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14.03.2008 Scaling Overhaul Comparison
This thread sparked the idea of creating a comparison topic between the most famous scaling overhaul mods. I've already written a short comparison, which I'm trying to expand here. An important note: Unlike magic there's no visible math here. Feeling is much more important. For magic overhauls you can take a look in tes4edit an see for yourself how they adjust the game. Scaling overhauls on the other hand you have to experience. You can't really talk about them, until you've tried them.

Should you ask what a "scaling overhaul" mod is: OOO, Fran's, WarCry, TIE, and all other. They are usually just called "overhauls", but considering that there are other aspects with their own overhauls (like character leveling, magic, user interface) I've chosen a more descriptive name. Mods that take of Oblivion's most controversial "feature", the obnoxious level scaling.

1. Player centric versus place centric versus total randomness
This is the most important difference between all available scaling overhauls. On the one hand you have approaches which adjust the difficulty of encounters to the player. This is especially visible in Vanilla, where everything is exactly scaled to your level, and you always meet the same level of challenges wherever you're going. There are no harder or easier areas with a player centric approach. The good part is that you will always find some challenge wherever you're going to. The bad part is that it defies one of the main attraction of RPGs - actually getting stronger or be really challenged. And it can be a bit of an immersion breaker when you realize that a fortress hidden deep in the mountains is exactly as dangerous as any cave near a major city.

The other mods are place centric. This means that there are more dangerous areas than other. It's a more classical approach: It's more dangerous far out in the wilderness than near major cities, as a player you can run into all kinds of enemies regardless of your level - because they're not adjusted to your level, but to the place they're living. Place centric approaches are in my opinion much more immerse, create a more believeable world and shows a progress of your character. There will be areas where you'll run from at lower levels, and areas where you can mop the floor with enemies at high levels. Bad thing is that you won't find always a fitting challenge for your character, early levels can be very hard, and high levels could turn into the opposite - because by then you're far stronger than most enemies in game.

An important thing to keep in mind that while Vanilla is the epitome of "player-centricness", all scaling overhaul mods in the player centric corner are much much more random. None of them come even close to Vanilla's dedication to scale everything exactly to your level. An example to explain the difference between a player and a place centric approach: When you stumble at level 5 in OOO (place centric) into Dzonot Cave there will be a tribe of powerful amazons which will probably mop the floor with you. When you stumble at level 5 in Fran's (player centric) into Dzonot Cave there will be a group of humanoid enemies which will give you a challenge, although which challenge will be a bit random. When you rush at level 50 in OOO into Dzonot Cave you're going to crush those puny amazons. If you explore in Fran's around level 50 Dzonot cave you will meet a group of humanoid opponents, which won't pose the same danger as before (due to their equipment, see "loot scaling" below), but will give you nevertheless a challenge.
Place centric requires many changes done by handplacing and overhauling locations, while player centric don't need to overhaul locations - it may be more or less random, but not bound to a specific location. There's no Dzonot Cave surprise in Fran's.

Another way which only one mod has taken is to make everything totally random. This doesn't take the player into account anymore, because everything can appear everywhere. It's also not place centric, because there are no innate harder or easier areas, it's just totally random what the player may meet on a certain spot.

2. Actor scaling versus loot scaling versus actor (re-)placement
These three things get often mixed together under the grand name "level scaling". They are actually very different things which contribute to Oblivion's scaling system, but each scaling overhaul mod changes them in different ways - or not at all. Here's what each of them means:
- Actor scaling means actors (mostly enemies, but also guards and allies) get stronger the stronger you are. In Oblivion this is mostly used for NPCs, like Guards always being ten levels above you. Actor scaling is attribute and skill scaling. When you meet a Xivilai with level 40 he will hit harder and have more hitpoints than the same Xivilai you meet with level 25, despite having the same equipment.
- Loot scaling means finding loot depending on your level. Like you won't find any pieces of glass equipment in Vanilla before you reach a certain level, and then suddenly all Bandits wearing full glass armor and weapons. The same is true for items you find in chests or shops. With loot scaling they'll get magically upgraded when you're having a level up. This is probably the most despised aspect of level scaling.
- Actor (re-)placement means that while not individual actors get stronger and/or better equipment, they're substituted by stronger versions. An example for actor (re-)placement means that at a certain spot you meet a wolf with level 3, but a Land Dreugh with level 30.

3. Misinformations & Compatibility
There are a lot (and I mean *really* a lot) rumors floating around scaling overhauls which are only that: Wrong rumors. I'm trying to pinpoint the most important ones here.
- level 40 rats: Aside many NPCs only a handfull of creatures are scaled. There is no scaling for most creatures - if anyone has got the same (or more) problems fighting a wolf at level 20 than he had at level 3 he's either lying, had moved his difficulty slider from -100 to +100, or should really go back to playing Tetris. Actor scaling we're talking about here is not that present in Oblivion. I know far worser examples. It's the loot scaling and actor (re-)placement that screams "I'm scaled to you" in your face in Vanilla.
- static: For the same reason it doesn't help anything to give all actors a static level. Loot scaling and actor (re-)placement will still be there. Instead of a fully scaled world you'll end up with a fully scaled world to level 20, and then the world stalls.
- Morrowind: Now let's put all the complains about Morrowind ("god like at level 30, better have level scaling to prevent that!") to rest and nail down both Morrowind's and Oblivion's problems. Both have only content up to level 20. In Morrowind you turn god like shortly after that level, while in Oblivion everything then is scaled to your level afterwards. They're missing content, that's it. It was a weakness in Morrowind, and it is transformed into another weakness in Oblivion. Saying that OOO uses a more place centric approach like Morrowind does not equal to becoming a god after level 20, because level scaling mods actually have content for levels (far) above 20.
- Fran's versus OOO part I - modularity: There's a lot of accusations thrown at OOO for all the wrong reasons. Number one is that Fran's is said to be modular, while OOO can't be configurated. This is simply untrue. Both have full versions and light versions that can be customized to your liking. The only difference is that Fran's has an automatic installation programm listing potential choices for you, while OOO gave you folders to actually pick and choose those .esp you like to use manually. Even this has changed with 1.33, which also comes with an installing program that let you configurate OOO.
- Fran's versus OOO part II - compatibility: Number two is that Fran's is said to be more compatible to other mods. This is just one big hoax. Let me rephrase something from compatibility and you: The rule of one states that one entry can only be changed by one mod. All scaling overhaul mods change similar entries, which means that essentially all scaling mods have the same compatibility status. An example: Fran's may simply change a simple Bandit to flee when wounded, while OOO caps also his level. Both will conflict with TNR changing this Bandit's face due to the rule of one - it doesn't matter how much you change on one entry (where OOO does change more than Fran's), only if you change an entry at all. More about potential issues can be found here. They apply to all scaling overhauls.

Now that this is out of the way we'll get to the actual comparison. I'm using the above subcategories of scaling - because as I've said, you can't really know a scaling overhaul until you have played it.

4. Comparison (at last!)
Player centric

Francesco's leveled creatures/items:
Fran's is probably the most popular player centric scaling overhaul. Like all mods listed here it does too much to list. Fran's makes the world much more immersive and believeable, but keeps Oblivion's dynamic world, which still evolves around the player. It has a great random aspect, so no two games will be the same, and you can always expect to meet a challenge. Aside from that it adds many new items and monsters, also a more interesting enemy placement and many things more. These are actually not that different from all other mods. The key aspect to overhauls in my opinion is to look at how they balance the world to the player. Fran's is for those of you that want a dynamic, ever changing world.
- Actor scaling: Unchanged except for bosses.
- Loot scaling: Drastically changed, no more Bandits in Glass armor.
- Actor (re-)placement: Much more random, greater variety than in Vanilla, still player centric.

Oblivion WarCry:
Warcry and Fran's are in some ways quite similar, and in other quite different. WarCry gives static levels to nearly all actors, except it's own bosses (so they're always be a challenge). This is something Fran's doesn't do - Fran's does nearly nothing to actor scaling except for bosses. Nevertheless Warcry still uses Oblivion's actor (re-)placement system, which means while indidual actors don't scale anymore to you, the world still does - like in Fran's. WarCry's strengths are it's unique new items and enemies - while both Fran's and OOO share mostly the same sources, WarCry is different. Example given there are actual set items in game, like in Diablo 2. For bosses and individual enemies WarCry is very static, for the whole world still very dynamic. An interesting and great mix!
- Actor scaling: Disabled except for bosses.
- Loot scaling: Disabled on actors (due to having a static level), but still there for chests.
- Actor (re-)placement: Much more random, greater variety than in Vanilla, still player centric.

Totally Random

Tamriel Immersive Experience:
TIE is the only scaling overhaul mod listed without additional content. Therefore it's very friendly for people with a slow internet connection. It's dramatically different from all other mods listed, and catered heavily to a stealth character. It uses a totally different system for weapon damage, which makes combat much more dangerous. Many other gameplay changes are made, like much lower encumbrance limits and the like. But when it comes to actual scaling overhaul it's a different story. There's no additional content, so existing content is spread out more, and much more randomly appearing. Actor's (iirc) don't scale at all. Also it's the only "totally random" mod listed here - when it comes to meeting enemies neither level (player centric) nor location (place centric) determines the difficulty.
- Actor scaling: Disabled.
- Loot scaling: Disabled for actors (due to having a static level), much more random for chests, handplaced loots iirc.
- Actor (re-)placement: Totally random.

Place centric

Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul
OOO is a massive scaling overhaul with one unique selling point: With it the world actually doesn't resolve around the player. Beside features like stopping Bandits from appearing in Glass Armor and other strengths most listed mods have, there are more and less dangerous areas. Coming with this is much more content for high level characters. There are many new enemy categories which pose a challenge for them, which creates a more believeable experience. You won't fight beefed up Conjurers at high levels, nor will they suddenly be replaced by Plane Summoners - instead there are Plane Summoner hideouts from the beginning of the game, and you can try them whenever you think that you can survive. No mod listed so far has this feature, which is so classical in RPGs. For indidual actors OOO is somewhere in between Fran's and Warcry - they're adapting a bit to your level, but are not fully scaled. An Plane Summoner may have a minimum level of ~20 (so a low level character will be overwhelmed) but a maximum level of ~25 (so he won't always be stronger, but only adapt a little). Also OOO includes many new items, creatures and many more aspects. To summarize it: Fran's is Oblivion with a level scaling like it should have been from the start, while OOO is Oblivion like it should have been as a successor to Morrowind.
- Actor scaling: Capped.
- Loot scaling: Drastically changed, beside no Bandits in Glass amor also much handplaced loot.
- Actor (re-)placement: A place centric approach. Many enemies are mostly chosen to their place (a more "handplaced" approach) instead of their level (Oblivion's original "automated" apporach).

FCOM Convergence
FCOM is not a scaling overhaul per se, but an experiment in compatibility. It's a bridge that makes OOO, Fran's, Warcry and several other mods playable together, also balancing them out to each other. The core idea is OOO's approach, not the more player centric approaches the other included mods are using. Nevertheless it's more random and even more adapted to give challenge even in very high levels than OOO. FCOM is not for the faint of heart, and FCOM is only for experienced mod users with knowledge of Wrye Bash and load ordering. If you're not an experienced mod user, you have to become one - read FCOM's documentation. If you don't spend about an hour to read and understand it's installation instruction, there's a good chance that it will crush your game to tiny pieces. It's not for "RTFM candidates" or people abolutely new to Oblivion. If you like the sound of FCOM, but never have tried any Overhaul before, stick to OOO + MMM for a while before trying FCOM. A bit of experience or a good bit of reading is required.
Which is worth it. FCOM offers a lot of content and a really great gameplay - place centric, but still very dynamic and unpredictable.
- Actor scaling: Capped.
- Loot scaling: Drastically changed, beside no Bandits in Glass amor also much handplaced loot.
- Actor (re-)placement: A place centric approach. Many enemies are mostly chosen to their place (a more "handplaced" approach) instead of their level (Oblivion's original "automated" apporach). More random than OOO, though. No two games will be the same.

5. Additions
As mentioned at "misinformations" lack of Content is a problem of Oblivion. Most Scaling Overhauls do a lot to remedy this. For some of you this won't be enough. The last letter in FCOM stands for Martigen's Monster Mod, a mod which adds many new and unique enemies to Cyrodiil and is compatible with Fran's and OOO.
This is one thing to keep in mind: Overhauls do much, they're keeping the game alive and playable for many of us, but none of them is a "full happyness package". Whatever mod you choose, you'll be able to enrich your Oblivion experience with even more mods :).
geschrieben von bg2408