Monday, October 28, 2013

Level-scaling in WoW: bring it on, but keep it optional

He's just looking for a quick clear.
This week, WoW Insider features the following community blog topic: Should characters be scaled to low-level content? The question is in response to a recently released video that seems to show a level 90 being scaled down to level 40ish -- both items and attributes -- after entering Stratholme. While the community response was understandably skeptical, the video appears to be authentic: Legendary's Pat Krane mentioned that he was able to replicate the scaling on one occasion.

As a whole, I think the idea is wonderful and am a bit surprised something like this wasn't implemented long ago. Good news is, a feature like this indicates Blizzard plans on the game being around for awhile. I think we can all celebrate that. At the same time, I think it needs to be implemented in a certain way, being careful so as not to upset the ability for players to solo old content for their own purposes. The novelty of being able to scale down to a friend's level and run some dungeons will wear off quickly, unless there are relevant rewards for the high-level player. I'm anticipating an announcement at Blizzcon on this very topic, and am looking forward to seeing where they'll take it.

Keep it optional

I'm a collector. Achievements, mounts, pets, mounts and pets for achievements -- you know what I'm saying. I had a stable of maxed toons killing Attumen on a weekly basis until the Fiery Warhorse's Reins were in my possession. Clearing Stratholme became a science: I'd managed to figure out how to kill Aurius Rivendare twenty times in just over an hour. And I'm still cycling five characters into the Eye each week, and will continue to do so until Kael'thas drops that damn phoenix.

Blizzard would be committing a terrible mistake if they took the soloing option away from players. I know I'd be disappointed. To me, soloing old content is also a measure of your character's power and progression, and not just a means to an end. If suddenly all content, from Vanilla through the most current expansion, was challenging no matter what level a player was at, it might seem like characters are stagnant. Plus, soloing old content has been something players have been doing since the beginning of the game. Whether for transmog items, pets, mounts, or the challenge itself, the choice should be up to the player whether they want to breeze through the old content quickly for their own purposes, or if they'd like to experience the content as level-appropriate.

Reward me, baby

How often do you run low-level friends through dungeons with a high-level toon? For me, the answer is occasionally. Even then, from a gameplay standpoint it's really not a whole lot of fun for either party: the mobs literally bounce off of the maxed toon while the lowbie tries to keep up in between looting all of the corpses. The lowbie earns less experience overall in this method, and the maxed toon will likely earn next to nothing.

Level scaling is a cool idea by itself, but I think there still needs to be an incentive for the max-level player. Some sort of reward that is beneficial to them. Perhaps a bit of Valor. Maybe it's a satchel with the chance for rare goods. Maybe it's the currency of the day. Regardless, there should be some sort of relevant reward. Additionally, if an 88 were to scale down to run with a 44, I'd hope the 88 would earn XP, too.

I think it's pretty safe to assume we'll be getting this feature in the near future, and it'll be pretty hard for Blizzard to screw it up.

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