Thursday 18 May 2023

Level Scaling in Diablo 4: How Blizzard Balances Progress and Challenge

In their upcoming action RPG, Diablo 4, Blizzard introduces a level scaling system designed to keep the player's experience consistently engaging. The system ensures that monsters remain relevant to players at all stages of the game, fostering a feeling of constant progress and maintaining an appropriate level of challenge.

As explained by Joe Piepiora, the Associate Game Director of Blizzard, to Eurogamer, the goal is to ensure no part of the game becomes "utterly trivial," thus encouraging players to revisit areas. Once the campaign is completed, players can create new characters and opt to skip the campaign entirely, starting afresh in Kyovashad, the principal town in the Fractured Peaks.

Post-campaign features, such as the "Whispers of the Dead", present players with bounty-like missions across Sanctuary. Rewards are provided upon completion of these missions, designed to serve an ancient tree. Additionally, players can choose to play in various locations, such as the Fractured Peaks or Scosglen, or even venture into the swamps of Hawezar.

"When you play in a skipped campaign state version of the game, the world is all going to scale to you entirely," Piepiora confirms. This is achieved with a few notable exceptions, such as Strongholds - self-contained dungeons offering new rewards upon completion. Each Stronghold maintains a fixed level floor slightly higher than the player's level, offering a considerable challenge and encouraging team gameplay.

Understanding how level scaling works is crucial in the context of Diablo 4's World Tiers. These Tiers dictate the game's difficulty, with Tier 2 resembling the standard difficulty, and Tier 1 providing an easier, story-focused mode. The levels of monsters remain the same across Tiers 1 and 2, even as players ascend to level 60. If players desire more challenge and better gear, they can opt for Tier 3, where monsters are generally of higher levels.

Regarding the cooperative gameplay, Diablo 4 development chief Rod Fergusson shared how the system works. "The host of the party owns the state of the world," Fergusson explained. Progress is shared amongst players if they're aligned in the questline, but if a new player joins midway, they won't receive story quest progress or XP until they catch up.

The innovative system implemented in Diablo 4 enables level one and level 30 characters to play together. Despite the discrepancy in character levels, each player experiences a customized, challenging, and rewarding journey. This combination of progress, challenge, and the freedom to explore reinforces Blizzard's commitment to providing a dynamic and immersive gaming experience.