never here, you guys never read this.
 
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I was once playing a game with my friends in the forest behind our school ... Game was called "beat on each other with sticks like a Sir"... At one point we decided it was too simplistic, so we made it into ctf.

 
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Knightime_X

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Apparently games where you level up are not for you.
Leveling gives the player choice.
Level and enjoy the easier ride or actively avoid leveling and bathe in frustration.

It's like entering a wrestling match being a weak ass toothpick boy or the incredible hulk.
It's really up to you.
 
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It’s about addicting the gamer to the surge of endorphins that occurs when people get notified of a level up which causes people to want to keep getting that hit as they continue to level up.
 

Saber

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Level up is supposed to be a display of the player getting stronger. Level up is more of a reward for the hardwork of grinding and training, its a progress system.

Problem is that most games lost themselves in this principle. Games with scaling enemies renders this process meaningless(you can't be stronger if the enemies gets stronger like you, can you?) and games like Skyrim level are completelly useless apart from granting you a point and a boost of your choice(meaning that unless you spending points, you ain't go nowhere with your level up). Number itself its nothing but a display and its only used for the dumb aspects of scaling enemies and every crap in the game, create even more randomness in the already random process.
 

Nehezir

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Stats also scale in other ways. For Example, in D&D every 2 str or dex (depending on class) mitigates one point of AC that the enemy has, increasing your RNG to land a hit by a 5% chance. The rate of which you have to contend with does scale as you go up, but it isn't uniform by any means and can be highly individual. Your BAB also contributes to this, and Certain thresholds for this accuracy also mean you can start to shoot for more than attacks per round.
 

GaviotaGrande

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Spiderman on PS4 is one of my favorite games but it's a perfect example of a game with pointless "leveling" system. This should be reserved to RPGs.