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.

downscale-compare

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

54masterworkrare

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.

80to54

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.

39yucktogood

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.)

80to39

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.

80to40

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?

54to39

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.)

54to40

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.

lvl20comparison

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.

GW2: I Think… Downscaling is Borked

I’m just a little bit upset.

I am mildly disturbed to the point of not being able to go to bed at 11.50pm on a Friday night and decided to stay up until 1.30am doing a quick experiment, collecting more data and then writing this blog post.

It started out well enough at around 9pm when I settled down to fill in the blanks on my spreadsheet to observe how downscaling on a level 80 had changed from then to now.

That, then, was merely an exercise in being a little obsessive for the explorer fun of it, because really, what else have I got to do besides run around the new Lion’s Arch, shooting karka hatchlings, and then going back to my usual routines?

downscale-compare

I finished filling in the blanks from my screenshots and data and settled in to take a look at how my level 80 warrior had changed from before.

Now, this had been a banner warrior going deep into Tactics to pick up quick breathing at the expense of the more meta precision traitline, so it was not a surprise to see that I had gained a little Power, lost a bunch of Vitality, and gained quite a ton more Precision as a result of losing stats on traitlines and gaining stats on zerker gear.

Nothing shocking. Nothing upsetting. All kinda expected, and it’ll be interesting to see how my other more meta-faithful warrior alt changed too.

However, since this was the warrior I was using to collect downscaling stats on, I looked at that next.

After chasing up various mathematical alleys, I decided that trying to figure out any exact downscaling formulae was going to be tough, especially when I forgot to check or record down any -base stats- at those levels.

So it was pretty much just going to be very crude direct number comparison instead.

I gained a bit damage-wise with the new 80, since I no longer had to give up any stats on traitlines for the utilities I wanted. My crit chance went up by 10%, and crit damage by 8% or so.

This somewhat affected downscaling at lvl 70, as toughness and precision at the new 70 was still more or less better than my old not-so-dps-optimal 70. However, Power took a hit even here, dropping below the previous state.

By lvl 60, the Power stat does reveal that it’s been a little chopped off at the knees, 1391 as compared to the 1546 of before. The other stats are ehh… around the same-ish to slightly worse.

By lvl 50, everything’s taken a hit in effectiveness as compared with pre-patch, and it doesn’t get -any- better as you go lower and lower.

Power’s dropped precipitously and alarmingly, and let us not even speak of critical chance. It is near non-existent.

Now, one may argue that this makes sense. We want to bring the downscaled lvl 80 to lowbie equivalency, right? And lowbies don’t get multiple fancy stats on their gear, like precision and ferocity. Nevermind that builds that rely on high critical chance get a little shafted, it’s for a good cause, you know?

So I decided to check the stats on my lowbies to see if the level 80 had been made equivalent.

And what I saw really freaked me out.

I had a bunch of spare lowbies masquerading as storages, a thief, an engineer, a guardian, the works. Most of them are exactly level 20, thanks to the Experience Scroll veterans get, so I settled on that level to compare.

Many of them had 360-420ish Power, as compared with the new downscaled 80’s 225 Power.

HANG ON, THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT.

Ok, I know I am guilty of twinking out my lowbies hard. I put on even level 20 gear on them. I stack on minor runes of +10 power for 60 total power, give them a sigil of bloodlust (which got nerfed, thanks), I make shiny +Power jewellery for them. So maybe it’s just my twinking making shit unbalanced, right?

(It’s at this point where I realize I can’t go to sleep until I resolve this niggling issue…)

… so lying in bed, I come up with the fairest test I can think of. (That I can perform, given the resource limits that I have.)

Maybe the classes differ, so I am going to take the spare character slot I have, create a new warrior, use up one of my many Experience Scrolls to zap it to level 20, and I am going to buy gear like a noob off the TP, and then check not only just Power stats, but do a quick dps experiment.

nearnekkid20

This is a near nekkid new level 20. Still in the tutorial gear with nearly no Power on any of it, one hero’s band (+2 Power), and one iron ring (~11 Power iirc) that was a level up reward. She has 178 Power as compared with the downscaled level 80 at 225 Power, 8% crit chance as compared with 21.33% crit chance, 151% crit damage versus 174.7% crit damage. Okaaay.

noobtp

I go to the TP. I am simulating a newbie, more or less, so here’s what I do. I buy my level 20 armor, all six slots. I pick the one with Power, obviously. I buy weapons the same way.

I -don’t- buy any trinkets or jewellery whatsoever, because they are too expensive anyway, so I have lost a bunch of potential Power stats there already.

I -don’t- put any minor runes or sigils on my gear, because I am a newbie, remember? I don’t understand any of this stuff. I just wear the default thing. It is the same stuff that can drop (which is why it is 2-3 silver as compared with the cutthroat crafted version.)

normalnewbie

Do note that my ‘normal’ newbie has 266 Power. The downscaled level 80 has 225 Power.

Ok, she has a crit chance of 8% and crit damage of 151%. He has a crit chance of 21.33% and 174.7% crit damage.

Does that actually make a difference?

In lieu of calculating damage done (because I haven’t looked at those formulas yet), I do a test.

I go to the Wendon waypoint at Brisban Wildlands. The level 80 downscales to 20 in that area. My level 20 is an exact level 20. There are level 19 Jungle Boar there.

I get the exact same utilities, Balanced Stance, For Great Justice, Banner of Strength, minus an elite, because it so happens that I get enough Hero Points by leveling to 20 to unlock those. I have no traitlines on the lowbie, because those unlock at lvl 21. Do the extra traitlines on my level 80 give him an edge, necessitating his stats dropping to under a lowbie’s?

lowbie-notwink

I kill a bunch of boar with the level 20.

Yes, the words are very small, so let me summarize:

  • Cyclone Axe (~80 damage)
  • Chop (~165-170 damage, critting for 210-250)
  • Double Chop (~149-163 damage, critting for 229-259)
  • Triple Chop (~145-149 damage on the first two strikes, 324-334 on the last strike, critting for 469-540 damage on the last strike.)
  • Boar hits me for 70-77 damage each direct attack, more or less, and healing signet pulses away for 32 healing.

80downscaled

I swap over to the level 80 and do the same thing.

  • Cyclone Axe (~64-69 damage, critting for 98-119)
  • Chop (~112-145 damage, critting for 171-245)
  • Double Chop (~104-129 damage, critting for 168-257)
  • Triple Chop (~104-129 on the first two strikes, 235-286 on the last strike, critting for 188-233 on the first two strikes, and didn’t manage to crit on the last strike during my test)
  • Boar hits me for 82-89 damage each direct attack, and healing signet still pulses away for 32 healing.

The boar’s bleeds was a constant 32 in both cases (makes sense, since armor doesn’t affect conditions), and the level 80 had a trait that had a chance of applying a bleed on a critical (which did 28-40 damage.)

I dunno… but it SURE SEEMS TO ME like the level 20 is doing more damage than my downscaled level 80. I kill the same boars in less hits on the lowbie than it takes the level 80 to finish off his.

It’s an untwinked lowbie, even!

Guess what happens if I put on the minor runes (each giving +10 Power for a total of 60 power) and the minor sigil of bloodlust (which I didn’t even bother to max out.) I did not even put on any trinkets, so this can go even higher.

lowbie-moretwink

Cyclone Axe 97, Chop 170-214, Double Chop 198-214, Triple Chop 192-226 & 412-485 (not a crit.)

I think someone has really gotten carried away with the downscaling if my level 80 is not even equivalent to a level 20 in a level 20 area!

I will leave others to debate if this is a good thing – maybe level 80s should face a sort of ‘hard mode’ as compared with new lowbies? (Never mind that optimizers would probably just try to make lowbie alts if those are the most optimal?)

Maybe this will make the self-styled “elitist” (but not truly elitist) level 80s in dungeons welcome lowbie noobs more when they are statistically better than downscaled 80s, nevermind that they lack knowledge of the mechanics and experienced 80s tend to know what is going on?

Me, I still can’t get over the knee-jerk emotional outrage of being unequivalent in this manner just quite yet. It is just TOO WEIRD. It doesn’t make any logical sense. (Laying it all out in the blog post -is- helping though. I can probably go to sleep after this.)

I do hope and suspect there will be adjustments to the scaling as time goes on, and hopefully in a better direction, but eesh, that’s a very steep downscale curve to get used to, as compared to before, and I have no more words for this beyond “….”