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The leveling and XP curve. What's wrong and the only way to fix it.


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(follow up to my previous post, not a response to Gromnir)

 

To give a quick example - let's assume (for the sake of argument and smaller numbers) that there is 6,000 story XP and 6,000 optional XP available in PoE.

 

Then let's assume that everyone starts PoE 2 out on the same level (6 in this example) and that there is 30,000 story XP and 30,000 optional XP available in PoE 2.

 

This seems reasonable, right? Equal amount of story and optional XP in the sequel and the original. Let's look at what happens to the level difference between the completionist and the crit path player, though.

 

In PoE 1, the crit path player gets to level 4. (1000 + 2000 + 3000 = 6000). The completionist gets to level 5, with 20% of the XP needed for his next level. (4000 + 2000 = 6000 more). So we have a level gap of 1.2 between the completionist and the crit path player.

 

What happens in PoE 2? Both players start out at level 6. The crit path player gets to level 10. (6000 + 7000 + 8000 + 9000 = 30000). The completionist gets to level 12, with 75% of the XP needed for the next level. (10000 + 11000 + 9000 = 30000). So now, even with the crit path player catching up at the beginning of the game, we have a level gap of 2.75 between the crit path player and the completionist.

 

And here's the thing: I picked numbers with easy math, but this trend exists np matter what numbers you pick for optional/story XP. As long as the relative proportion of story XP to optional XP remains the same, the level gap MUST increase as the series goes on. Again - mathematics. And the actual gap difference is much higher due to higher numbers.

 

Make sense? I'm not asking for anyone to agree with me that the exponential system SHOULD be implemented, necessarily... but you have to acknowledge that it IS the only solution that would avoid the growing gap (or diminishing amount of optional XP) of the quadratic system. One way or the other, that problem is going to exist. Can you at least see that?

 

EDIT: It may well be that this growing level gap won't be a problem. Maybe the relative power difference in a level will decrease so it won't be a big deal (which is what happened in BG 2, as Gromnir pointed out). That's entirely possible, and if so everything may be fine. Again - I'm not asking everyone to agree with me about the best course of action - but quit saying my math is wrong or that the problem I'm describing doesn't exist. Or (in some cases) ignoring what I'm actually saying entirely. :p

Edited by Matt516
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@Gromnir - you make a good point. I did realize (and acknowledge) the potential "early over leveling due to sequence breaking" issue the IE games had in a later post from the OP. I would agree with you that my "perfectly tuned" statement in the OP was wrong. I do think the math behind the shortcomings of the quadratic system still holds up, though. Both systems have their shortcomings, to be sure. I'm just trying to open people's eyes to the (major) issues we're going to run into in the future games with this quadratic system.

 

But you're right - the IE games were anything but balanced in this respect.

Edited by Matt516
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@Gromnir - you make a good point. I did realize (and acknowledge) the potential "early over leveling due to sequence breaking" issue the IE games had in a later post from the OP. I would agree with you that my "perfectly tuned" statement in the OP was wrong. I do think the math behind the shortcomings of the quadratic system still holds up, though. Both systems have their shortcomings, to be sure. I'm just trying to open people's eyes to the (major) issues we're going to run into in the future games with this quadratic system.

 

But you're right - the IE games were anything but balanced in this respect.

yeah, we agree that your math is good, but the ie games actual hurt you.  folks can look at the ie games (with kill xp and trap xp and spell memorization xp, etc.) and observe that the end result o' over-leveling early were not avoided by your proposed scheme.  Gromnir is on your side, but we would likely try and bury all the ie games as non-analogous as they is an obstacle rather than support for your scheme.

 

HA! Good Fun!

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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The exp curve doesn't solve the fundamental difference between controlled linear environment like IWD and open world games like PoE. The changed curve could well be better, but there is just a structural issue if I can do something at level 4 or level 10.

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The exp curve doesn't solve the fundamental difference between controlled linear environment like IWD and open world games like PoE. The changed curve could well be better, but there is just a structural issue if I can do something at level 4 or level 10.

That's something the exponential curve is actually a lot worse at. Sequence breaking is the big weakness of that system (and it's a big one). Its advantage is that it avoids the growing level gap problem.

 

Like I said - both have pros and cons. May well be that the quadratic curve is better in the more open games. Like I said above - if the growing level gap ISN'T a problem persay, then quadratic is fine. I'm just trying to anticipate balance issues in the future - balancing an open world game with fixed encounter levels is incredibly difficult, and it gets harder the more unpredictable the player's power level at any given point becomes.

Edited by Matt516
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I reached level 12 just after reaching

Twin Elms

 

 

I was level 11 when I first arrived, but before doing anything there I went back and did a couple bounties. That leveled me to 12. I still had all of (see above) plus two other completely unexplored areas to do and I was already max level. I am not a completionish either. While I do complete most of the side-quests, there are quite a few (a dozen or so) that I have not completed.

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I've been thinking about this thread and realized something: just because you have x hours of required content and k*x hours of optional content, does not necessarily mean the game must reward y XP for completing only the required content, and (1+k)*y XP for completing all content.

 

Why? You can reward players in various ways. And, quite frankly, XP is a bad reward for optional content.

 

For required content, players should get the essentials which everyone needs - XP for leveling, generically good gear (such as Fine, Exceptional, Superb), and the recipe components to craft generically good gear as needed.

 

Optional content, on the other hand, should cater to eccentricity. It is a great way to reward players with specialized equipment, unique items with oddball modifiers, and, if there are recipes for oddball modifiers, the components needed for those recipes. What you don't need to reward a lot of - and shouldn't - with optional content is generically good rewards like XP and cp, because then you're pulling everyone towards such optional content rather than creating interesting niches.

 

So I am actually very unconvinced that the core XP system needs an overhaul. What I am convinced of is that unique items should be waiting off the beaten path instead of on it... and that something should be done with limiting the gold NPC merchants have so you can't just sell everything you kill.

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I've been thinking about this thread and realized something: just because you have x hours of required content and k*x hours of optional content, does not necessarily mean the game must reward y XP for completing only the required content, and (1+k)*y XP for completing all content.

 

Why? You can reward players in various ways. And, quite frankly, XP is a bad reward for optional content.

 

For required content, players should get the essentials which everyone needs - XP for leveling, generically good gear (such as Fine, Exceptional, Superb), and the recipe components to craft generically good gear as needed.

 

Optional content, on the other hand, should cater to eccentricity. It is a great way to reward players with specialized equipment, unique items with oddball modifiers, and, if there are recipes for oddball modifiers, the components needed for those recipes. What you don't need to reward a lot of - and shouldn't - with optional content is generically good rewards like XP and cp, because then you're pulling everyone towards such optional content rather than creating interesting niches.

 

So I am actually very unconvinced that the core XP system needs an overhaul. What I am convinced of is that unique items should be waiting off the beaten path instead of on it... and that something should be done with limiting the gold NPC merchants have so you can't just sell everything you kill.

 

I'd be ok with this, personally. And that is definitely one way to do it. De-emphasize XP from sidequests a bit (I wouldn't want to see it removed entirely, myself) and put more interesting things there instead.

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I've been thinking about this thread and realized something: just because you have x hours of required content and k*x hours of optional content, does not necessarily mean the game must reward y XP for completing only the required content, and (1+k)*y XP for completing all content.

 

Why? You can reward players in various ways. And, quite frankly, XP is a bad reward for optional content.

 

For required content, players should get the essentials which everyone needs - XP for leveling, generically good gear (such as Fine, Exceptional, Superb), and the recipe components to craft generically good gear as needed.

 

Optional content, on the other hand, should cater to eccentricity. It is a great way to reward players with specialized equipment, unique items with oddball modifiers, and, if there are recipes for oddball modifiers, the components needed for those recipes. What you don't need to reward a lot of - and shouldn't - with optional content is generically good rewards like XP and cp, because then you're pulling everyone towards such optional content rather than creating interesting niches.

 

So I am actually very unconvinced that the core XP system needs an overhaul. What I am convinced of is that unique items should be waiting off the beaten path instead of on it... and that something should be done with limiting the gold NPC merchants have so you can't just sell everything you kill.

Well part of the reason for having optional XP is so players who aren't as good at the game can get through the mandatory stuff by over leveling.

 

Matt, I saw someone bring up the idea of applying modifiers to the experience awards themselves to stop players from over leveling themselves out of content (e.g. If Raederic's hold is meant to be done at level 4, you'd get 1,000 XP if you finished it while level 4, but only 900 if you were level 5, etc.). What would the math have to look like to accomplish this? I'd try to figure it out myself, but it's beyond my meager abilities.

"Wizards do not need to be The Dudes Who Can AoE Nuke You and Gish and Take as Many Hits as a Fighter and Make all Skills Irrelevant Because Magic."

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I've been thinking about this thread and realized something: just because you have x hours of required content and k*x hours of optional content, does not necessarily mean the game must reward y XP for completing only the required content, and (1+k)*y XP for completing all content.

 

Why? You can reward players in various ways. And, quite frankly, XP is a bad reward for optional content.

 

For required content, players should get the essentials which everyone needs - XP for leveling, generically good gear (such as Fine, Exceptional, Superb), and the recipe components to craft generically good gear as needed.

 

Optional content, on the other hand, should cater to eccentricity. It is a great way to reward players with specialized equipment, unique items with oddball modifiers, and, if there are recipes for oddball modifiers, the components needed for those recipes. What you don't need to reward a lot of - and shouldn't - with optional content is generically good rewards like XP and cp, because then you're pulling everyone towards such optional content rather than creating interesting niches.

 

So I am actually very unconvinced that the core XP system needs an overhaul. What I am convinced of is that unique items should be waiting off the beaten path instead of on it... and that something should be done with limiting the gold NPC merchants have so you can't just sell everything you kill.

Well part of the reason for having optional XP is so players who aren't as good at the game can get through the mandatory stuff by over leveling.

 

Matt, I saw someone bring up the idea of applying modifiers to the experience awards themselves to stop players from over leveling themselves out of content (e.g. If Raederic's hold is meant to be done at level 4, you'd get 1,000 XP if you finished it while level 4, but only 900 if you were level 5, etc.). What would the math have to look like to accomplish this? I'd try to figure it out myself, but it's beyond my meager abilities.

 

 

There are many possible ways to do it - it could complicate things somewhat overall because then you're no longer dealing with a fixed amount of experience available in the game. Then again, depending on how the formula is tuned, it could also lead to much less variance in where players are relative to where the devs want them to be.

 

As for the math, though... you'd probably want to have a base XP value for everything, then a level rating for each quest or monster. Then just have some multiplying factor that is a function of the average party lvl (or individual party member lvl) and the level rating of the encounter. If the PC level is equal to the level rating, the factor is 1 - then it grows as the party lvl gets lower (maybe) or shrinks when the party lvl gets higher (definitely). There's no "right" way to do it. Ultimately the goal is to tune the system such that the PCs are similar in level to the encounters they encounter (so they remain properly challenged, and therefore, have more fun). How you do that is up to you. Scaling the amount of experience required to level up (as both PoE and the IE games did, albeit in different ways) is actually pretty much the same thing - low level encounters are less rewarding for high level players and vice versa.

 

So really they both lead to the same result in the end. I wouldn't personally recommend mixing the two techniques, myself - either have a set amount of 1000 XP (or something) for each level up and the amount of XP anything offers is based on relative levels of the encounter and your PC..... or have increasing lvl up requirements with higher level encounters offering more XP. Ultimately it's the same result in the end - but mixing the two makes it a bit harder for the designer to balance IMO.

 

Here's how D&D did it. They did a mixed system. Not sure what the background math is behind the tables, though. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/DnD_DMG_XPFinal.asp

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I also think that it would have been better if challenges were scaled to the experience level of the entire party; buffing monsters as party experience increases. 

Have to chime in here with a big "NO, NO, NO". I hate level scaling. I want to be able to enter areas and mop the floor with the mobs sometimes. And I want to be able to enter areas and have my ass thoroughly and completely kicked sometimes. I don't want to enter areas and know that every single time I'm going to be faced with monsters/encounters of exactly my level (or within one or two).

 

 

It doesn't need to be a perfectly linear scale. We could have areas that have a min/max range: Say level 2-6. You'll get a minimum scaling toward a party of level 2, it will scale all the way to a 6ht level party, and then stop. You'll still get very hard or very easy areas depending on when you choose to do them.

How can anyone in their right mind try to ship a multimillion dollar product without making absolutely sure that they don't upset all their players with a degree in Medieval English Linguistics?

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There's nothing wrong. Warden bounties give unreasonably huge xp, but they're optional.

 

Lots of stuff is optional.  That doesn't mean that the rewards they give aren't overly generous.  If you want to do lots of optional stuff in this game you level too quickly (hitting the cap with tons of stuff untouched).  It is a problem.

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Well the way I think levels at the end should be (assuming party of 6):

  • strict minimalist at level 9. By which I really mean level 9 and 50-80% of the way to level 10. This would be a pattern throughout the entire game; if you skip everything optional you should arrive at required boss fights just shy of next level
  • usual minimalist at level 10. Should get this off about 1 optional quest per act.
  • Moderate completionist at level 11. This should typify the normal player experience, completing many optional side quests.
  • severe completionist at level 12. Getting that last 11000 XP should require some real commitment.

As such, assuming the core XP/level system isn't changed, content which is even slightly optional should only account for 23,000-27,000 XP, with 40,000-44,000 XP from the strictly required portions of the game. Considering over half the content is optional, this would mean there would definitely need to be some XP skewing.

Edited by scrotiemcb
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I follow this thread, but I disagree with the notion that people are taking into account a more casual playstyle. The only good suggestions are reducing "invisible" exp dumps like traps, locks and bounties. The rest is just "The player shouldn't have that much exp at point X in the game", which is bullocks considering most exp is coming from side quests.

On the contrary, the suggestion I started this post with (and continue to defend) is one that would allow the player to have plenty of extra exp without overleveling. That's the whole point. :p

You missed my  point entirely. There is no overleveling content in this game, because it is not some linear corridor console crap. Every player should be able to reach max level before the end of the campaign and enjoy having a fully evolved character during the last arc of the game. The way most people seem to see it is that "oh no, only super hardcores get to max level", which I don't agree with. PoE is too progression heavy, unlike BG games which had retarded progression for most classes to the point where it didn't really matter for non-caster classes (2e just sucked that way) once you've reached a certain soft cap. Your entire mindset about this is alien to me and I sincerely hope Obsidian will never adjust the exp curve to BG levels.

 

A completionist should be rewarded with better gear, better disposition with NPCs and general recognitions of their deeds NOT exp. I'm ok with lowering exp gains by lets say 10% from traps and locks or a bit more if they nerf bounties, because there are too many quests during Act1 and 2 and too little later in the game, but anything more than that is pure madness.

 

Now if we are looking at difficulty later in the game, that isn't due to higher exp it's due to little to no AI, dump path finding and retarded stat distribution between acc, deflection and endurance.

Edited by SeekDWay
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No sleep for the Watcher... because he was busy playing Pillars of Eternity instead.

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So, people wanted numbers, right... I've logged the bounties, didn't do the first batch, but the second, third and fourth revealed:

 

2-
11250
11034
11034
11250

3-
11250
11250
11250
14130

4-
14130
14130
14130

For a total of 135108 (prob +40k for the first batch)

 

Which accounts to, taking into account a 6 people party, a personal XP per party member of:
22518 (2 levels)

(approx 29184 if taking 40k for the first bunch)

 

Which is 2-3 levels... in a 12-level game. Yeah, I think it's overdoing it a bit.

 

Mixing with the XP required numbers doesn't prevent this being out of scale with the XP of most other sidequests in the game...

 

Maybe we need a full list of all XP rewards in the game, beastiary full, quest done etc.

Does that exist on the Wiki?

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^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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I follow this thread, but I disagree with the notion that people are taking into account a more casual playstyle. The only good suggestions are reducing "invisible" exp dumps like traps, locks and bounties. The rest is just "The player shouldn't have that much exp at point X in the game", which is bullocks considering most exp is coming from side quests.

On the contrary, the suggestion I started this post with (and continue to defend) is one that would allow the player to have plenty of extra exp without overleveling. That's the whole point. :p

You missed my  point entirely. There is no overleveling content in this game, because it is not some linear corridor console crap. Every player should be able to reach max level before the end of the campaign and enjoy having a fully evolved character during the last arc of the game. The way most people seem to see it is that "oh no, only super hardcores get to max level", which I don't agree with. PoE is too progression heavy, unlike BG games which had retarded progression for most classes to the point where it didn't really matter for non-caster classes (2e just sucked that way) once you've reached a certain soft cap. Your entire mindset about this is alien to me and I sincerely hope Obsidian will never adjust the exp curve to BG levels.

 

A completionist should be rewarded with better gear, better disposition with NPCs and general recognitions of their deeds NOT exp. I'm ok with lowering exp gains by lets say 10% from traps and locks or a bit more if they nerf bounties, because there are too many quests during Act1 and 2 and too little later in the game, but anything more than that is pure madness.

 

Now if we are looking at difficulty later in the game, that isn't due to higher exp it's due to little to no AI, dump path finding and retarded stat distribution between acc, deflection and endurance.

 

 

No. the way most of see it is that a player shouldn't hit the cap hours before the end of the game while leaving much of the side content untouched.  Hitting the cap does not require completionism of any sort.

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So, people wanted numbers, right... I've logged the bounties, didn't do the first batch, but the second, third and fourth revealed:

 

2-

11250

11034

11034

11250

 

3-

11250

11250

11250

14130

 

4-

14130

14130

14130

 

For a total of 135108 (prob +40k for the first batch)

 

Which accounts to, taking into account a 6 people party, a personal XP per party member of:

22518 (2 levels)

(approx 29184 if taking 40k for the first bunch)

 

Which is 2-3 levels... in a 12-level game. Yeah, I think it's overdoing it a bit.

 

Mixing with the XP required numbers doesn't prevent this being out of scale with the XP of most other sidequests in the game...

 

Maybe we need a full list of all XP rewards in the game, beastiary full, quest done etc.

Does that exist on the Wiki?

 

I don't know how anyone could argue that those values aren't totally out of whack.  Caed Nua in general just totally messes up the xp curve in this game.

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Does that exist on the Wiki?

 

Heh. Hehe. Nope. :p

 

The wiki is a mite bit unfinished. It has very little information and most of the information it does have is out of date.

 

As for your conclusions about bounty XP after looking at the numbers... holy crap. Hell yes that's too much XP in bounties. Hopefully they will tone that down. I don't think Od Nua is really a problem as it has very few quests associated with it... the bounties though. Dayum. Who thought that was a good idea? I wonder if they misplaced a decimal somewhere?

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  • 2 weeks later...

update:

 

have made it to act 3 3 times now.  never reached level 12 even after having completed all pre act 3 bounties (one initial bounty offer is unavailable til act 3) and finishing the endless paths.  however, we can reach level 11, and 10 is not difficult to manage.  this does make the critical path quests a bit o' a pushover. 

 

HA! Good Fun!

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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update:

 

have made it to act 3 3 times now.  never reached level 12 even after having completed all pre act 3 bounties (one initial bounty offer is unavailable til act 3) and finishing the endless paths.  however, we can reach level 11, and 10 is not difficult to manage.  this does make the critical path quests a bit o' a pushover. 

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

How did you manage your stronghold and how many companion adventures you about got that gave XP bonus. As my first character got level 12 in act 2, but my second and third character got only level 10. Last two are fully played in 1.04 and first was fully played in release version. But my first character had some times even 3 xp missions at time where they seemed more rare with last two. No scientific proof or even sure if I did all the same things.

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all completions o' act were post 1.04... we kinda ran a few simultaneous characters. the reckless assault bug stopped us deepish into act 2 with our rogue, so we didn't finish with him until actual after starting our second character.  funny aside, the reckless assault bug ain't been fixed, but there is a workaround.  

 

am honest not certain what turn we were at for the stronghold runs.  and got no idea o' the number  o' companion quests.  feels like 'tween 6-8?   am expecting that such quests were a function o' prestige?  our prestige were necessarily borked because o' a few bugs.  two o' our strongholds is bugged kinda awful... one example is the "guest" psion who has been dismissed from employ but is still hostile in the main keep and will turn all other npcs in visual range similarly hostile.  keep killing him, but to no avail.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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XP just needs to match the challenge better. Around mid level, quest XP rewards plateau and so instead of the player being pushed to continue going after the appropriate levelled challenges, instead the player is pushed to go after the easiest challenges available. So after level 5 or so you'll be overlevelled for basically every fight, just doing a normal non-completionist run.

 

This could be easily solved by, oh idk, implementing a system where killing monsters rewards XP based on their difficulty. You could call it "Kill XP System". It's so simple and effective, I can't believe nobody thought of it yet!

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I don't see a huge problem, since I never intend to complete all quests available in PoE and never did for old ie games too. This added to replayability for such games.

 

Now for the completionist, after reaching the level cap, he would still get his reward by completing stuff, right ? And get better loot along the way.

 

But I would prefer quest exp be lessened, somewhere along the lines that it would require the player to complete 3/4th of them to reach the level cap.

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