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I remember that in Oblivion, the game would punish you for leveling up too early. You needed to make sure to have trained the proper skills before gaining a level, or else the enemy would become increasingly stronger than you.

I understand that Skyrim's system is a bit different and shouldn't have this exact problem. But does it mean I can safely level up as soon as I reach the proper level? Are there any valid reasons for me to wait before leveling up?

marked as duplicate by Schism, galacticninja, dly, Frank, Lore Friendly Feb 11 '18 at 4:53

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To avoid stronger enemies probably not? Note that Skyrim does have level-scaling in regards to the enemies you encounter, it is just a bit more constrained and does not go overboard with enemy equipment as Oblivion did.

However, much of your power growth in Skyrim comes from Perks which you only get when you take the level up. So just increasing skills without taking the level up, does not help you much as it did in Oblivion. I would say that if your skills are at a level that you do not have something useful unlocked to put a perk point in, then this might be a good time to delay the level up a bit. But it is no way mandatory or has the same effect on difficulty as in Oblivion.

There is one more valid reason to delay. When you level up you restore all your health, magicka, stamina. So saving level ups can be used to fully heal you in difficult fights.

  • If you suck like I do, avoiding stronger enemies is more than reason enough. – Quasi_Stomach Feb 9 '18 at 16:47
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    It's important to note that if you level up primarily by doing non-combat related skills (Smithing, Alchemy, etc), then you will likely make combat more difficult, especially if you start getting higher-tiered enemies. – Mike Caron Feb 9 '18 at 18:25
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As you say, unlike Oblivion, there is no statistical reason to delay levelling up. You're not going to have worse stats by levelling as soon as possible.

However, it is possible to level up with non-combat skills (Smithing, Speech, etc) which will still count towards your overall level, but not actually increase your combat effectiveness. This can potentially cause problems if you start getting stronger enemies, even though you're not doing any more damage.

  • This! It is especially noticeable for characters that choose to skill Pickpocketing early on. The skill raises very very quickly (netting a lot of levels) while not providing any combat effectiveness. It's not a "don't level up" thing but more of "choose which skills to raise carefully". Of course you can just change the game difficulty at any time if it gets too hard (or too easy). – Mephy Feb 9 '18 at 20:56
  • Additional note: It is quite impractical to avoid leveling Lockpicking and Speech for the vast majority of viable play styles. A stealth-oriented character will also quickly level Sneak, which is not directly combat oriented. Finally, the Transmute Mineral Ore spell directly levels Alteration, and indirectly levels Smithing, Enchanting, and Speech (hint: make enchanted jewelry and sell it), none of which are useful for combat. None of these are problems, but they do need to be matched with a commensurate degree of combat experience, or you can end up with a poor character build. – Kevin Feb 10 '18 at 0:06
  • @Kevin Except for the final perk. 100 Sneak with the final perk is entirely combat oriented. It only triggers when you are in combat, and lets you sneak attack on command. I've dual wield sneak attack dragons to the face plenty of times using that. – Nelson Feb 10 '18 at 15:36
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No, not really. As the other answers have pointed out, Skyrim isn't nearly as harsh as oblivion. There is still the prospect of overleveling, but I find that this is relatively easily recoverable- you can suffer through the hard bits by playing more carefully and 'strategically'.

Some of the others cite leveling smithing as a potential problem, but this is not the case, as smithing can be used to increase your weapon damage and armor resistance. If you find that the game has become too hard due a higher level, you can spend some time leveling smithing, and the increases power in this regard will outweigh even the further levels potentially gained by doing this, as you will be able to make weapons obscenely powerful with enough effort, and the enemies cap out after a while, not increasing in difficulty further. This is proven by the prospect of making a skill legendary, which resets it to 15- even after doing this, your armor and weapons provide you with enough momentum to get your weapon skills back on track after this, if you put enough time into smithing.

All of the 'non-combat skills' also provide you with easier means of acquiring gold, which can be spent on potions, trainers, and the like, which can make things significantly easier.

In summary, no, overleveling isn't a major problem, and it is entirely recoverable via smithing (or potentially even stealth, for that matter)

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The contrast is largely how levels and skill affect your character in both games.

Oblivion:

  • All enemies scale directly to your level, everywhere you go, without limitation.
  • There exist spells that do temporary damage, up to 100, that actually can kill.
    • Higher level enemies make this spell much weaker.
    • This spell is available at the start of the game.
  • It lacks a scaling late-game skill that increases your damage. The only thing you gain at late game are slightly more powerful permanent enchantments from closing the Oblivion gates.

Skyrim

  • Enemies have scaling limits. You can get massively over-leveled relative to the area.
  • A lot of powerful abilities are tied directly to leveling up: spellcasting, smithing, enchanting.
  • Spellcasting: far too many to list. There are very few "useless" perks here.
  • Smithing: the skill alone is already end-game scaling, but perks make them twice as powerful.
  • Enchanting: simply very, very powerful. Even more powerful if you know that Fortify Spellcasting enchantments affects weapon charge use. Unlimited Paralyze weapons are very OP.

If you play Oblivion, the one way to make the game very easy is to stay at level 2-5, and use that 100 temporary damage spell. You'll kill everything using a trivial amount of magicka, but the enemies have no variety at that low level and will become super repetitive.

If you play Skyrim, the way to make yourself super powerful is to ignore all other skills, and try to power level Smithing, then Enchanting. At Smithing 100, you'll be crafting Iron weapons that will one-shot many enemies, and the armor will make you invulnerable to physical damage. Enchanting will then make you invulnerable to everything else.

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