Fallout 3 Forum Tidbits

Lead designer Emil Pagliarulo has been trying to clarify some of the details concerning level scaling in Fallout 3. Most of this is already known, but it is a good refresher course.

This has been mentioned several times in past threads and interviews, but for those who missed it:

— Yes, there is a variation of level scaling used to control the difficulty of the main quest, so you can proceed through the game’s main story at any time and have a good deal of it (not all) be balanced for to your level and abilities.

— Other areas are “tethered” to certain levels

— There are places in the Wasteland where, if you’re not careful, you’ll certainly get your ass handed to you. Best to leave and come back when you’re better equipped/more skilled. Funny — just a half hour ago, our effects artist, Grant Struthers, told me this awesome story about how he watched a Deathclaw just rip this (well armored) NPC to pieces…

— That said, if you leave an area that’s too difficult, and then return later, no you won’t find that everything has increased in level, and it’s now even tougher.

— No, Raiders won’t eventually be equipped with Power Armor.

The balance has been feeling really great, and the team is really confident that we’ve solved the level scaling issues we had in Oblivion. Yes, we identified those mistakes, and learned from them. *gasp!*

And replying to “beating the game at level 1”-speculation.

[That you can complete the game at level 1] is absolutely not true.

One important thing to remember about Fallout 3 is that the game uses an experience points based system of leveling; you don’t level up based on skill usage. And, you get the majority of your XP from completing quests. So on the main quest path specifically, we are much better able to determine what level you’ll be at — especially your minimum level — when you get to any specific quest.

So while we do some level scaling on the main quest, things are generally at the player’s level anyway, because we know your minimum level along that path. And even where things are scaled to control difficulty, it’s not like a Super Mutant is going to scale down to level 2 anyway. Most of the level scaling stuff we do is just to eliminate frustration at the lower levels.

So by the time you get to the end of the game, you’re going to face challenges appropriate to the level you’d naturally be at.

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