Dev Discussion #14 - Content Level Equalization

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Comments

  • RintaRinta Member
    I've played a number of games without level equalization, and also a handful with it, and I definitely prefer the ones without.

    My understanding is that level equalization is a crude tool to make "low level content" still useful after majority of players are past it. This really is a big problem if your game is a "theme park" where players are carefully led through a sequence of zones, "here, first you go to this zone - it's lvl1-10, we even marked it as such - we promise there's nothing stronger than lvl10 on it and once you are done - you ought to go to that lvl11-20 zone, that's how it's done". With this mindset, there's no reason for players past lvl10 to ever revisit the lvl1-10 zone. When games are not organized in such a structured way - there's more freedom for same exact content to work differently for different levels.

    As an example, my old favourite game Ragnarok Online (pre-Renewal) would have locations feasible for both a high level character and a lower level duo or trio. Low level duo would carefully pull 1-2 monsters and spend half a minute killing them, while high level would kill 5 monsters at a time with powerful spells, but in the end relative experience (% of current level) all of these players would get was approximately the same. This is how same location is neither "level 10 only" or "level 50 only" - it is useful for both, in different ways.

    Or as another example (already mentioned by someone earlier) - lower level monsters could drop essential crafting items that are useful to all. Then even high level players might want to come and kill some of these monsters to obtain necessary ingredients if they are not ready to buy them off market / if there's not enough low level players to provide needed amounts.

    It would be great to see these kinds of content use diversity in Ashes, and I think Ragnarok had some of it very well done, but at the same time it wasn't a quest-driven MMO, which gives certain freedoms but also is not a very popular MMO format nowadays.
  • schrumpelhutschrumpelhut Member, Founder
    edited January 10
    When a lower lvl player has a high lvl friend who wants to help him or carry him then thats fine to me. There is nothing more awkward for a high lvl player to get killed from low lvl mobs because you get scaled down. Worst feature in Gw2 i have ever seen in any mmo. If you dont want a newbie getting carried too much then dont allow gear- and moneytrading easy as that ( BDO Style ).
  • Kills immersion and overall a trash feature.
  • DamoklesDamokles Member
    edited January 10
    When a lower lvl player has a high lvl friend who wants to help him or carry him then thats fine to me. There is nothing more awkward for a high lvl player to get killed from low lvl mobs because you get scaled down. Worst feature in Gw2 i have ever seen in any mmo. If you dont want a newbie getting carried too much then dont allow gear- and moneytrading easy as that ( BDO Style ).

    I have never, and i mean NEVER, seen any high level gw2 player die in a low lvl map from mobs. (Open world event bosses like dragons dont count) It gives the whole world some replayability. If someone does die to mobs while being downscaled, then the problem is the player...
    No gear trading would pretty much enrage ALL crafters in the game... BDO is a nice game, but it is pretty bad concerning PvE in my opinion.
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  • zephariazepharia Member
    edited January 11
    I like the idea of a proper pve leveling downscale but no equalization in lvl/gear pls. In order to allow something like level scaling, it must be in an instanced area or in some way separated from the outside world. To me, level scaling is not just to help people in a lower level area but to prevent high level characters from either being locked out of an area or stomping through it so quickly that it defeats the purpose and ruins fun for other players. This prevents any unwanted pvp lvl difference affecting people and keeps things contained and not so crazy lol.

    IMO level scaling should not aim at setting your power equal to other players of that level but rather bring the enemies to scale with your level as if you were killing enemies at your level. For example if you are level 80 going into a level 15 area, you would maintain all skills, talents, stats, weapon bonuses etc, but the enemies would be taking massively reduced dmg after all other calculations to bring the dmg down to that of a lvl 15's heath pool would take.

    Say a level 15 enemy has 20 armor (standard dmg reduc affected by armor piercing or something) and 300 hp while a lvl 80 of the same enemy to match your level would have 180 armor and 15,000 hp. simply ignore the level 15 armor and give it the 180 armor a same level target would have and after all dmg calculations are done
    dmg = (300 / 15000) * (standardDamageCalculations w/ target lvl == player level)
    and damage taken could be done in the opposite way but would require balancing how much hp an average character should have at that level to allow tanks or squishies to be lower or higher around that value. There may be a better way out there but this is all I came up with on the fly without knowing intrepid math.
    scaledHP = currentPlayerHP * (avgPlayerHP[lvlScale -1] / avgPlayerHP[playerLvl - 1])
    dmgTaken = (scaledHP / currentPlayerHP) * (stdDmgTakenCalculations w/ target lvl == player lvl)

    I hope someone can understand me being a nerdy programmer and throwing this out there. ;P
  • I think a mentor system is a good idea. Maybe change it up a bit from other games and require it to be a skill/buff you need to learn. Require players who want this ability to go on a little journey and build some type of side quest instead of oh you are max level you are now can mentor.
  • mcstackersonmcstackerson Member, Braver of Worlds
    Damokles wrote: »
    It gives the whole world some replayability.
    Does it though?

    Yes, it allows you to go back and not 1 shot everything but what reason do you have to go back? Only reason i can think of is story and that's something i'd argue is only worth experiencing once if you even care about it.

    Unless contents purpose is only for leveling people up (which i find a waist) there are more issues with old content beside it being too easy, it's usually not rewarding.
  • qurionqurion Member, Braver of Worlds
    It can be great fun and worth doing, if done and scaled correctly. If you are e.g. level 60 with all epics, you should feel as strong towards 60 level mobs, as you do against mobs on your level (let's say 15) when your level is downscaled. The XP shouldn't be heavily penalized if you are fighting on-level mobs, but as mobs for lower level players usually aren't as tricky to beat and have less tricks up their sleeve, it shouldn't be the same relative experience gain for a de-leveled 15 to kill a mob in a level 15 area than it is to kill a mob in a level 60 area.

    Level scaling as a means of helping lower level players I'm all for, as long as it gives you at least *some* relevant or worthwhile rewards. Levels scaling *upwards* on the other hand, that is an abomination and should not be implemented.
  • In my opinion level scaling would undermine a great part of the power progression. So I don't like it to be implemented.
    In terms of helping / playing with low level friends (without level scaling, so you pretty much oneshot low foes): As the journey (of the level experience) is one your friend only undertakes once, I don't see a point in being able to boost his quest completion time. It might seem a good idea in the beginning but in the end it kills the pleasure for both. So there should be some (experience gain) penalaty for the low lvl player if this behaviour occurs.

    Let's say there would be an option to scale your own level down and that it only works this way (not upscaling too), it could mean something to new people that join the game a few months later, to have people to play with. But this is somewhat counterintuitive for the creation of alts.
    So why not just tell the community "no scaling in any direction; if you wanna play with low level friends, just create an alt and have fun". Seems pretty ok for me.

    Thanks for reading.
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  • CheesyCheesy Member, Pioneer
    I do not like this at all, do not forcefully level anyone down. I think that it's extremely weird to grind to get stronger so you can defeat stronger monsters just to get equalized down to where you get destroyed by the same monsters you could consistently defeat before. I don't think new players should be left in the dust though, but level equalization is definitely not the way to go. Some type of mentoring system would make MUCH more sense than level equalization. I am opposed to even add it as an option just because it would break immersion. We can't have a maxed out dude with legendary gear who cant defeat a goblin, keep it consistent please.
  • George BlackGeorge Black Member
    edited January 10
    Takes away any notion of a challenging world, and a sense of progress as you adventure.

    If I start the game months before my friends do, I will let them "hey I am in this guild. They invite new players and you will find a newbie group to lv up together"

    There are 0 reasons to have a high lv player blasting low zones to power lv a newbie.

    If a player is 10 or more lvs than another, the lower player shouldnt earn xp.

    If you do this, you are heading towards an "end game" mentality, and a large portion of your content/map will be treated not as an adventure, but as something that needs to be skipped through quickly.
  • HumblePuffinHumblePuffin Member, Braver of Worlds
    I personally do not like when every scales to you or you scale to the area. In this world I liked the concept that there aren’t really zones so you will be seeing creatures of mixed levels to some degree, and if you built in an equalization system it will defeat that purpose. In systems with across the board equalization it feels like you eventually get to a point that everything is faceroll easy with decent gear.

    I do however like systems similar to mentoring systems. Being able to scale yourself down to friends or group is infinitely useful for alting with friends, and playing with friends who maybe can’t play as much as yourself. I really do hope something like this gets implemented.

    I watched some friends when they played WoW classic who leveled up quicker than others and with no friends to do the end game content with they eventually stopped playing while they waited.

    Maybe even to make it so the solo players are always able to play all of the lower level content as well, add a way to lower your level even without a group/friend. Maybe a mystical npc who is able to temporarily turn back time for you?

    As long as it’s somewhat locked so you can’t just run around as a level 10 character, then toggle a switch to boost back to max level when you’re in combat and not doing well.

    I don’t feel like you would have to change the experience gain necessarily since you will be getting less experience from lower level mobs most likely, and aren’t able to take on the higher level mobs you were fighting before you leveled down.
  • tatianatatiana Member, Pioneer
    I never have a problem with equalization if it's done well like in GW2. It allows the game to remain at least somewhat challenging no matter where in the world you go and incentivizes players to go back to previous locations. Why would you ever go to a "low level" zone once you out level it to play the content in it if you can just say Dracarys and everything dies? In any game without equalization I pretty much never return to old zones if there is nothing for me to accomplish there, or anything fun or challenging for me to do.
  • tatiana wrote: »
    Why would you ever go to a "low level" zone once you out level it to play the content in it...

    This is one thing I particularly like about AoC: it addresses this question. You may return because:
    - the area’s node advances and unlocks new content
    - the area has a strategic caravan path during a certain season
    - you may need to gather low-lvl materials for tiered crafting
    - like me, you enjoy the Dracarys everything feeling
  • MakinojiMakinoji Member, Warrior of Old
    I like the way ESO has their world. Each zone is playable no matter your level and the monsters are leveled to your current toon.
  • I like it as long as it's optional. As for solo play I like to play through as much content as I can and I don't like to out level what I am doing and one shot everything. On the other hand I don't raid so It's nice to be able to go back to low level raids after I have leveled up and solo my way through just to see it. I do get frustrated when I can't complete my quests because high level players are wiping out all of the mobs in one shot, it would be nice if they were in a different instance than the low level players.
  • I do not believe in this idea. I feel like gear and level equalization is boring. For example, someone who plays 6-8 hrs a day gets all his/her gear and feels accomplished versus someone who only plays 1-2 hrs a day and they are pretty much doing the same damage.... that would be annoying. This is the problem with Archeage unchained. Someone who spends hours on end a commits there time into the game should be able to feel like they have the edge on the people who dont play as much. I do believe though that a higher level character should not be able to receive any kind of reward from killing lower levels but just the opposite.

    other reasons are:
    -Carrying your new friends or low level guildies thru low level dungeons
    -Helping your friends or guildies thru a PvP zone.
    -Someone who works hard towards a legendary should be able to feel like they spent there time on something useful and worth it
  • rjakarjaka Member, Warrior of Old
    I am all for this. Especially the way Guild Wars 2 implemented it: characters scale to the region. My primary reasoning is I believe it will help with immersion. I still believe higher levels need to offer more complex challenges so when a low level encounters something he wasn't supposed to yet, he won't get instantly killed, but he still wouldn't be able to beat it without a better skill set. Or he could still participate in the fight the way Elder Scrolls Online scales encounters.

    While I am not an avid PvPer, I actually still love to play in open PvP worlds like the way ArcheAge was. So, I like the idea that even though I know I'm going to lose to a well geared ganker, I know I'm not going down without a fight.

    My other reasoning is that I thought the idea was to claim and level nodes? Meaning that every region is going to be at a different level depending on the size or scale of the expanding city. Each node would be at it's own pace, or they could all be at the same pace because there are too many guilds rushing to be top and so new players with no experience or equipment are thrust into dangerous territories. Then again, these types of servers would probably be locked to new player creation, or something. And that AoC is already different than every other MMO; if there is no linear questline to follow, it's not like you're going to be in this one area for 6 levels and never return. The way they describe nodes and caravans has me thinking we will constantly be moving all over the world.

    Otherwise, the next best thing for me is Rift's system: click, enter level and voila! Scaled down to level 12. Sorta.
  • RLTygurrRLTygurr Member
    edited January 11
    Just wanted to tack on to what a few others have mentioned.

    In the open world aspect, it makes it hard to really be immersed (or feel the effects of your character growth) if you scale down in too many areas of the game. If it were possible, I'd say that instanced dungeons with a bit of a twist would be the best. Give players the option to SELECT if their dungeon is level equalized for instanced content.

    To avoid having high level people grind through dungeons to powerlevel friends, I'd say that unless those instanced dungeons are level equalized (higher level characters would obviously keep their abilities and such, but their stats would be dropped to an appropriate level) then no players in the dungeon can receive gear or advance quests. This prevents people from being powerleveled, but does not prevent players from steamrolling through dungeons if people just want to experience it that way.
  • I'm not a fan of the idea in most cases, especially when it comes to open-world mobs/content. It can be fine doing it for old dungeons/raids, but if it is implemented in them there should also be an option to just go into the raid/dungeon normally without being scaled down just so you can quickly blitz through the dungeons if you're a high enough level.
  • CypherCypher Member, Founder
    edited January 11
    Here are my thoughts: Ideally at max level I should be able to 1 shot the basic starting mobs like wolves for example. But if the power progression has been done smartly I should not be able to 1-shot mobs that are 5 levels below me or even 10 levels below me. Heck even 20 levels below me I should not be able to kill in one hit. Make the player noticeably more powerful but not so powerful that you literally 1 hit everything in the game outside your current level area.

    Secondly, give the player the choice to scale their level for content, if you do decide to put that in. People keep using Guild Wars 2 as a good example, but I will use it as a bad example. I can’t stand that I’ve got a max level character who literally is no better at killing level 5 trash mobs than a level 5 is. That’s beyond excessive and obnoxious. The argument is keeping all content relevant. Refer to my first paragraph for my solution to that, and give players a choice to scale down if they want to grind low level mobs without destroying everything so easily.

    Here is an idea: players who are more than 10 levels above an enemy can get less gold or items dropped. If they choose to downscale then they can get full loot reward. That way players have an incentive to turn downscaling on, but aren’t forced to and can move safely through lower level zones if they’re much higher in level.

    (TLDR: design your power progression smartly to not destroy everything below your level and give the OPTION to downscale your level for repeat content. Player freedom is the best). Incentivize downscaling through loot table scaling.

    Edit: as someone above me stated, forceful level scaling for higher or lower content defeats the entire purpose of progression. Give the player a choice

    Thanks for reading!
  • For me the question is: what do you want to achieve with such a system?

    1) If the goal is to encourage higher-level player to revisit earlier areas again, I would find it better to just add optional high-level content to older areas than doing equalization. But given the node system, I believe this will not be as much a problem in AoC as it may have been in other games.

    2) If the goal is to allow higher-level players to play with lower level players for any reason (assistance or just playing with a friend without need of an alt), then I find this to be a good system. However, given AoC is supposed to be an open PvP world and not be heavily instance, there would need to be a tailored version of this system. I would suggest the following:
    As others suggested before, make this an explicit choice by the higher-level player. If they want to play with low level players and not absorb all their xp, they can de-level their character to whatever level they want. This should be independent of the mobs that are fought or the zone they are in. If they do not de-level enough, then they have to live with the xp penalty. Obviously, the loot and xp they get should be dependent on the level of the quest/mobs they fight. Since it is the goal that this is only for assistance to other players this should not be such a big problem. If they want play with friends on a long term, then alts may be the better options for them. If you want to reward players for helping other players outside of friendship, e.g. mentoring system, it may be a good idea to create a kind of mentor quest that a low-level player can issue and the assisting player can get a reward appropriate for their true level. These quests could be like help kill x number of mobs, complete a dungeon or quest and so on. These kind of objective can be easily tracked by the game itself and exploitation should be relative easy to prevent.
    Making down-scaling a player choice would also help with PvP issue. I think no one wants to be attacked as a down-scaled low level player and not be able to defend oneself against a high-level player because the game forces this. Any PvP attack should be calculated as being made against the original high level and automatically disable the down-scaling. Also, for all other players, the level shown should be the original high level so higher-level players cannot hide as a low level player.

    These are my thoughts on this. I would hope something like this will be in the game.

    Ah, one other think:
    high-level content should be limited to high-level players, so i do not like upscaling. I think this destroys the journey to high-level and the sense of advancement and accomplishment for the upscaled player. Also these players do not have a their skills and do not know their class most of the time, so it can also be a pain the other players as well.
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  • It has it's place, but it should be optional on whether or not you scale to your friend. And scaling should only be PVE. Everquest did a pretty good job on the scaling feature, imo. That said, I'm still also a fan of power leveling. If a person wants to help a friend power past time sinks like long crafting times, or gathering of resources, or gaining experience, let them.
  • chudyiechudyie Member, Braver of Worlds
    SCENARIO:

    Level 10 archer: "oh man, I have to defeat this mini-boss in order to loot the items for the quest."

    Max level player: "worry not, I will help thee."

    Level 10 archer: "Thanks. But you're max level. I still want to have fun killing the mini-boss. You'll just insta-kill it."

    Max level player: "Don't worry! We can just party up!"

    Level 10 archer: "Ok, we're in a party.. but you're still super strong?"

    Max level player: "Right, but all you have to do is click the party option. "Equalize player levels""

    Level 10 archer: "oh! I see it. I'm going to click it. But, first what does it do?"

    Max level player: "It changes my level to be exactly or near to this regions typical level requirement. The region we're in is a level 5-15 region so my level was changed to... 15!"

    Level 10 archer: Whoa! Now we can have fun killing the mini-boss!"

    "Level 15 player": Yup! Let's go!

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    Be heroes
  • consultantconsultant Member
    edited January 12
    Well the first thing to take into consideration is the leveling game design itself. As Jeff put it. How far is the floor from the ceiling.

    Here is a serious design mistake. I leveled alts and thought about how cool it would be to play with other palyers but. since level 26 is so far ahead of level 20 then really no point plus in four hours I will be at level 32 so it makes it extremeley difficult to find other toons to play with. Even if I were to find a level 26 to play with we may not play at same speeds and very soon not really viable for us to play together because levels are to far apart.

    In this case the game is basically a Single Online Game until you hit max level which leads me to my next point. In many games you basically have to be max level to play with the community. not only max level but have some gear to. So you hit max level and find out you have a long gear grind ahead of you just to do current content or have guilds consider you as a member. Thinking levels 45 to level 50 should easily play if nto levels 48 49 and 50.

    Really guild leaders can mentor people by refering tthem to good players or websites no point in spoon feeding. The real problem is that low level toons do have any one to play with or cannot play with guildies until max level.

    So basically entire game is Single Player Online Game until max level which leads to more lone wolves and less player interaction.

    Read a post about having one percent difference between levels not sure about one percent but should be low.

    Not going to go into details on how to do this cause well I am not there and would all be specualation. But I will say this maybe you should gain very little hit points and attack power from levels and have levels give you access to more abilities and gear.
    And using weapons and gear in differnt ways.

    I would recommend having like three tiers of players. Low level mid level and high level that could generally play together. Most likely also be an elite tier of hard core players.


    The next problem would like to talk about is doing content at appropiate level. Now there are people that want to do quests and content at appropiate level but others like to one shot so there should be at least an option in the game to do so for the players that wnat to do that.

    In wow we had something called a twink toon which was a toon that stopped getting experience at a certain level so they could do old dungeouns and raids at right level so there should be a system to allow people to do that without making alts just for that purpose. Definitely option to stop getting experience for people that want to stay in zones longer.

    Last point I want to make is not to make so many leveling zones and more max levels zones. Think people should be restricted to low level zones untel lets say level 15-20.
    Plus some of other people that posted had excellent ideas on this topic not need to repost. But will say that the less leveling zones the less one shoting there will be. Thinke maybe restricting toons to leveling zones until level 20 is a good idea.

    But the real problem is low level toons do not have anyone to play with because of level disparity.. If that was the case then there would be no need for mentoring and high level toons playing with low level toons. Now if you wnat to have an option to do that it is fine.

    What ever system you go with the most impoartant thing to me is to make it optional.


    As far as future exapansions well by that time most of the player base would be at max level so maybe at that time it would be time to implement things like scaling for new players. Keep in mind that most of the time that toons play the game will be at max level.
  • HumblePuffinHumblePuffin Member, Braver of Worlds
    consultant wrote: »
    Well the first thing to take into consideration is the leveling game design itself. As Jeff put it. How far is the floor from the ceiling.

    Here is a serious design mistake. I leveled alts and thought about how cool it would be to play with other palyers but. since level 26 is so far ahead of level 20 then really no point plus in four hours I will be at level 32 so it makes it extremeley difficult to find other toons to play with. Even if I were to find a level 26 to play with we may not play at same speeds and very soon not really viable for us to play together because levels are to far apart.

    In this case the game is basically a Single Online Game until you hit max level which leads me to my next point. In many games you basically have to be max level to play with the community. not only max level but have some gear to. So you hit max level and find out you have a long gear grind ahead of you just to do current content or have guilds consider you as a member. Thinking levels 45 to level 50 should easily play if nto levels 48 49 and 50.

    Really guild leaders can mentor people by refering tthem to good players or websites no point in spoon feeding. The real problem is that low level toons do have any one to play with or cannot play with guildies until max level.

    So basically entire game is Single Player Online Game until max level which leads to more lone wolves and less player interaction.

    I don’t personally agree with zones being made to be certain levels, things should be in such constant flux, and I hope mobs are mixed enough that deleveling should purely be about helping/playing with a lower level character, or giving yourself more of a challenge.

    This part really made me suddenly realize one of the primary reasons games become a race to max level, and you hear phrases like “the real game starts at max level” is largely due to the population at the lower levels a couple months after release is gutted.

    Idk why i never really realized that before, but that makes me feel like it is almost mandatory they put some kind of optional deleveling system in to maintain that important focus on all aspects/levels of content not just max level.
  • JacksJacks Member
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    one of the most importent things about game that dev dont take in mind is ANIMATION for example movment, speed, fighting and more.
    games fall cuz of that u can see games that didnt hold up and game that did and the difrent is the game animation. when ppl play the game they feel the charcter they become him and if somthing not going well with animation that player will leave the game cuz he is not having fun be a stucking charcter with slow movment.
    for example: world of warcraft, apex ect u can see that the movment and charter animation are so good that its insane.
    hope u will change it and u will see my point, btw im 38 years old and i used to play wow since the vanila so i understend few around games. and we are also tired to see games that fall cuz of that.
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  • Jacks wrote: »
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    one of the most importent things about game that dev dont take in mind is ANIMATION for example movment, speed, fighting and more.
    games fall cuz of that u can see games that didnt hold up and game that did and the difrent is the game animation. when ppl play the game they feel the charcter they become him and if somthing not going well with animation that player will leave the game cuz he is not having fun be a stucking charcter with slow movment.
    for example: world of warcraft, apex ect u can see that the movment and charter animation are so good that its insane.
    hope u will change it and u will see my point, btw im 38 years old and i used to play wow since the vanila so i understend few around games. and we are also tired to see games that fall cuz of that.
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    This had nothing to do with the actual point of topic...
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  • GilgameshGilgamesh Member, Braver of Worlds
    Whats most important is that levels should matter. In general I'm against the idea but it depends on how its implemented, its very easy to implement for instanced content but progressively more difficult the more open the game world is.
  • Having played a lot of MMO's and seen several different systems I think something like this needs to be included. I've really only seen 3 systems. GW2 style where the whole zone is capped, or FFXIV where you are only brought down for specific story quests or when running dungeons, or finally the EQ2 method where you have to select a party member to "mentor" reducing your level to theirs and applying an exp bonus.

    I personally am a fan of the EQ2 option. As people have stated sometimes you just want to go back and run through a lower level area for personal reasons (Slay that boss that used to wreck you), or to complete some achievements and you can't find a group to help. Going back once your a higher level and able to solo the content is nice.

    At the same time you don't want to allow people to just PL people through content. The EQ2 option if one person was above the level of creatures nobody in the party would get xp. So forcing people in that aspect to mentor made the content relevant for the new player while still providing a bonus. At the same time if there was an annoying boss spawn blocking your path the high level could unmentor, kill it real quick, and then get back to the task at hand. Also important if you were above the level of bosses (unmentored) they wouldn't drop equipment so farming was not an issue.

    I will say one big problem I find with many MMO's is that after some time new zones eventually wind up empty. For a new player stepping in with no friends already playing it's a boring grind to the current zones. Even worse would be having friends that played but couldn't help or group with you. FFXIV's system keeps high levels running low level dungeons so new players can have a sense of grouping with other people. Rewards were issued based on your un-mentored level so people had a reason to do this. This is certainly something to consider while debating this system. How do we ensure new players don't feel alone while getting to end game content?
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