GW2: To scale or not to scale

GW2 scaling in many ways makes the whole leveling process somewhat silly.

You return to where you started but the local bandits are still just as tough as their far more senior members in later zones. No matter how legendary your accomplishments or gear, you are only as strong as everything around you (except in WvW…)

The game NOT scaling in some cases makes including leveling troublesome.

Complete a map to 100% a few levels above the recommended level, and the reward is lacking. Run a dungeon a few levels after you can, and the reward is lacking, while the difficulty is locked. Crafting XP scales, but not the stats of what you craft.

The game scaling inappropriately in one direction or another is an unbalanced pain in the ass.

Return to a certain area in a certain zone, and it’s a death trap for at-level characters or lvl 80s. Return to another area, and its god-mode. Certain skills down/up-levels are also ridiculously broken. If you find something initially too hard, pray that the scaling gods are kind when you return (especially if the situation is a forced solo like story quests)

Anet has a lot of work to do.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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33 Responses to GW2: To scale or not to scale

  1. thade says:

    Still worth playing? I’m on the fence here.

    • SynCaine says:

      Short answer is yes, but I’d say it will easily be a MUCH better game in a few patches. Some of the nagging stuff is very frustrating right now.

      • kalex716 says:

        In a few patches i’ll probably be gone.

        It doesn’t have any hooks, no goals to set, no particularly compelling gear options or builds. Everything just kinda plays/unlocks itself. Its not very challenging, you can do anything and everything, or nothing, and it all kinda just feels the same. Want to craft? do them all!

        It places zero value/expectations on my personal interest, and in turn gives little of anything meaningful back.

        Its fun in the immediacy, but overall i can’t quite put my finger on it… It feels more like a MOBA or something (which can be cool), not an MMO.

        I have zero compulsion to join a guild either, i mean theirs just not a whole lot to do collectively. I guess it beats zerging around in WvWvW, but to be honest, the zerg doens’t “suck” so much anyhow.

        It all just kinda feels vanilla.

        • adammtlx says:

          kalex716: I played in beta and I got the exact same impression as you. I never felt compelled to play. Everything just kind of took care of itself. It demanded very little of me and the return was in kind. It was very disappointing because I was really excited for it.

          Once it came out I started asking people, probing to see if anything had meaningfully changed and strongly got the impression that it had not. Your post is one among many that confirms it. I will not be spending $50 on GW2.

      • thade says:

        Curiosity pushed me to finally take the jump; I can see what you mean by “MUCH” better in a few patches. It’s already decent. I’m eager to see WvWvW in action but I keep reading about massive queues and other issues, so I’ll cool my heels on that for now.

        Exploration and lack-of-hand-holding is cool; I dig the weapons=skills scene. It’s nice.

    • silvertemplar says:

      I’d say, yes, just like SWTOR was worth playing , if you catch my drift. I still think GW2 is pretty much a 3-monther for those that play it intensely. You are going to hit lvl 80 and most likely loved the journey, but i don’t quite see the lasting appeal beyond the e-sport Arena PvP .

      Even WvWvW , it’s great now , everyone is moaning about sitting in queues, but my prediction is, in a few months everyone is going to moan about not finding anyone giving a toss about bothering (beyond guild premades).

    • tithian says:

      Depends on what you’re looking for. It does “theme park” really well, so if you’re into that at all, then yes, you will get your money’s worth.

      It’s still a abit rough around the edges mostly at level 80, but I’m assuming that as more people reach the level cap these things will get ironed out soon.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    Haven’t really noticed much of this. I’m 76 now and I run all up and down Tyria and don’t see any major difficulty or reward spikes. Some areas are harder than others and so are some mobs but I thought that was one of the attractions. I like learning that kind of stuff.

    The personal story instances really do need some work though. Some, indeed quite a lot, of them seem to be tuned for a group not an individual. I know you *can* bring a group to do your own storyline but surely you shouldn’t be expected to?

    • João Carlos says:

      Some story instances can be a good idea bring a group. However, that ones can be easier or harder if you are using a diferent class.

      By the way, the player community is yet maping what story instances need groups. Currently, players are meeting at the entrance of Claw Island and asking for group, because the first instance there really needs a group (the second one no so much).

  3. spinks says:

    I’ve noticed this with drops also. It’s all fine and good to get drops at your level … unless you actually wanted to go to the lowbie zones to farm low level crafting materials.

    • Azuriel says:

      Do you still get at-level drops? For the last week, all I get are zone-level drops from everything, lvl 9 items from Splendid Chests, and getting 10xp for mob kills when at-level things give 45xp.

      I’m just as weak at level 45 as I was at level 10, and get nothing more for going back to these zones? It’s a worse system than before!

      • Dà Chéng says:

        Do it for the fun and the challenge, then; not the “rewards”. Honestly, this sort of behaviour – chasing pixel rewards like kindergarten kids chasing gold stars from the teacher – only serves to emphasize the Skinner-box nature of much MMO design. You complain that you get “nothing more” for going back to these zones. Why should you get more?

        • SynCaine says:

          After 80 levels, is it really great gameplay to play the skill-spam/dodge game vs trash mobs? Is it anything remotely challenging?

          The problem with the “don’t worry about the reward” (the why) point of view is that MMOs don’t work without it. The content should almost never be one-and-done.

        • João Carlos says:

          Syncaine, I get to level 80 yesterday. Currently, I am trying complete the story quests and trying craft for me a better gear and trying to complete the 3 Orr zones. I want complete that zones now while I am doing the last story quests.

          Take note that I am level 80, but that Orr zones are not easy, they need a group or you will die alone. All 3 Orr zones don’t have hearts, they are closer to the original intentions of devs before players at alpha argumented they had no directions and hearts were created.

          Orr is a crazy place. Yesterday, I and a lot of other players (that was pratically a raid) played one hour following a DE where a platoon of soldiers where going from one POI to other for conquer the place and put a guarrison in place. Each time they conquered a place, a new event started and the undead made a counter-attack for retake that place. That chain of DE make me explore pratically half of zone.

          Some DE at Orr are bugged, sadly. But it is not a big problem and some patchs IMHO will solve the problems here.

          So, I have a lot of things to do now I am level 80.

        • SynCaine says:

          Get back to me about Orr and those DE’s after a week or so :)

        • João Carlos says:

          I will problably return there. A lot of players from my guild are at the level range 20-50, I am the only one at level 80. They will need a guide.

          Anyway I am trying to complete the first Orr zone (I need one skill point, one POI and one teleport point, but mobs don’t let me get close) , I am half second zone and the third zone I not touched yet… so i will stay there for a long week. I just hope they fix the bugs at some DE soon.

          A nice thing about Orr is that it have treasure chests spread over the zone, you open them and can gain blue or green items.

          But the place is crazy, mostly with that dragon battling the dirigibles on the sky…

        • Azuriel says:

          Honestly, this sort of behaviour – chasing pixel rewards like kindergarten kids chasing gold stars from the teacher – only serves to emphasize the Skinner-box nature of much MMO design.

          You do realize how silly that sounds in an RPG with 80 levels, right? Or any RPG, really.

        • Dà Chéng says:

          “After 80 levels, is it really great gameplay to play the skill-spam/dodge game vs trash mobs?”

          I think we differ in how we enjoy RPGs. I don’t play them for the gameplay. I play for the roleplay. Like you, I just loved Skyrim. I immersed myself in the stories and in the world. The gameplay in Skyrim was atrocious, to the point where you had to break immersion by pausing the game to change spells! But the world and its stories are what made that game fun, and that’s what makes fantasy worlds like Azeroth and Tyria and Westeros come alive for me: immersion. Hell,there’s no gameplay at all in books!

        • Dà Chéng says:

          “You do realize how silly that sounds in an RPG with 80 levels, right?”

          Azuriel, I know what you mean, because I’ve seen players who accept quests without even reading the quest text. When every quest is a kill-quest or a delivery quest or both, it’s hard to make the stories interesting. But if you are playing an RPG game for 80 levels and you aren’t interested in the stories, what exactly are you playing for? It seems to me that in many cases it’s for the “achievements”, the gold-stars that many RPGs hand out instead of interesting and immersive stories. Can you imagine enjoying a book where the story was dull and repetitive, but the publishers sent you a framed certificate for every chapter you completed?

  4. Alexandre ''Zeviking'' Boisvert says:

    This whole scaling thing is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in a MMO. Leveling cooking requires stuff from multiple zones and I always find myself in danger even if I outlevel the zone by 30 lvl.
    I think the worst part tho is when I am trying to do my Class Quest, My main is a Sylvari Mesmer, I am currently lvl 66 and as of now, I have done most of my quests with a friend of mine as it was nearly impossible for me to solo most of them, how am I supposed to beat a wave of 6 mob all by myself anyway ? I can dodge most of the stuff but it is just hard for no reason and I am still on the lvl 40 quests. This scaling down doesn’t help me enjoy the story and questing experience, it hinder my gameplay.

    main language is french, sorry if there is some fuzy parts.

  5. tithian says:

    I’m only level 52, but I can’t say that I’ve found any places that things were just beyond me. Sometimes in the personal storyline it seemed like the game just threw EVERYTHING at me at the same time and was struggling a bit, but fighting 524 waves of mobs and kiting all around the place for 20 minutes was more tedious than it was frustrating. I did it the first 6 times, can we just move on with the story please?

    But usually when I go back to lower level areas, I just faceroll through everything. Godmode indeed.

    Also yeah, the reward scaling is mostly awful. I still think that Explorable Mode for dungeons should have been strictly-80 and just have the Story mode as something you do during your levelling. Although I’m guessing that (as with GW1) a lot of people will be running low level dungeons just for the armor skins.

  6. Dà Chéng says:

    “the reward is lacking, while the difficulty is locked”

    If there is no intrinsic reward in the activity, then why are you doing it? It’s hard for me to understand that people are actually prepared to run instances long after they’ve ceased to be a challenge or fun, just for “fat lewtz”: pixels. This has always seemed to me to be the proble with most MMOs (like WoW, for instance). How nice to see an MMO where loot isn’t the driving reason for entering tough instances. What surprises me, Syncaine, is that you’re complaining about this!

    How would it be if monsters _never_ dropped inappropriate loot? After all, why is Morchok (a giant creature of living rock) carrying leather and plate armour pieces in my size? How would it be if we only fought such monsters for the challenge of fighting them, or to avoid the consequences of not fighing them (in those few games where such consequences might actually exist)?

    • Sand says:

      i’d love the shit out of that, to be honest. like if there were marauding giants and if the players didn’t put the giant warbands down, the giants would sack towns and kill off all the vendors until players pushed the giants back to their camps or whatever. and you couldn’t do whatever events there were because you didn’t stand up to the giants when you had the chance, so now you have to drive them out of the zone before you can get anything done.

      as for mobs dropping inappropriate loot, i agree completely. it makes zero sense whatsoever for rock dogs and zombie wurms to be carrying around fabulous cash prizes and human-shaped armor.

      • Kobeathris says:

        FYI, I have had that happen several times when I have been exploring around with my wife (it was undead though in our case, not giants). We were on our way to do one of our story quests, and ran into a town that was over run with undead. We were some of the first people there, so we ended up spending about 15-20 minutes pushing the undead back before we went on with what our actual plan was. We COULD have just ignored it and went straight for the quest, but it just seemed like the right thing to do.

        • SynCaine says:


          The next time the undead are there, you will run past them unless you need credit for an event or karma.

          That’s the core problem with a lot of GW2 content; it works once and only once.

        • tithian says:


          are you implying that this GW2 is just like any other theme park MMO? The blasphemy! *grabs pitchfork*

        • SynCaine says:

          Are you suggesting that baby jesus was just another baby? You heathen!

        • Kobeathris says:

          Well, that’s going to be true of pretty much any game. The fact remains that rampaging things will take over an area, and if you wish to use the services in that area, you will need to fight off those things.

          Assuming for the sake of argument that housing will eventually make it into the game at some point, I think how that is implemented will go a long way to determining overall longevity. If your house is just a place that exists in its own safe little haven, that won’t be all that compelling. If they do something like creating a mist area where your house exists in a village that can be attacked, much more interesting.

  7. Wontwo3 says:

    Why do they even have levels? A player should be able to just click on the map and go to place that scales up or down as needed.

    • kalex716 says:

      The answer lies at the heart of the established notions of what “Player Vs. Environment” is.

      Levels and area’s that are essentially blocked off as a result are game design conventions that promote the idea that particular area’s of the environment are yet still too dangerous for your game piece. They’re artificial, but are there to give you the sense that you are on a path, a quest, a journey, a progression so to speak. And the world is a big and dangerous place, but some day, you’ll be prepared to face what lies beyond that wall…

      Obviously, in guildwars its all kind of confusing though because you can scale down, but not up, and theirs really nothing there thats dangerous anyway, and that is indeed why you are even compelled to raise this question in the first place. If they were pulling it off successfully, it would feel natural.

      Something is wrong.

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