Tell Us Dammit: Do You Like To 'Level Up'?

This might seem like a silly question — of course you like levelling up. Levelling up means more gear, better stats, etc. But what I'm really talking about here is the concept of levelling up. Do you prefer playing games with a levelling mechanic or would you rather just play something where your skill determines where you fit in the spectrum of things.

Obviously different mechanics work for different games, but which do you prefer for the most part?

It's a weird one. Sometimes I like a mixture of both. I think both Destiny and Dark Souls are in a situation where both gear/levels and individual skill are important and the distinction between the two are blurred. I enjoy that.

Personally, if I had to choose one, I prefer the more organic 'get better at the game' thing as opposed to progressing through hours spent grinding. Find it way more satisfying to succeed in that way as opposed to just hitting my head on a brick wall for a few hours.

What about you guys and girls?


    I like a progression mechanic. Whether that's as codified as distinct levels or something more organic I'm happy either way.

    I do like the skyrim/fallout perks system too.

    I don't like levelling up ... oh no ... I love it!

    I virtually can't play a FPS anymore unless it has RPG elements (ala Farcry and Borderlands)...

    I'm a sucker for drip-fed achievement.

    I love levelling up. I love filling progress bars and assigning points to attributes and unlocking new skills. Because levels are often used to gate game content so you can't just walk into the final area, I have come to assocaite levelling up with new content as well - I hit level 8! Now I can go here and do all these new missions and fight these dudes!

    I really like the MH style of progression where it still mostly revolves around skill but you are rewarded for progressing, but not many games ever pull it off

    As much as it seemed to irk against 'hardcore' RPG players, I loved the Skyrim system of leveling up a skill as you use it and opening up more perks as you get more proficient in that skill. Sometimes leveling up is grindy and not something that actually rewards your playing style but in Skyrim if you're an archer you get rewarded for being good with a bow, if you're a thief you get rewarded for sneaking around and successfully pickpocketing people. It's a system that rewards you with leveling up through your natural playing style

    You mention Destiny there, what's the reasoning behind leveling up? You kill 1 enemy and suddenly you've leveled up, somehow know a new skill and can wear better armour. That style of system just feels like a grind to get to the next magical number marker to level up. That style of play isn't organic. You spend one level shooting stuff with an auto-rifle and all of a sudden you can use a higher level handgun? I know at the end of the day it's all fantasy escapism, but it's good to have things make sense in your head

    I like it when playing a game well rewards you with the ability to have improved abilities that still require you to continue to improve to take advantage of. Bayonetta comes to mind.

    I prefer my skill to matter, definitely. I don't mind systems where skill and leveling up are combined, like Destiny. The thing about those sorts of games though is that I rarely take advantage of the leveling up. I never assign points of take perks or anything because I've got used to playing on the base level and I'm perfectly capable of playing the game, single player or multi, at that level.

    Last edited 04/12/14 11:25 am

    It's funny how the two possible mechanics of number / level or getting better ate perceived - often I find that the 'getting better' thing is most apparent when you've come back after a break, the muscle memory has set in and you're just *better*. The level thing is an easy way to gauge 'progress' during the same play session.
    Could almost reduce it to instant or delayed gratification.

    As long as the leveling mechanic doesn't feel arbitrary or restrictive just for the sake of it, I think it can add some depth to the game. Most games which have a leveling mechanic today usually build them up quite intelligently, spreading rewards for certain activities and incentivising behaviour and activities. The times they go wrong is when the rewards aren't balanced to what you need to do to get them, or when they start leading you to playstyles that are either against what you want to do, or against what is key to making the game fun.

    Leveling is kind of silly if the game just gets more difficult to compensate. What I like is unlocking new skills or ways to play the game. I couldn't care less if my HP goes up ten points, or my strength goes up by 1 (because the enemies I'm about to face will probably have DEF+1 to compensate). But if I suddenly get access to a new spell or ability that unlocks a little variety in the game, I'm all for that.

    That said, I liked the challenge of levelling in games like Dark Souls, because the decision to increase your level was always a fraught one, because it meant you were diverting resources that could have been spent in other ways. That's a cool gameplay innovation that made me think twice about levelling.

    In a sense, even GTA does this kind of levelling, by keeping certain guns out of the player's hands until late-stage game.

    Last edited 04/12/14 11:30 am

      What if like you said, the enemy compensates, but it gates of access to new areas?

      I enjoyed the fact in Fallout New Vega, I couldn't just cross the middle of the map, I had to go around (unlike F3).

      While at the same time older enemies didn't become so weak it was boring to fight.

      There's sort if a balance.

        I'm okay with that. Sometimes it feels arbitrary and forced, but I really like it when it's done well. I know I keep using this franchise in example, but the GTA III idea of using the blown-up bridge from the opening cutscene as a barrier was a good one (though the idea was better than the execution, in the end). Dark Souls is also pretty good at gating off access to areas unless you really know what you're doing.

    Progression and skill for me. I mean earning new abilities and stuff is cool, but the "you have now dispatched [arbitrary number] enemies" barrier to getting bigger numbers seems kind of... eh.

    Plus I totally hate number crunching and agonising over how to distribute those numbers.

    Yep, definitely. It gives a sense of progression and a want to move forward. Any game I've played that gives you all the skills/power right away I've grown bored of quickly. Furthermore, I like games that make you work hard to 'look cool' so custom armours and whatnot, that's a big motivator for me in games.

    I also don't like games that let you be absolutely everything, I like a choice to be meaningful with pros and cons. In this way, Skyrim wasn't quite as fun.

    If it's a single player game like an RPG or even something like Far Cry where you unlock abilities etc as you go along then I like it.

    I really dislike it in multiplayer games (COD, Battlefield etc) because it stacks the game in favour of players who have been playing longer compared to new players. The game is already stacked enough in their favour due to their experience, knowledge of maps, etc. GIving them weapons and equipment that new players don't have just makes the games really unwelcoming for new players. If you don't get a BF or COD within the first couple of weeks on sale then you really face an uphill battle when you do start playing.

    I don't buy the argument that it keeps people playing, either - I have a hell of a lot more fun with these games AFTER I've unlocked everything and can just mix and match my loadout at will to suit the situation or just to try out different things. It's not like everybody stops playing once they've run out of things to unlock. If the game is any good it doesn't need that kind of carrot to keep people playing - they'll keep playing because the game is fun, not because they need to unlock stuff.

      Some mp games do it better than others. COD was unbalanced like that but BF3/4 not as much. Levelling gave you options rather than purely better stuff in bf, 4 especially.

    My Steam Level is 25, which probably answers that question...

    I play a lot of RPGs, where levelling mechanics are pretty much the norm. The sense of gradual progression towards godlike power - of coming back to what was once a difficult opponent and thrashing it thoroughly - adds a lot to the appeal of a game.

    I like the Gothic and Risen style of leveling up and to a similar extent the Elder Scrolls style. Having levels (skill or otherwise) tied to something else other than just experience points is a pretty neat way of doing stuff. Also makes things interesting in that you can buff/improve your skills by spending money on them or by actually doing the hard yards and spending in game-time getting better at stuff.

    Experience points by themselves feel a little lackluster if they're given out like confetti with barely any relevance to your play style.

      Gothic is one game I get super excited about levelling up in! Most notably the second game. So much cool stuff you can get through levelling up in that game! :)
      I also love the old Might and Magic level up style, where you get to allocate points to different stats, and how different stats are levelled up differently depending on your class/race. Like a wizard getting strenth, will cost you more points to go up a level, than it would to upgrade your magic stat. Sometimes they give you bonus stuff for particular stats too!

    I like well implemented levelling up. If you can easily over level and overpower everything or being of an equal level just means the same relative damage you did ten levels ago then it's a meaningless mechanic. Levelling up to slowly grow your character in the way you want (eg. Stat allocation, ability unlocks or equipment requirements) while still providing a challenge each step of the way is how it should be done though. Very few games seem to get the balance between levels and skill right.

    Last edited 04/12/14 11:49 am

    I like leveling up and hate grinding. Nuff said. :)

    A sense of progression is good but to often levels are all that matter and the other only form of progression.
    Dark Souls is a really good compromise where levels help but skill is better. More games should do that kinda thing.

    I also like Battlefield's progression. Levelling itself does nothing, but it continually unlocks stuff giving you something to work towards and feel like you are achieving something.

      That's it: levelling should give you options, rather than just a blanket power increase.
      Souls and Battlefield do that, if in different ways.

    I love it. It's video game crack, to me. I also love assigning points to thinks. Skills/talents/perks/upgrades/whatever. The more the better. Even if it's all functionally the same and I'll have them all by the end of any reasonable playthrough. I just love assigning these things. Even if it's incredibly obvious which is best. JUST LET ME MAKE THE BARS GO UP.

    Pretty sure the souls series for me has nailed the leveling system I most enjoyed. With that you can beat the game without leveling up proving your own skill and the other hand the option to "choose" to level when you feel like it not because you hit the exp. cap.

    I hate leveling up, hate the concept. I'm a hater...

    Seriously though, I don't enjoy loot, gear, leveling up and all that caper, and don't enjoy multiplayer where you get creamed because someone else has perks.

    I like leveling up, but I don't like crafting a milli leather gauntlets to be able to make Draedric armour. That got old really, really really fast.

    It's ok in some games like and GTAO (semi-shudder?), but it contributed to the downfall of Gran Turismo, restricting you from racing/buying (I can't remember which) cars until you had the appropriate level, preventing you from having the freedom to grind cash to get something mega.

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