Chaos Theory: Are levels good for Secret World Legends?

We’d heard about (and stressed over!) various Secret World Legends changes for a while, but you just can’t know how those changes will affect the game until you experience them. Now we have. We’ve had three and a half weeks to dive in and play around, getting a feel for the Secret World reboot. So how do some of those changes play out in practice? I’ve already noted a few initial pros and cons, but some topics — like levels — needed more time.

Moving to a level-based system was one of the changes I was personally most unsure about with this reboot. I have never been a fan of levels, preferring skill-based systems. Luckily, the ability to personalize your build with the weapon skill trees was retained. And I get that levels are more universally recognized. But after nearly a month, I have found that although levels do have some benefits, as currently implemented they are causing issues within Secret World Legends that are affecting gameplay — but mostly only for patrons! The good news is there is a fix.

Ignoring Ak’ab

I can see benefits on both Funcom’s and the players’ sides. Levels can lead to retention, which obviously benefits the studio. By helping to pace players, Funcom can better avoid the situation where players race ahead in the story then hit a brick wall of difficulty and quit in frustration. Missions that are level-locked prevent players from diving in before they can reasonably survive.

I also understand that having visible levels helps folks who want to judge their chances versus enemies before engaging in combat; seeing something way over your level might give you pause before charging in to certain death (or may not, to each his own!). Deaths cost in repairs and lost time, so if you are actively avoiding it — and we realize sometimes you aren’t — then being able to make that assessment prior to attacking increases your chances of survival.

Additionally, I can’t discount that levels are also a very obvious way to see progress of your character. You can see the numbers rising and know you are getting better/stronger. For some, that is a really big deal. I totally respect that.

Interestingly, none of the above reasons tops the list. The most oft-cited benefits of levels that I have heard when discussing the game with other players is that when you are sufficiently higher than the level of the mobs, they ignore you. Folks like the freedom of movement afforded in “grey” zones. This is a blessing to many specifically in relation to those pesky head-butting Ak’ab that knock players off their feet. Other players I’ve chatted with tell me they are glad to be able to traverse land near them without being punted about. But it goes deeper than just the bugs: Other areas also benefit because it makes going back for missed lore/legends easier. I admit to using this exact mechanic a couple of times myself to just take care of mission business without having to stop every few feet and deal with encounters. However, this benefit turned out to have an (unintended?) cost.

Outleveling a zone

I have run into a few problems directly related to levels while playing Secret World Legends. Level dings (which I hate) aside, I am finding that levels are hurting my gameplay. The top problem for me initially was that the atmosphere of the game was affected. Remember, messing with the atmosphere or the story are my two big no-nos! I first noticed it in Kingsmouth. Once I’d gotten through with most everything in the zone, the zombies no longer wanted to eat my face off. I mean, who ever heard of zombies who didn’t want a snack of human flesh? Was I just not tasty anymore? I mean, when even a zombie doesn’t want you…

But that disappointment that Kingsmouth lost some of its magic was nothing compared to what awaited me in Savage Coast. It was so disappointing to be doing my Innsmouth Academy quests for the first time and all of the mobs are oblivious to my presence. There’s no feeling of danger or threat as I run around the halls. OK, so I get that the zombies in Kingsmouth no longer wanted me and were perhaps telling me to move on, but these are areas and missions I hadn’t even gotten to yet! Worse, one of the greatest bridge-crossing experiences of the game will be completely ruined if a person has outleveled the area. It’s really ruining some gameplay for me, and not just in an ambient way either.

I realize the emphasis on ambiance is not necessarily a top priority or a big deal for some people, so if this was the only thing maybe I’d just frown and move on. But it’s not. There are multiple times throughout the game when your presence triggers the mob. If it cant sense you, it doesn’t trigger. This has already caused a couple of problems with missions. One time was with the scarecrows on poles: They aren’t attackable until they get down, but they won’t get down until they see you. It’s a bit frustrating to see all those mobs there that could advance your mission if only you could kill them. Although, I admit that the idea of people thinking they are safe from these “decorations” for a while only to be surprised at a later time makes me smile (+10 to ambiance), I’m afraid the chances of that happening are slim. I mean, if you’ve already out-leveled one area, you might just be outleveled the next time you run into them as well.

Free vs. patron

In the beginning I mentioned that the problems with levels are mostly only for patrons. Having played as both a free player and a lifetime patron, I can say that the levels actually work pretty smoothly for free-to-play players. In fact, the system seems designed specifically for them. As a F2P person, you have such long cooldowns on missions that if you play regularly, you just do missions one time and move on. That paces you through the zones to be the level of the zones. You may never notice any of the ambiance or mission troubles because they won’t apply to you.

Patrons, on the other hand, have the ability to redo missions every eight hours. Since loot no longer drops from regular mobs, all the gear and goodies you need to feed your equipment comes from mission rewards. So the more missions you do, the more reward bags you get. And remember, these items are all tradeable, so the more you do, the more you can trade or sell as well. Patrons can easily run through tons of missions in a lengthy play session, and quite a few in a short one. I know because I do it myself and see other players doing it too. If I am pressed for time, I can hop to a lower zone and pound out all my necessary daily challenges in no time at all to get loot, anima shards, and Marks of Favour. In addition to loot, these grant XP, so even only having done this a few times, on top of going back to help new friends coming to the game, I’ve already significantly out-leveled the second zone. I have friends who are only partially into Blue Mountain (third zone) and are already maxed at level 50 with all five zones of Egypt and Transylvania still to go!

Granted, maybe this is problem mostly for veteran players now, but you can’t tell me that new folks who play regularly and go the patron route won’t figure out quickly that more missions mean more stuff. And those are the players who will suffer the most with loss of ambiance because they won’t already know how it was or is supposed to be. Those experiencing the game for the first time might seriously miss out on the great atmosphere. And that bridge crossing!

An easy fix

The good news is that I think the problems with leveling can be erased. Now, I say this is an easy fix, but I mean that on a concept level; how easy it is to code and implement, I don’t know. I really hope it is easy to implement because I really, really want to see it in game. It solves both problems at once!

The answer is level scaling. Most games that have levels learn at some point that level scaling is necessary as players move fluidly between old and new areas. There are different ways to do it, from scaling mobs to the level of the player to allowing players to adjust their levels. Personally, I think allowing players to scale themselves is not only easier for the devs but preferable for the game. This will give players the freedom to choose their experience. Do they want to run through the zone untouched and unseen by everything? Fine, then don’t adjust. But those who want the feelings of danger or need mobs to trigger for missions can adjust. Win/win!

I think a great example of this type of system is the chronomentoring in EverQuest II. Yes, being able to mentor a lower-level party member was awesome (and how I rejoiced when that was first implemented!), but there are times when either you’re alone or no one is available at the appropriate level. By visiting an NPC, you pay a small in-game fee and you choose what level you want to adventure as. I would love, love, love to see this in Secret World Legends!

As for mob scaling, I know it is possible because it is already in SWL. The Jack of the Lantern mission actually has adds spawn that match the player’s level! This came as quite a shock actually to a friend of mine the first time through, but the friend was pleased with the unexpected development. Now, I understand that making all mobs in all zones behave this way might be too much at this point. I just wanted it to be known that it did improve the gaming experience!

So while I think leveling has presented some problems in Secret World Legends, I think those problems can be completely mitigated, leaving only the benefits. If this can happen, I’d be a pretty happy camper. Well, unless I am camping in Kingsmouth with zombies once again chewing on my face. No, scratch that — that would make me happy! (As an aside, another related thing that would make me happy would be to see the grey mobs cower in fear as higher-level players pass by. It’s a silly small thing, but man, that is something else I have appreciated in EQII. It is amusing — not to mention ego boosting — to strut past while mobs show their respect for your power. Not a necessary change, but it would be a fun one!).

So, Funcom? Any chance of seeing this come to pass?

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53 Comments on "Chaos Theory: Are levels good for Secret World Legends?"

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Malcolm Swoboda

I’ve always been okay with more of a level design (I have always insisted that TSW has more levels than it seems/markets). But yes, bring on optional player level scaling and, in my opinion, Elite/top level versions of zones, perhaps with exclusive rewards (and obviously, max level relevant rewards).

In terms of learning the game though, I find SWL to be better than TSW. I don’t agree with some who think it MUST be as hard as TSW launch ALWAYS. I like choosing my battles (though not necessarily choosing from every reward), while getting all the storyline anyway.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I dont see much difference with old leveling system. Old TSW had levels, they just werent visible. Kingsmouth was definetly easier location then Blue MOuntain. They just showed levels, not much changed.
As for mobs not reacting to higher level characters. Why would it be a big deal? If you outleveled zone, you probably did everything there already. And even if you didnt, mobs are irrelevant anyway since you can oneshot them. There wont be any challenge fighting them.

As for content scaling. I think this fits World of Warcraft much more then SWL. The ultimate purpose of scaling is to enjoy exploration and level in zones you want. And this only relevant where there are many alternative zones and paths to level. In SWL its always direct path. Kingsmouth > Savage Coast > Blue Mountain > Egypt > …
Main story leads you through this path, so even with scaling, you will follow it. Scaling wont do anything in SWL

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Jeffery Witman

And remember, these items are all tradeable, so the more you do, the more you can trade or sell as well.

One note here, though it’s a bit off topic, but Funcom made another problem for themselves with this one. You can only sell 10 items a day in the AH, and you can only have 10 items up at once in the AH. The rest you either need to use somehow, or sell for shards, apparently. Patron status does nothing to fix that, either.

With that in mind, if they did level scaling mobs I don’t think it would be all that good unless they scaled the mission loot as well. Even then it would be iffy as higher level missing just give more loot, not better loot.

Honestly, I think they solved this problem long ago in TSW (with lairs), but just created a new problem here with the levels and their associated mob behavior. The idea of paying any currency at all just to run around at a lower level to fix problems they created for themselves is kinda insulting. It already costs a lot to do pretty much anything in the game. The shard bottleneck as you try to upgrade gear and use the continually disappointing loot that only drops from missions, not mobs, is soul-sucking, and I’m not even done with BF yet. I’d rather go grind Aegis again than try to get a set of purple gear at this point.

Levels were pointless. It’s all about gear and passive stats. Maybe if they took levels to 100 instead of 50, and made them scale so that you reached 100 right around Orochi tower in the yet to be released Tokyo, the levels would make sense. They could have a season 2 full of character advancement not based on levels, but on something new and novel, like upgrading our favorite abilities or helping our factions navigate the end of days, or something completely different that they came up with as their own ideas because that’s their job.

Instead we’re getting stat creep. I now get to have moments as a tank where I have 500,000+ protection. Low level signets are all but useless, but if you pay or grind them up to max they make you godlike. Instead of one level of elite dungeons we get 10 (but only a few of them, and still no raids, and Tokyo is only on the horizon). I shudder to think of what the new Aegis Staten will look like given what they did to the rest of the game.

Just like everything else so far in the relaunch it feels like they took every possible idea of how to do a F2P relaunch and threw it all in just to see what sticks, levels included.

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Travis Beaty

To be honest, as much as I’m loving the game right now, I do wish they would have left the leveling system alone, as it seemed to work fine in TSW. The problem that I see is that they are trying to shoehorn simplicity into a game that isn’t about simple. Consider that by the time you’ve left Kingsmouth, you need to know Morse code, have Bible fu, and be able to read and identify sheet music. Or, if (like me) you’re too dumb for all that, you learn to use Google. I fear that if such simplification continues, our trusty DNA imprinted smart phones will not only initialize tracking, but “Stand by for Morse code translation” as well.

As far as direct effects on my gameplay, I’ve noticed it the worst when part of the mission requires the now apathetic zombie to follow you. For instance, that first quest at the church in Kingsmouth where you have to pull zombies through the door. I ran Kingsmouth missions on occasion to wrap up my daily challenges, and the problem is that apathetic zombies are apathetic — they see you, they just don’t care. That requires you to make them care by smacking them with your sword, which thanks to the level difference, is more likely to one-shot them than aggro them. In TSW they would chase me even if I was QL10.

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Malcolm Swoboda

“you need to know Morse code, have Bible fu, and be able to read and identify sheet music” – No you don’t. This is optional content, not mandatory gameplay (see: the levels, combat).

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Dread Quixadhal

I really don’t mind levels. I see many people here wanting some kind of level scaling, and I feel that’s a horrible mistake. I have to ask, do those of you who like level scaling just rush your way to “endgame” and only care about PvP and dungeons?

The big problem with level scaling is that it removes ANY sense of fear or challenge from the game. TESO isn’t a horrible game, but with level scaling I can literally waltz into any content and never feel challenged, other than by the possibility of being overwhelmed by numbers or trick mechanics, if I’m soloing.

My experience with SWL is limited, as I’ve only played it for a short time. Even so, I’ve out-leveled the Kingsmouth zone long before finishing the storyline there, because I’m one of those annoying explorer types who is compelled to go find all the side missions and quests, and do them at least once.

What *I* would really like to see is a system like Everquest 2 used to have, where you had a slider that adjusted where your experience points went. You could put them all into “level” if you wanted to progress faster, maybe to catch up with friends, or get out of a zone you’re bored with; or you could put them all into “AA” (a kind of skill points), to slow down or completely halt leveling while you finish quests and still be building up points to improve your character. By default, it was in the middle, so you gained on both sides.

SWL could easily do something like that, where you could translate some of the experience into fractional AP and SP, gaining you extra skill unlocks without forcing you to outlevel the content… or letting you go whole hog into leveling if you really want to hit 50 and do all that “endgame” stuff faster.

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Tanek

While I also like the slider idea for xp, I think you missed the type of level scaling some would like to see.

It isn’t necessarily the kind like in ESO where you scale up/down automatically for whatever zone (although I do like it over in that game). Think more like EQ2 where, if you outlevel an area and want more challenge, you can do something like pay anima shards or MoF to level yourself back down to 10/20/whatever.

That lets you play how you want and still keep the challenge of a zone if you prefer that to being over level.

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Tobasco da Gama

I have to ask, do those of you who like level scaling just rush your way to “endgame” and only care about PvP and dungeons?

The whole point of level scaling is that the entire world is the end game.

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Castagere Shaikura

I like the combat changes but really miss the old game. I just couldn’t get into doing the leveling all over again. The new game just didn’t work for me. And my friends i got to try the game didn’t like the 3 day vs 8 hour mission cooldown thing MJ. They felt it was punishing the f2p player.

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Tanek

When it comes to not over-leveling areas, it may be helping the f2p player. I started a free account to see how it went and the pacing there seems MUCH better.

which isn’t to say the cooldown would not be annoying if there are things you want to redo quickly (like a mission for an achievement), but overall, it did not seem horrible, at least on Solomon Island zones.

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Paragon Lost

They’ve created a problem and caused themselves a lot more work by going to the level system. They should have worked on the skill based system instead and fixed that and used it in SWL. Like MJ I’m not really fond of level systems, I like skill based systems myself. I think the scaling might help bandaid their issue as MJ is suggesting.

wandris
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wandris

Levels in almost all games are irrelevant. Merely a low gate that every play is expected or needs to achieve to do “endgame”. There was a time briefly back when WoW launched when getting high level sort of meant something,, you were looking at 10-14 days /played for most to achieve lv 60. Now though it is lv 1-100 in only 3-48 hours depending on how much you cheese it. This carries on to most games that copied this design philosophy and it takes away almost all point of just doing the content for the fun of it or exploring, especially when your power surpasses the content considerably. I really liked TSW for the fact you could slowly go through the game exploring every corner of it and not surpass it unless you went out and got higher end gear from more advanced areas. As for SWL I have some serious doubts although I am still only a few hours into it thus far, although I could always go back to TSW if it starts to suck.

I suppose it comes to this idea of grinding being a bad thing. But you can’t remove grinding or dress it up in any way that will make it any less of a grind. Getting to the end faster or sooner only means you are now free to make some other grind and in the end you otherwise lose any sense of achievement or exploration.

I really like the leveling in BDO. IT is a game of nearly endless grinds. Ten 100 level life skills which getting guru20 on any single one of them is almost an unimaginable. Getting a combat level of 61 is a few 1000 hours of playing, something that is not needed to enjoy the game at large and a goal to work towards over several years for most people. Getting there is an actual achievement. Then every individual piece of gear is in itself a grind for silver and farming as you raise it towards +20 with an exponential cost/power curve. People like to bemoan Korean grinders but I am now see that every level in crafting, combat and gear means more than a meaningless ride to max level in the dozens of WoW design games out there.

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Rottenrotny

If there’s one thing I really hate. it’s forced level scaling.
WoW and ESO have already made this mistake and I like both of those games less for it.

That being said, I’m all for OPTIONAL level scaling ala Rift.

Level 50? Want to head back to Kingsmouth? Cool, just travel there and then click the level scale button. Boom, and when you’re done click it again to return to your character’s actual level.

Agreed on how nice it is to return to lower level zones and the mobs ignore you. /thumbsup

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Tanek

Exactly. As MJ mentions in the column, something like EQ2’s chronomentoring could work well here, if it is even possible to implement.

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Hirku

The priority for me is to complete the main story and major NPC missions on level, so I simply prioritize that content, and other than 3 side missions for dailies I consider everything else something to do for fun later on.

It’s working well, at least for me. I’m about to enter Blue Mtn. exactly on level, but with all NPC missions and the dungeons in the previous two zones finished. And I find it’s fun to hop back to KM or SC and casually complete the stray side missions and study the monsters up close without having to kill them.

One thing I’m also doing is saving the lore until lvl. 50, not only to avoid overleveling but also because by 50 each lore piece should be a nice chunk of XP compared to what you get if you pick it up as you go.

I don’t like levels in SWL and I like the idea of level-scaling even less. The old system was perfect if you figured it out, but of course that’s gone so I’m making the best of the new situation.

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Jeremy

The levels just feel tacked on and not really needed. I like the rest of the changes, however.

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enamel

I find levels to be largely irrelevant. You hit 50 mid way thru the existing content and it goes right back to the game being about raising stats thru weapon/talisman levels as it was in TSW. Levels seem to be a bridge for new players who are used to level based systems, but it quickly becomes clear that levels are largely meaningless when compared to the other progression systems in the game.

It does seem easy to out level zones in the early game when levels are more relevant. But it seems like you have to specifically avoid progressing thru story content to do this. Since you don’t seem to get a full set of talismans or glyphs until later zones, I don’t see the point in farming loot bags in the lower zones.

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Jeffery Witman

A lot of games do this, though. DCUO has a story line that takes you from being to max level perfectly. Then you start the heavy gear grind with standard MMO group dungeons and raids with special tokens to buy special gear to do harder dungeons and raids to get special tokens… Etc.

Neverwinter has much the same system in place, only their expansion zones past level cap each have their own special tokens and gear to grind out, plus they also have a similar gear-eating system to level whatever gear you have.

The difference is that the levels in those games are timed to coincide with the story you’re supposed to be living and playing through. There’s no “hey to level XX to continue” or being overlevel for the mission you’re on. That difference is the difference between good game design and just quickly throwing some stuff together in a couple months.

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Tobasco da Gama

I greatly prefer the explicit levels of SWL to the implicit ones that we had before, in the form of the talisman skills. Really, the only problem that I find to actually be a problem is the one you mentioned where mobs start turning grey way sooner than they should.

Personally, I like going back to old zones and blowing past all the mobs without even having to one-shot them. But the “going back” part is the key there. It shouldn’t be happening on my first swing through an area. Simply raising the mob levels for Savage Coast and Blue Mountains should fix this for me. Although I’ve been playing as a completionist, so maybe players who are following the story mission more closely might have trouble with this solution, especially if they aren’t Patrons.

But your suggestion to do level scaling on players in some form is something the game really ought to do. SWL is crying out for a One Tamriel kind of approach where character stats get scaled up or down to whatever zone you’re currently in (with XP rewards matching your character level as well).

xpsync
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xpsync

The only problem with level’s for me is i hit 50 in the scorched desert, now in shadowy forest and still 50. Alright not a huge issue, but i like to notice some progress.

In SWL I’ve not been intently focused on levels. If anything the game is far more immersive than it was before, I’m not focused on the confusion of TSW, not baffled by how it works, instead I’m much more immersed into the world and rarely noticed leveling. They were only gates to content.

A couple suggestions for levels, cause Funcom folk read this stuff.

At the minimum at least show a progress bar of when you’re going to hit your next AP/SP pinnacle for more points. Similar to when you were leveling minus the levels.

Far better solution would to inherit Hong Moon type levels from Blade and Soul, except here call them Legend Levels or something Secret Worldly.

When you hit 50, you start to earn Legend Levels at a ridiculously slow rate; 50 LL1, 50 LL2… They could have a reward for each one or award some free AP/SP for each one achieved. If they introduce more levels, you then go from 50 to 60 for example then you become “60 LL2” and continue leveling to 60 LL3, all the while still receiving your regular AP/SP distribution.

Outside of that i literally can’t stop playing.

The next SWL article I’d like to read is if SWL is more alt friendly than TSW. Not going to get into it but i think it is, i skipped allot of content not on purpose i got wrapped up in the main story lines too much and have doubled back on zones for various reasons noticing i missed allot of side mish’s, legends, boss’s. The only reason i haven’t rolled an alt is I’m so in love with building up my main.

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Greaterdivinity

but i like to notice some progress.

AP/SP gains, yo. The thing that used to be the only measure for progress before they added pointless levels. It’s basically AA at this point, at least the passives lines are.

At the minimum at least show a progress bar of when you’re going to hit your next AP/SP pinnacle for more points. Similar to when you were leveling minus the levels.

There are a few ways to see this. It’s marked on your experience bar when your next AP/SP points will be (with their respective colors), and going to your AP/SP pages shows you your current experience and how much is needed until your next point.

When you hit 50, you start to earn Legend Levels at a ridiculously slow rate; 50 LL1, 50 LL2… They could have a reward for each one or award some free AP/SP for each one achieved. If they introduce more levels, you then go from 50 to 60 for example then you become “60 LL2” and continue leveling to 60 LL3, all the while still receiving your regular AP/SP distribution.

…why? AP/SP gains are still there. That’s the longterm progression built into the game, not more levels. Levels are largely pointless anyways, and contribute little to nothing to character progression compared to what AP/SP progress grants.

xpsync
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xpsync

Marked on the progress bar? I’ll check that more closely tonight, thanks.

Legend Levels would be almost considered bragging rights with how slow it would be to level them, and for peeps like me at least you notice some more progression on a level bar. MMO = Progression, yes i know you get the AP/SP but sometimes it’s nice to aee something happening visually, another carrot/goal. I really liked the feature in BnS.

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Tobasco da Gama

Yeah. Post-50, your progression is in the form of gear upgrades, passives skills, and capstones. It should take most players until at least the end of Transylvania, if not a little more, to get a full set of Purples with signets.

I think this is perfectly fine, myself, especially if future story additions follow more of a horizontal progression than a vertical one. I’m pretty sure we won’t get any additional levels past 50, and I think we’re unlikely to see more tiers on weapons and talismans either.

But I fully expect that AEGIS in Tokyo will still be a gear progression that parallels weapons and talismans. And as long as AEGIS upgrading isn’t as much of a pain in the ass as it was in TSW, I think it could work out. And then the next zones can ditch AEGIS for a different upgradable mechanic.

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Malcolm Swoboda

I think we may get more levels with ‘Chapter 2’. Solomon and Egypt being basic game leveling, Transylvania and Tokyo being basic game endgame, then they have 1-2 zones/regions new game/expansion leveling, then 1-2 zones/regions new game/expansion endgame. If only to ‘grey out’ Transylvania and Tokyo for anyone with trouble with them. (But that’s still why I support player level scaling and Elite versions of zones.)

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David Goodman

I find that I feel the immersion in the story and cutscenes and voice acting in SWL. The fact that a mob doesn’t aggro on me doesn’t factor into it – I don’t find running around to be immersive, except in very limited places.

Of course, i’m F2P as well, so I never run into the out-leveling issue you mentioned either :)

… so when I do out-level an area, and i’m running back around – such as at the end of the Kingsmouth story (no spoilers) – i REALLY liked the fact that I wasn’t annoyed by useless bullcrap. What seems to be an immersive zombie brainlessly attacking a tasty morsel to some (MJ), is just a frustrating annoyance that gets in the way of me experiencing the story. I want the monsters that are being spawned for the quest I am ON to be the focus of my attention, not those pain-in-the-buttocks Ak’ab or whatever garbage is trawling around where I’m trying to go.

All in all, I am enjoying the levels they implemented. The original SWL had them in all but name anyway – in the form of a ranking you got after putting some many SP/AP (that you got by gaining experience) into skills. It was never a flat-progression game in the first place, and adding official levels to SWL is something that should have been in from the start of the start.

Edit to clarify: if the mobs ARE legitimately too weak to be any kind of a challenge for me and represent just a roadblock, then the fact that they do not attack me does not impact my enjoyment — if you’re going to have mobs aggro on a person, they should be SOME kind of a threat in-game. Otherwise, they are the annoyance that I find them to be.

xpsync
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xpsync

Gotta say i was a wee confused with her complaints about levels. All it did was improve the game dramatically. They add my tweaks above, cherry on top.

Also MJ mentioned less immersive? Without the cluster F’ TSW was the game is much more immersive as you can concentrate on the stories instead of the mechanics mess the game was before.

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Greaterdivinity

It was so disappointing to be doing my Innsmouth Academy quests for the first time and all of the mobs are oblivious to my presence. There’s no feeling of danger or threat as I run around the halls.

This is a big issue for me. Sure, having mobs ignore me can be nice sometimes, but overall it just makes the experience so underwhelming and really breaks a lot of the atmosphere that Funcom clearly put so much time into shaping throughout the game. It’s really one of my biggest pet peeves about levels.

Worse, one of the greatest bridge-crossing experiences of the game will be completely ruined if a person has outleveled the area.

Yep, a lot of good memories I have from the game simply weren’t possible to recreate thanks to levels. Granted, I never expected to “repeat” the feeling entirely, since I’d already experienced it, but stuff like that bridge was still a great moment that I was looking forward to again…only to have it ending up as uneventful and unsatisfying as any content you’ve outleveled : /

If I am pressed for time, I can hop to a lower zone and pound out all my necessary daily challenges in no time at all to get loot, anima shards, and Marks of Favour.

IMO this is one of the worst things about the game. The daily system encourages play like this, especially for folks short on time, but redoing stuff you’ve outleveled so much is (at least for me) extremely unsatisfying and unenjoyable. And since MOF have a monetary value attached to them, missing out on your dailies feels like missing out on money, not to mention the value of the items as they’re necessary for overall item progressions. It’s to the point now where if I know I won’t be able to finish at least the first tier in a night (normal gameplay, not rushing through content or doing old content) I don’t even bother starting. Leaving half-finished dailies is even more frustrating than leaving unstarted ones : /

The answer is level scaling.

Sadly, I don’t think Funcom has the budget or expertise for this. Like, at all. I’d love to see it added to the game, but my hopes of it ever even being seriously considered are in the gutter. It would resolve a huge number of issues with the game, and greatly expand “relevant” content, but the fact that it wasn’t added to the SWL relaunch when the big systems changes were going in is definitely pretty telling about its potential down the road.

I’m pretty disappointed, still. After months of being super excited and optimistic, and dumping a ton of time into the game its “head start” weekend, nowadays I’m almost through all of the first zone of Egypt (I progress slowly and do my best to fully clear out zones) and for the most part, I log in to get my daily login reward/cache key, and log out. Weekends I’ll dump some time in, but even this weekend while I was working on Egypt I found that despite spending a solid 5+ hours playing, I still hadn’t finished my second set of dailies. Why? Because I didn’t have any more “main” missions to complete, and wasn’t interested in repeating 4 more missions I’ve already done very recently in order to finish that step and the second part of the meta-daily. That’s pretty depressing for me, as a player, that I feel that I’m actively being punished for how I play the game. It’s not a good feeling, and it sure doesn’t make me want to log in and spend more time with the game : /

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Paragon Lost

It’s tragic, in my opinion all SWL is doing is getting them short term income gains without long term gains. I wish they’d spend the efforts they put into SWL and the Conan stuff into fixing, expanding and marketing TSW.

I think the level mechanics were shoddily and short sightedly implemented and will cause them nothing but issues. They just don’t have the skill nor team size to handle these things it seems to me. :/

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Greaterdivinity

Eh, they needed some kind of brand/product refresh, no amount of work for TSW was going to really make a big splash simply due to the age of the game and the reputation it brings with it.

I would have preferred that as well, but from a business/marketing perspective it’s far easier/more efficient to work on a rebrand of a product a la TSW – > SWL vs. trying to overhaul the existing products image. It’s hard as hell to change folks minds on a product they’ve known for years. It’s far easier to try to convince them that this slightly different version of the product is “brand new” and get folks to disassociate it, at least in part, with the OG product.

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Paragon Lost

Age of the game? It just hit what five years old. For an mmorpg that’s relativity young. They never grew the game the way they should have. I’ve been complaining for years that Funcom just doesn’t understand how to grow, expand and build an mmorpg. :/

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Malcolm Swoboda

“For an mmorpg that’s relativity young.” – And for a MMORPG its still old. And for a game, its really old. Its not an ancient MMORPG though, sure. It, ideally, would be able to run until the 2020s with new content.

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Greaterdivinity

Comparatively young, but still very much “old” for most non-MMO folks, the ones they’re going after with SWL.

It also comes with plenty of baggage from its rough launch, and the struggles after the luster of the B2P transition wore off.

I’ll agree with you that Funcom is pretty shit from business perspective, though.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

The last paragraph so much so. Not quite so much punishment but its not a positive reinforcer for sure.

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xpsync

Yea it’s funny i had Zero hope for this reboot, where now SWL is the most involved I’ve been with an MMO since EQ2/SWG.
I always went nowhere with TSW hit BM done every time, SWL; try holding me back from playing.

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Line

I very much liked having just a tiny bit of level gating in the game, it stopped me from bashing my head on missions way too hard for my character (that certainly wasn’t so fun in TSW); at the cost of “oh I have to do some side missions before the main one” once, in Kingsmouth.
That’s the perfectly okay kind of gating.

But now that I’m finishing up the game’s content?
Yeah, I’d like more scaling.
Prooobably not aggro, that… is not exactly immersion to me, just a terrible, terrible annoyance.
But otherwise, I would love for older zones to still be relevant, the rewards are very lackluster… same as it was in TSW really, but a bit worse.

Maybe they should scale rewards based on your level, and follow something a bit like GW2, where your character is much stronger, but not too OP in older zones.
That would avoid scaling issues like the pumpkin dude indeed, had a friend pretty surprised by a bunch of level 50 wisps spawning on his face. Fun in solo, much less so in groups!

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xpsync

I guess going back to older zones as a god doesn’t bother me, in ways i see how to me it’s working the game to better your toon, it’s not like i hang out there, i go for a reason and leave.

Anyone want the atmosphere back, roll an ALT.

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Mewmew

I don’t want monsters to match my level before I hit max level. Once I hit max, that’s fine, but earlier on it ruins the entire leveling experience for me making what I do moot. I realize levels themselves are a new thing for Secret World, and the game may be a bit easy now in too many ways compared to what it was before, but I really enjoy getting to the point where I don’t have to deal with every single monster in the zone chasing me down. I like that there is some presence within them, whatever is animating them knows enough not to go after a being with so much more power within them than they have that there is zero chance of them doing anything but committing suicide. I am very happy getting to the point where I can search for lore without dealing with every single little peon that couldn’t do anything to me anyway but annoy me and slow me down.

I like that I can get stronger and make a more difficult game easier to get through. I do enjoy that it’s more difficult for sure, but sometimes level scaling does the opposite and makes the entire game a cakewalk like what happened to Elder Scrolls Online.

Now if we’re talking about something people can select to purposely de-level themselves to the area and it’s not forced but just an option, of course I’d have a hard time arguing that because it wouldn’t affect me. I’d be completely fine with that. But don’t ask them to force a change that only some people want for ambiance reasons on all of us. If they indeed feel this is something they’d like to add, make it a toggle or option people can select but not a forced thing.

You’re basically trying to change the game back to The Secret World – and hey I’m great with that! I like the original a lot, I like the ability wheels and harder difficulty and all. But they did make changes and do this re-launch for a reason. I know not every change was for the better, but so many of us do enjoy not having to deal with every piddling wimp casting slow spells on us or knocking us over when we’re stronger than an area and just trying to find lore.

I’m sure you can make up something in your mind as to why the creatures are intelligent enough to stop attacking something so much more powerful than they are. Yes, they’re dumb enough to run straight into man made traps but maybe something within them can sense anima power and once it gets to a certain level they’re smart enough to keep away.

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BalsBigBrother

I think I hit 50 about half way through City of the Sun Gods and while it did feel a little odd to have maxed my character level by that point it didn’t really spoil things for me.

I think perhaps I just put myself in the same mindset as I had when I played original Guild Wars. Now the character levelling is done it is time to build my skills (and also in SWL’s case gear level). I still see progress its just not via character levels anymore.

I will conceded I did find things easier this time round but I put that down to having essentially cleared this twice before in the previous iteration. I would be interested in hearing from someone who is genuinely new to the latter stages of the game and how they feel on its difficulty or not as the case may be.

I am also interested in seeing how they will balance Tokyo in SWL because I can remember the TSW version being a bit of a shock in terms of difficulty once I got there.

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Bryan Correll

I have friends who are only partially into Blue Mountain (third zone) and are already maxed at level 50 with all five zones of Egypt and Transylvania still to go!

I don’t think I’ll be 50 before being done with Blue Mountain, but I’ll definitely hit it before I get through the Scorched Desert. With the way Marks are earned I often feel compelled to zip off and do one or two of the faster Main missions when I have limited play time for the day. Grandmaster status and easy travel means missions like A Fistful of Zombies and The Black House are always there for me to round out the daily challenges.
On a side note, the auction house limit of 10 sales per day pretty much means I’m never going to auction off gadgets or green talismans. Those slots are just too valuable to use on low value items.

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BDJ

He had to have repeated a ton of shit there. I am a patron, ive done every quest, champion, etc for the 10ap/10sp bonus in KM, SC, and BLM and I just hit Egypt. Im 41.

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Tanek

I don’t know how much is a ton, but I hit 50 toward the end of Blue Mountain and you are correct that quite a bit was repeated content. Running 3 dungeons a day, playing with friends who were still in Kingsmouth and Savage Coast, repeating some of the faster missions to round out daily challenges…it all certainly pushed me up in levels.

But that is part of the point. All of those things were, for me, a normal way to play the game in TSW. “Leveling up” back then did not make me inherently more powerful and did not change how an enemy reacted to me. I might be unlocking more powerful skills to use, but I was not going to be getting QL 10.1 items just by running around on Solomon Island.

Since you are getting to Egypt at 41, though, the difference between patron and free might not be as big as I thought. What level are the starting missions and enemies in Scorched Desert?

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BDJ

30-33. With the mobs at the end around 40. So I will be like 46-47 leaving.

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Tanek

Still, that puts you at or near the cap of the zone already as you are starting it. Not quite as bad as 50, but overleveled just by normal gameplay.

Some form of optional level scaling would be perfect for me. I don’t know how possible it would be, though.

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BDJ

There were levels in The Secret World. Just because you don’t see a number going 1-50 or whatever the start / cap is doesn’t mean levels don’t exist.

The same could be said for SWG. You had levels in SWG. Compare it to FFXIV ARR and HW.

How to become a scholar? Level 30 Arcanist / Level 15 Conjurer
How to become a Bounty Hunter? Master Marksmen / Scout Exploration IV

You had the progression of levels by unlocking boxes in SWG. You had levels in TSW by getting better and better gear which was tied to buying skills… which was gained by progressing a bar across the bottom or top of your screen.

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wratts

I would like to see optional level scaling. Sometimes you are just looking for lore.

I know for me, I’ve not been re-running missions, but I have been completionisting zones as I go, and I’m 47 right now in Scorched Desert and all the mission mobs give 1xp. Definitely not helpful if you want to gain AP/SP

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camren_rooke

I think I could get behind this too.

Wandering through throngs of cultists and locusts now in Egypt because I am 49 and they are 38. They don’t bat an eye even if I jump on them. This takes that sense of danger away.

That combined with Story Mode dungeons which are arguably ‘Click and win’. I stood in front of Ur Draug and just shot him alot. I understand Story Mode is to complete the story without having to group t do it, but… SOMETHING has to be better than what it is now.

All this aside, I am still enjoying the hell out of SWL.

*clicks Nassir’s Groove Gun*

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Malcolm Swoboda

“SOMETHING has to be better” – That would be Elite Dungeons. As one can technically get to max level within a week, that’s your 5-man tougher content.

For missions, yeah, I’m for player level scaling and even elite instances of zones, but I also really like that I CAN go to Solomon, Egypt, and maybe one day Transylvania and Tokyo, and not be rushed by the same ‘ol mobs while just trying to grind at my pace.

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Jeffery Witman

Try to do Elite 1 dungeons instead when you can. You’ll get your challenge.

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Nyt Andras

Yup – by Savage Coast, I was thinking “level scaling absolutely needed”

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Koshelkin

Hmm, I guess it was a good call I skipped on a large part of Kingsmouth then.(Yeah, don’t scold me. I’ve did it several times in beta.) I’m patron as well and I always slightly outleveled content but never so much that the mobs wouldn’t attack me. I skipped on alot of Kingsmouth, nothing in Savage Coast and only a few things in Blue Mountain and Scorched Desert. For the rest of it I went 100%.

Got to say I still wished I could turn of the exp bonus because overleveling it trivialized some of the content I was facing.

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Slaasher

But that disappointment that Kingsmouth lost some of its magic was nothing compared to what awaited me in Savage Coast. It was so disappointing to be doing my Innsmouth Academy quests for the first time and all of the mobs are oblivious to my presence

Yes!! This this this. So many games have this issue now. Its all wrong for this game. This is a story driven game. If you take the time to do ALL of the story (which is a must IMO) then you have out leveled nearly everything long before you even get to it.
I cant believe that more games don’t make levelling allowances for this. It really bothers me.
I always feel like i’m being penalized for taking part in all of their created content. Especially in this game.

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