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Game Director Ion Hazzikostas on Mob Scaling

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Players recently noticed that unequipping gear makes you stronger in the open world. Game Director Ion Hazzikostas said in the latest Live Developer Q&A that Blizzard has done virtually nothing with mob scaling in the last 15 months and now he replied on the official forums as well.

Ion suggested a really easy workaround to deal with mob scaling in Battle for Azeroth yesterday.../s

On a serious note, if you're at level 110 wearing Argus gear and legendaries, you're massively overpowered and easily twice as strong as someone who just quested through Legion and did nothing else.

At approximately level 117, players with Argus gear start to upgrade their gear from quests and wear nearly the exact same gear as players who leveled straight through without doing Legion endgame content. We've seen the exact same thing in Warlords of Draenor, where players wearing Siege of Orgrimmar gear started to get wrecked by level 97 mobs in Spires of Arak.

They've seen no reports that a fresh 120 has an easier time with any content whatsoever, than one who has improved their gear through dungeons, world quests, etc.

A player in ilvl 330 gear is killing world quest foes more than 40% faster than someone who just dinged 120 at ilvl 280. The relative strength will continue to increase with every additional bit of gear or Azerite powers acquired.

They could have added level caps for the new zones, but decided not to, in order to deliver a non-linear leveling experience.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

Well geared toons from the end of the previous expansion have always had a very easy time in the first few levels of a new expansion. The scaling isn't broken, it's how the scaling should work. The only way for this to not be an issue is to remove scaling altogether. And it's a design choice that the benefits of scaling outweigh downsides like this.

Exactly.

The way the outdoor world functions in Battle for Azeroth is exactly how Legion worked, in virtually every regard. But looking farther back, an endgame-geared character from the prior expansion having a harder and harder time killing things as they level is how WoW has worked since its very first expansion, The Burning Crusade. As you move into new content, you face progressively stronger foes. If you aren’t replacing your gear as you level because you’re already overgeared for your level, then in relative terms you're going to feel weaker against same-level enemies.

Specifically, level 110 enemies are tuned to be a fair fight for someone who just quested through Legion and hit 110 wearing items along the way (average item level of, say, 160 or so). That's essential, or fresh 110s moving into Battle for Azeroth content would run into a frustrating brick wall of difficulty. But it means that if you are level 110 wearing Argus gear and legendaries (average item level of, say, 230 or even higher), you’re massively overpowered in relative terms. Easily twice as strong as someone who just quested through Legion and did nothing else. And that’s nothing new - that's power progression, and the reward for the time spent on Argus and elsewhere strengthening your character.

But moving on, level 117 enemies are tuned to be a fair fight for someone who is wearing quest rewards from level 117 quests. The same player above in Argus gear will only recently have started to find upgrades from quests, and is actually now wearing nearly the exact same gear as the player who leveled straight through without doing Legion endgame content. This is exactly how it worked 4 years ago when someone wearing Siege of Orgrimmar gear was wrecking level 90 enemies in Frostfire or Shadowmoon at 90, and then started to have a tough time against level 97 mobs in Spires of Arak at level 97. Higher-level enemies are tougher.

Again, nothing new. The only difference is that, since Legion, one Antorus-geared player may have started in Tiragarde Sound and steamrolled it at 110, before running into resistance in Drustvar at 117, while another Antorus-geared player may have started in Drustvar and had an easy time at 110, only to find tougher enemies at 117 in Tiragarde, depending on the order in which they each chose to tackle the zones. It admittedly can feel awkward to return to a specific dungeon or a specific area and find that the enemies there have effectively grown stronger while you were away, but that is what enables flexibility in zone choice when leveling, and makes the entire world relevant at max level, a core part of what made Legion's outdoor world experience successful.

The pre-Legion design, applied to Battle for Azeroth Horde content, might have gone like this: Zuldazar and Atal’dazar could be 110-114 content, Vol’dun and Temple of Sethraliss 113-117, and Nazmir and Underrot 116-120. That would likely have felt better in terms of rationalizing increasing world difficulty as you level, but it would have come at the expense of a more linear leveling experience, after which those zones would be largely irrelevant at endgame. We feel that the upsides of having the outdoor world continue to be relevant, and be a place where we can tell ongoing War Campaign stories and stage other content, for the months to come, are worth that increased awkwardness while leveling.

Finally, looking at the max-level experience, players are already objectively much stronger than they were at 110 in Legion. We’re starting to see random pickup groups going back and doing Mythic Antorus with ilvl ~330 level 120 characters, for achievements and transmog, and an ilvl 330 PUG kills Mythic Argus the Unmaker in about 5 minutes. Top raid guilds were doing it in ~9 minutes at 110 just a few weeks ago. There's no special scaling or legacy buff involved: People are simply stronger now than they were a month ago, when fighting the same old foes.

At max level, everything you do to upgrade your gear and the power of your Heart of Azeroth will make your experience playing the game relatively easier. We’ve seen no data whatsoever to support claims that a fresh 120 has an easier time with any content, outdoors or otherwise, than one who has improved their gear through doing dungeons and world quests and the like. A player in ilvl 330 gear is killing world quest foes more than 40% faster than someone who just hit 120 at ilvl 280, while having a much larger health pool (and, again, enemy damage output isn't scaling up at all). That relative strength will continue to increase over the weeks to come with every additional bit of gear and additional Azerite powers acquired.

Philosophically, we completely agree that progression is an essential part of an RPG experience. Rewards need to mean something, and their impact needs to be felt when playing the game. To the extent that we compromise that value in some places, it's never done lightly, and is always in service of a what we view as a greater benefit elsewhere (in this case, the ability to choose a non-linear path through zones while leveling, and having the entirety of the new world remaining relevant at 120, instead of just small pieces of it).

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Honestly I dont see how this is an issue.

Of course your gear will eventually need replaced, and progressively so.  

I cant see in my mind how anyone, at any time, thought that keeping let's say, Ashbringer would probably be an acceptable stance for a new expansion.  

...and I frickin LOVE Ashbringer.

Edited by PatrickHenry
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Uncommon Patron

I personally dont dont have an issue with  the mob scaling (and  im playing a shadow/holy priest). It does make  things interesting. Some classes cant burst through a rare anymore and need to use their defensive abilitys a bit more often. It adds another layer of "difficulty".

But what kind of answer is that? It is just impolite and disrespectful against the player asking the question. He/She has showed some concern and reached out to them for a serious answer, which they didn't give. If they dont have an idea how to fix it, they can just say so.
"Just put your hearth of azeroth in your bank. Problem fixed." (not quoted) - Not like we queue for dungeons while doing wq? Seriously, the hearth of azeroth is the core of this expansion and a replacement for the great idea of artifact items. Why exactly did they give me the amulet when i shouldn't use it?

Such answers are just infuriating me.

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29 minutes ago, Vorguz said:

I personally dont dont have an issue with  the mob scaling (and  im playing a shadow/holy priest). It does make  things interesting. Some classes cant burst through a rare anymore and need to use their defensive abilitys a bit more often. It adds another layer of "difficulty".

But what kind of answer is that? It is just impolite and disrespectful against the player asking the question. He/She has showed some concern and reached out to them for a serious answer, which they didn't give. If they dont have an idea how to fix it, they can just say so.
"Just put your hearth of azeroth in your bank. Problem fixed." (not quoted) - Not like we queue for dungeons while doing wq? Seriously, the hearth of azeroth is the core of this expansion and a replacement for the great idea of artifact items. Why exactly did they give me the amulet when i shouldn't use it?

Such answers are just infuriating me.

Sarcasm 😄.

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aslong as they dont hotfix putting half ur gear in the bank and being able to nuke mobs im fine with it the system is obviously broken and they dont want us killing things fast and some of us have found a loophole and will continue to do so til lazy devs get over thier selves and revert the scaling back some . they alrdy admitted they didnt change it since legion ,but in legion we had op artifact traits but now we have wet noodle azerite traits and gear. just wait til next xpacs prepatch when we get gear again with secondary stats gunna be op as helll to get rid of azerite gear 

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5 hours ago, Stan said:

A player in ilvl 330 gear is killing world quest foes more than 40% faster than someone who just dinged 120 at ilvl 280. The relative strength will continue to increase with every additional bit of gear or Azerite powers acquired.

A player in previously ilvl 330 gear now at ilvl 280 because of unequipping amulet/rings/trinkets (Their stats have less "power" to them than the other pieces because no primary stat and trinkets don't have good secondary stats for a while...) will kill faster than being in ilvl 330 gear. And there lies the problem.

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Bla-bla-bla.. nerf the outdoor scaling. It's absolutely ridiculous to be weaker in 340 than in 115 with 280. I don't want to one-hit everything, but if you need to use full cd for 3 mobs that is a bit weird (and of course in actual maximum gear).

And beside you the guy who leveling 2-hit the mob with level 112 for example. 

Edited by Hypersonic
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Didn't Blizz just say this in the QnA?

Quote

The power setback at 120 is noticeable and in new expansions, they're looking for a system that would merge the open world relevance with a feeling that you don't fly backwards as you level.

They really keep contradicting themselves about the scaling.

Quote

That would likely have felt better in terms of rationalizing increasing world difficulty as you level, but it would have come at the expense of a more linear leveling experience, after which those zones would be largely irrelevant at endgame. We feel that the upsides of having the outdoor world continue to be relevant, and be a place where we can tell ongoing War Campaign stories and stage other content, for the months to come, are worth that increased awkwardness while leveling.

This bit is utter BS. We could easily have had the superior, linear experience and still had their precious outdoor content relevancy. Remember MoP? The Barrens are still to this day cut in half by a large army of level 90 Kor'kron so they can easily put max level, story relevant stuff into zones of a lower level. The War Story argument in particularly makes no sense given that the zones you were in while doing the lower level chapters had all the mobs save for the quest specific ones dialed up to 120 so the zones didn't scale for you at all.

Edited by Brutalis

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Are people getting a little "mixed up" on the issue, I completely agree that it's probably not changed, and in principle, I agree with it.

But;

They have to address the feel that comes with having items with garbage stats at the start of an expansion. I was wearing two trinket today that when the both proc'd together took my haste from the amazing 5% base I currently have, to 44% haste, and Fury warrior felt awesome........

I'm finding that I can take everything in the open world, but it's ponderous..............

Also, going into a heroic dungeon and power spiking isn't good, that should be balanced better!

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On 8/25/2018 at 9:26 AM, Brutalis said:

They really keep contradicting themselves about the scaling.

I havent seen that.  They know its a problem.  Totally not intended, and theyre working on it.  

The issue I see with it is other than item level what metric would you use to determine what 'power' a character should be?  And that is how theyre getting the 'take my gear off and be better off' issue right now.

Matching a meaningful power curve to this is going to be a work in progress.

The issue THEY have, is its a big problem... for all of a few weeks.  The game isnt intended to be played at 115, so while its in need of fixing, its a short-term win vs a multi-year expansion.  

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1 hour ago, PatrickHenry said:

I havent seen that.  They know its a problem.  Totally not intended, and theyre working on it.  

 

Actually, re-read the article and they don't say it's a problem, it's the player's perception.  The mechanic now is exactly the same as leveling through Legion and beyond that the issue of players entering a new expansion overgeared and then feeling linear mob scaling (once replacing raid gear with questing gear and finally not being overgeared for the content they were engaging) is as it's been since BC.  

Players want the scaling to cap, or they think it's doing something new.  They're not going to get the former and they're wrong about the later.

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2 hours ago, Sholto said:

 

Actually, re-read the article and they don't say it's a problem, it's the player's perception.  

The feeling, yes.

The actual ability to de-equip gear and clear mobs faster, however, is not.  an they addressed that ina previous blue post.

ETA:: ITs a tiny problem, honestly.  Really tiny.  I think they could just as soon focus elsewhere, but if they fix it more power to them.

Edited by PatrickHenry

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I'd have to see that, because they don't acknowledge it and the video doesn't exactly show this either.  It's a subtle thing but he takes a different route, which automatically makes the demonstration flawed.  He dies to trash all the same but I'm still not convinced that the video shows exactly what he's thinking it does, and what players are complaining about in general.  For one thing, he's showing dungeon scaling and the blue post is addressing world scaling.

One thing to consider, and this was something I really hated when simple-headed players started paying attention to item level, is that pure ilvl alone does not make you more effective, more powerful, have greater DPS, etc.  Though there are fewer avenues to min/max and tweak your overall DPS since gear has fewer gem slots and fewer enchants, the issue of set bonues and secondary stats is still very important. 

Raiders often complain about "catch up" gear and "welfare epics" but few seem to consider that for a given ilvl, and this has been true since Vanilla, there is a major difference in quality between a raid piece, a BOE epic, a crafted piece or a dungeon drop.  Blues and Epics of the same ilvl are not equivalent.  And lower ilvl pieces or blues can sometimes have greater impact on performance than an epic due to spec synergy.  This has always been the case.

Not only would a 110 at the beginning of an expansion be more powerful than the game was expecting a 110 to be, if that 110 is in high quality raiding gear they will be potentially radically more powerful than a 110 in catch up gear with the same composite ilvl (for example, the 210+ drops from Darkshore during the pre-expansion event).  Because of procs, set bonuses and highly tuned secondary stats.  Because, I'm sorry, having roughly 1/2 the secondary stat quality on this dungeon gear makes it less equivalent on this 120 than that raid gear was on that 110.  Is it enough to fully account for the differences here?  No, but I do not accept that the issue is as simple as players are making it out to be based on a Simple Jack interpretation of itemization.

edit: also, and this has been true since BC, secondary stats do not scale in spell effectiveness in a linear way because when the cap is raised the new spells and mechanics are balanced around the level cap.  So a given piece of lowbie gear can greatly increase in power, regardless of stat squish, regardless of anything else, simply by the level cap being raised.  The day before and the day after can mean a sometimes intense difference in power.  This is why all secondary stats are pretty much junk until you start to get into raid tier gear, at level cap.   But you can see for yourself, level a lowbie to 60, do just a couple battlegrounds and get a full set of HWL/GM gear and take your little lvl60 to any appropriate zone.  Not only is that toon more powerful in that gear than a lvl60 at cap was during Vanilla, but they're more powerful than they were rolling into Hellfire Peninsula with it at the beginning of BC.  They would have to create level specific exponents for everything to be balanced at all levels.

Edited by Sholto

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