Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Leveling as a punishment

Games describe game elements with words that have a certain meaning in general language and then game design sometimes ends up players feeling something very different about that game element than the word would suggest. A great example is "monster", which used to describe something scary to be avoided, but in many games ends up being more like a resource to be searched after. But in the large majority of games that I have played over several decades, "leveling" your character was a good thing. Until Phantom Brigade. I recently deleted my save games and started over, because I had leveled up quickly, and then found out that it was a bad thing.

In Phantom Brigade, each of your mechs has a level, and that level is the average value of the level of the parts that make up the mech. You also have a workshop level, which is the level of parts you can craft in your workshop. That looks like a good thing, because the cost of crafting is independent from level, so if you increase workshop level you can craft better stuff for the same cost. At first I was a bit confused about workshop level, as it sometimes appeared to be increasing randomly. But then I found out that if you increased the level of one of your mechs by equipping higher level stuff you found, your workshop level would rise accordingly. For example, if you had workshop level 4 and level 4 mechs, and you salvaged a level 6 enemy mech and used all his parts to bring one of your mechs to level 6, your workshop level would go up to 6 as well.

So I tried whether I could push that system. Raiding higher level provinces can work to get higher level parts, as long as you do it quickly to keep hostility level down. My goal was to push up my workshop level, and I managed to do that. Only then I found out that the level of the enemy provinces is linked to my workshop level. In the above example, when pushing my workshop level from 4 to 6, the recommended level of the neighboring province was also going up from 4 to 6, and so was the average level of enemies encountered there. Basically, by increasing the level of one mech, I increased the level of *all* enemies, while I still had 3 lower level mechs that were now at a disadvantage. And as I had exaggerated for testing purposed and increased my level by far more than that, I had really screwed up my campaign and decided to start over.

So it seems that the optimum strategy in Phantom Brigade is to *avoid* pushing the average level of your mechs above the current workshop level. It is better to keep the level of all of your mechs balanced. [EDIT:] I got to the point where my average level was just below 5.5, and my workshop level and average enemy level was 6. *Any* upgrade of any single part on any of my mechs would increase my average level to above 5.5, at which point the workshop level and enemy level would go up to 7. But by not upgrading anything, I was able to liberate 7 provinces without the enemy level going up. Thus workshop and enemy level *only* depends on you putting higher level gear on your mechs. Liberating provinces does not increase enemy level.

So could theoretically beat the game while still at level 1 if you never improved the workshop? Or do some areas start out more difficult so you would at least have to go up to 4 or whatever?
Sounds like an inelegant attempt at making sure the enemies keep pace with you. I've found I dislike scaling systems in games.
I preferred the old style where there were places you couldn't go because the monsters were high level.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool