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Guild Wars 2 Diary #28: Level Scaling Problem

30. March, 2013Tags: Guild Wars 2, Guild Wars 2 Diary, MMO Blog

Guild Wars 2 Diary episode 28At the end of the last Guild Wars 2 diary, we got a message from Logan Thackeray saying that the Queen was attending a meeting in a village near Divinity’s Reach to discuss the new peace treaty between the humans and the charr. He had an uncomfortable feeling about the whole thing, and wanted you to get to the queen’s side as quickly as possible, in the hopes that there’d be extra protection if anything went down. A mark was added to the map, near Divinity’s Reach, and you could visit the mansion whenever you were ready. One piece of advice: take a friend.

 

Guild Wars 2 Gameplay - Diary Episode 28

Caudecus’s Manor

The manor is absolutely beautiful, a proper stately home designed to house somebody with more money than sense. That there are so many people visiting is a testament not only to the host’s popularity – Lord Beetlestone obviously has a lot of influence – but to the stature of the event itself. The human and the charr have signed a peace treaty, and that’s a good reason to celebrate. The problem is, something strange is happening, and very few people want to talk about it.

Upon arriving, you’ll be shown through to the party. Logan and the Queen discuss her safety. Logan isn’t sure that everybody at the party wants her to make it out alive, but the Queen dismisses his concern as little more than his usual displays of over-protective devotion. Your first task is to speak with the guests at the party and, hopefully, discover just what’s going on.

Guild Wars 2 Caudecus' Manor 1

This is perhaps the dumbest part of Guild Wars 2 that I’ve played so far. Caudecus’s Manor is meant for five people, but playing it alone means that you need to talk to each potential source multiple times in order to fill up the bad, it even means you need to repeat options. Each person has three speech options, two of which will give you a clue of who is to blame for the general uneasiness of the party. You’ll find a single name repeated by almost everybody you meet, but you can’t do anything about it until you’ve filled up the rumour bar. It’s very frustrating and very dull.

Guild Wars 2 Caudecus' Manor 2

Once you’re done, you and Logan will go and confront the perpetrator. It turns out that this whole party – rather unsurprisingly – has been a ruse, an attempt to assassinate the queen. After asking Lord Beetlestone’s favourite inventor if he knew anything about a plot to kill the queen, he instantly confesses to everything. Rather than have the plan fail, though, he calls out to his latest invention: a prototype golem. Before you can stop it (or rather, before the game lets you attack it), the golem is attacking the queen and it’s up to you and Logan to save the day.

There are two issues with this. Firstly, Logan sucks. You probably realized if you’d done missions with him in the early part of the game, but he has a really terrible habit of getting his butt kicked ridiculously easily. If you think you’re going to get any help from him, you’re wrong. That leaves you on your own. No problem, right?

Like all of the game’s dungeons – and I suppose this counts – you need a few people to really get through a level. The developers think that this will make you want to team up with others and that it’s a fair difficulty under the presumption that you have a full team. Unfortunately, reality is far harsher. You’re never going to get a full team unless you already know people and it’s going to be basically impossible – thanks mainly to the level scaling – to beat the prototype golem.

Guild Wars 2 Caudecus' Manor 3

That means this is going to be a tough fight no matter what, and if you’re on your own, you might as well not even start.

Scaling – Where Guild Wars 2 Went Wrong

If there’s one problem in Guild Wars 2, it’s the level scaling. In theory, and in practise for quite a bit of the time, it’s a nice feature that allows you to never out-level a part of the game. No matter in which part of the world you are, you’ll have a challenge. This also works, in PVP, in the opposite way, boosting you up to level 80 so that everybody is on a level playing field.

Then you come to a dungeon, or even a low level area, and you’re obliterated. Being scaled down for low level areas is all good and well, nobody should ever feel too smug about their abilities in game. However, if you’ve worked for hours to get to level 80 and you still manage to be defeated by two level five bandits, things start to feel off. Dungeons, similarly, scale you down only to put you into a fight that there’s no way of winning. You could be level 80 and still be humiliated.

Guild Wars 2 Caudecus' Manor 1

Guild Wars 2 makes it impossible if you are solo

So the question, I suppose, is why? If I want to solo-run a dungeon, why shouldn’t it scale the difficulty so that I’m faced with a challenging but winnable scenario? Why does it even let me in when there’s no way of winning? I’d done 20,000+ damage to the golem in Caudecus’s Manor and its health bar had hardly dropped. Is it really worth scaling me from level 41 to level 40?

More than that, it punishes players for not being able to find other players to gather with for a dungeon. Finding someone to run a level with is difficult enough – people join and quit a group almost at random – but to put together a group of five? It’s completely impossible. If you do manage to do it, there’s a good chance one person will randomly quit out during play.

There are huge parts of this game that are inaccessible to what I can only imagine is almost the majority of people playing. Do they care? Do they even really notice?

Guild Wars 2 Caudecus' Manor 5

All I can say is that I’ve noticed, and it drives me absolutely mad.

Conclusion

Unable to finish the manor, I moved on to something a little easier. It’s not that I want to rush through the game without any effort, I’m not even entirely opposed to grinding. I just want to be able to play without having to try and speak with people who aren’t interested in playing with me or who even don’t really speak English. And why should they be interested in playing with me? And why should they have to speak English?

This is all stuff that ArenaNet forgot to ask when building the scaling/dungeon system in Guild Wars 2. And in my eyes, it’s one of their few failures.

 

What do you think?


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