Torchlight Frontiers gets inspired by Guild Wars 2 for horizontal progression

    
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If there is one thing that your average MMORPG player is familiar with, it is vertical progression. This comes from characters on a track to grow ever-increasingly more powerful along a very limited range. However, the team behind the upcoming Torchlight Frontiers want to challenge that paradigm by instituting a healthy dose of horizontal progression that will allow for a growth of game systems in the future.

“We’ve decided to design the core progression of Torchlight Frontiers to be less about sitting at the top of a mighty power mountain,” the team said on Reddit, “and more about building different kinds of power that won’t be invalidated by the next new thing. Adding content shouldn’t move the goalpost, but provide exciting new stuff for elder and early game players alike.”

The team said that every new feature will be considered from both a vertical and horizontal angle as to not invalidate past progress, to allow for greater specialization, and to engage in a wider range of content. “Dynamic gear scaling” in zones is the key tool that the devs are using to accomplish this, inspired by how Guild Wars 2 instituted a similar system.

Source: Reddit

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Anthony Clark

If there’s level scaling I’ll skip it.

If I’ve leveled up, and return to a lower level zone I should be able to pown the whole damn zone.

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Brown Jenkin

A shift toward horizontal progression is basically my hope for the future of the genre. Good luck to them!

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Castagere Shaikura

Just watched their live stream. I like what their vision is so far. Its still way to early to see how it will come out with PWE behind it. I want to see the other classes though. Sick of seeing just the two they have been showing.

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Arktouros

It’ll be interesting to see if they do proper downscaling like GW2 or if they will do the lazy route like ESO and just make all the game content max level and you scale up to the game content. However none of these systems is really perfect. It’s hard not to make an argument that Gliding (HOT) or mounts (POF) aren’t really game changing vertical power boosts. You’re objectively better with them than without.

Also I’m pretty curious what this means for a game based off an ARPG. Generally speaking ARPGs are about chasing items that are good for your build and then chasing slightly better versions of the same items for your build. For example you might have a chest piece that’s +27% fire damage but it’s maximum is 40% fire damage so you’re looking for that 40% to min-max that build. That generally takes a lot of items which is why ARPGs are so item focused for progression/gear. If that’s not the case here that gives me no frame of reference for what kind of game this will actually be.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

It’s hard not to make an argument that Gliding (HOT) or mounts (POF) aren’t really game changing vertical power boosts. You’re objectively better with them than without.

The key is in the article’s: ” to not invalidate past progress” which is what a horizontal progression system would aim at. Unlocking new content or new ways to go through it is commonly a side effect of both horizontal and vertical progression, but invalidating past progress and content is what makes vertical progression stick out.

As for GW2’s progression systems, I think fractals, regardless of their somewhat vertical progression (through gathering agony resistance), have a very interesting concept: progressively adding new and more challenging mechanics on the same content. I would be interested to see Torchlight and other games have a stab at this kind of progression.

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Arktouros

Yes but anyone who’s played GW2 knows that new expansions readily invalidate past systems by the next new thing. For example after HOT launched the Viper stats introduced with that expansion invalidated a lot of past gear combinations because it provided the best of both power damage and condition damage. Equally both expansions introduced new specializations that were simply flat out better than alternative base options. Mounts invalidate the idea of running an out of combat 25% runspeed glyph or 6 slot rune set (Travelers) or trait for example.

While certainly these things aren’t to the degree of vertical progression like WOW where each expansion wholly invalidates the last there’s always going to be some measure of power increase.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

Specialization powercreep was a thing with HoT and I agree, I believe is was intentional – they did it to sell, especially now that their base game is free. From what I hear it is much less so with PoF compared to HoT but I cannot be sure, I dropped out of the game before PoF – from what I hear from old guildmates it just made some professions finally not useless and increased diversity, which is a good thing. This has nothing to do with their progression systems though. Mounts vs glyphs are a far-fetched example.

But lets not diverge. My basic point is: if the game feels the need to downscale to make older content relevant, then why not forego this “vertical” arbitrary number progression and go completely with horizontal instead? I do not mind having to “achieve” or complete some content to unlock other content, or progressively higher difficulty/challenges, but if the game has a progression system where arbitrary numbers go up and then downscales them, something is fundamentally wrong with the system itself.

Not that I would prefer any solution that invalidates content, I just feel that downscaling is a cheap solution that acts as a band aid to an even worse progression system.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

Though to contradict myself, levelling/vertical progression plus downscaling effectively acts exactly like that: unlocking content without invalidating previous content. But it still feels gimmicky :S

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Skoryy

The hype gets even better. Aw yiss.

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Mike Minier

That’s why I never enjoyed GW2 as much as other mmos. It’s also why I can’t get into shooters like Fortnite and Overwatch. I need to feel like my character is getting stronger, especially in games I am sticking hundreds or thousands of hours into. I need that constant hit of progression to keep me coming back for more. Maybe growing up in the 80’s and 90’s playing rpg’s spoiled me on it, but yeah I’m definitely a progression junkie.

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Planxx

Understandable. However I get a bigger sense of pride on my GW2 accomplishments than on WoW or other MMOs. I know that if I beat a raid it is because my skills and performance as a player for my role was good, not because I got the gear or spells that carried me.I feel that in horizontal progression games it is your skills as a player than need to improve not your in game character.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

And yet there isn’t a lot of point to it. The monsters scale in power to you so the difficulty remains the same, the power gain is basically just for show and not doing much.

I fight monsters so I can gain xp, so I can power up, so I can fight stronger monsters.. so I can gain xp, so I can power up, so I can fight stronger monsters. so I can gain xp, so I can power up, so I can fight stronger monsters… I’m always chasing xp!

Guild Wars 2 has an amazingly good system, and this only bodes well for Torchlight. GW 2 is about fun combat with great storylines all the way through. They do have lots of progression, it’s just not constantly going upwards, after you hit 80 and max out your different skill lines it’s sideways progression.

As a side note – in the co-op and story part of Fortnite, there is a huge amount of power growth over time. It’s just the Battle Royale that makes everybody equal… Though that’s what makes the Battle Royale fun, equal footing and skill based combat. Who wants to go in against people who don’t have anything to do but play games all day long and are get ultra powerful just because of time played in a PvP game? Not a whole lot of us percentage wise.

I’m far more into skill based combat than time based growth. I do like some growth where you get that false sense of getting powerful but not endless amounts of it.

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John Buczek

Nice. Even more reason I’m excited about this game. Here’s hoping it actually plays as well as it look. I love this game world.