GW2: Further Experi-Adventures in Downscaling

So maybe level 20 is a freak occurrence, right?

Certainly, I went dungeon running in TA (effective lvl 55) and CoF (effective lvl 75) today with a non-PUG group – the guilded pretty faithful meta group to which I am probably the largest deviant away from dps-optimal – and didn’t really “feel” a huge change in damage done or time to kill, although I note that people -were- falling over more often and had to be rezzed a little more.


Edit: Here, I decided to do a quick graph in Excel.
Edit: Here, I decided to do a quick graph in Excel. Cos more visual.

Let’s recap. I don’t think there is any issue at lvl 70-75 at all. Note in the table that our power levels between the old 70-80 mark are fairly similar to the new 70-80 (just a little tweaked downward.)

From 60 and lower, there is a greater deviation between our old downscaled stats and our new ones.

Our crit chance and damage are still fairly similar between old and new in the 50-60 range (though a little more tweaked downward.)

At 40 and lower, it starts looking really bad in terms of old and new being different and weaker than before.

The most likely dungeon to get hit by this is AC at effective level 35. (CM, I dunno, at effective level 45 – probably would be able to feel a bit of a hit.)

But you know, maybe stuff getting harder and more difficult is good for a change of pace and a challenge. No big arguments against there, I don’t really care or mind either way, if the devs decide that stuff should feel more challenging.

What I -do- care about, is a certain amount of equity.

I have argued very strongly about “a level playing field” and I feel very strongly about this concept.

Veterans should not be able to one-shot (or out-perform) newbies because hooray, vertical progression, more stats, such l33t, gear very purplez, gearscore over 9000, blah blah blah. That is why I play GW2 because we want to be egalitarian about things, we want to be scaled down to the same level playing field as low levels and travel together and welcome each other and so on.

The see-saw should NOT swing in the other way either!

That concept just gives me a massive headache. Why am I leveling up then, if I am just going to get weaker (in low level zones anyway), despite greater effort acquiring exotics and Ascended gear? Unlock/see more zones? Only be stronger in level 80 ones? I’m not -that- allergic to vertical progression.

But anyway, enough philosophizing, I just wanted to lay out some of the rationale behind why I’m bothering (and bothered) about this enough to go and collect data on it – because I value the idea of a level and even playing field, not an uneven one, in either direction.

The following may be somewhat strange level ranges to do comparisons on, but they’re simply dictated by whatever low level character I have lying around.

Feel free to pull out your lowbies to check too. More data the merrier. It’s much easier to find an appropriate zone to waypoint a level 80 to, just glance through the GW2 wiki on zones and effective level in each region.

Level 54


On the left is my engineer leveling in backdated and el cheapo gear. Level 50 masterworks, a level 50 rare rifle, level 50 masterwork jewelry, backpack straps with no stats whatsoever, and I was wearing lvl 51 penetrating rings for the hell of it (which give precision/ferocity, not power.)

(Aka the point where I bog down and start having trouble with mobs or the point where I stop leveling and say, eh, I need to update the gear, but I’m too lazy to use the TP… eh, maybe later, and then log off and forget to return.)

On the right is me biting the bullet and buying level 53 rare gear (by level 56, you can get masterwork greens with similar stats), because let’s face it, rare gear unlocks at 39-40, I’m way overdue to start dressing in yellows. Jewelry is updated to yellows, and I pick up a green ghostly spineguard for the back. I’m lazy and I don’t upgrade the level 50 yellow rifle. I put on major runes (4 mesmer for power/precision) and stack on two more +15 power runes.


Here’s the level 80 downscaled to level 54.

It’s… not too bad at this level range.

He is still somewhat weaker than the buffed out true level 54 (and there is potential for the level 54 to go higher, but we would be stepping into straight out twinking territory – very few people would bother) but he’s got a bit more crit damage from the extra ferocity stat, and presumably his crit chance is a little nerfed to compensate for that difference.

It “feels” comparable (I use the word ‘feels’ when I haven’t calculated or checked any numbers yet and just going by gut feel here.)

Chances are, more than likely, that we will have many lowbies in backdated gear at this level range anyway, and that they’ll be a little behind the downscaled 80, unless they bother to keep on top of things, and then they get a little stronger.

I personally think this is a nice equivalency point to strive to reach at all level ranges.

Level 39

I was thinking I didn’t have any alts at this level – most bogged down at level 50, or they stayed at level 20.

Then I found my PvP ranger. (Yeah, I was playing condi ranger before it was cool. I should get around to trying out just how strange sPvP feels now, but this is keeping me busy already.)

I dragged him out to Lion’s Arch, where he became uber-noob backdated power-based leveling build once more.


On the left, we have him sitting in mostly level 32 green masterwork gear (at lvl 39) with the exception of one level 39 yellow glove that dropped while I was leveling. His jewelry is mostly level 25 blue fines (hey, you can resell those, y’know, I am el cheapo!) of the sunstone variety (more precision than power), with one level 20 green mighty amulet. He has a stack of +50 power on minor runes (and 15 precision on the rare yellow glove) to make up for my miserly and laggard gear updating ways.

On the right, I got off my arse, and bought level 38 green masterwork gear direct from the TP. I put them on without stacking any minor runes whatsoever, the default arrangement comes with +20 power, +20 precision and +10 condi damage and +1% damage against foes with less than 50% health. I bought a level 38 green longbow. I bought level 35 green jewelry (carnelians, for power/precision) and I bought a level 38 green amulet and stuck a carnelian jewel in it.

Mr El-Cheapo Haphazard Gearing Ranger has 594 Power, 35.17% crit chance, 150.41% crit damage.

Mr Default But More Current Gear Ranger has 678 Power, 42.82% crit chance,  150% crit damage. (And we can easily replace two minor runes for +20 more power.)


This is my level 80 downscaled to level 39.

Mr Exotic Armor (One Ascended Chestpiece) Exotic Weapon Ascended Trinkets Warrior has 590 Power, 33.11% crit chance, 191.79% crit damage.

I dunno about you, but I don’t think that extra 40% crit damage helps that much if I can’t even crit in the first place, and have to take a “I hit for less direct damage than a lowbie in el-cheapo gear” tradeoff to boot.


Even downscaled to 40, he’s not as good as a level 39 in level 38 masterwork gear.


Non-80 Downscaling

So then I wondered, how about if a still leveling character downscales to a lower level? Do they get as chopped off at the knees as a level 80? Does it hit them as hard?


Remember my engineer newly decked out in yellow rares? 684 Power, 45.47% crit chance, 150% crit damage at level 39.

That seems quite respectable and on par with Mr Default But Current Gear Masterwork Ranger (just a tinge better, which makes sense, she’s in yellows.)


Even at effective level 40, she’s better than the level 80 in terms of power and crit chance.

More @ Level 20

Then for the hell of it, I decided to downscale her to level 20 to see how she fared, since I already had stats for level 20 previously.

And you know, maybe Wendon Waypoint and Brisban Wildlands are broken, (or rather, I didn’t have that waypoint and didn’t feel like running there), so let me find another region that also downscales to level 20.

I find Owl’s Abbattoir and Owl Waypoint in Snowden Drifts. Perfect. New location.

And maybe my level 80 warrior is broken. So I am also going to take my level 80 guardian along too.


From left to right, we have level 20 warrior, level 54 engineer downscaled to 20, level 80 warrior downscaled to 20, level 80 guardian down to 20.

Power: 266, 282, 225, 224.

Crit Chance: 8%, 36.66%, 21.33%, 19.33%

Crit Damage: 150.93%, 150.0%, 174.73%, 171.46%

Shall I quote armor for the hell of it? (Bearing in mind that the engineer is medium armor, and the rest are all heavies.)

Armor: 380, 346, 326, 313. (The engineer is 346, mind you, more than the level 80s. Evidently, my 80s are not considered leet anymore because I am only in exotics and need to be in all pink Ascended to be on par with lowbies now, where that stat is concerned. Such grind. Or maybe I should just make lowbies instead and not bother leveling. New suggestion: Option to turn off xp gain. We need it for uh… “roleplaying” purposes, yes, that is it.)

So yeah, I rest my case for now.

I’m going to duck my head down now, shoot some karka in Lion’s Arch (stats not required) and harvest nodes or something (stats not required either if I just run around and don’t kill anything.)

There’s also the world boss cycle, which seems to be the first thing getting tuned and is still pretty darned easy and rewarding for following the zerg around, minus a few bugs here and there, and I might do Teq.

Triple Trouble, I dunno, I think some tweaking is still in order, given what I heard listening in on the NA attempts. I suppose if I’m bored and have nothing to do, I can still help out in the OCE timeslot and see how things go.

6 thoughts on “GW2: Further Experi-Adventures in Downscaling

  1. Good luck with Teq. We just did it in well-organized map with a good, experienced Commander and failed to get to 50%. It was fun though and we would have come close to a win had so many people not bailed when the timer got to around four minutes and we still weren’t at the second laser.

    Mrs Bhagpuss had just come in from work and was playing her charr mesmer. She knew nothing about the downscaling issues and she commented that she felt a lot weaker. I, on the other hand, was playing my 100% healing build ranger who can barely solo a rabbit so not surprisingly I couldn’t tell any difference.

    Before that I took my other ranger (sorry, one of my other rangers) to do Maw (no visible difference) and afterwards I did a little test on the Svanir camp opposite Krennak’s that has the chest. I’ve done that scores of times and I know exactly what to expect.

    The ranger is 80, in exotics, roughly a power/zerker spec. When he was at level in Wayfarer’s and for some levels after he would have had to pull fairly carefully to clear to that chest. He has been overwhelmed and downed there often as have most of my characters at one time or another. Latterly, as an 80, he’s been able to run in, let them all mob him and then Barrage and otherwise shoot them all to death at no personal risk.

    I tried that same tactic and it worked just fine. One of the Svanir there is a veteran and he took a bit of time to kill but at no point was there any risk whatsoever. I would be willing to accept there is some very slight reduction in killing power over what would have been seen pre-patch but not anything that would make any kind of material difference.

    My perception is that, as a downscaled 80 in a very low-level zone that particular character in that particular build is still godlike compared to a genuine level 15 character of his class. If he’d tried that pull when he was leveling he wouldn’t have gotten past the first trio of Svanir at the entrance.

    There is a thread on this on the forums and certainly a lot of people seem to be feeling weaker. The “why did I level?” argument is coming up there too. My feeling is that the intention of downscaling was always to keep higher level characters operating in lower maps as though they had never outlevelled them so its an argument that I don’t really understand. I agree a downscaled character shouldn’t be weaker than an at-level character but that doesn’t appear to be most peoples’ objection – they want to be clearly stronger.

    I’ll keep experimenting and let you know if I see any major anomalies. I wonder how much it changes according to class and build? And map and mob? Leveling up I always thought some maps and some mobs were a LOT harder than others.

    On balance though I hope the end result IS much weaker 80s in lower maps. It might not be fair but it would be more fun. And I’d pay 800 gems for a “switch off xp” device in a heartbeat.


  2. How I personally see it? We didn’t have equity before. Higher level characters had more stats on their gear, so of course the raw level of one single stat (Power) is going to be lower when they have two extra stats to help compound off of. Then there’s traits and various healing/utility/elite skills lower levels won’t have access to that combine to make a build stronger than its disparate parts.

    Even Bhagpuss has noted that even while feeling weaker, we’re still surviving things that actual lowbies can’t hope to accomplish. So the seesaw is still in the higher level court. I wouldn’t get worried about it if your kill times in the last post were close to equivalent already. Or was your level 80 at maximum solo exotic gear dps?


    1. In fact, kill times on the downscaled 80 were slower than a) pre-patch and b) the low level.

      I did manage to improve kill times later by switching to a more overpowered build, but that’s somewhat constricting to say the least, and rather prone to getting corrected once they address the OP builds.

      You may also want to note that both Power and Critical Chance is weaker on the downscaled 80 in comparison to an on-level. The only stat that the downscaled 80 has an advantage is in crit damage, but that doesn’t really help much if they can’t crit often.


      1. Okay. Jeez, was it that much slower? Hmm.

        The reason I doubted it is because, well, to me Grandmaster traits make builds happen, not stats. For example there’s my Warrior that depends on the trait Furious to build up adrenaline super fast. Or for a combination of traits there’s my Guardian who, post patch, can use Supreme Justice (3 hits to proc burn instead of 5) + Permeating Wrath (every burn proc causes AoE burn) + Torch 5 (super fast multi hit that also hits multiple enemies, speeding up burn procs) then watch things die.

        But if they’ve adjusted for even that…


        1. I’ve made up for it with Heightened Focus on the warrior and as you say, torch stacking burns and “Feel my Wrath” spam on the guardian, but I have this feeling that *ahem* certain builds reliant on overpowered traits won’t be lasting very long.


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