It can be a headache chore to group up with friends in MMOs, especially whenever you and your friend are at different levels. Thankfully, Guild Wars 2 throws this mechanic out of the window and replaces it with the dynamic level adjustment system.
Dynamic level adjustment reduces a character’s attributes and level, when the character’s level exceeds the area, they are in.
For example, a character with an actual level of 50, in a level 10 areas, will have their attributes reduced to an effective level equal to a level 11 characters (max level for the area +1).
Effective level is shown as a green number in parentheses next to the actual level on the experience bar and is stated under the actual level on the hero panel. Changes to attributes are also seen on the hero panel in green next to the actual attribute values.
The system works fluidly and is completely fair and balanced, and it comes in two flavors: PvE (if you’re a higher level than the content, you’ll be leveled down) and PvP (you’ll be leveled straight to level 80). Each one is a bit different, so we’ll talk about them separate.
Player Vs. Environment
In PvE, a character’s effective level and attributes are automatically reduced based upon the enemy levels immediately around the player, and there can be numerous level scaling per area/zone.
The system is very simple, but it is also incredibly fair. If you’re at a higher level than the maximum level of a specific area, plus one, then your effective level and attributes will be adjusted downward, to the maximum level with the area, plus one.
The players retain access to all of their skills and equipment so the area is easier because of this, but should still be challenging to play.
The benefits of this are:
- High level characters are prevented from killing enemies too easily and depriving low level characters of rewards.
- Low level content doesn’t become obsolete once a character reaches a higher level.
There is an indicator on the bottom left on the screen showing what your current effective level is. While in this area, you will continue to receive loot and experience that are comparative to rewards at your level, even if the enemies’ level is drastically below yours.
It also helps bring friends together, because you and your friends can level together no matter what level, everyone is.
This system also works in dungeons, if your level is higher than the effective level of a dungeon, you are scaled down to the appropriate effective level of the dungeon.
Like with anything though, a level 80 player will obviously have a huge advantage over a level three players, even if their effective level is scaled down to 3. Due to this system most content in the game should remain challenging, although content closer to your level will remain the most challenging.
Player vs. Player
In PvP, characters are boosted to level 80 and given all level 80 items and skills required to compete. Glory is given for scoring during PvP matches and can be used to purchase aesthetically-different PvP gear.
This also allows structured PvP to have an even playing field, as everyone has the same amount of gear, traits, and skills unlocked.
In World Versus World though player levels are maxed to to 80 but do not receive any new abilities or gear, and experience must still be gained to unlock them.
Higher-level characters will still be more powerful than lower level characters, despite both having the same effective level. Levels gained in WvW are kept, and a player may level to the maximum 80 entirely within WvW.
That’s pretty much all there is to GW2’s dynamic level adjustment system, it’s pretty simple to understand and above all a fair system.