Oblivion's Leveling System: Broken or Unbroken?

#1tedeschePosted 8/21/2009 9:17:03 PM

I've noticed that a number of people have strongly objected to my assertions that Oblivion's leveling system gimps players who choose/create classes with the skills they intend to use most frequently as major skills. I've played Oblivion a lot (a LOT), and so I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of how the game works. However, since some people seem so adamant that the game's leveling system is not broken, and I like to consider myself a fairly open-minded person, I would like to hear their arguments.

My opinion that it is broken is based, as I said, on the fact that people who select their major skills to directly match their most frequent playing style are in effect ensuring that they will level up extremely quickly and with the least number of skill increases and therefore attribute bonuses per level. If you just want to play the game, choosing your favorite skills as major skills seems to make sense at first, but I would argue that it ultimately "punishes" you by ensuring that you gain major skill increases quickly (thereby making you level faster), which gives you less time to level-up minor skills to contribute to your attribute bonuses at your next level. Since your major skill-ups are often evenly distributed amonst your seven major skills, they will each individually increase only 1-3 levels on average, meaning the most you'll ever see as an attribute bonus is +2 (or +3 in some cases). Also, since your have seven skills increasing slowly as you gain levels quickly, your enemies will tend to become tougher at a rate that exceeds the effectiveness of your primary combat skills. This argument, I should mention, is based on personal experience as well as my understanding of how the game actually works. Every wiki I've read seems to acknowledge this problem, including the grand-daddy of them all, the UESP Wiki.

However, other people seem to be arguing that while the game may be a bit more difficult for players who play the game as the designers seemed to intend, it neither makes it substnatially harder at higher levels nor does it permanently gimp characters for doing so. I would like to hear your arguments as to why this is the case. It seems to me that, at the very least, characters who don't increase their Endurance at all from the start of the game are asking for a hard time later on. Even a fighter though, who presumably would be using Armorer, Block, and Heavy Armor from the start, would still have to share skill-ups between four other major skills (which he would presumably be using just as frequently), and thus not be able to gain more than a +3 to Endurance per level.

So, what's the deal? Prove me wrong. If your argument is simply, "You don't need three +5's at every level to stay competitive in the game," then please give me the minimum number of attribute bonuses and skill-ups per skill you need to remain on par with your enemies. To me, it seems like you would need at least two +3's and a +2 to level your primary attributes up at a reasonable rate, and even then I'm not sure how you would keep all your combat skills (assuming they're all major skills) equal to your foes'. Essentially, without using minor skills as extensively as major ones (and thus planning your class accordingly), I don't see how a character could keep his head above water.

And please, folks, don't get nasty. I know some of us are teenagers, but we don't need to be douchebags to boot. Keep your posts respectful.

#2AsilentninjahPosted 8/21/2009 9:21:55 PM
not broken
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#3Whyte FolkzPosted 8/21/2009 9:25:42 PM
Yes you are right. The leveling system is indeed counter-intuitive, and considered broken by many. Also the fact that enemies level at the same rate as you removes any incentive for leveling. However, the game is still too easy despite this, simply because of enchanted equipment. Once you are able to get your character to 100% chameleon, or 100% reflect damage and 100%Resistance/Absorb Magicka, your character essentially becomes invincible. As long as you get the gamebreaking enchantments, the game loses all challenge.
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#4Art Of DrowningPosted 8/21/2009 9:38:05 PM
"it neither makes it substnatially harder at higher levels nor does it permanently gimp characters for doing so."

It makes it a little harder, I would admit that. But I have never seen a character beyond recoverable. The people who whine and exaggerate about gimped characters are often those who simply didn't spend a little time bettering themselves when they realised they were disadvantaged in combat.

Enemies may have the better stats but the player still has the brains. We are the ones packing overly powerful enchantments, we are the ones packing a full set of the strongest armor at our current level, we are the ones who have 200 healing potions in our inventory...

The resources available to any character makes it virtually impossible for your character to be utterly worthless in a combat situation. People simply give up before exploring or even considering what they can do to "ungimp" their character.

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#5skilz2_killPosted 8/21/2009 10:10:44 PM
^agreed.

The leveling system could be better, but it in no way ruins a playthrough. It may be a bit difficult at times, but playing smart (and I don't mean glitching your way to godhood) can help you win in just about any situation.
#6SilentBattlePosted 8/21/2009 10:25:26 PM
I agree with Art Of Drowning. The game is admittedly harder when you do not efficiently level. However, as Drowning said, the player is still the one with the brain. It isn't at all hard to constantly keep your character up-to-date in terms of equipment, thus lending your character the power required to keep up with the enemies or even surpass them stat-wise. In fact, last time I checked, new equipment and customization was one of the main selling points of the RPG genre.

I see it as more of the same; almost every RPG I can think of will send you enemies that are statistically more powerful than you unless you intentionally plan your character to be the absolute best it can be. Oblivion more or less does this - just like every other game of its genre. The only exception I can see to this rule is when a game will allow for the player's character to be god-like when reaching the highest level. Efficient leveling or not, 90% of all characters in Oblivion will likely be capable of easily defeating any enemy by level 40. I think Oblivion only garners so much attention because the difficulty curve involved is somewhat more sharp than other games. But usually only until level 20. I've noticed every character I've ever made began to regain its footing in terms of power in relation to the enemies by 20 at the latest - Mages often much sooner.

That said, I will agree that the item leveling system is broken or at the very least flawed. Not being able to procure the most powerful weapon in the game at level 1 does not bother me, but I can see why it bothers other people, especially considering the open-ended premise of the game.
#7bobfather7Posted 8/21/2009 11:22:20 PM
Ya enchanting is pretty broken. They should have made it so instead of adding percents, the next enchantment would fill x percent of the remaining gap. So if you have two 50% fire resist rings, ring A will give you 50% and ring B will be 50% of the remaining half (25%), so you would end up with 75% fire resistance. This would also make big numbers on a single Item more desireable also, since many small things can't add up to something big as easily.

And getting bonuses does feel sort of unnatural (for me anyway). I think that having more skills and making it more forgiving by not taking away rewards for raising skills would make it a lot better. On another note, training a skill naturally should at least be able to be just as good as spamming it. They could maybe check the variety, power, and effect of whatever you're doing.
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#8IHasCheezburgerPosted 8/21/2009 11:31:01 PM
I never understood why people say its "broken", It is flawed but definitelt not broken. I never once effieciently leveled up a character, and every single one turned out fine. The leveled loot and level is stupid though, and unrealistic. Maybe if only certain enemies leveled up with you and only to a certain point it would be fine.
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#9BugmeatPosted 8/21/2009 11:31:02 PM
The character leveling system is fine. It's the leveled loot and mosnters that are broken. Go play Morrowind, it has essentially the same character leveling system (minor differences) and it works just fine. The difference is they didn't add monsters that suddenly become stronger because you just hit a new level mark to Morrowind.

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#10The_Real_TurnipPosted 8/22/2009 1:48:42 AM
Why is better gear heavier? A bow should never way 23lb, thats insane.