Why World of Warcraft’s item level scaling is really, really, dumb

This has been a very stupid week. I know this because any other week, World of Warcraft completely destroying the reason for acquiring new gear would stand out as the stupidest thing I’d heard all week. As it was, it was just the stupidest thing I heard on Wednesday. I heard it when I woke up, so it had an early chance to establish that lead, and while I couldn’t be certain it had no real way of losing that lead through the end of the day.

I don’t know if it’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard all week, but it’s definitely high in the running.

A lot of parts of Legion have produced some degree of controversy, and by and large, I’ve been on the side of these being good decisions that need to be made for the good of the game. This, on the other hand, is a terrible decision that does nothing positive whatsoever for the game. It hurts every form of content and reward currently in play, and it’s the sort of thing that seems so catastrophically ill-considered that your first thought upon hearing it is, well, that it can’t be real. But it totally is. And the eleventh-hour rolling back of several parts doesn’t exactly change the core problems behind the idea or why players immediately reacted with anger.

First of all, a disclaimer: I am not a player who cares about having the best gear in existence. This has nothing to do with “oh no, my epix are less uber” whatsoever. If you need sourcing for this, look back at, well, about a thousand other things that I’ve written before now. Were this an issue affecting the people who cleared Mythic raid difficulty alone, I would consider this a good change and one that would affect almost none of the actual playing population.

But it doesn’t. It affects everyone who plays the game, and it basically makes gear progression – one of the two major sorts of progression in the game – completely irrelevant. With no forewarning and no appreciable justification.

Progression is a natural part of many games in general and MMOs in particular. You want progression to mean something, and you want to feel stronger when you progress. That’s natural. The very worst form of level scaling in games is where enemies are getting stronger at the same rate as you; in most games that feature level scaling of some sort (Mass Effect: Andromeda comes to mind as my current game of choice), your enemies are scaling up, but you’re getting more powers and upgrades and options, so you’re still more powerful than they are in a relative sense.

Remember when the big problem we had was seagulls? That seems so much easier right now.

Legion already destroys that. You are, relatively speaking, as powerful at level 110 as you are at level 100 unless you’re leveling a Demon Hunter, specifically because all of your stat gains are symmetrical with those of your enemies. It’s kind of frustrating in that regard; there’s no actual reason for level 110 since it doesn’t make you any stronger. It just means another set of levels to gain.

That just leaves gear progression as an option. And gear progression is, again, something that’s been with the game since the early days. You get better equipment and thus get stronger. So long as you have actual means of advancement in that field, it’s a totally functional form of improvement at the level cap.

Heck, it’s half of the reason to care about gear. The other reason is visuals, and since Legion doesn’t have a whole lot of new armor sets that aren’t reused across several dozen rewards, you’re likely to get all of the visuals you want fairly early. They’re not going to keep you coming back.

Obviously, the idea is that having enemies scale with you item level is that it’s supposed to be a slight growth. But the very idea is stupid at face value, because it’s a counterbalance to stats that’s only there because of inflated stats. If enemies are supposed to be scaled to gain two attack power for every five attack power you gain, a better option would be to just have the player gain three attack power and leave enemies where they are. It’s a counterweight to fix a problem that only exists because you put it in place.

Even leaving that aside, though, it creates a weird situation where you don’t want better gear. If you’re able to reliably kill things at a certain level, then you’re actually fine without ever getting another upgrade. It’s not going to make things significantly easier to kill, everything scales up to you anyhow; why bother? What advantage does it actually give you?

Have fun with this now.

Presumably it still gives you an edge in raids, but I refuse to believe that this system was put in place just to force people getting gear upgrades to raid. An argument could be made, but I don’t buy it. I think it’s just as simple as a matter of making very, very poor decisions.

“What, are you afraid of the game retaining some challenge?” Except what we’re talking about here isn’t challenge. It’s not things getting harder, it’s actually the opposite; it’s removing the ability to actually make meaningful progress at the level cap. There’s no additional challenge involved in ensuring that a bear in Aszuna will always take the same amount of time to kill; the bear isn’t gaining new abilities or mechanics forcing me to play differently. It’s just hitting harder as I gain more health and defense, making those increases functionally pointless.

Heck, most of the stuff I actually enjoy in WoW already has the problem of how many enemies are basically just damage sponges. Heroic dungeon bosses have simple and largely transparent mechanics that just repeat over and over for the lengthy duration of the fight; they stop being much of a challenge long before their health drops to nothing.

The original change to gear scaling also means losing the rather enjoyable sense of being able to take on Elites as the expansion progresses; that’s one of the fun parts of the game. No, you can’t do it at a lower item level, but with time and gearing you can take down group enemies solo. It creates a real feeling of reward and improvement. Causing them to scale with your gear means that they’ll always be out of your league, removing a sense of challenge (can I do this elite quest solo?) and accomplishment (yes, I can do it alone).

What if, instead of getting better, you just stayed exactly the same forever?

Legion already has some pretty big problems when it comes to progress. It’s heavily reliant on random chance and offers no real protection for bad luck, although it at least corrects for the major problems of Warlords of Draenor and gives non-raiders a path for advancement. (Or at least, advancement before this boneheaded mechanic made it useless.) When I saw this upon waking up, my immediate thought was that I no longer care about even bothering with upgrades; why should I when the world is just going to scale to match all of them? What point is there to playing consistently?

A lot of this was altered at least slightly within 24 hours of players first complaining about it, which is a good thing. It was not, however, scrapped altogether; it was just tuned downward, with the big focus being on making sure that things have bigger health pools but don’t do extra damage. This does not, in fact, make things better. It means that fights are now going to take longer and offer less risk when you equip better stuff. The only challenge is in staying awake while enemies soak up damage.

None of it changes the fact that none of this was mentioned or discussed or even included in the patch notes. Some things get missed when patch notes are written, yes, but the most recent post even tacitly admits that it was quietly left out of the notes altogether.

In theory, level scaling is a good feature. It’s a bit let down by the fact that nothing is gained in those levels in Legion, but the core concept is sound. But scaling to item level is just trying to fight the game’s massive stat inflation by making it symmetrical, as opposed to actually controlling and limiting that massive stat inflation. It’s the sort of staggeringly bad idea that no one would have asked for, and considering the fact that it was slipped into the patch without so much as a mention, it seems pretty clear that the developers knew it ahead of time.

But no, guys, people just stop playing WoW every so often, there’s nothing the designers can do to change it. Right.

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.
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119 Comments on "Why World of Warcraft’s item level scaling is really, really, dumb"

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Dunk Bird
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Dunk Bird

I mean, I understand why you are upset, but the alternative was far worse. Either the content had to become harder as you were more geared to avoid having world quests that reward current tier items to be 1-shot, or they could make them not scale and the only relevant content would be the broken shore.

I don’t know how much you’ve played, but being confined to a single zone every expansion was horrible. In order for it to remain relevant (and to reward relevant gear), it has to be made harder. Otherwise you get a crazy lewt feedback loop where the gear helps you complete the world quest harder to get better gear to complete the world quest faster. That just isn’t sustainable.

They also could’ve made stat gains from items lower, but that would serve to make upgrades unsatisfactory.

My point is that you can’t have this much relevant content and not have it become harder as you get stronger. Clearly the intent was not meant to be a 1 to 1 increase in difficulty to ilevel, which they have said. But it does ease that power curve to a point where you aren’t literally rolling over mobs before you even see what they are.

I’m sorry the idea of this is so offensive to so many people, but it absolutely makes sense and it results in a far healthier game.

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Grim🎃 Darhk

It makes sense to make the world quests harder, because they give better rewards. Was scaling the way to do it? probably not, but it works fine.

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Geo Kavu

No no no, it’s a great feature!
For me at least. Stopped playing a month ago.
Now I just stalk the forums having fun with all the nonsense.

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Stefan

There is still a feeling of you becoming stronger, it simply is not so that you’ll run around one shotting things all the time. The scaling was over tuned and this was fixed very shortly in the patch, in all honestly unless it was a patch note i would not even notice it really being there. So i find you are creating an issue out of nothing, since to see this as a problem you have to go out from the extreme point of view that it completely negates a power increase in the world, what it does not do.

At worst it will probably make it so mobs are no longer a push over, i can understand why this is done. It is because WQ’s rewards are also scaling, especially the artifact points and to some degree the gear.

With how WQ’s work and how easy it is to get parties for it with the new group finder it is no problem at all. I play less now since i went to a more casual approach but i experience no problem on either main or alt and not all my alts are geared to the point of 900+ equipped none of them are and most of them don’t even have 2 legendary items equiped.

So again can only agree with your sentiment in theory if it was scaled to the point it became a major hindrance or if it negated player progression in the open world. Neither being the case i find this opinion piece to be more of the dramatic kind :)

April-Rain
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April-Rain

A great write up Elliot and I really enjoyed it except- “In theory, level scaling is a good feature”
its not though for a lot of players especially solo players, in theory what would make it a good feature is the choice for the player to have it turned ON or OFF.

I am sure the majority would have it turned off as they play the game for lore, achievements and completion, ie questing.

My days of piling the hours/ days grouping with friends are now long gone, and this is where level scaling is useful only.

I want to twink out or grind out a couple of levels on my character so I can wizz through questing/ exploration(my fave) and do some of the other mass of content in the game.

With kids in my life now a couple of hours playtime is a struggle so getting bogged down in drawn out fights with mobs is no fun, especially as all it is, is wash, rinse and repeat combat.

The first thing that attracted me to wow was exploration of the world which was killed off in wod as I don’t want to have to fight every mob to get to my destination.

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Humble DG

This exactly. It makes no sense to me that as I get more powerful in a game, mobs just happen to do the same thing.

April-Rain
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April-Rain

The auto level of mobs in WOD was enough to put me off, its great to see them follow it up and see everyone get upset now, I almost re-subbed last week so glad I didn’t or I would really be pissed now lol

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Ryan Goodman

Boy, as much as I miss WoW from time to time, this fiasco has me glad that I quit before WoD. With the whole flying ridiculousness, all the gating and the so-called “skill pruning” (a rather weak euphemism for “further homogenization”), throw this scaling on top of it, and you’ve got yourself a game that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the one I fell in love with years ago.

Looks to me that, much as they did in D3 (which is also now, IMO, a broken experience no longer worth playing), the devs have apparently decided that their own “vision” of what is “fun” is what they are going to implement, player feedback be damned.

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Tithian

Blizzard shot themselves on the foot the moment they decided that the difference between fresh level 110 gear and the gear at end of the 1st tier is ~100 ilevels.

As much as a *************** Azmongold is, his recent video on the topic is pretty on point, it’s well worth a watch.

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Bannex

Uh oh, WoW is edging dangerously close to having to make a game be more than just ilvl grinding

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Dobablo

WoW is far more enjoyable when you ignore the grinding and just do activities for the sake of doing activities.

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chriskovo .

The problem with that is they don’t allow them to be side activities anymore. They force you to them whether you want to or not to get back the basic right of flight in the game. Im fine with them adding side activities to do but they should all be optional. It seems like its not about pleasing the customer anymore its about their own egos and trying to force you to realize how great their ideas are. Its like they are all nihilist now or at least their management team is.

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Ben Stone

Power progression is still there for dungeons and raids where you can fap off to your meters. In the context of open world content this is the difference between paying attention and taking 30 seconds to kill something, or just mindlessly one shotting everything. If you want the latter I would question why you even bother “playing”.

April-Rain
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April-Rain

Because you grind out your gear then one shot everything, which I find fun, its the reward for the grind

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chriskovo .

Because at the end you want to feel like a god. These things that used to give you problem are not tribal and can die easily at your whim. Its the only reason to play after you top out your character at the end or help your friends level. I’m fine with new content being a challenge but world quests should not be that hard after a while once you are equipped.

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Ben Stone

So players running around one shotting mobs that need to be shared by everyone in an open tagging environment is a good thing? Right… *rolls eyes*

Thats the reason for the scaling. And why should open world content become trivial just because you got some charity epics?

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Baron Von Clop

“Charity epics”? Oh, you’re one of those players.

Estranged
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Estranged

When did I start paying for my own charity? Think on it, doesn’t make a bit of sense.

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Dobablo

Your interactions with other people becomes a thing the moment you started multi-player gaming.

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Alien Legion

And how often does that happen? How often does that really happen?

I have been gaming for a painfully long time and have played just about everything imaginable. Sure from time to time there has been frustration when over-leveled people take over an area, but that is so few and far between that the point bears no merit, at all. Eventually they get bored, move on, and everyone goes back to gaming.

Especially not enough to make the ‘solution’ to scrap all character progression and level content across every player and all content.

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Dobablo

Every time I do a Falcosaurs quest. If my instant-cast AoE isn’t off-cooldown I am lucky to tag more than a couple of mobs before the whole pack is dead.
It would be an issue on more quests but everything else has shorter progress bars so players cycle out of the area more quickly.

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Alien Legion

Level scaling is bad whether it is player levels of items levels. Part of play a game, heck, part of life is progression. Getting better at something the more one does it. Scaling completely removes that.

How people stand behind character level scaling is well beyond me. The very notion is contradictory … “level scaling”. If you scale content, then levels are irrelevant.

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Vertigo Teaparty

I love the scaling done in Elder Scrolls Online. It allows me to go wherever I want, whenever I want. If I get bored with a zone or decide I want to mix it up and do quests for Dark Brotherhood, Thieve’s Guild, or just move to another zone I can without worrying that the area is too high or too low.

Now, I actually do enjoy the leveling up process and is one of the main reason I play MMOs. Being able to 1-shot low level mobs is amusing but it’s not something I find as particularly interesting.

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Dobablo

Having levels is stupid and since it is almost impossible to retroactively remove them from the game level scaling is the only viable solution.

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Castagere Shaikura

it seems wow it a fun game until you get to max lvl.

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Sally Bowls

I also really don’t like this philosophy. I worry about “camel nose under tent” going forward. I approve of this message.

But so many of your comments strike me as between extreme hyperbole and wrong.

makes gear progression … completely irrelevant.

C’mon. Over the course of an expansion, a well-geared player will end up with about quadruple the power of a fresh 110, exclusively due to gear. I guess they are over double atm. Ion talked about normal mobs tuned for 12-15 second TTK for a fresh 110 but geared killing in one or two GCDs.
The original implementation, since watered down, was “item upgrades that make you 5% stronger, maybe the world gets 1-2% tougher.” Annoying? yes. The 5% now “completely irrelevant?” no. The April analogy is that the IRS taking 20% is annoying but does not mean a raise would be irrelevant or undesired.
You do not address Ion’s point; they want to increase TTK for quest mobs. When I am out doing WQs, my concern is not combat strategies but can I tag the mob. I always open with an instant as soon as I am in range even if that is not optimal rotation. It is so frustrating to be on-the-way or in mid-cast and just not get it tagged before it dies. Geared players being able to one or two shot the mob exacerbates that.

the fact that it was slipped into the patch without so much as a mention, it seems pretty clear that the developers knew it ahead of time.

C’mon. This was on the PTR. Ion: “But the system was meant to feel largely transparent and subtle, just like level-scaling does if you don’t stop and really think about it, and so we did want players to first experience the change organically. Your feedback and reactions and first impressions of the system are more useful in this particular case when they are not skewed by the experience of logging in and actively trying to spot the differences.” In practice, few seemed to notice or care. They experimentally tested this on the PTR and the results seemed to definitely be that the original – stronger than the current implementation – was not a big deal. That seems more credible to me than it was a big deal on the PTR and the playerbase was just too polite to complain.

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Schmidt.Capela

Blizzard painted itself into a corner.

Gear increases always made the whole open world irrelevant; heck, I remember soloing open world content meant for a whole 5-man group, using just auto-attack and passive healing, for the heck of it, and even then my health never dropped below 50% thanks to raiding gear. But in previous expansions it was just a few more dedicated players that ever got the gear to so completely trivialize the open world.

Now? With Blizzard pushing everyone hard into dungeons and raids too many people have the gear to trivialize everything apart from the latest raid. Makes the game boring for too many people. But this power has already been given, and Blizzard knows the wailstorm the proper answer — ditching this gear scaling scheme and instead globally nerfing gear — would cause. So they are trying to find a workaround.

Fun thing is that all of this is an old WoW dev policy coming back to bite them in the behind. For a long time the intent of each new gear tier was that players would always want to upgrade every piece of gear; the worst piece of gear from the new tier was supposed to still be better than the best piece from the previous tier, in all situations. To assure that Blizzard increased the power gap between tiers to what we have now.

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Dobablo

Trivialising world content is only an issue because the new Legion world quests system remains end-game content and remains useful. Pre-Legion, end-game content was only end-game until the next patch so it was permitted (even favorable ) for the older activities to be trivialised by gear upgrades.

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Utakata

For the last bit, I posted on Blizzard Watch that, “if the players where focus on Broken Shore content, they may have assumed that this was to make the new content more challenging. So they may have [also] assumed it was an environmental change and not a gear scaling issue. Hence, it’s likely more [the players] knew about [there was a change] than not, just not aware of the real reason for it.” So, this was not a case of politeness or acceptance of the new change, rather one where many players may have not known what the changes where really about. Poor communication by the devs, prevented players from likely seeing the real context of what was going on. Something *Blizz has to a degree admitted to being an issue.

*Source: https://eu.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/17615271790?page=27#540

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wakkander

Okay, I commented on this briefly on break at work, but let me delve a little deeper. First, I liked the ability to sidekick/mentor in CoH, and still find it the perfect solution to my issues with levels, mainly the difficulty involved playing with friends unless your specifically set up as a static group.

However, aside from that I think level scaling, and now item scaling, is essentially the bane of any progression based game, along with lazy design in general. MMO’s are terrible at progression in most respects compared to the grand daddy rpg anyway, but level scaling combines the worst designed part of mmo progression, and then wipes away any merit it ever had. Item scaling may be worse to some, but to me it is just another flavor of the same mechanic.

Progression in most mmo’s is poor. You have the experience spread over 50+ levels, or over a 100 in the case of wow, and the vast majority of those levels are minor, incremental, changes. Is there a significant difference between 95 and 96? Between 95 and 100? Some, a little, but generally it doesn’t matter because you’ve essentially been fighting the same enemies since around level 10 and enemies became hostile instead of idle. Effectively outside of bosses your fighting the same goblin you fought at the start of the game, just with a different model and animation set, or maybe just a reskin in some cases.

Scaling, be it item or level, simply strips away the illusion you’ve actually progressed at all, shows you the hamster wheel you’re on, and then expects you to applaud the keen design sense.

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Danny Smith

The modern WoW team has made some “why did you think this would work out well” changes in the past, garrisons and such being the obvious targets. Yet they took an mmorpg thats about as carrot on a stick gear treadmill as mmorpgs get in the west AND THEY REMOVED THE POINT OF INCREASING PLAYER POWER. They render their “grind ap to make your weapon stronger” completely pointless.

And this ISN’T a bug?

People act like armchair devs far too often but what on earth did they think was going to happen?

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Dobablo

The bug was with the scaling being overpowered. It was intended to reduce the power gain from gearing up, not act as a matching hedge.

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Chosenxeno .

WoW will never be better than it was during Wrath. They have failed 3 times to surpass the Greatness of WOTLK. WoW died with Arthas and it’s not coming back. I dunno why people are expecting the game to magically get better.

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Ryan Goodman

I would say that I personally think BC times were the “golden years”, but that’s just splitting hairs, cause WotLK was pretty awesome too – although I would say Shat > Dalaran, in terms of the city design, lol.

I completely agree, though: this thing will never return to anything close to what it used to be. Gating, flying removal, required rep grinds, and now this God-awful scaling…I miss the game sometimes, but would never return to it in its sad, sad condition.

flatline4400
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flatline4400

I’m glad this happened yesterday… I was just about to re-up to do the flight quest and stuff… but, nah… is that SWTOR calling for a couple months instead? /gasp!

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Ryan Goodman

Haha, won’t be SWTOR for me but it sure as hell will be something other than WoW, lol

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David Blair

the bear isn’t gaining new abilities or mechanics

What if they added the ability for bears to gain new abilities? What if a group of five bears were allowed to party together, defeat a player, and loot two items off of them?

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Targeter

Skinning a bear should aggro every bears in a 40 yard radius.

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Danny Smith

Whats good for the Cucco is good for the Bear.

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Sorenthaz

It only makes sense, you’re killing their best friend.

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Targeter

You’re doing the Lord’s work here. Hot damn, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a shame too, because I really do believe that Legion has been their best work since Lich King. They just can’t out of their own way long enough to make any progress.

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Danny Smith

I think the problem is they have a paranoia about being seen as ‘stagnant’ and keep experimenting to chase new avenues for audiences and revenue and to look dynamic but its just swing and a miss in the worst ways every expansion nowadays.

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Targeter

And their swings are so massive; each patch that rolls around changes gearing strategies, talent choices, and even rotations. And considering they generally have 2-3 major patches an expansion (plus the xpac itself), that’s a lot re-learning on a class. Multiply that by the number of expansions and you leave a lot of your playerbase behind as they struggle to adapt to the new world (for the 3rd time in an expansion).

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TomTurtle

In the context for how the game’s been designed, yes this sounds like a bad change. Gear progression and the resultant power progression are expected at this point. It’s similar to the issue with flying mounts. They’re already in, it’s too late to do otherwise.

It’d be fine if they were making a new MMO with these types of design changes made from the ground up, but that is far from the case here.
It is telling though what kind of lessons Blizzard is learning about the usual MMO caveats and how they’d probably make a new MMO to fit more modern designs were that a real scenario.

wandris
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wandris

Only problem is it does not go far enough. A game should get more difficult as you progress farther not easier and certainly not the brain dead difficulty of how gear trivializes content as you get better gear. Blizzard should include choices of course as WoW is a game for everyone no matter of skill or ability, but they have long failed to provide any challenge in the common play areas. I think in this area people are blind. How can people possibly get any satisfaction from killing mobs which provide zero threat or challenge?

Blizzard is on the right track although this is just poor implementation. What the scaling needs is reasoning behind it. IF the are going the Diablo route perhaps something like the MP+ system. I would love to have a reason to gear and at the same time not make the game more an more boring every time I get a new piece of gear by making the combat even more trivial.

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Fenryr Grey

You good sir / madam have got it right!

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un4tt3nd3d

Blizzard making perfectly logical and well thought out decisions, as usual.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

The names are changed, but this discussion is essentially the same one being debated on the Diablo 3 forums regarding the introduction of Primals and the resultant stat bloat. Which rather confirms the suspicion that the two dev teams are swapping game design notes.

Well, at least this alleviates my concerns about progression, as in there’s really no need to because there’s no there there. At the same time, I completely agree with Eliot’s observation about the sense of challenge and accomplishment. Since most of us game to nourish our individual sense of accomplishment and if WoW has taken that out of the equation, why play? Particularly, why play content you don’t like in order to get stuff that makes no appreciable difference in your ability to progress or your perception that you have?

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Schmidt.Capela

Funny thing, I used to ask for something of the kind back in the WotLK days. Not quite the same, though; my favorite implementation would be to only progress actual gear stats to be roughly what players can get without doing any group content at all, and have “better” gear from dungeons and raids give bonuses that were only active in dungeons or raids.

It means that fights are now going to take longer and offer less risk when you equip better stuff.

Whether fights become longer or not is a matter of tuning; if health pools are increased only as much as much as the added player DPS then the time to kill should stay the same.

Still boring, though, because it means better gear makes you safer but not more effective. I consider scaling just the HP, in fact, to be worse than scaling all stats (which would keep the fights riskier, and thus more interesting) or not scaling anything (which means you can dispatch harmless enemies quickly).

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thalendor

Raid and dungeon progression require ever increasing stats on gear due to ever increasing stats on mobs. The open world, however, has no such progression once you get past the leveling phase of the game. I don’t think that’s a shocking observation to anyone who’s played WoW for more than a few days. But I can see why Blizzard wants to introduce iLevel scaling, to prevent trivialization of world content.

That said, their implementation sucks, even beyond the fact that it was poorly tuned and stealthy implemented (both by their own admissions). Whereas with raids, through a progression of raid instances and difficulty levels, and dungeons, though increasing Mythic+ levels, offer significantly better rewards for tougher content, the world content offers no significant reward progression. Whereas increasing raid and dungeon difficulty is a choice and players may choose to run easier content for whatever reason, the world content iLevel scaling offers no choice in the matter, other than the unsatisfactory option of removing gear.

If they want to keep world content relevant, and challenging, I suggest they do the same thing they’ve done with raids and dungeons: implement variable difficuly levels that players may opt into in return for better rewards. When someone selects a harder difficulty that player would be sent to a harder version of the zone with other players who have also selected that difficulty where mobs have higher stats, the occassional new ability, and better loot. As long as the rewards are sufficiently tempting, I’d ramp up the difficulty as I already do when running raids and dungeons. This could also create a viable progression system for people who don’t like either dungeons or raids. Heck, it might even encourage grouping, for those so inclined, who want to tackle world zone difficulty levels for which they currently lack the gear to handle themselves.

I’m sure there are implementation challenges to be overcome here as well, but if Blizzard really wants to add some challenge to world content, this seems a far better implementation than what they’re currently trying.

Line
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Line

While it’s a surprise to come in a random patch rather than being pushed as a new expansion selling point, it’s just the natural order of rotten themeparks mechanics falling apart.

It does indeed make gear progression irrelevant.
But it has never been relevant to begin with. Each patch already made sure that you would throw away everything, and that you’d get new catch up mechanics.
Without even talking about expansion jsut nuking everything and making your character weaker.
Paying for the privilege to see your character become more and more worthless with each level up and grinding to get back what you were is nothing new.

It’s just much more honest now.
Gear progression and level ups are slowly going away in the genre, but don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of solo and “multiplayer” games with the same rancid model coming out.

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Kala Mona

Pet battles weren’t affected I hope…. so nothing changes for me :D

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Ryan Goodman

Genius! And rather accurate lol

what-4
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what-4

Another reason to not resub.

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Dug From The Earth

With the original legion level scaling, it should have been the first step towards adding level scaling for ALL of Wows levels (1-110, not just 100-110). The second step should have been removing levels all together, as they would no longer be needed.

Want newly added content to be more challenging? Take the max level scaled (in this case, 110), and add a virtual 2 levels to those specific mobs. A set amount of levels is a static thing, enabling players to eventually progress beyond that, where those mobs would no longer be a threat. THIS IS A GOOD THING IN AN MMORPG.

budtoker420
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budtoker420

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Alex Malone

What amuses me is that everyone is calling this change completely idiotic in WoW, yet basically the exact same thing in ESO has been praised as amazing.

I don’t play either game, so maybe someone can explain why the scaling in WoW is being labeled as stupid, but the scaling in ESO is being labeled as excellent?

Either way, stat progression in MMOs has always been an illusion. Your stats go up, but so does the enemies, to relative power due to stats has always been fairly constant. You’re never actually progressing because you’re relative power remains the same. New skills, traits, specs, builds etc is the true progression, yet it is that sort of progression that has also been dumbed down or forgotten.

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Targeter

A bear in ESO does not get magically stronger when I go up in item level. It levels with me; I can wear no-stat vendor clothes or high-end dungeon clothes and it will not affect the bear in any way. It will always be the same strength bear according to my level. In WoW’s design, if I get a new piece of gear that is stronger, then the bear gains commensurate strength as well. My level hasn’t changed, neither has the bear’s. But because of my new piece of gear, it changes the game dynamic. That’s what we like to call “crap design.”

Estranged
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Estranged

I think it is because people Blizzard tried to sneak this in, plus, the entire game is not played in the same fashion.

ESO made this a feature to add flexibility.

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Будусов Виктор

No, the difference is: in TESO you are scaled by your level. Gear is for being better than average

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Будусов Виктор

Because they are different? In TESO you actually HAVE TO update your gear to be on par with your own level because you need more numbers to stay on ‘average’ level. And no, gear and champion points made in TESO huge difference in strength.

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Utakata

I can attest anecdotally that ilevel 860 and 870 are pretty good sweet spots be in, as I can solo most stuff including elites, where many mobs seem to die fast and furious. So with that, I’ll be monitoring my progression to see if things get *harder from there. If they do, I am probably going to switch my subscription back to Blade & Soul for awhile.

*Note: I am not going to touch on the ridiculous absurdity of “Ooooo, shiny new gear…why is that bear harder to kill now for the World dailies?” :(

nocturnamos
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nocturnamos

I don’t think there’s anyone who’d disagree this is a bad idea. The only defense I’ve heard from Blizzard which is somewhat reasonable is that it’s to prevent players from simply eradicating mobs off the map when working on a world quest. Legion has made some great strides in making me less annoyed at seeing people around me while outdoors; I appreciate Blizzard doesn’t want the shared tag to become meaningless.

“It’s a counterweight to fix a problem that only exists because you put it in place.”
I disagree with this point – there’s a very good reason why power inflation becomes a problem, and that for power gains to be noticeable (i.e., provide that sense of accomplishment), they have to be at least a certain percentage of power over what you already have. You gave an example of 2 vs. 5 as opposed to 0 vs. 3 – but this is a problem of mob health vs. compound interest on item power.

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Dobablo

I don’t think there’s anyone who’d disagree this is a bad idea.
Some people have asked for some scaling against gear and mechanics to keep world mobs relevant. Some people have said it is a good idea and some people are enjoying it. Implementation has been poorly handled but this is far from having a 0% approval rating.

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Space Captain Zor

Agreed. At least it doesn’t affect my pet battles or fishing or archaeology or various other achievement/collecting that takes up 90% of my time in WoW anyway. The rest of the game has been pretty irrelevant to me for awhile but this change makes it even more so.

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Dobablo

It is an archaeology nerf (takes longer for you to kill annoying mobs that get in your way), and a fishing buff (wandering mobs are now weaker when you are equipped with a L10 hat and a L15 fishing rod)

Crow
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Crow

There has a been a strong and easily recognizable path even from Vanilla to here. We used to talk about “welfare epics” a decade ago and now they’re so far past that “welfare epics” seems like a damn good solution to this mess.

WoW hit the real pinnacle of balancing accessibility to grind around later WotLK. We thought that was “super casual” then, but Blizzard has proven they can go so much further with the idea of not needing to actually accomplish anything to become amazingly powerful.

It isn’t a surprise that big post-WoW games have shrunk back to being actually single player experiences because the very demographic they were going after by making the game less grindy was the demographic who’d rather play Overwatch than WoW. Blizzard basically destroyed the MMORPG aspects of WoW for the reality that most people don’t want to play MMORPGs but RPGs and Arena shooters and MOBAs.

There are a few million MMORPG players out there. Anything beyond that is where we’ve essentially tricked people into playing games they actually at core dislike.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Let me make a sweeping generalization as well. People who play MMOs want to play MMOs. They may not want to play the way you want them to play, but they definitely want to play an MMO, and surprisingly, especially WoW, because money talks.

I think Wildstar proved that the supposition that MMOs would be sooooo much better if casuals were done away with annihilated that elitist fantasy.

borghive
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borghive

Wildstar did not fail because it tried to cater to the hardcore crowd. I mean if you actually played the game as it is today they changed the game to be pretty casual now, and yet it still can’t garner any type of audience. I personally think the silly over the top humor they tried to jam into the game along with it’s horrible combat system is what killed this game, and maybe is super boring leveling.

Crow
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Crow

Look. I didn’t make any statement that isn’t backed by actual data. In fact, I guarantee that what I’m discussing is what companies actually discuss. You can believe that Blizzard isn’t concerned about profits all day long but you’re simply wrong. This is math and not opinion. Companies like Blizzard do what they do because the math works. MMO companies that fail almost universally fail because they ignore the economics and think passion will pay bills.

You can disagree all day long, but you’re wrong.

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BDJ

Supply the data then. If you don’t, its all just your opinion. I see no facts or factual data anywhere in your posts.

Crow
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Crow

Supply the data then. If you don’t, its all just your opinion. I see no facts or factual data anywhere in your posts.

With all respect, I don’t spoon-feed data to people because none of this requires any more than a few google searches.

My conclusions are based on data. The same kind of data that MMORPG companies don’t release.

borghive
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borghive

Here you go.

657087b7afe4b31af10e26f4e2f90c7a.jpg
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Utakata

@ borghive

That only covers up till WoD. If you have something more relevant and updated, then that would be more fitting for this discussion.

borghive
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borghive

I think this is still relevant, it shows since Wrath the game has been dwindling in population ever since. Furthermore, since this is the only confirmed info we have, our assumptions that this trend has continued into Legion is very plausible, unless you can provide me with data that refutes this trend.

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Utakata

@ borghive

The onus of providing data is not on the person making the inquiry there bub. Come up with something more recent, or the sample you have provided is simply not reflective of the current state of WoW.

borghive
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borghive

This data is the last relevant data we got here bub. It shows a trend of steady decline, the burdened of proof is you to provide data that refutes this, and since Blizzard doesn’t report subs anymore your efforts to make them appear that that increased in population are nothing more than hearsay.

My experiences with my own realm of Emerald Dream over the last few months lends to this theory that the game is still in decline, because my server population feels like is at pre wod levels, of course this is purely anecdotal.

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Utakata

You are free to speculate all you want. Speculation is not evidence though.

Crow
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Crow

You are free to speculate all you want. Speculation is not evidence though.

That’s not what is happening here. There’s a limited dataset and if you want to be technical, @Borghive is seeing an absolutely (logically) true correlation which is absolutely data and something to use to create a hypothesis that gets tested further.

However, if you wanted to use that limited dataset in the most efficient way to come to base conclusions, you’d look at the rate of gain/loss and correlate them with existing industry data available (much of which simply is not and will not be available to people outside the industry and even not often then in a complete form.)

My larger argument, and what the argument @Borghive makes that is found in the data, is that the rates of gain/loss just don’t work for anyone else, and if anything they speak to the existence of a very large “economic bubble” surrounding WoW’s popularizing of MMORPGs.

Here we have the rub: We don’t know the exact data.

However, we can look at objective outcomes and then do our best educated guess to say if the correlations found in the above limited dataset support the realities of what actually happens with MMORPGs once they go live.

The games released from 2009-2014ish which took a page from WoW’s book have all found nowhere near the millions of active playerbase nor have they found anywhere close to the profit margins that caused devs to look to the model in the first place.

The actual conclusion is pretty light-handed in the end: WoW is something else and the success of WoW is NOT correlated to the success of other MMORPGs (even those in the “WoW Model”). If WoW’s success were not such an industry-disrupting outlier we’d have games like Neverwinter and STO and TOR and ESO all making numeric sense within a static demographic.

The Demographic isn’t static, at all, and it has bleed at a far higher rate toward non-MMORPGs than it had toward other MMORPGs.

This is the data that proves there is no such thing as a “WoW-Killer” because no MMORPG can hope, by neither causation nor even correlation, to gain the same rapid adoption married to deep retention.

My statements about how WoW had become a way to get Hearthstone Packs is partially because I have a 95% certainty that their view of WoW is that it had a huge playerbase they can cross-sell to their varied-genre games because they know their numbers are not for people who want to play MMORPGs.

Estranged
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Estranged

Blizzard doesn’t release sub numbers anymore, doesn’t take a stay at the Holiday Inn Express to understand their subs are low (for them).

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Utakata

The spirit of Marilyn told you that? o.O

Estranged
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Estranged

Marilyn has solid deductive reasoning skills, but JFK was her weakness.

Crow
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Crow

What I know is bound under various NDAs and things that I skirt by saying even this much.

But the data is existing. Everything I say is backed by QuantumFoundry and… if you want to push this…?

The person who claims data sucks is the person who never collected it. This here isn’t a “fun” thing for me. I actually work for companies whose green lines are in the 7-figures BECAUSE a specific part of our strat is to ignore people who have no reason to be taken seriously.

You know what companies think of you? You’re a dollar sign. You’re a consumer and meddling between consumer and producer is why consumers are so mad.

What I speak about is fact and the fact that you haven’t done the work to know that is speaking.

When you run an agency that spearheaded the tech oligarchy tell me why I should hire you? Currently you make no argument that provides me with any actual benefit to anyone other than yourself.

And yes. I’d hire you. I don’t need this bullshit and I certainly don’t need it from people who claim to solve the same problems when the existence of those problems seems why you even exist.

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Humble DG

FATALITY.

borghive
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borghive

Yep their crusade to try to cater to players that really don’t like MMOs has killed this game for me, and there is no going back now, since the bulk of their player base that is left with don’t really want to play an MMO. The core game is way too easy and they know it is a issue now, because their player base is just blasting through their content faster than they ever have, hence the reason for all the gating and scaling, of pretty much everything in order to stretch out the time it takes to complete the content.

Can they fix this? I doubt it, most of their real MMO players left years ago, so any changes to bring this game back to resembling an MMO again probably won’t fly.

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Utakata

@ borghive

Glad you are making the assumptions about WoW’s playerbase that is unlikely back up by any real tangible evidence outside the jaded opinion.

But we’re talking about gear scaling here. The new found love for teh hardcorez, cupcake.

Crow
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Crow

It isn’t an assumption. This is 100% backed in the actual data.

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Utakata

Then citations please.

Crow
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Crow

I did provide such. It is a bunch of links and is awaiting mod approval.

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Utakata

And I am still waiting.

Congrats on the upvote though…kinda reminds me that I’m debating in a post-truth era.

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Utakata

I feel like my pigtails are being deliberately stalled. But I guess they’ll have to await till your links pass moderation approval as you are claiming.

Crow
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Crow

I wish they’d pass mod. It is literally just the numbers on MMORPGs pre- and post-2010ish with a bit more added on.

I’m not arguing that people shouldn’t like the games they enjoy nor should people make decisions based on “what the numbers say”. I think WoW is where it is because it has a very wide and accessible and, in the end, a fun appeal for many people. Even after when I think WoW went downhill (Cata and after) I’ve been able to come back for, in example, MoP and really enjoy myself for awhile.

If this doesn’t pass mod (and it is looking like it isn’t going to do so) most of this is just the numbers about what “MMORPGs” considered to be good sub/playerbase numbers before and after that 2010 marker (which is super meaningful year in MMOs).

The summation (and I swear to god this kind of stuff comes under “accepted knowledge” because it is so easy to confirm) is that MMORPGs held a few million players until they went to a score-million+ of players via WoW. This is highly correlated with a number of purely industry moves to go after a demographic that was proven not to be their demographic but an unknown demo that dove into WoW in ways no analyst saw coming.

The point is that there actually IS a big difference between the pre- and post- “WoW Clone” era and it comes primarily in an expansion of demographic that has, again by the data and even common sense, bled off into “spin-off” genres like MOBAs and ARPGs and Survival in a way that pretty much only takes direct consumers away from the post-2010 MMORPGs which sought to gain access to a demographic that was temporary and never something a company like, say, Roberts Space Industries or City State could ever actually count on from a consumer perspective.

I wish I could just give you those numbers in-source. However, look them up; add them up; apply a standardized growth model (hbr.org/1983/05/the-five-stages-of-small-business-growth) and then consider if it makes sense.

None of this is bad, at all, and if anything it speaks to have actually unique and special WoW remains after all these years!

borghive
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borghive

Um I’ve played the game since beta, my assumptions are spot on, your just one of the many that are in denial that the game has been dying slowly over the last several years. I’d say death by a thousand cuts would be fitting to say, especially with this latest change.

Also this forum is nothing but opinions cupcake, including your own. :)

Oh by the way, WoW was never a hardcore game and it never will be. This change was not intended to make the game more hardcorez at all. It was made because the developers are trying to stretch out the content because players are blasting through the content at an alarming rate due to the horrendous item inflation they created with Legion.

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Utakata

@ borghive

I am? Thanks for putting those words into mouth, but actually I think WoW has been in decline since after Wrath instead. Where we part ways significantly are the reasons why this is happening.

And to be clear, “cupcake” was a reference to WildStar’s experiment of trying to create a game that fixed all the “casual” issues of WoW by removing them. History records how well that went down…as I assume your solutions for WoW will likely be met with the same fate, lol.

…not to mention, none of this addresses the issues of gear score scaling with regular endgame content that could also drive a lot of players away as well.

borghive
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borghive

Wildstar is as casual as WoW is now, I’m guessing you didn’t bother to check out the last year of changes. The game is still struggling to gain an audience because the core of the game sucks, I guess most people didn’t care for the crappy combat that they hyped as the next big thing in MMO design.

Now, the gear scaling problems stems from a core problem the game has had now for the last 3 expansions, they have too many raid difficulties, and now, add to that, scaling dungeons that hand out almost Mythic caliber gear.

Player power is out of control now and it is making the game pretty unbalanced, hence the reason for them implementing this scaling system.

This is a bandaid fix though to a huge problem, that in my opinion can’t be fixed, because the real solution would be to cut some of those raid difficulties out in order to bring the ilevel bloat under control which wouldn’t fly at all, because the player out cry would be unimaginable.

I just wanted to say you need to scale back your saltyness a bit Manastu, we all know that you love WoW, but you got to understand that there are many of us long time fans that aren’t happy with the direction the game has taken over the years.

You gotta let us vent a little my friend. :) I’m glad you enjoy the game as it is today and I want the game to succeed just as much as you do, but how I see it, the recent direction of the game for me has been a huge turn off. Typing on my phone here, probably not the most coherent post lol.

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Utakata

@ borghive

Strawman. Never mentioned anything about WildStar currently, as you most likely have known I was talking about that game ‘s release.

Since you arguing disingenuously from the start, I am not sure I want to crawl through that screed of you getting players to stop liking what you don’t like. With that, I’ll agree to disagree…as you are free to think whatever you want. And move on from there.

Edited: For some qualification.

borghive
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borghive

“Never mentioned anything about WildStar currently, as you most likely have known I was talking about that game ‘s release.”

LOL, you used this as an example and I proved to you despite them changing their target audience the game still isn’t attracting an audience. There is nothing Strawman about this info, it is fact that people don’t want to play their game regardless whether it is hardcore focused or casual focused. By the way, I’m not trying to get players to stop liking something I don’t like at all, I’m just expressing my disgust of the direction the game has taken over the last few years.

I don’t understand your fervor for defending this game, why do you care that others aren’t enjoying the game anymore? I never get dissuaded by forum comments about the games I enjoy, maybe you need to get thicker skin.

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Utakata

….

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BDJ

This pretty much. People think that throwing themselves at a mythic raid 200 times = hardcore. WoW has barely classified, in my opinion, as hardcore in vanilla and early tbc… then it was all down hill from there.

Crow
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Crow

When the reality of what Blizzard is doing with WoW is taken as an aggregate whole I am confident to say that they see WoW as a “Blizzard Cash” cow where people will sub to WoW to buy tokens so they can get Hearthstone packs.

And I guarantee you that was a hugely analyzed decision. There was absolutely, no question, a calculation about subs against tokens and how it simply pump primes their own economy (which is necessary for what it is: a new economy) for a sub fee.

borghive
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borghive

I wonder though how long they can keep this cycle going? The game’s age and their inability to attract new players has to catch up with them eventually.

Crow
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Crow

As long as the quickest and cheapest way to buy packs in Hearthstone is to play WoW, I think they have a model that will work. There is also way more fatigue in MMORPGs than elsewhere.

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Greaterdivinity

I’m still going to call this the worst designed expansion Blizzard has ever released for WoW. Not the worse expansion mind you, WoD takes that cake. But in terms of straight up design quality for the expansion overall. I never thought I’d be pining for the days of Ghostcrawler, but looking at what the game has become I’d do a little IRL happy dance if he left Riot and came back to helm WoW.

Estranged
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Estranged

I really liked Greg. He was full of salt and snark. Also was very open with his communication.

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Greaterdivinity

Wasn’t, and still am not, a big fan of him (I still have fond/embarrassing memories of drunkenly shouting very colorful vulgarities at him at Blizzcon when they were talking about removing tank stats from gear for Cata), but the game at least maintained a relatively high bar for design quality under his watch. Since he left, the quality of much of the design has fallen off a cliff into lazy-valley : /

Estranged
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Estranged

Well, that is certainly a story. Drunken Con Tales! I felt he was doing his best.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Greaterdivinity

Well, I had longer hair and a beard at that time, and I was probably about that drunk. So that gif is actually pretty accurate : P

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Dreema

If you’d asked me to name the stupidest thing that’s ever been done in an MMO, I’d have gone with the Real ID fiasco Blizzard pulled back in Wrath. I honestly thought that was a practical joke when I first heard it.

But this change just blows Real ID out of the water for sheer stupidity. Real ID, as bad as it was, only really affected people who use the official forums so they’d be a graveyard but the game itself would be largely unchanged, but this item level scaling nonsense is just stupidity on a whole new level. In one fell swoop, Blizzard have completely destroyed all gear progression in the game. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, they snuck it into the game without telling people about it. Forget Real ID. This is just a new level of stupidity altogether. If they wanted to convince people to quit the game, they couldn’t have picked a better way of doing it.

I’ve heard good stuff about Legion which has made me tempted to renew my subscription, but then I read things like this about the game and thank my lucky stars I quit when I did.

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Dobablo

If you haven’t played Legion yet you wouldn’t spot the change. Post patch my 880 geared toon has a mob kill time approximately equal to being 860 geared before the patch (which is still substantially more than the 820 I had when I reached max level)

In one fell swoop, Blizzard have completely destroyed all gear progression in the game

Gear progression is only irrelevant Timewalking instances and .
Gear progression is unchanged for all other dungeons, raids and old content.
Gear progression still exists for world content, but better gear no longer reduces your relative power by as much as it did before the patch/in other content.

Karma_Mule
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Karma_Mule

I haven’t actively played WoW for years, so don’t have a stake in this. What really caught my eye was that they released this sort of significant change without any mention in the release notes. That seems very un-customer-friendly.

Yeah we all know fanbases can go a bit haywire at the drop of a hat but they still deserve to hear upfront when changes like this occur.

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Robert Mann

In-costumer-friendly was why I quit years ago. Even then, this shocked me a little. :(

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wakkander

I mean this is my general dislike of enforced level scaling period, which massively generally seems to herald as a positive thing for some reason. I don’t know if you personally support this kind of design, but maybe now that it has gone one step to far it will give people new perspective for when people complain when companies implement this kind of thing in the future

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Riccardo Tavano

Level scaling is a nice thing on yourself to keep old content meaningful and not “oneshottingly dumb”.
But when level scaling is actually put in ALL the content of the world, it’s dumb. Becuase it makes gear progression (in a game that lives thanks to gear grinding) incredibly useless and even counterproductive.
The idea itself is good, but the whole design they decided to use behind it is utterly one of the dumbest idea i’ve ever seen…hell. They would have practically “killed” their own game in one move if they left it there.

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Mark

Mostly agree. Downscaling/self-mentoring/etc. would be a great feature for those who want to retain some challenge in older/lower level content or who want to play with lower level friends. But ideally it should be optional.

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Humble DG

This is a personal opinion, but I disagree about the scaling. I think it’s annoying and locks content from folks that just don’t want or have the time to do grouping and guilds. Scaling is a gate that prevents people from trying new things and solo’ing content for the challenge. I personally enjoy running through old content and experiencing it, and usually I do this solo or with just another friend.

Scaling also totally brings to light class imbalances and issues. My Druid Feral sucks. It’s fun when I can actually kill something in a reasonable amount of time when I’m overpowered. With scaling, Feral continues to be useless and takes away the spec that I enjoy because I like transforming back and forth in different forms. With this new change, Feral sucks even more. I’ll just keep pawing mobs for eternity.

In summary, scaling sucks and should have never been done, but definitely not expanded beyond what they already did.

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Schmidt.Capela

There are better ways to open group content to solo players than telling them to come back when they are so powerful they can just faceroll through it.

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Humble DG

I’m sure there are but face-rolling content is actually fun to many folks. I like just looking at the content and seeing the story in my own way. But I wouldn’t mind if they made raids that could be converted into a solo mode where you don’t get a piece of gear but rather just the story and the experience of seeing the content.

wpDiscuz