UPDATED: An Under the Radar Change to Enemy Scaling Has the WoW Community Up in Arms

UPDATED: An Under the Radar Change to Enemy Scaling Has the WoW Community Up in Arms

wow-7-2-kiljaeden-320

Blizzard slipped an undocumented change into the 7.2 patch for World of Warcraft, and the community is not pleased.

UPDATE (3/29/2017 22:00): After all the uproar earlier today, Blizzard has made some drastic changes to how level scaling works. In a post to the forum thread mentioned below, Blizzard Community Manager Ornyx announced that the following changes had been patched into the game:

  • "We're removing the increase to damage dealt by creatures in the world. Our overall goal with this change is to keep the amount of time it takes to kill a creature from getting ridiculously short, and increasing the damage they deal is unnecessary for that goal. Instead, this was making you feel like they were becoming more dangerous, which was not our intent."
  • "We're significantly reducing the rate at which creature health scales with your item level. Again, all we're trying to do here is prevent cases where monsters die too quickly for players to react to their presence, particularly around World Quests. Our initial tuning was far more aggressive than it needed to be, which could make it feel like your upgrades weren't actually helping. This change will make it very clear that you are still becoming noticeably stronger than your enemies as your gear improves."

Ornyx also write that Blizzard would be addressing the behavior pointed out by players, where unequipping an item could drastically weaken an enemy. That fix is planned for "later today."

Finally, Ornyx added that the original change was present in the PTR, but was again omitted from patch notes for the same reasons stated below. We'll keep an ear out as to how these tweaks are regarded by the community, but for now it seems as though some are happy with the changes, while others continue to call for a complete removal of this new scaling.


ORIGINAL STORY:If you've been playing World of Warcraft since yesterday's 7.2 patch, you may have noticed that the world quests you were doing before the patch seem a bit harder now. At least, that's the case if your item level is 850 or higher. Why? Well, it seems that Blizzard slipped a new scaling feature into the patch, but didn't bother to mention it in the patch notes.

There's a long thread in the game's official forum discussing the change, with opinions ranging from disbelief to hopes that the change was just a bug. One player even posted the numbers he found from researching in-game, with a level 110 Elite Illidary Enforcer going from 15,589,000 hitpoints at player item level 850 to 18,940,000 hit points at player item level 875. Players even reported that they could kill enemies more efficiently by removing a piece of gear to drop their item level down to 850.

About five hours after the thread was posted, WoW game director Ion Hazzikostas came to the thread, posting a confirmation that "Yes, this reflects a deliberate change, but it's also not working exactly as we intended." Apparently, the team felt that players were getting too powerful in relation to the content, and this change was planned to slow down the advancement curve. The current state of affairs, though, doesn't reflect what they had in mind, says Hazzikostas, and the system could still be tweaked or even removed entirely.

Players, at least those posting in the forum, were almost universally upset. First, they were unhappy with the substance of the change, as it not only removed a lot of the incentive to acquire better gear, but it actually punished players who had that gear. Second, and more important to many, this change never appeared in the patch notes for 7.2.

Blizzard says that omission was intentional. Hazzikostas acknowledged that Blizzard left the change off the notes, but said it was to see how players would react when they weren't aware that such a change had happened.

"It was not to be deceptive," he wrote, "we know it's impossible to hide a change from millions of players. 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."

But the community seems loathe to accept that reasoning, and the thread on the forums has swelled to 150 pages at the time of this writing. A sampling of recent posts finds phrases like "This decision is straight up terrible," and "BAD MOVE on BLIZZ part."

We'll have to wait and see how Blizzard addresses the discontent, but for now, it sounds like we can expect at least a tweak to this mechanic to make its effects less profound. Otherwise, the prospect of grabbing better gear only to have a harder time killing mobs in the world could quickly drive players away from the game.

We'll keep an ear to the ground on this story, and update if Blizzard makes any changes.

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Level scaling, of course, brilliant, wonderful idea.

I cannot think of a single game improved by level scaling, but MMOs are especially averse to it. Why exactly would anyone grind through hundreds of hours of MMO game play to end up exactly where they were before?

The fact that Blizzard felt the need to hide the fact they were doing it in the first place speaks volumes. They knew full well how it would be received.

Still, not as bad as Oblivion's random bandits clad in legendary Daedric armor clattering about the countryside.

Hey, Blizzard, want an easy fix that will make players happy to fight stronger enemies? Let the enemies drop better rewards. Be that better items, more money, or more renown with the local groups. Fighting stronger enemies for better rewards seems like something that players would be happy with.

Their real mistake was being honest and trying to explain why they didn't list the change in the patch; should've just lied and said they forgot to mention it.

Scaling enemies is such a stupid mechanic, I don't understand who would actually like it. What's the point of getting more powerful when the same enemies get more powerful as well? You basically see no progression except in bigger numbers for both sides. You don't feel more powerful.

fix-the-spade:
Level scaling, of course, brilliant, wonderful idea.

I cannot think of a single game improved by level scaling, but MMOs are especially averse to it. Why exactly would anyone grind through hundreds of hours of MMO game play to end up exactly where they were before?

The fact that Blizzard felt the need to hide the fact they were doing it in the first place speaks volumes. They knew full well how it would be received.

Still, not as bad as Oblivion's random bandits clad in legendary Daedric armor clattering about the countryside.

As far as I've seen on ESO, level scaling been taken well. There has been a lot of people returning after One Tameriel

A lot of people see it as a way to make all areas in the world interesting. Before you just wouldn't go to certain areas becuase it was way too easy. A lot of world boss can't be solo anymore so there is more zone communication.

But then the community wasn't tricked so...

BiH-Kira:
Scaling enemies is such a stupid mechanic, I don't understand who would actually like it.

Well it initially worked well because friends who may be several levels apart could still kill enemies and quest in the same area together and they'd both be getting their full worth.

They wanted to see how players would react when they werent aware that such a change had happened?????????????????

wtf?????

blizzard are running social experiments now?

....what in the world has something like that got to do with gaming. it does not make a difference how players react to a hidden change in the games code...

King_Julian:
They wanted to see how players would react when they werent aware that such a change had happened?????????????????

wtf?????

blizzard are running social experiments now?

....what in the world has something like that got to do with gaming. it does not make a difference how players react to a hidden change in the games code...

It's called Blizzard not wanting the usual gamer shitfit whenever anything changes without them trying it first. People would go into the game intent on hating it instead of having an open mind. They obviously screwed up the change's implementation, but I completely understand why they didn't put it in the patch notes.

trunkage:
As far as I've seen on ESO, level scaling been taken well. There has been a lot of people returning after One Tameriel

A lot of people see it as a way to make all areas in the world interesting. Before you just wouldn't go to certain areas becuase it was way too easy. A lot of world boss can't be solo anymore so there is more zone communication.

But then the community wasn't tricked so...

With the way ESO's player numbers leap up and down, it would suggest they didn't get it quite right either.

I am of the opinion that easy areas should be easy and hard areas should be hard, otherwise the game loses all sense of progression. I want oto run in terror from that Dremora initially, then cackle like a maniac when I come weeks later and stomp all over him. It can also mess with the story being able to go straight to the end, but then no MMO has a real story, they have beginning, then a middle, then more middle, then more middle until the servers turn off.

Ironically that forced Tabula Rasa to come to an end, the ending was... we won, hurrah!

aaaand it's already been hotfixed out. Problem solved. 50 bucks says that people still get their knickers in a twist over it, if there's any constant in the world it's people having a shit-fit over Blizzard doing anything, even after Blizzard has solved the problem.

fix-the-spade:
Level scaling, of course, brilliant, wonderful idea.

I cannot think of a single game improved by level scaling, but MMOs are especially averse to it. Why exactly would anyone grind through hundreds of hours of MMO game play to end up exactly where they were before?

The fact that Blizzard felt the need to hide the fact they were doing it in the first place speaks volumes. They knew full well how it would be received.

Still, not as bad as Oblivion's random bandits clad in legendary Daedric armor clattering about the countryside.

I mean, Legion has had level-scaling the entire expansion, it's just this time it was a problem because it was poorly balanced, with people who had raid-level gear suddenly getting stone-walled by trash mobs in the overworld; there was even a bug going around where unequipping gear would radically alter enemy stats mid-fight.

So, less 'problem is level-scaling' and more 'problem is poorly-implemented and buggy level-scaling'. But, doesn't matter anyway, since they hotfixed it out.

fix-the-spade:

trunkage:
As far as I've seen on ESO, level scaling been taken well. There has been a lot of people returning after One Tameriel

A lot of people see it as a way to make all areas in the world interesting. Before you just wouldn't go to certain areas becuase it was way too easy. A lot of world boss can't be solo anymore so there is more zone communication.

But then the community wasn't tricked so...

With the way ESO's player numbers leap up and down, it would suggest they didn't get it quite right either.

I am of the opinion that easy areas should be easy and hard areas should be hard, otherwise the game loses all sense of progression. I want oto run in terror from that Dremora initially, then cackle like a maniac when I come weeks later and stomp all over him. It can also mess with the story being able to go straight to the end, but then no MMO has a real story, they have beginning, then a middle, then more middle, then more middle until the servers turn off.

Ironically that forced Tabula Rasa to come to an end, the ending was... we won, hurrah!

I think this maybe be a fundamental difference between how you and I play games. I don't care about stomping on people. That literally bores me. I need challenge thus the One Tameriel patch was more for me than you. I remember in Fallout 4 going back to places like Quincy because after a few levels there would be different challenges respawning in those area.

King_Julian:

blizzard are running social experiments now?

At least that ran theirs in an MMO and not in a fallout shelter.

I read about this earlier today. I haven't really noticed a difference, I still smash through everything well enough. To be honest I'd be perfectly fine with enemies on the Broken Shore scaling a bit with ilvl given how it's new content and I wouldn't want to just breeze my way through it the way I breeze through everywhere else in the Isles. But I wouldn't want all the other zones in the Broken Isles to start scaling too.

It would be the same way that Suramar City was when we first started running around in there, relying on our disguise because if you accidentally pulled too many enemies you'd be in serious danger. Whereas now you just run through it without giving a thimble full of fuck about what you're pulling.

Honestly, what I'm bothered about most right now is some of the new artifact traits has added even more RNG elements to my class. Because that's exactly what Elemental needed fucking more of.

"It's just a social experiment, bro!"

Seriously, what did Blizzard expect the reaction would be? It's NEVER a good idea to hide changes from the player base, unless you're teasing a new content update or something (and even then it can go too far, like Overwatch's ARG for Sombra's reveal).

BiH-Kira:
Scaling enemies is such a stupid mechanic, I don't understand who would actually like it. What's the point of getting more powerful when the same enemies get more powerful as well? You basically see no progression except in bigger numbers for both sides. You don't feel more powerful.

The problem is that they're facing "opposition" from two sides...and going against either "side" is a bad idea.

On one hand, it's understandable as to why they made this expansionism with scaling enemies they way they did. It made it so that players could play through the zones in whatever order they wanted to. As such it removed the hard-focused linear progression...which alleviated the problem of "well there's 50 people in this area all trying to tag/kill 20 quest mobs" because it spread the player base around throughout the whole expansion. You could choose which zone you wanted to start in, which greatly alleviated the competition for quest mobs/drops and gave the player a greater sense of agency.

On the other hand...there is indeed the glaring issue of "as I level up and get better gear...the mobs don't get any weaker...why the fuck am I running dungeons/mythics/raids/etc if no matter how great my gear is all the mobs are still as difficult as they were when I was wearing random greens that I had picked up?"

I dunno...I played from Vanilla to the end of BC...then took a break for a decade and picked the game up about a month before Legion launched. Part of me wants to say that this expansion has been handled very well in terms of progression, story, and itemization....but the part of me that played through BC knows that this expansion is going way too fast. Where-as two to three months into this expansion had me with 3 characters at max level, geared up, and waiting for new content...it seemed like in BC it took a lot longer to get raid-ready and waiting for additional content.

I dunno, as I said it's been over a decade since BC so maybe my perception is wrong. But it just seemed like there was always something to do in BC while in this expansion you can easily get to the point where there's nothing left to do but wait for the next raid.

P.S. I'm still laughing at everyone who thought we'd be killing Sargaeras in this expansion. Granted, the expansion isn't over quite yet so there's still plenty of time to feed me some crow...but yeah, ever since this expansion was announced I had a feeling that Kil'Jaeden would be the final Big Bad.

All in all my point is that Blizzard put themselves in a corner...regardless of how they progressed from here they were bound to get outcries of dissent. People that didn't like the scaling that this expansion introduced were going to feel even more angry since the changes that were made with this patch only reinforced one off the core aspects of this expansion that they didn't like. Had they gone the other way with it there would undoubtedly be people complaining about the fact that there aren't already 5 full-fledge raids with 10 full-fledged raid tiers (in terms of gear sets)...just like with WoD.

Our overall goal with this change is to keep the amount of time it takes to kill a creature from getting ridiculously short

Or you can just add additional stronger monsters like any other game ...

Blizzard is really lost as to what to do from here. They never were all that creative a company. Their story-lines are derivative, nearly to copyright infringement levels, and cliche. They are most famous for having polished gameplay - i.e. they take what others have invented and polish it to a showroom shine.

Since WoW killed almost all it's competition, Blizzard ran out of people to take "inspiration" from - I swear if FFXIV 2.0 didn't exist, WoW's gameplay would stagnate even more than it has.

fix-the-spade:
Level scaling, of course, brilliant, wonderful idea.

I cannot think of a single game improved by level scaling, but MMOs are especially averse to it. Why exactly would anyone grind through hundreds of hours of MMO game play to end up exactly where they were before?

The fact that Blizzard felt the need to hide the fact they were doing it in the first place speaks volumes. They knew full well how it would be received.

Still, not as bad as Oblivion's random bandits clad in legendary Daedric armor clattering about the countryside.

It is stupid for the main games, and one of the pro's in my opinion of Morrowind for lacking it...

But ESO's One Tamriel update also made all enemies scale to each player individually. Not a perfect system, but it improved the game since now the entire world was always open to you, at first level or max level, and lets anyone party with anyone at anytime.

Might be the rare exception, but that is one instance that adding scaling improved a game.

Saltyk:
Hey, Blizzard, want an easy fix that will make players happy to fight stronger enemies? Let the enemies drop better rewards. Be that better items, more money, or more renown with the local groups. Fighting stronger enemies for better rewards seems like something that players would be happy with.

Blizzard already have issues with people hitting the gold cap. To the extent where they keep putting in bigger and bigger gold sinks, extending the gold cap, and expanding the usage of WoW tokens.

Some players are literally able to pay for their entire Blizzard library using gold. I hardly even touched the auction house back when I played at Legion launch, and even I was able to make a metric shit ton.

And with the existence of World Quests, the creatures definitely do NOT need to drop more loot. World Quests literally already rectified this issue.

fix-the-spade:

I cannot think of a single game improved by level scaling, but MMOs are especially averse to it. Why exactly would anyone grind through hundreds of hours of MMO game play to end up exactly where they were before?

The fact that Blizzard felt the need to hide the fact they were doing it in the first place speaks volumes. They knew full well how it would be received.

They likely didn't anticipate for it to break a lot of world PvE content. But they were correct in that it certainly does rectify a common issue.

When doing world PvE content. It's highly annoying to struggle to farm mobs because other people are bursting them all down in 1-2 shots before you can even think about tagging them for loot. It's extremely annoying. It's very fair to have the killing speed capped at a hypothetical number of around 7-8 hits.

Besides. Level scaling in World of Warcraft would be entirely welcome as a global overworld change. With how fast levelling is now, there are a lot of dead zones. No one's levelling in areas like Twilight Highlands, Netherstorm or Icecrown, because players outlevel the zone before they even hit the minimum level to go to these areas. These zones all need the same treatment that the Legion areas received with level scaling. Allowing players to play them in any order.

Seems like another "we added creep block and slowed mounts down in heroes of the storm even though nobody asked for it and pretty much everyone hates it" situation.

Level-scaling is the worst way to make content interesting.

Adding other incentive than fighting would be a way, strategic points like player bases, entrances to other content, original quests, original gear, setting up shop, crafting, completely different game mechanics like what the fuck, a cart racing track, I don't know.

It simply is the worst possible solution I can think of, because it diminishes accomplishment in a non-sensical way. I'd rather take reskins because it makes at least any sense in-game lore-wise or whatever.

The worst thing about TES from Oblivion onward, imo. Like, the worst.

WoW's gradual disintegration as their player base slowly realizes Blizzard really has been manipulating them for subscription money and all their 'progression' really isn't has got to be my second favorite thing in MMO news after EVE Online politics.

Guild Wars 2 has level scaling. It downgrades your level to the zone's level so you aren't limited to just a couple zones for endgame content.

The thing is though, your level stats decreased, but your armor stats remain high, meaning you still wreck things lower level than you, just not in a ridiculous way.

Also, Fuck WoW. I quit in Burning Crusade because I could see how new management kept making dumber and dumber decisions based on nothing, and I saw no end in sight. And PvP has always been balanced like a stilt walker with one leg on a treadmill.

Having enemys scale as I leveled in legion was one of the 30 other reasons as to why i quit after 2 months. Blizzard games these days are all about getting the player to grind on some treadmill for rewards that they think are useful.

fix-the-spade:
Level scaling, of course, brilliant, wonderful idea.

I cannot think of a single game improved by level scaling, but MMOs are especially averse to it. Why exactly would anyone grind through hundreds of hours of MMO game play to end up exactly where they were before?

The fact that Blizzard felt the need to hide the fact they were doing it in the first place speaks volumes. They knew full well how it would be received.

Still, not as bad as Oblivion's random bandits clad in legendary Daedric armor clattering about the countryside.

You are exactly right. Even better? What the flying heck is the Public Test Realm Server for then? Why did they not start there to test balloon it? The very fact they pushed it to live and hid it really does speak volumes.

The Devs promised a continued content stream and now they are trying to weasel out of it by recycling content in the most lazy and super duper cost effective way, no reskins, just shift the numbers to auto scale.

Last I checked our subscriptions per month is still real money and Blizzard is more than happy to receive it so why do they insist on trying to mess up the relationship seems foolish along the lines of goose and the golden egg.

I usually enjoy MMO's that are about character growth and progression. So for example a large green frog from 20 levels ago suddenly able to wreck my character after being told so many times in the quest and storyline about how epic my character is now?

Hmm maybe they do need to make some changes, I would like an additional stat on the artifact weapon: Immunity to lazy dev nerfs. *sigh*

Saltyk:
Hey, Blizzard, want an easy fix that will make players happy to fight stronger enemies? Let the enemies drop better rewards. Be that better items, more money, or more renown with the local groups. Fighting stronger enemies for better rewards seems like something that players would be happy with.

But if they drop better gear then they will only get stronger the next time.

 

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