Interesting theory... (Criticism)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Tuesday, July 24, 2018, 07:24 (915 days ago) @ squidnh3

Except power level has never mattered in D2 Trials or Iron Banner.

It doesn’t matter in terms of gameplay, but it does act as a form of gate or barrier between the player and the activity...

Power level is in the game (and many other games) because people like it.

Speaking specifically about Destiny, what precisely does power level do that people like? I can’t think of a single tangeable effect on the gameplay mechanics that justifies the existence of power levels, mostly because I rarely feel a difference in my character’s intrinsic “power”. Cool new weapons make me feel more powerful. So do new abilities. My own competence and skill plays a part. None of these things have any direct or necessary connection to power levels.

I suspect that the only reason anyone “likes” power levels in Destiny is because we get a dopamine hit every time we see our numbers go up. It stimulates our most base-level motivational instincts. Which isn’t inherently good or bad, I suppose. My personal issue comes down to the fact that it is so blatantly layed overtop of a gameplay experience that works perfectly well without it. I’d go even further; I think Destiny’s net gameplay experience would be better without the gating and filtering effects of the power level economy. You can still have a game where players gain health and do more damage as they progress. That can be achieved through other mechanics and systems that are divorced from any sort of RNG-based level climb.

I believe that is the fundamental point of contention around the RNG-based power levels; it isn’t clear what they add to the game that couldn’t be achieved in other, more player-friendly ways, aside from the obvious and shallow “numbers going up” effect, plus the more manipulative aspects of gating access to activities through an RNG loot system (as a simple example, Halo gave players access to new weapons and equipment over the course of the game that helped the player feel more “powerful”, even if only situationally).

In no way am I against power levels as a concept. I’ve played plenty of games where I felt like they added nicely to the experience. I just feel that Bungie has yet to implement power levels in a way that justifies their existence, outside of the “hours played” metadata.

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