‘Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim’ Level Scaling Will Be Similar to ‘Fallout 3′

Jan 9, 2011 by  

Elder Scrolls Skyrim Leveling

Bethesda SoftworksElder Scrolls series has been a fan favorite for over 16 years now and with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the developer hopes to make the most complete RPG experience yet. After getting a feel for the story and seeing some screens, most gamers feel very confident that Skyrim is in some very capable hands, but there is still one nagging issue gamers are fearful over: the leveling.

[Update: Be sure to keep up to the minute on all the latest Skyrim news, simply click here!]

After a less than successful leveling system in Oblivion, one that was a black mark amidst a great game, there is a fear that Skyrim will contain similar level scaling problems. Many figure that since Bethesda is improving the graphics engine, they might as well make some significant gameplay tweaks while they’re at it.

The question has been on gamers’ minds since the reveal of the game back during the Spike VGAs, but no one from Bethesda was willing to come out and say anything to assuage the fear.

Thankfully, after some three pages-worth of forum posts discussing how gamers expected the leveling system to work in Skyrim, a Bethesda representative took to the boards to clear up any confusion. Though the answer doesn’t give away specifics it does provide good news for those who weren’t fans of Oblivion’s level scaling:

“Since people are asking, wanted to briefly touch on level scaling. All our games have had some amount of randomness/leveling based on player level. Skyrim‘s is similar to Fallout 3‘s, not Oblivion‘s.”

Sure, there were those that enjoyed Oblivion’s level scaling, but, as is the case with a lot of RPGs, it adversely affected the experience. In order to compensate for those players who live for the grind, Oblivion employed a level scaling system that kept the enemies on par with the player throughout every quest.

Though it sounded like a good idea on paper, this leveling system ended up causing a lot of frustration. Without any real way to judge how accurately equipped or skilled the player was, enemies might have been of a comparable level but not always of equal strength and ability. There were even times when an enemy could make quick work of the player with very few hits, and that is not a good way of improving a player’s experience.

Taking gamers’ complaints and improving upon them, Bethesda set out to make their next game, Fallout 3, a much less frustrating experience. Choosing instead to go with a level scaling system that was much subtler helped keep the focus on the story and the role-playing, and less on whether or not each new enemy was going to completely annihilate the player.

While it might disappoint a minority of players that Skyrim will not be utilizing Oblivion’s level scaling, the vast majority of gamers should certainly find this information comforting. As a game that builds upon everything learned from previous game experiences, including the Elder Scrolls mythology, Skyrim is shaping up to be one of 2011’s most anticipated games.

What are your thoughts on Skyrim choosing to go with a leveling system more like Fallout 3’s and less like Oblivion’s? Are there any other nagging issues from Elder Scrolls past that you hope Bethesda improves?

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is available now for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

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Source: Bethesda Softworks

86 Comments

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  1. I started at Morrowind in the Elder Scrolls series and loved both that and Oblivion. Though Morrowind def. had some flaws such as mana only regaining from potions and small things along those line. However, Oblivion fixed that.

  2. Oblivion fixed that, but still the leveling was an issue. When I play games like these I always want the best possible character for my style of play, the fact that you could mix magic, swords and archery was cool.
    Though it still left the issue of leveling itself. I always want to get the plus 5 in all the skills I was upgrading, and most of the time, this doesn’t happen from normal leveling. Usually it involved conjuring skeletons and pretty much training for 15 minutes, and on top of that keeping paper handy so I know how much of each skill I leveled. I think it is easy to see how this could become a burden. I did have a level 25 that was pretty much finished in everything important and finishing the game after that was incredibly fun, because leveling was no longer a thought in my mind.

    I’ve played fallout 3 and New Vegas, and I am a big fan at how they chose to level in the game. By making it impossible to level everything you actually had to specialize in certain things to make your character unique versus oblivion my guy was leveled high in almost every skill. I am very excited to hear what changes are taking place and if they do perks, what kind will Skyrim include? That was always a fun, yet hard decision to make.

  3. Level scaling was great in Oblivion, it actually made the game challenging. I hate RPGs where it becomes totally easy at the end because your character is all powerful. There are plenty of RPGs like that, Oblivion was unique with it’s leveling system.

    • But it wasn’t challenging I leveled my guy so he could be level 5 with a hundred in sword if you took advantage of the levelling ot was. Far to easy.

      • Yeah but that is not the spirit of the game

        • yes, but the spirit of the game IS about having the freedom to role-play in any way. What if you accidentally overpower yourself? what if you accidentally UNDERpower yourself? It’s not rewarding to have an RPG that punishes you for not focusing on combat.

    • You could finish Oblivion without doing any side quests or training, and it was one of the easiest games I´ve ever played. Gothic III was much better.

  4. Why dont they just have a off/on option for the leveling problem?

    • In fact, you’d have to build 2 differents worlds for that – it’s not as easy as it looks.

      • It’s not as complicated as your making it out either. For levels sake its just a bunch of variables, like how you could easily tinker the difficulty in Bethesda’s previous games at the press of a button. Same applies to scaling, just flick the option on and off. Sure its not easy and will require some coding, but its far from impossible.

      • It’s not as complicated as your making it out either. For levels sake its just a bunch of variables, like how you could easily tinker the difficulty in Bethesda’s previous games at the press of a button. Same applies to scaling, just flick the option on and off. Sure its not easy and will require some coding, but its far from impossible.

  5. Tht would be cool if u could buy businesses and get income and stuff like tht like u can on fable

  6. Loved how in Morrowind, you could kill anyone. If it were a plot essential NPC, the game let you know that you messed things up, and the world was now doomed. Oblivion just doesn’t let you kill the plot essential NPCs….Can’t remember right off, but I don’t think you can even harm them…whatever, not important.
    Not to happy to see the continuation of Fallout style leveling, as it makes practicing and using a certain skill pointless. Here’s my two cents on this: Bring back Morrowind skill selection (I think it was ~26 or so, as opposed to Oblivions 18) and make baddie levels static. Alternatively, you could give said baddies have a static level range (like rats being levels 1-2, maybe three, and having Goblins between levels 2-5, for example).
    As far as loot is concerned, Have your obligatory “Legendary Weapon” here and there so you have the awesome hand crafted stuff Morrowind is known for. For loot found in random dungeons (ie NOT the “lost cave of epic demon grave site battle quest old-god” location), have it appropriate for whatever mobs happen to be in the dungeon, possibly with a random stat roller (sort of like Diablo 2 style loot) to mix things up a bit.

    • You hit the mark! Static boundries are what makes all RPG’s great. There’s no point in making your character “all-powerful” if you can’t enjoy it a bit. A randomness with these static rules will be fine. Random non-storyline-essential dungeons could easily be done in this way and would probably be a little easier on the hard drive too (but that’s a different issue all together). Oblivion was great in so many ways but failed big time with the level scaling. Morrowind was awesome in its own way, but I agree with another post that in the end it just became too easy (as why bethesda tried to change it in oblivion). They could stick with this scaling to a point though with some essential quests or heroic side quests that produce the best treasure.

    • I have to agree.
      Although, I think there has to be a way for the sstem to work the other way too.
      I found that one of the best things about morrowind was that there were no areas you couldn’t go, but some that you had to work towards surviving. It really made the whole leveling and growth of a character motivating, because it allowed you to go to more dangerous areas and do harder quests, and allowed you to get powerful, one of a kind, items. In Oblivion however, you could do any mission, and you really had no requirement in power level. I always loved being head of the mages guild while being level 1.

  7. Look, it’s as simple as this: There should be things out there that a level-1 character can fight, things that are a serious challenge, and things that will squash you like a bug. Heck, there should be things out there that are so uber that you can only take it down with a very specific build and difficult-to-get weapons. Conversely, with this build, the low-level monsters are effortless to kill.

    I am revealing my age, but I used to play MUDs and some early block-level graphic games. There were areas for new players, and areas that would wax you in 8 seconds if you stepped in there. It gave you something to look forward to. Also, they addressed the annoyances of low-level creatures by having an aura factor. Once you are uber, 9 out of 10 low level creatures would flee when you approached, so you didn’t have to battle rats if you were passing through a low-level area.

    Additionally, shop keepers and other NPCs react to you differently. When you are low level, they are rude to you and gouge you on prices. When you are uber, they call you “exalted one” and offer discounts.

    To me, Oblivion’s leveling was terrible. Why do I want every thing i encounter to be my exact level?!? I want things that I can swat and things that I need to run from. Want to hunt a minotaur? Then you better be level X and have Y and Z items to even attempt it. That’s a much better challenge, IMHO.

    Spanky

    • Yep.

    • Yeah, that pretty much sums it up!

  8. the leveling system in oblivion was ridiculous. A high level player getting destroyed by a rat because they haven’t leveled right? Are you being serious?

    And what is the killer thing, is that they spent so much time on the mood and the atmosphere of the game only to have it unplayable if there you didn’t do hour of wasted button pushing. Just astounding that they could ruin such a nice looking game over something so simple.

    I lost a lot of respect for bethesda and skyrim will be the final change. Want to grind? go play wow.

  9. I hated Oblivion. The world leveling with me meant that if I didn’t pick and level skills just right, I couldn’t finish the game because I was too weak in combat. If I stuck to my tried and true skills, then I leveled too fast. Because everything was randomly generated and leveling with me, I lost interest VERY fast. “Oh look… another… crypt up ahead. I wonder what’s in there? The same thing in all the others” ….wolves, bats, etc. Liches after I had leveled the world. It just wasn’t any fun. There was no sense of real exploration or accomplishment. Even the main quest was repetitive and utterly boring. Even Patrick Stewart’s voice couldn’t save the mess that was Oblivion.

    Fallout 3, frankly, was the same way. Big, open world, but very little of it was interesting. The main quest was nice, but too short. Then why would I want to wander around? Oh look… another abandoned building. Wonder what’s in there… oh yes, ruined desks and furniture, with a few random items and ammo in them. And robots… lots of robots. Similar to Oblivion, I lost interest and never explored the whole world. There was NO sense of discovery or exploration. I did feel that my character got a little stronger as time went on, though, so there was some improvement there.

    I am REALLY hoping that Skyrim is a vast improvement. I am already cautiously excited to see the simplifications to the beginning of the game… it won’t take me an hour to get started. But I remain totally suspicious of whether they got it right this time. I have watched a lot of videos, and so far it looks a LOT like Oblivion. I liked hearing “hand crafted” dungeons– like Morrowind’s, and not that random crap from Oblivion. 5 huge cities… ok, nice. Dual-wielding spells? It’s about time. I will know right away whether I like it or not. I am an old, jaded gamer. If they can give me the sense of actual exploration and discovery that was missing from the other games, then I will applaud them. If not, I won’t be in Skyrim for more than a few hours before I get bored.

  10. I started with The Elder Scrolls: Arena and even though the feel of that game was outstanding I couldnt stand the level scaling. If you spent two months and all your gold ingame training youd leave the guild hall only to find that every single mob in the rest of the world had done the exact same thing. Im happy to hear that Skyrim will finally forgoe this silly Bethesda-scaling-doctrine in favour of something playable!

  11. I know I don’t speak for everyone, but seriously… stop making the world level with you! “. . . and less on whether or not each new enemy was going to completely annihilate the player.” If we don’t wonder if this new enemy is going to annihilate us… what is there to work for? Bring back the morrowind style where you can get killed by an orc wearing ebony armor at level 1!!! I can’t even play oblivion anymore because of this incredibly boring system… I hope they at least put a minimum level on things otherwise this game is going to be incredibly dissapointing.

  12. I did not enjoy the Oblivion levelling system for one reason… I didn’t understand it until I was already level 16. I honestly believed that the stat bonuses that I had been gaining each time I leveled were randomly generated. Eventually I noticed that there was some sort of pattern (note, around lev 16), and I decided to look the game up online for the first time.

    When I read through how the levelling system actually worked, I was pissed. I had no idea that if you leveled a certain skill up a certain amount of times, then you would gain the +5 stat bonus at level. There was ABSOLUTELY no explanation of this in the game. Sure, there were hints… like blade is related to your strength.. but there was never an explanation of the levelling system and the scaling system unless you went online and looked it up.

    I almost quit playing, but I loved the game world so much that I spent the next 10 levels getting +5′s to my stats so that I could once again fight the monsters (They had gotten somewhat difficult, since I hadn’t been levelling properly).

  13. I like the idea to go with the level scaling. Although it would be interesting to level using any skill. Levling by that experience you gain from using that skill would be realistic. If this is what the level scaling is like in skyrim in my opinion its perfect.

  14. I sold Oblivion as I couldn’t deal with the leveling, for me it killed the adventure. The whole point in a bit open realm is to wonder what’s in that dungeon way over there. With Oblivion’s full scaling, you knew what was in there before going in, your level monsters with your level loot. No point dungeon diving at all, all 100+ dungeons were exactly the same, your level in loot and monsters.

    Much prefered Morrowinds method of ranges. Things would scale within a range so was some level matching, but a start dungeon remained one and a harder one did also. So if you wanted to take the risk to dive into a high level dungeon for one uber piece and run out, you could try.

    Basically there is no adventure or point of exploring if everywhere you go is going to have your level monster and loot, then it’s just the landscape that’s changing. I want to feel uncertain when I travel into new places. Leveling needed to change.

    • Reading some of your comments makes me wonder if I leveled up my character incorrectly. My lvl 9 vampire argonian would match your troubled comments descriptions but my lvl 39 breton… no where near. Am halfway through main story and must say that the leveling system you guys are explaining doesn’t bother me at all. Imps can attack me for hours straight and barely hurt me.

      • The problem was that when you came back where that imp was at level 5. He wasn’t an imp anymore, he bandit decked out in full daedra armor with a nasty enchanted blade to go with it. Or if you didn’t wait that long, then what was a imp when you were there at level 5 is a flame ant at level 12. Never really felt like you were sigificantly more powerful

  15. ob’s leveling system was its greatest flaw. I didn’t spend 30+ hours doing side quests and crafting my pc into a mage god just so I could start the main quest and realize that what was an imp at level 5 is now a nightmarish creation fully on par with or exceeding me. If i’m still having to use cheap tactics like standing on a rock that the ai cant figure out how to climb at level 30 the same way I was at level 3, then I may as well charge through the main story and ignore all the side quests / storyline

  16. At the start of Morrowind, Daggerfall or Arena, you had the feeling there were areas where very powerful creatures could mean your very doom. You just did not enter these areas until you were ready.
    Also, the town guards which had crude, iron armor when you were Level 1, had that same iron armor when you leveled to Level 20.
    But in Oblivion, to much great suprise / horror, the town guards had all changed armors from iron to deadric or glass armors.
    Come on, this means that the town guards were as busy as you; slaying most dreaded creatures, passing through gates to hell… AND also doing their jobs, guarding the town.
    I know this a fantasy world, but we need a more realistic levelling, if none at all…

  17. Swag, I loved Fallout 3 and Oblivion. So this is like a mindf***.

  18. Thanks god they’ve changed the Oblivion’s level scalling system. If you wanna more challenge, please, change the difficult level of the game. But RPGs are all about getting stronger and more powerful as you go through. Not weaker.

  19. I am super happy the leveling system will not be the same. I have been waiting waiting waiting waiting for them to fix that dreadful level system. My boyfriend played Fallout. I would watch him play it and remember thinking, why can’t Elder scrolls use this leveling system? For someone who doesn’t want to spend a million hours just to ensure the character is leveling properly, Fallout’s leveling is a much more user friendly system. Yes, the system in Oblivion does more easily allow specialization in your character stats IF you can spend the time to do it, but not everyone has that kind of time. For the more casual gamer, or for the older hardcore gamer who doesn’t have the time anymore, this is a very welcome change.

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