Up-Leveling, Down-Leveling and How They Are Broken #GW2

Guild Wars 2, Mad King's Clocktower

I get it, Guild Wars 2, you want me to be max level before participating in any events. But then why did you give your game a really high max level? Something happened between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2 that changed, and I’m not talking about mechanics. I’m talking about the overall philosophy. In Guild Wars 1, max level was truly the beginning of the game, and getting there was really just an extended introduction. 90% of the content happened at level 20, which was reached in a few days. Progression was based on acquiring new abilities, finding item synergies with your playstyle, learning tactics, and just becoming a better player. In Guild Wars 2, levels actually mean something. However, the grind to get there is long, and the gear is significantly more important. Up-Leveling to max doesn’t make you strong enough to do the content, and Down-Leveling makes you still overpowered. In a game that feels like it doesn’t need levels AT ALL, why is max level the only acceptable place to be? And why is it such a grind to get there?!

Pumpkins, Guild Wars 2, Halloween

I thought I was wrong, I thought not all content had to be at max level, and sure, the Super Adventure Box is a good example of GW2 content that doesn’t need to have levels attached, but that’s the only one I’ve seen so far, including the Halloween content. “But, Ocho”, I hear you say, “When you’re in the Halloween instances, you’re up-leveled to max level, you noob!” Up-Leveling, however, did nothing to make the content anything more than an exercise in futility. I did finally finish off Bloody Prince Edrick, but not before downing him on my fifth attempt, which took about 25 minutes each, with all my armor broken.

Faced 1-on-1 with a level 80 mob, with myself up-leveled from level 60, with decent level 60 gear, caused every single mob to be a crap-shoot at survival. 1 mob, no problem, depending on it’s strength. 2? Almost certain death. With Edrick, the battle was just futile. If he got within arms reach, I’d be dead. The mobs he spawned at different stages, spawning 4 or 5 at a time, where a fight with more than 1 was certain death, caused me to become very familiar with the corpse run. His healing to full in between each stage? Ridiculous. My only real attack, since Elementalists can’t switch weapons mid-fight, was an earth spell that reflected projectiles. By essentially hitting him with his own attack, once every 30 seconds, and running away, I was finally able to defeat him.

Guild Wars 2, Halloween, Labyrinth

I’ve heard the fight is NOT supposed to be this tough, though. So what did up-leveling do? It certainly didn’t level the playing field. In fact, it made the fight about the most un-fun it could be. It wasn’t a challenge, it was a chore of throwing myself up against a wall. Up-leveling essentially did not do what it was intended to.

Down-leveling, though, doesn’t work as intended, either. At level 60, if I head to the beginning zones, I’m able to faceroll content and make dynamic events trivial. There is no challenge. Why do you think these champion farming events are going on in the starting areas? The ability to completely wipe-out low level content is ridiculously easy at max-level, even with down-leveling.

Mad King's Clocktower, Guild Wars 2, Halloween

Not all of the Halloween content is bad, though. The Mad King’s Clocktower? Awesome. Tough, doable, and everyone can do it with enough practice. Costume brawl and Mad Inquisition? Also awesome! These are fantastic diversions, but they’re not the Halloween main courses on offer.

So, again, Guild Wars 2, why even bother with levels? Why put in this level-gate at all when artificially moving up and down is pointless? Sorry, ANet, your Halloween events in the past even made WoW’s look weak, but this is not the quality I remember from Guild Wars 1. I completed it, but it gets a solid “meh”.

And because of this, next time you have an event in a week or so, I’ll be less likely to join in.

// Ocho

P.S. – But now I’m off to see what The Secret World has to offer, and my expectations are really high. I hope it can deliver…

14 thoughts on “Up-Leveling, Down-Leveling and How They Are Broken #GW2

  1. I did not start playing GW2 until Christmas of 2012 so I missed the Halloween event last year. Everyone hyped up the Mad King content so much I thought it was going to be awesome. And although I agree it has some enjoyable aspects, it is far from being the great event I think it could be.


  2. Are you sure you’re fully equipped with lvl 60 gear?

    If you’re lvl 60 with lvl 40 gear, then you will be the equivalent of a lvl 80 with lvl 60 gear. Half your stat comes from your gear, not your character itself, so if you’re 60 with sub-level gear you won’t be upleveled “fully.”

    Downleveling works perfectly fine too. Yea, Queensdale is absurdly easy at 80, but it’s absurdly easy at 5 also. You just take 3 hits to kill a bandit instead of 5 hits, and that’s perfectly fine. (There’s champ farm trains in Frostgorge too. Queensdale champ is farmed because of its easy route and familiarity to the majority, not because it’s faceroll)

    You really answered your own question. There’s levels because levels actually mean something in terms of traits, skills, and stats. GW2 has lots of flaws, sure, but its downscaling/upscaling is one of the system that has worked really well. It’s kept low-level zones relevant (not just state scaling, but loot scaling plays a part also, and the scaling keeps the effort/reward ratio very much in line throughout the world.), made lots of content accessible to newbies (Molten/Aether dungeons, all the LS story instances, Southsun when it first came out, QP, Zephyr Sanctum, all of WvW, etc…) I think it’s pretty absurd to state that it’s broken.



    • I also really, really dislike your assertion that “max level is the only place to be” in GW2 (it’s not.) That gear is somehow much more important than skills, tactics, and personal aptitude (it’s not). I understand it’s your subjective perception, but there’s just a ton of evidence out there to the contrary. Seriously, how else can a group of players make up for a lack of armor and beat a dungeon by only relying on the things I listed above? How else can low-level characters even PARTICIPATE, and succeed, with the proper guidance/experienced hands behind the controls, some of the hardest content in the game? (Aether/Molten dungeons, Fractals.)


  3. Just finished it on a level 23 mesmer. Died once while tackling Prince Thorn, downed twice during mob stages but managed to recover by killing a mob before they killed me.

    I’m afraid upleveling was not the main issue, though it did make the fight more challenging due to not being able to do as much damage as a zerker-geared 80 (lack of crit is the major dps loss,) and thus require a different set of tactics.

    I’d suggest some of the following factors may have contributed to the difficulty:
    – how current your gear was and its stats. Were all your upgrade slots filled, for example?

    My mesmer was fitted to stack power while leveling, so I ended up upleveled to a decently respectable 3283 attack, but only 7% crit, 0% crit damage, while dealing with being very squishy with 971 toughness and vitality, yielding 1738 armor and some 5k hp.

    – class skill choice and weapon choice / knowledge of fight and tactics used

    The Bloody Prince uses necromancer attacks, and his main attack at range is a projectile. Projectile reflection is useful, as you discovered. Going ranged is much easier for stepping into the candy corn glaze that the evidently shortsighted asura shoots while continuing to hit the prince.

    If one’s health goes down too far, there is a very nice demonic pillar in the middle of the room to kite the prince around, which can be used to shield oneself from the projectile while one’s heal recharges. Playing a game of round and round the mulberry bush with the prince works quite well, and one can imagine him screaming “Hold still, you worm!” while doing so. 🙂

    The Halloween mobs tend to be most annoying because they throw what seems like a million and one conditions. Glow-in-the-dark skele is especially deadly with confusion, so that guy needs to be the first to go down. Same idea, kite around the pillar, have a decent amount of condition cleanses. A stun break would have helped with the mummy pull, but I didn’t use that on the mesmer and got yanked.


  4. No, my gear is not bad. My gear shouldn’t even matter, considering it’s “leveling” gear, but it is fine. At level 60, all of my gear is greater than 55, with maybe an accessory or two at around 50. And yes, their slots are all filled, too. Those drop like candy, so I have no reason to not use them. I’m not buying the best stuff off the AH, though, as that is simply a waste of money (and feels like cheating). But yes, my gear is fine.

    As for stats, so far I have been stacking Power, Heal, Precision, and Condition damage in that priority order. I have focused on the water trait line, and so tailor my gear around that.

    I realized that the smaller mobs deal conditions like crazy. Thankfully, being attuned to water, condition removal is easy. 1 Auto-remove every 10 seconds with the water signet, and an extra ability to cure them away. No problem. For those mobs, it was the ranged attacks combined with the melee. I could dodge and escape the melee, chilling with water, but needed earth or electric to deal with the projectiles. Each mob still took about 20-30 hits before they dropped. Don’t know my Power stats exactly, but since I concentrated on Power, I’m sure it was where it was “supposed” to be.

    The final battle went something like this: Went in with scepter/focus as that enables distance attacks and some defensive abilities in reflect shield/projectile destruction. Gave me a buff to defense, as well as allowed me to attack at range. Fight starts, she throws the candy circle, I run to stand in it, then attack from range, reflecting his projectile when it’s shot. When either he teleports into melee or my health gets to around 50%, I run and start kiting him around the alter, healing and curing the entire way. Rinse and repeat. At 75% he despawns and spawns 5 mobs. They usually one-shot me. I run back, maybe kill one. Die. Run back, kill another. Die. Run back, kill the third. Die. Come back Kill the 4th, and maybe the 5th if I can get him in time. Edrick respawns at full health, now the distance/run/kite happens again until he gets to 50%. Then, the spawns again. I die, like before, a minimum of 4 times. He respawns at full health, again it’s a distance/run/kite until he finally gets down to 25%, and the fight ends. I don’t see where this fight could go any other way. I could not avoid dieing from the mob spawns, and each fight killed me a minimum of 8 times. By the end of the fight, it didn’t matter what my gear was, it was almost all broken. If by the second mob spawn, all my gear was mostly shot, I zoned out, fixed it, came back to try again.

    If I was level 20 or 30, it might’ve been easier considering the huge jump in power received. I remember the Queen’s Jubilee final speech thing where I was upleveled for the instance, and seemed to do just fine… there were those two NPCs around to help, though. But at 60, the power given was negligible, and caused me to be VERY weak. I helped down all the baddies in the labyrinth, but “help” here was also minimal. I made myself more useful by rezzing and healing than attempting to do damage.

    In other words, aside from the assumptions, I am no “noob”. My skill is not “hardcore, playing 12 hours a day” level, but is more on the “play a couple times a week” level, tempered with plenty of experience, but I’m still more of a help than a hindrance. At my skill level, this fight should not have taken 2 1/2 hours. Heck, the Clocktower only took me about 30 minutes before I got it, without looking up cheats. That means something else was flawed, and that something else was the artificial leveling system.

    Now, since I’ve come back there have been the following events: 1) Clockwork Chaos, in which I was under level 20, and so only participated in finding a few balloons and the Closing Ceremonies. As mentioned above, this up-leveling seemed okay. The NPCs being there really helped, though. Everything else, all the events, were in zones too high for my level. 2) Super Adventure Box. Awesome. Fun, challenging, any level. Good stuff. 3) Tequatl Rising. Yeah, I could help to take down the Fire Elemental and maybe a few lower level bosses, but being level 40 or so, could not touch Tequatl. There was no up-leveling. 4) Twilight Assault – changing the path of a level 80 dungeon, I could not participate. 5) Blood and Madness – Finally, the first content I’m able to fully complete (SAB I just didn’t have the time), and the joke that is up-leveling caused it to be ridiculous.

    No thanks, no more living story for me until I hit max level. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. All the content you’ve mentioned was before I started playing. That’s all well and good periodically they include everyone, but since I’ve been playing, it doesn’t appear that way. As far as PvP and WvW, the abilities are modified to not work the same as in PvE, and you don’t use the same gear, so comparing PvP to PvE is a bad comparison. PvP is more heavily favored for balancing, as it should be.

    I’m sure, once I hit max, and no longer have to deal with up-leveling, and all down-leveling will still let me be overpowered, everything will seem balanced and fine.


  5. As I’ve mentioned previously, all the temporary content has you upleveled, while the permanent additions don’t uplevel you. Which makes a lot of sense. The things you’ve mentioned, like the Clockwork invasions, Teq, and TA are all permanent additions which await you once you hit levels appropriate for it. You will still be able to experience it, it’s not going away, hence no need for upleveling on the temporary content.

    Note too, that WvW uses PvE skills and PvE gear. Comparing WvW and PvE is perfectly legitimate.

    Anyways, check your stats. Assuming you’re decked out fully in greens/rares, they should approach those of a lvl 80 in full exotics, if not a bit more. My lvl 20, fully equipped in lvl 20 greens, has more raw stats than my lvl 80 in full exotics, funnily enough. Really the biggest disadvantages are the lack of skills and traits, which is exactly what you mentioned pertaining to GW1. Reading your post though, you have a pretty glassy ele, since you have no points in tough/vit. Eles are the squishiest class in the game with the lowest hp/armor, so that’s one red flag. Also reading your posts (Pure assumptions, I apologize if I’m wrong.) it seems you’re not rotating attunements properly. Eles shouldn’t be “attuned” to one attunement primarily, you should be constantly rotating, and using fields and finishers to constantly buff/heal yourself, especially because you are glass cannon.

    I personally think that the biggest reason why you’re struggling is your lack of tough/vit combined with what seems like your unfamiliarity with controlling arguably the most difficult-to-control class in game. The struggles won’t magically go away once you hit 80.

    I’d like to apologize profusely if I come across as overly hostile or condescending. I just sense your frustrations, and think it can be reduced with a bit of self-improvement, and would like to aid in that.



    • That’s why I say the up-leveling is borked. I know all about rotations, and yes, I am a little glass cannon-esque, but in dungeons or regular PvE, I have no issues staying alive and downing all I see before me. I have no problem with any content, JUST the up-leveled stuff.

      And I had some issues with learning the class for about the first 20 levels, but my grasp on the class is pretty firm.


  6. But are you truly at a deficit, stat-wise, when you’re upleveled? Because that would be the definition of a “broken” upleveling system. I’m just really skeptical because I’ve done the LS stuff on my lvl 20 necro. I looked at my lvl 20 and he has stats equivalent to my lvl 80.


    My lvl 80 pure zerker mesmer (full exotics, ascended trinkets) and my lvl 20 necro (full greens, no backpiece). Their stats are very comparable despite my necro missing stats from his backpiece. The necro makes up for the lack of crit damage in condition damage. If you take away gear, the Necro has slightly higher base stats also (1035 vs 971). You can even tally them up, and the necro has more total raw stats than my mesmer.

    In terms of raw stats, upleveling does its job. The necro obviously still isn’t as competent due to lack of skills and traits, but that’s not what upleveling is supposed to do.



    • i believe it works something like gving you a reasonable amount of stats comparable to a level 80 but it spreads it out amongst all the stat typopes… that is not a very good approach. you would be wasting certain allocations and being more specialised towards a certain playstyle makes you a far more effective character
      could be wrong though


  7. When you complain in the same breath that elementalists cannot switch weapons mid-fight, and then choose not to use all the 20 skills available to you by remaining primarily in one attunement. I would humbly suggest that one still has a ways to go on learning the elementalist class.

    And I’m not trying to be condescending either, though self-improvement tips can sometimes come across that way. The post was about someone in distress, having trouble where they shouldn’t, and an immediate impulse is to try and figure out the root cause of the problem.

    If I go into a rant on my blog about how hard something or other is or how annoying such-and-such is, I get tips for smoothing out the problem (see bouncy charr camera angles on super adventure box cages. Altering the angle of camera or the path you run can alleviate it.)

    I geared a venomshare P/D condition thief and played it for quite a while, hoping to make it work because I wanted to be all speshul, and I just kept getting wrecked with no escapes worth speaking of, being cruddy at dodging/evading/kiting until bleed killed opponents, being unable to land cloak and dagger to stealth properly (possibly latency related) and trying to use the build to hit dolyaks when something a lot faster hitting, in-and-out-and-gone would have been a helluva lot more effective. I could survive by hiding in zergs, was probably helpful with venoms, but couldn’t shake off the sensation that I wasn’t doing much good because I sure as hell wasn’t getting as much kills as my guardian. A skilled player could probably make P/D work fine, but I personally don’t have the time to invest so much into an alt. I recognize that I am a ‘noob’ at playing thief until I get more practice with it.

    I just recently regeared the same thief to zerker stealth/backstab with some toughness. I suddenly become a lot more effective with it because it’s more of a braindead not-so-much-finesse required playstyle that matches my skill level and what I want to do with it. Hit yaks, disappear and run away screaming from anything that looks scary. Jump on anything tasty-looking that is distracted and whack it for half its hp and heartseeker a few times to see if I get lucky. And in a zerg fight, the same shortbow was contributing more damage via power/prec/crit than cond dam/power/vit because I was finally getting tags.


  8. Pingback: /AFK: Hallo-happiness edition | Bio Break

  9. Pingback: Gaming Resolutions for 2014 | Casual Aggro

  10. Pingback: Turning Back to Tyria #GW2 | Casual Aggro

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s