Follow TV Tropes



Go To

In just about any Role-Playing Game that has a level system, players will try to make the game easier for themselves via Level Grinding. Most games only gently discourage this, by simply making each level take longer to reach than the one before it, unless you're actually going through the game at the intended pace — in which case the requirements for gaining a level end up keeping pace with what you can get toward a level-up from the current enemies.

Sometimes, however, the developers decide that they really don't want you to level grind like that, so they'll put in more measures to prevent it. They may simply make it so hard to get your level higher than the one they want you at that even a dedicated level grinder would give up in disgust or resort to a cheat device, or they might make it actually impossible to level past a certain point before you get to the next part of the plot. This is Anti-Grinding.

The most common forms of this are escalating "experience to next level" values, where the higher your level goes, the more excessive the amount of experience you need to level up, and adjusted experience gains, where the amount of experience you earn for defeating an enemy is relative to your current level — a level 50 party curb-stomping some level 4 enemies would get a whopping 1 experience point for their trouble. Inversely, they can make each level provide less bonuses, creating Diminishing Returns for Balance. Both of these are not mutually exclusive and some games use both.

Another option is to make enemies gain levels along with the player, so grinding an extra ten levels leaves you with enemies ten levels tougher, too. If the enemy also learns new attacks and powers as they level up, this could backfire on the player, making those Giant Spiders extra demonic. A few games (but not MMORPG ones) add a time limit to discourage excessive grinding so a player must go to next area / complete objectives within a certain amount of time. A few others keep the requirements to the next level static but decrease your rewards for winning battles against weaker enemies, with the most extreme cases denying you any progress at all if they're too weak. A common way to keep players from excessively grinding for money/resources as opposed to experience is to restrict what is available to buy/do with them until the story has progressed further, making gathering more than can be used at the current point in time pointless. Unfortunately, when these systems are balanced poorly, they can make grinding slower without actually making it less useful or important, thus causing players to spend more time grinding to get the same reward.

Compare Anti-Hoarding, measures similarly designed to prevent the players from indefinitely hoarding up items they obtain. See also Absurdly Low Level Cap, which is when a game makes it possible to reach the level cap without excessive or even any grinding at all, and Experience Penalty. Contrast Score Milking, in which there are no measures in place to deter players from excessive scoring and experience gains.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: Unlike previous games where all the gadgets could be upgraded by instigating random street brawls, here XP is only earned with fights, objectives and upgrades necessary to advance the plot or side missions. Picking fights with random rioters, while likely fun and satisfying, earns no XP.
  • inFAMOUS prevents you from grinding your Karma Meter until certain points in the story. It still serves the same function as other forms of Anti Grinding, since you can't get the best upgrades for your powers until the game wants you to. You can still grind for experience points to spend on the powers you'll eventually unlock, though.
    • In the second game, however you can grind your Karma Meter as high as you want to as soon as you finish the intro missions.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night very quickly reduces weaker enemies to giving a mere one experience due to its experience system. The game compares your level to that of your enemies, then sharply reduces your EXP for every level you are above them. However, when they outlevel you, you only get a marginal gain in EXP. Thankfully, it's not necessary to grind in most cases.
    • Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance employs the same method; Reach too high a level and that Elite Mook which can tank dozens of hits from you gives you 1 Exp per kill.
    • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia actually downplays this a lot by making bosses and enemies still deal incredible amounts of damage despite having high levels. Those thinking they could still grind their way to defeating tougher enemies will be in for a surprise.
    • In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, once the character gains a level, monsters lower than that level no longer give experience points, thus forcing the player to move on to harder areas to continue leveling. Not to mention, as the ending you get is determined by how long it takes you to get to the end, spending time grinding is an almost guaranteed way to get the worst ending of the three.
  • killer7, while not an RPG, does have a level grinding mechanic: killing enemies earns you thick blood, which can be turned into serum at save points and used to upgrade your characters. However, you can only carry 1000 units of thick blood at once, it doesn't carry over through levels, and if you convert enough the serum conversion machine stops working until the next level. On the last level in which Blood is obtainable, Smile, Part 2, on the other hand, the blood that can be converted is either much higher or unlimited, though the cost is that grinding is much harder due to enemies either giving little blood, being hard to get blood from, or, if you DO find an enemy that gives a lot of blood easily, they won't respawn.
  • In The Magic of Scheherazade, your level can only go so high before you have to move to the next chapter, and when you do, even if your level was under the maximum allowed in the previous chapter, it's set to the previous chapter's maximum level in the new chapter. This is mostly because unlike most other games of its type, it uses a Password Save and not having to keep track of your level and experience helps keep the passwords at a reasonable length.
  • Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas discourages grinding by having monster hunting not be a practical way of getting experience in the first place. The amount of experience needed to gain a level ranges from a couple hundred XP to just under 2,000, and there are exactly two kind of non-boss enemies that give more than 5 XP per kill. The primary source of experience in the game comes from achievements, which can only be done once each per playthrough (Though three achievements do involve grinding kills of a certain monster type). In addition to this, gaining levels never grants increases in health, defensive power, or offensive power, which removes the normal reasons why a player would want to grind for levels.
  • SoulBlazer specifically limits the number of enemies—when you kill them, the Mook Maker shuts down and they're gone. There are a couple of places where enemies spawn infinitely and Level Grinding can be done, but it's much harder than usual.
    • Illusion of Gaia, the sequel to SoulBlazer, has 100% finite enemies and a very unique leveling system that rewards you only when you clear a room. However, if you ignore the leveling and go straight to the boss, you get the level ups anyway, discouraging low level runners.
    • The third game in the series, Terranigma, just throws in the towel and gives in to grinding and infinite enemies.
  • If you kill enough animals in a given area in Tomb Raider (2013), it will become hunted out, at which point animals become rare and the experience and salvage awards for kill them drop to virtually nothing. Of course, there are so few areas with a large number of animals with high rewards for hunting them (Deer and boars) that most players will not bother to spend much time grinding in the first place.
    • The sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider took a different approach. There's no limit to the amount of game that can be hunted, but there are multiple types of salvage, which are only taken from certain opponents. Grinding for deer will only provide hides and antlers, which is useless if you need nuts and springs, which are found on humans. In addition, there's an upper limit to how much salvage Lara can carry in each category at any time, so the player will be obliged to actually use some of that stuff eventually.
  • Fortune Summoners: Your level is capped based on the number of marks of heroism you've found through the game. Both minimum and maximum level, so you are never too much out of the intended range.
  • The Legend of Zelda game Hyrule Warriors has Anti-Leveling-Your-Characters-Exclusively-Through-Training-Dojo: the higher levels get prohibitively expensive to buy this way and leveling a character from 1 to 255 this way would cost several times the maximum amount of Rupees you can hold, which in this game is 9,999,999. Also, you can only use the training dojo to train to the level of your strongest warrior.

    Action Game 
  • God of War: Multiple:
    • There are a limited number of enemies, preventing you from grinding to get Red Orbs and in addition, after you kill enough number of respawning enemies, they will not spawn anymore Red Orbs. However, you can circumvent this once- the area where you get Medusa's Head has enemies that respawn unless you kill them by petrifying them and you have infinite magic until you accomplish this. While they quickly stop giving you Red Orbs from killing them, you can still get them for getting large combos, which is easily accomplished by endlessly spamming Poseidon's Rage on them.
    • There's another way to get an unlimited amount of Red Orbs, but this relies more on a bug which involves killing a Harpy at a specific location so that it falls on specific piece of level geometry while dying, gets stuck in its dying animation and continues spewing out an endless stream of Red Orbs.
  • In River City Girls, only the first set of enemies you face in an area will give you experience points. Any others you fight after that will only drop money.

    Browser Games 
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series: Multiple:
    • Epic Battle Fantasy 3: It does this with an Absurdly Low Level Cap. The party will likely hit the cap of 30 near the end of the final main area (their skills will also be maxed out by then), so their stats won't go any higher. Thus, while you can grind freely in the early parts of the game, no amount of it will save you from the Pyrohydra and Akron. However, you can remove the cap on a New Game Plus.
    • Epic Battle Fantasy 4: It makes grinding limited in the Bonus Dungeon, Battle Mountain; every enemy there scales to the party's level with proportional stat gains.
  • The Naughty Sorceress, the Final Boss of the main run in Kingdom of Loathing, drops an Instant Karma item when defeated, but only if you fight her at level 13, the lowest level the game will allow you to fight her at.
  • Legend Of Zork allows you to choose at which level you want to take a level at, but each level below you gives diminishing experience and currency. If you're playing at more than four levels below your own, you receive no experience whatsoever, and only a pittance of money. Which takes forever, but since you don't need to go anywhere to buy equipment and battles are determined by percentage values, it might be worth the month of grinding for 30 zorkmids.

    Fighting Games 
  • The sequel to Dissidia Final Fantasy, Duodecim, implemented something called a KP Bonus Line, which makes it hard for a high-leveled character to gain currency. The way around it was to voluntarily lower your level: while an adjusted-level character is still bound by equip level and basic stats, they have access to all the abilities of their true level, plus the CP to equip them.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution gives a tiny amount of XP for killing enemies, ten times that amount for the most basic of exploration rewards, and a hundred times for completing major sections of the storyline. You can grind, but your "grinding" is sidequests, exploring air vents and hacking random doors rather than killing enemies.
    • The game also encourages non-lethal kills, as it rewards more XP. The most you can get from an enemy is 50 (10 for defeating him, 20 for non-lethal, and 20 for using a takedown or headshot), which is 1% towards getting a Praxis kit.
    • The original Deus Ex gives no XP for enemies, and only rewards you with it when you are physically present in certain map locations or trigger certain events. Advancing the plot gives the biggest rewards, but finding secret areas not only gets you hidden equipment and ammo, but somehow improves how well you can swim and pick locks.
  • Far Cry 3 covertly does this. It's ostensibly done so as to make your power level and skill progression match where you are in the narrative, but what it actually does is infuriatingly limit player progression and artificially prolong the Early Game Hell. Essentially, it won't let you acquire more skills past a certain point without doing more story missions. This can be a real pain in the ass when it won't let you do things like upgrade your health or ability to do first aid without syringes until after you've gone through missions where those things would have been very useful.
  • PAYDAY 2 discourages players from abusing level grinding on high difficulty levels by deducting EXP points from your gains at the end of the heist if you try to play on a heist whose difficulty level is above your recommended level. The game also reduces EXP gained if you play the same heist over and over again, but will give you an EXP bonus if you start playing heists that you have not been playing for a while.
  • Time Warpers: To enforce Time Warping after a certain point and not letting you grind on a single playthrough, you have a limit of Time Cubes that you can earn before your movement speed turns sluggish and you're required to start over. The limit starts at 100 and can be doubled for half of the current limit until it can be removed completely once you get the 15th upgrade.

  • Anarchy Online takes the same route as Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines - you only get experience for beating missions (though you do get items and such if you wish to beat up any enemies in a mission). However this resulted in a different sort of grinding due to the relatively simplistic nature of the randomly generated missions and the sorts of abilities one could get. Players would create characters that run very very fast and literally run through a mission (sometimes in as short a time as six seconds), grab the MacGuffin to complete the mission, and then repeated the process.
  • Battle Stations, on the other hand, determines NPC encounters based on your level and limits PvP targets to those within 5 levels of the player. Even in Clan War, the player will only encounter attacking or defending players within their level range. Thus, unless you're trying to meet requirements for a particular piece of equipment, grinding is pointless.
  • City of Heroes uses this trope by having all enemies 5 levels lower than you stop producing experience and influence, and also disallows you to accept missions in low level areas after a certain point. They also prevent Level Grinding in the same manner.
    • In an odd player-enforced example, they added the Newspaper/Police Scanner to give infinite random missions because players in the upper levels were running out of missions from their contacts and having to resort to level grinding to get new missions again. The "No XP" button was added because at the lower levels it was very easy to outlevel your missions before getting access to them all.
      • At the game's release, it was intended that many contacts and their missions would be Permanently Missable Content for any player character as a way of further personalizing that character. It eventually became clear that players didn't like this, they could still unlock everything with sufficient care (and preferably certain powersets which provide ways to defeat enemies without being credited for it and rewarded with XP), and that the necessary antisociality happened to make things unfriendly at low levels for genuinely new players looking for their first party. That being a big problem for any commercial MMO, the "No XP" option was added to support grinding (and Self Imposed Challenges) by letting players join groups and play without ruining their "records".
  • Dragonfable instead prefers to level up many enemies to your level. Also, when PVPing, wins don't count unless you're no more than ten levels above your opponent. These features make grinding a lot less practical.
  • EVE Online does away with xp and levels all together, replacing them with skills that are learned in real time. This doubles as Anti Poop-Socking too since the skill training continues whether you are logged on or not.
  • Final Fantasy XIV originally had a "Fatigue" system that gradually reduced the amount of experience points you could gain in one class if you did too much grinding, forcing you to switch to another class if you wanted to continue having 100% returns. Due to some misinformation about the specifics (people assumed that it would punish everyday players, when in fact the Fatigue cap was set so high that you would have had to grind as your full-time job for it to have an effect) it proved massively unpopular and was shelved completely after a few months. Eventually it was replaced with a rested EXP system, where you would accumulate a bonus by spending time logged out in safe areas — functionally quite similar, but much better received, because it was framed as a reward for taking breaks rather than a punishment for grinding too much.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Certain free quests that provide some of the rare materials in the game can only be attempted twice a day.
    • There is a daily limit on the number of times that you can host specific Raid Bosses (i.e. a maximum of 3 tries for the six elemental Normal, Hard, and Magna Raids, and once a day on the Primarch raids) but there is no limit on the maximum amount of battles that you can join, which are started by other players. Plus, if you do run out of AP/EP refilling reserves, you must wait until you can have the appropriate amount before starting or joining a quest.
    • The player can only attempt two Solo Primarch Raid battles in a day, regardless of the element or difficulty of the boss.
    • The Arcarum is gated on an item called "Expedition Tickets" which are equivalent to the number of times that the player can start expeditions. However, there is no other method to obtain these than waiting for a ticket on the next day.
  • Like most of the other MMORPGs on this list, Guild Wars has monsters start giving less experience, then eventually none, as you gain levels. On top of that, characters max out their levels and gear fairly quickly through each campaign (or start with max level if they're PvP only). The game was designed from the ground up to put veterans and relative n00bs on equal footing, rewarding skill and strategy instead of the number of hours you've invested. You can certainly grind for money and materials for spiffy wardrobes and more skill and equipment options, but they won't necessarily make you any stronger.
    • Considering the game was designed with an anti-grinding philosophy, it's funny that trying to get to the maximum level in the tutorial world has gained something of a following, to the point where the developers have started adding content to support it. As enemies eventually stop giving XP, this seems like an impossible task, if it wasn't for the fact that enemies can actually gain levels of of killing you. This means that hordes of players level grind an enemy monster so that its level increases enough to give experience to high-level players.
    • In the sequel, higher level characters that get into lower level areas are leveled down to the "top" for the given chunk of the map. Walk into the fresh-out-of-the-tutorial spot for any given race, for example, and you're now level 5. However, you still have a sizable increase to your stats thanks to your much better gear, and you still gain a good chunk of XP from killing monsters and running events; many people have gotten to level 80 just running around in a single starting area. The major discouragements are that you do not get the bonuses from exploring areas and getting map completions and you're far less likely to get higher level crafting materials except by breaking down random drops. The system's entire purpose is to allow higher-level character to run around with their lower-level friends without receiving any noticeable amount of reward.
  • New Worlds Ateraan stops players from overdoing things via a 'borg' meter that gets higher with each kill. If you go into the red, your character is marked as a bloodthirsty killer and conflict roleplay might commence.
  • Ni No Kuni: Cross Worlds throws up a number of roadblocks to prevent you from progressing through the story or leveling up too quickly. If you battle enemies whose levels are too much lower than your own, it results in simply gaining very little or no experience. Completing story quests gives large amounts of EXP, but sometimes to progress the story you have to complete "reputation" quests first, some of which are only available once daily. Some of these also involve battling a powerful monster which may be too strong for your character at that point, thus forcing you to stop for the time being. Usually when you reach this point, you have to find other ways to strengthen your character, such as grinding against the strongest available enemies, gathering monster soulstones and specialties, strengthening equipment, etc.
  • In the MMORPG Pirates of the Caribbean Online, it looks like the levels of the enemies in the Black Pearl Boss Fight actually change based on the level of the player who initiated the fight. This becomes a big problem if you're a higher level (but not level 30 and don't have the Voodoo Staff yet) than the rest of your party.
  • In RuneScape, The experience needed to level up an item increases exponentially, doubling roughly every 7 levels. This discourages level grinding on low level items, as the xp just isn't fast enough for the higher levels. There is also a skill called "slayer" which can only be leveled at a significant speed by only killing some monsters of one kind, then you can't get experience anymore until you get a new monster to kill. It's intended to discourage one-monster-type grinding where everyone on the server wants to grind the same monster type and cause lag. Another example would be the random events, that force players to keep attention to their game instead of clicking a few times an hour, and have the dual purpose of preventing the use of bots. Random events were removed from the game in 2012, although they are still present in Old School RuneScape.
  • Wizard101 starts out with level grinding as a viable but slightly tedious since the player receives experience from a fight not based on how strong the enemies were but the number of pips used fighting the enemies. However it quickly becomes impractical since the amount of experience required to level up without doing missions means doing hundreds of fights using up as many pips as possible.
  • World of Warcraft has severe diminishing returns for experience gain once you outlevel enemies by five or more. Gray enemies give no experience at all, and gray quests give a paltry amount. However, gear is more important than XP and there are plenty of other things to grind for.
    • Reputation gains used to suffer from the same diminishing returns once you outleveled the mobs/quests you earned them from, but this had the effect of making certain older reputations difficult to the point of Permanently Missable to acquire for high level players, and was reversed in a patch.
    • By request of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese client cuts experience gain by 50% after 6 hours of play, and cuts it out completely after 12.
    • In the game's original alpha and beta versions, they were much more direct. The longer you played for one session, the less XP you would get, until your character logged out and got some rest. Players complained, and the system was later reversed; rather than lowering your XP gains for long periods of play, you instead gained a bonus XP multiplier after being logged out for some time. It served the same purpose, but rather than feeling punished for playing, players felt rewarded for taking breaks, which felt much better.
    • In certain areas, the moment you hit a given level your XP gains drop massively. In the Death Knight and Demon Hunter starting zones, once you hit 60 and 100 respectively, even quests give less than a quarter the experience they did a level prior. Likewise after Legion debuted, all quests and treasures in Draenor give only a couple thousand experience the instant you hit 100.
  • zOMG! does this a bit differently. The items you need to level up randomly drop from fallen monsters, and enemies that are weaker than you drop items less frequently, if at all.

    Platforming Game 
  • In A Hat in Time it's tempting to want to grind pons in the first level since it's fun to just run around, gather them, and screw with the mafia. Not long into the first level though, a character steals half your pons: not a big deal if you weren't hoarding, but devastating if you were. Even though this only happens once, the message is clear: don't bother hoarding these things since they're meant to be spent and saving them won't do you any good.
  • Iji imposes level caps that decrease with difficulty. There is also tons of experience scattered around that you'll run into just by going through the level. You can easily max out your level without killing a single enemy.
  • Although magic in Everybody Edits is randomly rewarded from coins collected, the magic system was deliberately designed to discourage players from farming for magic. The details of this are mostly secret, but it's generally understood that worlds with more coins have a lesser chance of magic.
  • Sonic Colors's Gameplay Grading is based on Scoring Points, but the game prevents you from infinitely repeating some task (like using Wisps) by throwing out a "TIME'S UP" penalty if you take too long in a given stage, preventing you from getting any more points, even end-of-stage bonuses. Since a lot of your points come from end-of-stage Ring and time bonuses, getting a TIME'S UP guarantees you will not get an S rank.
  • The original Crash Bandicoot prevents easy 1UP grinding by making Crash Crates non-respawning. Returning to one after collecting the 1UP inside will see it replaced by a ? Crate that gives out a bunch of wumpa fruit.
  • The Sponge Bob Movie Game prevents excessive farming of Manliness Points by decreasing the amount received from enemies and crates every time a level's replayed until everything drops just one Manliness Point, which makes the player continue at a steady pace.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Lower-level enemies in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords will scale up to your character's level... up to a point. Then the rewards you get for will scale inversely, to the point where the only XP and gold you get from fighting inferior foes come from whatever coins and purple stars you clear from the game board. Many of the missions also have level requirements, making sure you can't get a cheap level boost by grabbing advanced missions and grinding till you beat them. Then again, you can get around these limits, somewhat, once you purchase the Temple upgrade for your citadel.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Age of Empires III, the maximum exp allowed per game is 30,000. Afterwards, while you can still get exp in-game for more Home City shipments, you will no longer be able to get anymore exp for your level aside from rewards post-game.
  • In Space Pirates and Zombies You can only collect Rez and goons and upgrade to larger hanger hulls up to a certain limit until you advance on to the next segment of the story. Using mods you can raise/remove this limit and...well it leaves you Underrated And Overleveled.
  • Starcraft II: While it's possible to replay levels in order to get achievements or research power-ups that you missed the first time around, you can only do so with the units you had then (no upgrading that level's units and replaying it or bringing battlecruisers in the second level). There was a bug where replaying old levels still counted the research found towards your total (at some point it caps out, and you get money instead to get all the upgrades for your units).
  • In Warcraft III, if you are playing Campaign, you can only gain one level per hero per map.
    • Except in Frozen Throne's grand finale, where Arthas can go from level 1 to level 10 if you kill enough enemies (and with a pretty much infinite supply coming from Illidan's naga camp, why wouldn't you?). This is because he started the campaign at the maximum level, reflecting where he was in the storyline at the time, and lost a level in every mission due to an attack on his master's power base. Of course, since it IS the grand finale, these levels won't actually go anywhere.
    • In Skirmish, your heroes will only gain experience from creeps up to level 5 (though only in the expansion). Admittedly, there is nothing stopping you from mauling player units...

    Role Playing Game 
  • Agarest Senki has a turn counter. If you grind, the turn counter goes up. Higher turn count makes some events become unavailable and lowers bonus and reward some plot-related battles offer. US release modded the game so players can grind in the dungeons without increasing turns. The result is some players leaving their Xbox and auto-battle all day long because the game actually has a lot of features that encourage people to grind, like title gaining and equipment smithing.
  • The Atelier series tends to punish level grinding and encourage other ways of surpassing obstacles. The most obvious method is the time limit in games prior to Shallie: spend too long killing monsters for experience, and you'll run out of time. Additionally, the bonuses from levelling up tend to be quite minor outside of sometimes learning new skills at specific levels, and experience gain is lowered against weak enemies. Most of the time, if you're having trouble, the solution lies not in increasing your levels, but in using the game's Item Crafting system to make better bombs, healing items, and equipment, which have a much bigger impact that your level.
  • Avernum, Geneforge, and other games from Spiderweb Software discourage grinding elegantly, and still reward thorough exploration. The margins for XP diminish to a trickle at around the time the player is expected to progress in the game and story; this has the added consequence of balancing combat-based with puzzle-solving character builds. A player who stays to grind will spend hours advancing as far as he or she could just by visiting the next town/city/settlement. Toward the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, the player could still try to squeeze some levels out of the Bonus Dungeon, but that's always far more challenging than simply facing the endgame. Beating the bonus and carrying away all prizes does give bragging rights though, and makes the endgame a breeze.
    • In the original Exile series, entire dungeons (minus the named bosses) would respawn after a while. This was removed in the Avernum remakes, which also made grinding harder.
    • Also in Spiderweb's Exile it's pretty much impossible to gain levels beyond 47 because of the seriously diminished amounts of experience enemies give (sometimes none at all), the fact that baddies from random encounters start to flee from you more and more often, and due to (apparently) a bug that occasionally causes your experience to start decreasing instead of going up. Fortunately, experience doesn't change at level-up (like other games that reset it to zero) so there's no getting negative experience or losing levels. However, there's still those handy Knowledge Brews that give you skill points, so you can abuse those while grinding for gold.
  • In Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, enemies don't respawn and due to the slow rate of gaining levels and the game's relatively short length, you'll probably be coasting around the final boss at about level 15. To circumvent this, your characters obtain all their skills early or through story events and battles are based more on skill than stats.
  • You can't level-grind in Blackguards, because there are simply a limited number of battles. There will come a point when you have completed every side quest, and since there are no Random Encounters, literally the only thing left to do is the endgame. The only way to make sure your party is strong enough for it is to have allocated your skill points well during the game.
  • Borderlands does this also using the "diminishing returns" principle, where enemies at a lower level than you give less and less experience the farther ahead of them you are, to the point where you stop receiving XP from them. Turning in quests, however, will always give a flat amount of experience depending on the quest, but at a certain point it may not be enough to move your XP bar any noticeable amount. These rules also apply to multiplayer games, which often results in the lower-leveled members of any given party gaining levels in leaps and bounds (as the amount of given XP increases with the amount of players, as well as increasing the levels of the monsters you fight) while other, more experienced party members receive little reward for their efforts.
    • Also, the game only gives you a small fraction of the XP you'd normally get if you kill an enemy using the Runner, to dissuade players from merely driving back and forth over Skags for an hour.
  • In Brave Fencer Musashi, a level cap is placed on each stat, which increases every chapter. While this doesn't prevent grinding, it does limit the amount of grinding that can be done at any particular point in the game.
    • Being an action RPG, the stats are mostly negligible. In fact, many people who have played the game never realized there were stats, presumably because the stat caps are so easily reached and throughout the rest of the chapter there are no stat ups to remind you that there were stats to level up.
  • In Breath of Fire (the first one), there is a huge spike in the amount of experience required to level up Nina from level 46, which requires 260,000 EXP in total, to level 47, which requires a total of a whopping 773,000 EXP. This is a 513,000 EXP difference, the highest for any level up in the game. Bleu has a more gradual increase, where starting at level 41 she requires about 100,000 extra EXP to level up until level 46, in which she catches up to the average level curve and takes far less experience to level up.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter does this to a bit of an extreme. Not only do enemies do not respawn, but you're expected to just start a New Game Plus (which is available from the get go) on your first run because the enemies are really challenging. However, there are some loopholes that allow you to ultimately end up with stronger characters by repeating boss battles: this involves abuse of party XP, which is carried over unlike normal XP when you use the SOL system to revert your game to the last save point. It also allows you to use your Purposely Overpowered dragon form to finish the said battles even faster (since while the D-Counter can never be lowered normally, SOL Restoring your game to your last save point allows you to revert it to whatever value it was at before you went on a rampage with it), allowing you to net even more party XP than you normally would.
  • Child of Light uses skill caps at certain stages of the game to do this: Leveling earns you skill points you can apply to a number of skill trees to improve defense, offense, special abilities, etc., which are arranged in three tiers. Once you max out a given tree, no matter how high you level you can not begin applying skill points to the next tier until you pass certain plot points (defeating Crepusculum earns you tier two, while slaying Nox unlocks tier three). You can continue leveling even after maxing out a tier, but until you complete the required plot point you can't apply your acquired skill points.
  • Chrono Cross only allows character's stats to improve a small amount for each boss they defeat, allowing a small amount of grinding in between bosses, but directly basing the player's power to the number of bosses they defeated. You CANNOT advance stats past specific points until you fight the next boss. You can grind your other party members with relative ease. Of course, New Game Plus lets you finally crush those annoying early-game bosses.
  • Conviction (SRPG): Normally, characters only get EXP for killing enemies and clearing maps, but there's a finite number of enemies and maps. Support spells can generate EXP for the caster, but only up to turn 15, preventing them from spamming support spells to max their levels.
  • Corruption of Laetitia: If the party is overleveled for a non-boss enemy, that enemy has a high chance of running away and not giving EXP.
  • In Dark Chronicle, you level up your weapons rather than your party members, and then use items to upgrade them into better models. Grinding works up to a point, with the usual law of diminishing returns in effect, but upgrading your weapons to some of the higher-powered models additionally requires you to defeat certain monsters. The required monsters can usually only be found in later chapters of the game.
  • The party in Darklands can rent a room and find tutors to visit the inn and teach them many valuable skills, but staying in one place for too long will decrease their local reputation, eventually forcing the heroes to leave the city or have trouble with the law.
  • Dark Messiah of Might and Magic makes grinding completely impossible: XP is awarded only for advancing in the story.
  • In Dhux's Scar, returning to previously-cleared areas costs one PE, and using too many PE locks you out of the good ending. Since you need to leave the area to visit a Trauma Inn or restock supplies, only limited grinding is possible in each area before moving on, so it's still not a good idea. The one exception is a forest that has a store in the middle of it, which makes grinding in that area much less costly.
  • Deltarune uses the same level mechanics as Undertale, with EXP only awarded for killing monsters. However, since every player character never kills anyone (instead using a Non-Lethal K.O. when they reduce enemy HP to 0), every party member will spend the entire game stuck at level 1.
  • Digimon World 2 puts a level cap for digimon. Once you hit those levels, the only way to level up again afterward is to combine it with another digimon, creating a new digimon that starts out at either level 1, 11, or 21 depending on the class of the combined digimon. The cap is raised higher with each subsequent combination.
  • Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga's introductory village, Farglow, features a training area where the player is allowed to fight low-level goblins as many times as he or she pleases. Obviously, this would have been easy to exploit for a slight head start in character progression. Unsurprisingly, though, the developers decided to program the training goblins so that each kill was only worth 1 experience point. Still, it was a great help to the players who inevitably decided to go nuts with their newly obtained mind reading ability, which incurs an experience debt for each use.
  • Both .hack game series implement an anti-grinding system. The .hack R1 Games each have a cap where eventually, all enemies give you one experience point (Level 30 for Infection, 50 for Mutation, and 70 for Outbreak). In the follow up .hack//G.U., you simply stop gaining experience altogether (Level 50 for Rebirth and 100 for Reminisce).
  • BioWare really, really tried to implement this in Dragon Age: Origins. There are Random Encounters on the world map (in addition to pre-plotted non-random ones) but they become rarer and rarer the more of them you clear, and the enemies in the static areas never respawn, so the dungeons that were cleared out stay clear. However, the devs have overlooked the Allied Crates exploit (described in detail in the corresponding Level Grinding entry), which allows you to convert money into levels at a fairly affordable price.
    • Also, you can abuse the glitch in Ostagar where you continually get EXP despite only doing half of what Duncan asked. It's incredibly easy (and tedious) to get to the level cap of 25 with this.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition does this not just by having enemies scale with you (a Spellbinder at level 3 is tough but one at 18 is virtually invincible) if you grind more than 3 levels you no longer gain experience.
  • Dragon Ball games:
    • Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan for SNES has a similar system to Golden Sun; once characters' battle point reach certain amount, random battles will be shut off. In addition, by the beginning of Vegeta arc, if you spend time leveling up Gohan and Piccolo rather than go and look for the rest of Z-Figthers to recruit then grind. All of them will be killed by Nappa, and Gohan will have to navigate major parts of Namek after that alone.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Gokuu Gekitouden for Game Boy, you can level grind, and if you do you'll easily beat every enemy in the game. Even Frieza. However, if your characters are above a certain level when you beat Frieza you'll be locked out of the true ending.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest VI: Job ranks are advanced by fighting a certain number of battles instead of experience, but if you're overleveled compared to the monsters in the area, those fights don't count. The DS remake removed the level limit from even more areas, allowing you to max out your jobs even earlier.
    • In Dragon Quest VII, while you can still get experience points from battles, eventually you stop leveling up your jobs that give you new skills and abilities if the monsters are too low a level relative to yours. There is one area at the end of the game that will always give you EXP for your jobs.
  • Also in Dungeons & Dragons Online You get penalties for repeating dungeons for experience and treasure. There are also wilderness areas, each of which has a level range. You must be above the minimum level to enter the area, but if you are above the maximum level you get reductions to the XP earned for killing monsters (a more above the max level you are, the bigger the reduction in XP).
  • Dungeon Siege nicely plays this by making enemies finite; in short, any enemy you kill is dead for real and will never respawn again.
    • The full conversion, Mage World, completely inverts this. Not only does the author not consider it a cheat, he actually encourages grinding on the relatively easy home rows. Enemies are still finite, but the home row includes pells and target ranges to increase combat skills without fighting actual enemies.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The series in general has long used the form of "increase skills to level up", and the simplest way to increase skills is to use them. As you improve your skills through successful uses of said skills, it becomes increasingly difficult to raise the skill further. This makes high-level skill grinding quite tedious.
    • Morrowind loosely integrates this into the story as Dagoth Ur's raising power at the expense of the Tribunal Gods'.
    • In Oblivion, your enemies level up with you. If you make bad decisions with attribute gains (such as taking a +1 to Personality instead of the +5 to a useful stat like Strength or Intelligence that you've been training), or level exclusively in non-combat skills, you can screw yourself over pretty good when you start running into monsters that are near your level but much stronger in combat. While you don't need to be a complete Munchkin unless you want to max all attributes, some guides actively encourage you to avoid leveling up (mostly by avoiding rest), which can grant a significant Low-Level Advantage since your skills will still increase. This leads to Tamriel being saved from a horde of extremely feeble monsters by a strangely competent insomniac.
    • Skyrim implemented several improved methods to combat grinding. Taking a note from their Fallout sister series, enemies within an area scale to whatever level you are when you first enter that area. Additionally, you now have to spend all your abilities (but not perks) at the one time, so you can only recharge health, stamina, and magicka through leveling up once. Finally, it keeps the (rather justifiable) logic that leveling up non-combat skills still means facing stronger enemies who have scaled to your level.
    • This had been inverted in the total convertion mods Nehrim and Enderal (for Oblivion and Skyrim respectively): the level of bosses and enemies spawned in a certain place is fixed, and the game openly encourages the player to build up the hero's skills before venturing too far into the main quest.
  • Eternal Eyes makes it so that the higher your level is in relation to the enemies in the area you're in, the fewer EXP you'll gain per hit, and the fewer Bonus EXP you reach for clearing a stage. You'll also gain progressively less EXP if you continue to grind on one stage for a long time. However, having a weaker unit attack a stronger one results in that unit gaining more EXP—just make sure to stay far away unless you like that unit dying.
  • Etrian Odyssey does a fair amount of this by making healing potions and member recovery fees relatively expensive and scaling Inn prices with party level. The price goes up for 1en for each level of each character, so if you've got 5 level 50 characters in your party, it'll cost you 250en to sleep in the Inn each time. Best to save up those monster parts you've been hocking. Same thing goes for revival, 5en per level.
  • Fallout: New Vegas places a Beef Gate directly in the path of the main storyline, but strews the intended long route with more than enough sidequest experience to make grinding unnecessary. This also gradually introduces many locations with later significance. Four different DLC addons each add five levels to the cap to allow for the leveling you will do while in each one. The general rule with Fallout 3 and up is that grinding for its own sake generally isn't necessary. You can make sufficient progress just on the main quest line to complete the game competently while side quests have the added benefit of building you up even more in their undertaking.
  • Final Fantasy II, despite using Stat Grinding instead of experience levels, has two anti-grinding systems. Neither is explained in-game.
    • The number of skill points given per battle are a function of the skill's current level and the enemies' "rank". If your skill level is higher than the enemies' rank plus the number of uses in the battle, you get no skill points at all. Despite the skill level cap being 16, leveling any skill past 10 is very difficult.
    • Gaining HP is easy, and the original Famicom version has an HP cap of 65535. However, some attacks have the property of draining 1/16 of maximum HP per hit regardless of defense, and in the final dungeon there are enemies with eight-hit attacks that have that property. If you equipped enough heavy armor to lower your evasion rate to 0%, you will lose over half your HP with each attack, and if you ground up your HP no healing will keep up with the damage. This combined with the maximum number of hits a character can dodge only increasing when targeted by an enemy results in an incrase in difficulty when players who ground stats by attacking their own party reach the final dungeon.
  • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years imposes easily-reached level caps on the characters of each specific tale, roughly corresponding to their overall strength. When they do finally meet up in the final chapter, you can freely level them all up to lv99. The maximum amount of Gil you can carry is also limited to 99999 in each tale, but you can always circumvent this by buying a lot of expensive items to sell for later, and in the final chapter the enemies drop such ridiculous amounts of Gil that it becomes more or less useless.
  • To discourage players from Level Grinding their way to the end, Final Fantasy VIII modifies the enemies' stats based on your characters' levels and emphasizes its junctioning system instead, where characters' stats can be increased by attaching magic spells to them. Players could extract magic spells from enemies during battle, a process that can take a long time if the goal was to max out the number of spells being carried. However, even this could be largely bypassed by transforming items into magic using abilities learned from the Guardian Forces.
    • One of the absurd implications was during the timed mission to defeat and recruit Odin. Player has 20 minutes to do so upon entering the location. A lot of Power Players ended up running the whole preliminary routine in less than 7, and then drawing extremely potent Triple spells from him for 10 minutes straight.
    • Defeating an enemy by turning it into a card gave you no experience but did give you AP to increase the abilities of your guardian forces. This ultimately resulted in being able to coast through the game at around level 8-10 and equipping all the most ridiculous spell junctions in the game by transforming everything into cards. In some ways, Final Fantasy VIII was easier to break by avoiding any levels than any other Final Fantasy is by Level Grinding. An early mission — the SeeD exam — gives you a temporary party member. Knock the other two out and he can draw magic for everybody and gain AP so the Guardian Forces can learn valuable abilities, including Card, which lets you turn a monster into a card, which yield AP but no EXP.
    • The game provides an incentive to avoid leveling up for most of the game: Eventually, you can learn five support abilities that give a bonus to HP, Strength, Magic, Vitality, and Spirit when you level up. You can gain the last of these abilities after the battle with Norg, but it's a long while after that until you can teach one of your G Fs to equip four support abilities at once.
  • Final Fantasy IX has a minor example. In order to obtain Excalibur II, you have to reach a certain room near the end of the game's Final Dungeon within 12 hours from the start of the game—a game that covers 4 disks!
  • Final Fantasy XIII, despite having no traditional levels to speak of, manages this by putting arbitrary ceilings on the Crystarium, its character advancement system. No matter how many Crystarium Points you earn, you'll only be able to move to specific points on the chart. Where you can move on this chart is dependent on your point in the story, so it's necessary to advance the plot to advance your character.
    • To illustrate: A "good" respawnable encounter for CP in Chapter 10 gives around 600+ CP. The nodes and abilities in the sort of "mini-stage" unlocked after finishing Chapter 9 all cost around 775 CP apiece, and there are roughly a half-dozen-plus nodes. Once you beat the boss midway through Chapter 10, though, the Crystarium stage unlocked has 30+ nodes and each cost somewhere between 4000 and 10000 CP apiece. This isn't even getting into the secondary roles unlocked around this time, where even the lowest-level nodes cost 3000 CP, and up to 120000 CP for a single node.
    • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: Get a little too zealous in hunting a specific type of monster and you can bring them to the edge of extinction, triggering the appearance of their Last One variant. These fights can range from barely different from a normal fight up to damn near impossible depending on your relative strength. Once you take out the Last One, that monster type is gone forever. To make things even murkier, all monsters get a power boost after Day 7, which also increases the power of the abilities they drop, meaning over-hunting a specific monster type too soon robs you of stronger abilities. Finally, actually hunting as many monsters as possible to extinction makes the last dungeon and the Bonus Dungeon that much easier, and a side quest that can only be completed by starting a New Game Plus requires you to fill out your Bestiary, which means encountering all of the Last Ones.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics does something similar, in that you get fewer XP for hitting an enemy whose level is lower than yours, and more for hitting higher-level enemies. Of course, the enemies in random encounters match your average party level, so perhaps this was only intended to encourage a balanced-level party.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance also awarded EXP for healing or buffing allies, but made itself highly abusable that way as well. Since you'd always get 10 EXP (and 100 EXP needed for each level) if the target had the same level, 2 Jugglers could just pass turns between each other for all eternity with Smile Toss or Quicken (which does cost mana). The sequel blocked that method by only giving out EXP at the end of the battle, with a large portion of exp being static (up to 60) with small bonuses going to especially valuable party members.
    • Although Final Fantasy Tactics makes it difficult to level your highest level characters, there is a quick way to level up stragglers: send them into battle alongside one really strong character, then have them take turns pelting him with rocks.
    • Another, more subtle way that FFT discourages level grinding is by making your characters fairly gear dependent. You need to proceed with the game to access stores with better gear. Since the random encounters level up with you, they can become quite difficult if you level grind too long. There are ways around this, but they are more trouble than they're worth
      • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has this for the final battle once you beat the game and attempt to beat it again; the final bosses and its allies will be around your party's average level. So if the final bosses were around level 50, and then you beat the game and level up 10 more times, their levels will match yours.
  • Genshin Impact doesn't let you farm bosses or resources unlimitedly, you have a Resin system, every boss or dungeon you have to spend some resin, you have to wait minutes or hours to refill your resin again.
  • Gladius limits your ability to level up and gain gladiators in the first two areas you explore. In the first area you are limited to eight gladiators of maximum level five and in the second area you are limited to twelve gladiators of maximum level ten. Only after reaching the third area can you max out at up to twenty gladiators at level thirty.
  • The Golden Sun series ties most of your better spells and stat boosts to how many Djinn you have equipped, and you can only find Djinn at specific points in the game. While you can Level Grind to at least some degree, and there's a couple of times you definitely want to like before attempting to cross the Karagol Sea, it's rarely a better alternative than just pressing forward and powering through using buffs and debuffs until you find more Djinn: a few extra stat points won't help you nearly as much as finding your fourth Mercury Djinn and having Mia learn Wish, to name just one example.
    • The first game takes this a step further, but only once, and actually limits the number of enemies you can possibly fight in the first dungeon; once all your characters reach a certain level, they just stop appearing. Since KO'd characters get no XP, knocking out Jenna (who gets kidnapped after this dungeon) allows Isaac and Garet (who remain playable) to grind as long as they like.
  • Gothic features non-respawning enemies to prevent grinding, though a new monster will spring forth from the surviving ones' loins every few days. This means that it is theoretically possible to hunt the monsters to extinction, which makes sense given that the game takes place in a two-square-mile Penal Colony cut off from the rest of the world by a magical death-barrier.
  • Each of the original .hack// games had a level cap built in, mainly so that you don't start out way too strong on the next installment. The only game in which this was really noticeable was the first: Infection. Even once you've hit the level cap (around 30), the Final Boss, Skeith, is enormously difficult, and for once simply grinding past his strength level is not an option.
  • For an extreme example, RPG parts of Half-Minute Hero reduce grinding time by adding a (usually) 30-second time limit to complete the mission which can only be prolonged a few times. It is also combined with Forced Level-Grinding so players have to use the said time most efficiently to level up so they could take down the boss.
  • Hearts Like Clockwork: The game does a standard reduction of EXP if the party is overleveled for a battle. To a lesser extent, the demo boss will detect the player's level and mock them for grinding too much.
  • The Inazuma Eleven games (aside from the Japanese version of the first game) have stat caps: Each character has a cap on max GP, max TP, and the sum of the remaining stats. Max GP and max TP aside, if a character's total stats have reached the cap, any further stat training will lower another stat by an equal amount.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix makes it prohibitively difficult to acquire the necessary materials to synthesize more than a handful of stat-increasing items; certain materials are no longer dropped by enemies, and wouldn't you know it, those are integral to synthing the items. The materials can themselves be synthesized with a lot of work or, in the case of Orichalcum, purchased for obscene amounts of munny.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has a grinding cap for Drive Forms and Summons that is tied to the plot. For example, before getting Master Form, it's impossible to grind Valor or Wisdom Forms over level 5.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning also uses the diminishing returns method. Loot dropped by enemies doesn't improve either. And if you are higher level than them (their names are grey), you don't receive Fate energy for killing them either.
  • Knights of the Old Republic features a limited supply of foes, with only a few exceptions (Hulak Wraid in the Dune Sea and Sith in the Star Forge), and even the exceptions are not worth grinding, since the level cap (20) can be achieved just by the opponents you meet during the game (and you'll hit the cap early on the Star Forge for all characters anyway).
    • Another (sneaky) trick put in to discourage level-grinding early on in the game is the fact that you're cross-classed on the second planet. Nothing like level-grinding through the rackghouls in the sewers only to discover that you've actually hurt yourself by leveling up on Taris. Also, once per level, you can usually get information about your party members, but only so much. After a certain point, they clam up and won't tell you anything more about their histories until you reach another goalpost (leaving Taris, getting one of the Star Maps).
  • The Last Remnant:
    • The game has the infamous Battle Rank. This is one level up system which is explicitly bad. The higher the rank gets, the harder the enemies are. So as you fight, your enemies get experience instead of you! The key in the Xbox version is to upgrade your equipment, keep monster fighting to a minimum and go for the strongest possible monsters available during grinding. Most importantly, upgrade your equipment if at all possible. Grinding is a last resort and can only be carried so far before enemies start outpacing you.
    • The PC version is better balanced for a regular playthrough, and you can beat the game fighting every encounter you normally meet, as long as you don't try to deliberately farm weak monsters excessively. If you go for 100% Completion, this Anti Grinding measure actually produces much more extreme grinding (with elements of Guide Dang It!), where you find certain monsters that give the most stat/technique gains for the least BP growth and farm them until you are bored out of your mind.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, random encounters give pathetic amounts of experience. Bosses, on the other hand, nearly guarantee a level up for every character in your party. There's no need to grind in the first place, but if you try, be prepared to spend a long time hunting enemies. On the other hand, the Addition system in combat is pretty fun, and using Additions over and over again levels them up. So the game is pretty well balanced, and when it's not, it's usually in your favor. Not only that, but the game also had two very good armor pieces, the Legend Casque and the Armor of Legend, both of which gave a significant boost to a character's defense and could be used by every party member, unlike every other piece of equipment, which was tied to a single character, or only usable by male/female characters. Both armor pieces had only one problem: they cost 10000 gold each, in a game where most equipment usually costs around 150 gold to 800 gold. Needless to say, money grinding is virtually impossible, as most random battles fetch you less than 100 gold.
  • Lie of Caelum: On True Mode, the game will prevent the characters from leveling up past a certain point until they advance the story. However, any excess EXP earned will be applied once the soft cap is lifted.
  • Live A Live does this on occasion, particularly in the Near Future chapter. Each time Akira levels up, the Pre-existing Encounters he can run into on the world map increase in power and use better monsters to fight you with. Akira's abilities are cool, but you may want to save the grinding for the final chapter as that's the only time you can freely level grind all of your characters (including The Sundown Kid and Masaru who get only limited opportunities to fight and Cube who doesn't get to fight at all save for his Final Boss). In addition, the experience you gain at each encounter is based on your level, to a constant total of 100 for each level up, making this one more example of diminishing returns.
  • Random encounters in Lords of Xulima are limited; each area has only so many of them before it is considered "cleared", which gives the party a significant one-time experience payout. However, the number of possible encounters is still high enough to make running around an area to gain a few more levels an effective (albeit tedious) tactic.
  • Lost Odyssey features diminishing returns for fighting in a given area. Each area will generally see the characters advance one or two levels, after which the experience reward from each battle drops sharply, often to a mere 1 point per battle. However, to gain skills for the Immortal characters in your party, you're still going to have to do a fair bit of grinding; it just won't increase your character level very fast. Having Sed around eventually makes it somewhat faster, but it's still a grind nonetheless.
    • A lot of item farming is required to collect all the components to the various rings. Doing this will potentially have you levelling up several times after the experience bonuses have slowed down to a crawl before you have everything you need.
      • Furthermore, since every enemy will always give at least 1 exp, every level is only 100 exp apart and you can fight up to 10 enemies in the same battle, you can gain a level every 10 battles even if they're the weakest enemies in the game, and with the Double Experience skill, you can halve that to 5 battles.
  • In Lunar: The Silver Star the bosses' stats are largely based on Alex's level (multiplied by or added to some number). Thus, the stronger you get, the stronger the bosses get, providing something of a disincentive to level-grinding.
  • In Lunar: Eternal Blue, if you stay around in the Blue Spire after you pick up Lucia and use her Purposely Overpowered spells to grind for an inordinate amount of time (specifically, until you reach level 7), Lucia will eventually say something like "if we keep doing this we won't get anywhere" and cast a spell to keep monsters from attacking until you leave the tower.
  • In the Mario & Luigi games (or at least in Bowser's Inside Story), low-powered enemies just plain stop giving you EXP after a certain point, meaning you have to continue on in the story to continue leveling.
  • None of the enemies in Mass Effect respawn so it's impossible to level grind. If you've unlocked all the XP boosting achievements and have both DLCs, and managed to perform every single side-quest in the game, you'll still be about three levels short of the level cap. And it will take you most of your New Game Plus to actually reach the cap.
    • Mass Effect 2 does away with combat XP altogether, replacing it with fixed rewards for story and side missions, at the rate of 1 per level and 4 per level, respectively. It also throws you into some storyline missions based on how many missions you have done, limiting how much you can grind for them. However, the game's Absurdly Low Level Cap means that you'll probably reach maximum level by somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4ths of the way through, depending on how many DLCs you have and whether you imported a character from Mass Effect 1 (if you import a level 60 character from Mass Effect 1, you start at level 5 in Mass Effect 2).
  • Might and Magic 4 and 5 joined together to create a super-game. You could use the same characters to travel back AND forth between the two worlds. As you can imagine, with two entire game worlds to explore, you could level to ridiculous heights. Unfortunately, the real stopping resource wasn't experience points, but money. Monsters didn't respawn (and the few that did gave no gold or items) and leveling up costed exponentially more gold pieces (Specifically, to train one character from level x to level x+1 cost 10*x^2 GP). It was actually most efficient to skip all the 'level up for free' rewards entirely until you had bottomed out on training realistically, but you could always work one week for 50 gold (or something like that). This became a factor when you realise characters might literally die of old age grinding the 50,000,000 gold to go from 1xx to 1xx+1.
  • Neverwinter Nights has limited ways of gaining XP with few areas containing respawning enemies. You also gain less XP for fighting foes with a low combat rating .
    • Neverwinter Nights 2 just has a limited supply of enemies, until one irritating section at the very end with infinite enemy respawns. The expansion has enemies everywhere slowly respawn, presumably so the game's hunger system doesn't kill you. However, the third expansion has random encounters on the world map and separate encounter XP along with the individual monster XP, making grinding more viable.
  • In Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, there are a finite number of monsters in each area you can go to, you can only visit one area a night, and there are a finite number of nights in each chapter of the game. This puts a hard upper limit on how much experience can be gained per chapter. This goes away in New Game Plus, where there is no upper limit to how many nights you can spend in any given chapter.
  • Nocturne: Rebirth plays with this, since it implements a Brave Clear system to encourage players to beat the boss within a certain level. At the same time, the item drop rate is really low and practically necessitates endless fighting. Additionally, familiars level far slower to the point where it'll still take a fair amount of grinding to get them to the Brave Clear level.
  • Octopath Traveler: While Olberic and H'aanit can challenge just about any NPC, the ones with low star counts give only small EXP payouts to keep the player from fighting entire towns indefinitely for quick levels. NPCs in general also give significantly less JP than random encounters.
  • Ogre Battle's battle system discourages and encourages grinding through the alignment system. Basically, you can grind as much as you like (enemies are practically finite, but plentiful), but attacking enemies that are lower level than you is evil and causes your alignment score to go down. Level grind that Knight too much, and he'll never advance into a Paladin. Of course, certain classes require a low alignment, so level grinding those characters is recommended.
    • Random encounters are available in infinite, if slow quantities on many maps, and many of these are pure evil critters like ghosts and skeletons, which impart significantly reduced alignment penalties (and massive bonuses at low levels!). This is so much the case that it's possible to access many of the game's upper-tier unit types barely 1/4 of the way into the game with no penalty to speak of, save wasted time.
  • In the first two Paper Mario games, each time you level up, the number of Star Points you can get from enemies decreases by 1, so that eventually, you can't get any from the enemies you can currently face. (The second game does, however, give you a consolation point if the enemies don't give any.) Then, in the next area, new enemies appear, the enemies start giving Star Points again, and you can resume Level Grinding.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star got rid of the level-up system altogether. The only way to get more powerful stickers is to continue through the game and get them from stronger enemies, pull them off the environment of a new area, or buy them from newly-reached stores. Grinding against weaker enemies in earlier areas of the game simply results in you wasting your good stickers against monsters that were only a challenge when you had weaker stickers. Even the Surplus Damage Bonus coins you get for heavy-hitting and/or multi-hitting attacks against these weak enemies pale in comparison to the automatic coin reward from stronger enemies and the massive number of coins you get for finding new level goals. The Heart Container items even increase the damage you give when jumping on or hammering the Pre Existing Encounters, to the point where earlier enemies can be One Hit Killed without ever having to go to the battle screen.
  • Parasite Eve does this to an extent. As you continue to traverse a given area, encounters in that area will become rarer and rarer, to the point where it becomes extremely impractical to keep entering and exiting a room over and over again in the hopes of getting attacked.
    • However, if you can manage to grind Aya's level up to 38 (which is not an easy task, given the above mechanic), you only need 4500 XP (a comparatively paltry amount for that point in the game) to gain every level after that.
    • The sequel does something similar by having a fixed number of enemies to fight in each area. YMMV as to whether you'd consider fighting every single one a form of grinding or just being thorough, since elimination of such creatures is explicitly Aya's job.
  • The Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness games have non-respawning enemies, a level cap for each game (like .hack above), and rewards exp even to those who were down at the end of the battle.
  • Phantasy Star IV is an unintentional example of this: if you grind your characters to 99, their stats will glitch out. They might drop down to lv 40-50 range, androids may gain TP and Mental stats that they're not supposed to have and can't use since they have no Techs and random skills might have their maximum use counts reset to 0, essentially deleting that skill entirely. This was fixed in the Virtual Console rerelease.
  • The Pokémon games play with this trope somewhat, as they discourage long grind sessions by simply giving you several, easier ways to earn experience, such as Pokémon with high EXP yields, daycares and other locations that will level up your Mons for you, experience booster items and leaked experience, etc. There are still some straight examples of this in both the mainline games and spin-offs, though:
    • Traded Pokémon are a variant of this. Traded Mons above a certain level won't obey you unless you have enough badges, which is explained by the idea that since you aren't its original owner, it has little reason to respect you until you prove you're actually a capable trainer. As such, it will do whatever it wants in battle, this usually being to ignore you and just laze about, making it difficult to level them up at all. Of course, this isn't meant to restrict level-grinding per se, so much as it is to prevent you from quickly beating the game with a friend's Level 100 Legendary Pokémon. There's nothing stopping you from catching a random Mon and grinding it to ridiculous levels without worry. So long as you got it at a low-level that is, as Pokémon Sword and Shield, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet would extend the disobeying mechanic to wild Pokémon that are caught at high levels as well.
    • In Gen V (Pokémon Black and White and its sequels) and from Gen VII (Pokémon Sun and Moon) onward, all Pokémon receive an additional experience modifier based on the ratio between the player and the opponents' respective levels: the higher the level of your Pokémon compared to the opponent, the less experience they gain. On one hand, this means that you'll get less and less gains if you try to grind levels instead of just moving on with your journey. But on the other hand, this modifier means low-level party members gain tons of experience when high-level opponents are defeated, helping avert Can't Catch Up.
    • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet implement a similar system to Black and White where defeating Pokemon significantly weaker than you yields less EXP. However, it also includes rematchable trainers on an (albeit slow) cooldown so that you're not stuck using exclusively wild pokemon for grinding in the post-game eventually resulting in very slow progression. It also did an overhaul of the systems in Sword and Shield that made getting stupidly over leveled Pokemon incredibly easy. First, incorporates the overhaul to the mandatory EXP share that Legends: Arceus included where Pokemon that were not active participants in the battle receive half EXP, meaning that if you just use one Pokemon the whole game, the rest of your party is going to fall behind. Second, it heavily restricts the availability of EXP Candies, which similar to Sword and Shield can be obtained from Tera Raids. While they're useful in getting a weak Pokemon up to the same level of strength as the rest of your party, they quickly become not viable as your primary method of gaining EXP. Your Pokemon are going to be in the mid-60's at the end of the game, and by that point the strength of the EXP Candies you get from anything less than a 3-star Tera Raid aren't worth the time it would take to beat them. You'd get EXP faster just fighting wild Pokemon in the end game areas, especially if you prepare a Sandwich to boost the encounter rate of normal types and spawn in a whole bunch of Chanseys.
    • Leveling up in Pokémon Quest is relatively easy, but beyond the first few stages, stats from level increases quickly become negligible. You only get about one extra attack/defense per level, while attaching "power stones" to a Pokémon adds hundreds of attack or defense points, and often some bonus effects as well. Level grinding is only useful to evolve (many of the stronger mons can't) and to gain additional slots for power stones; the latter becomes increasingly slow and tedious after gaining a couple of slots. The main goals of repeat expeditions are to collect ingredients for making food to attract new Pokémon, and to get new and better power stones.
    • In earlier Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, there was a limit on each floor of the dungeon. After a certain number of turns you will get a series of warnings. If you fail to heed that warning, you are automatically kicked from the dungeon, which has the same effect as dying.
    • In the Pokémon Emerald ROM Hack Pokémon R.O.W.E., this is enforced at Medium and Hard difficulty. After levelling past a certain point, a Pokémon's stats will not increase until the player gets a new badge.
  • Quest 64 used a system that boosts stats that are used often: taking damage raises HP and DEF, using spells raises MP, and running around raises EVA. Although you can max your EVA by running in circles all night in a safe zone, it becomes difficult to raise your DEF, potentially making the endgame very difficult.
  • Re:Kuroi: Characters get less EXP if their level is higher than the enemy's. However, this only applies to character levels, since spells require repeated usage to fully grind.
  • Robopon 2 does this in an interesting (and infuriating) way. Your robots can evolve, but when they do, their level drops by half, so you have to build them up again. No matter what their evolutionary stage, they eventually reach a stat cap, which means that even though their level increases, their stats won't.
  • Romancing SaGa series features a hidden ER system that triggers and shuts down quests based on your battle count. Some quests and recruitable characters are permanently lost if you spend too much time grinding.
  • Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song has the Event Rank system. Winning battles raises your Event Rank over time, opening more quests while closing others. The worst best example of this would be "Unsettling Settlements", which closes at ER 2. Most characters start at ER 1 (a few start at ER 0), and also have some fights to complete as part of their prologue... making it very difficult to avoid battle and keep the quest open long enough to complete it. Oh, and if you miss "Unsettling Settlements"? You can't delay the Jewel Beast's awakening, meaning that the Frontier is doomed.
  • Shin Megami Tensei series in general employ this: The higher your main character's level is, the lower the Exp they gain from fighting the same enemies, forcing the player to go fight stronger enemies to speed up their leveling-up. Also, in games where the characters are humans controlling demons, the demons tend to level up even more slowly, and thus forcing the player to gain stronger demons through various means such as negotiation and fusion instead of grinding.
    • Persona 3 has several measures to keep players from excessive powerleveling. Experience is based on level, so grinding on weak enemies is almost pointless, but for the main character, persona experience is separate from your own. Personas level extremely slowly, and most useful personas are several levels above you, making it even slower. Since stats and skills are based on the persona, while your own level only controls HP and SP, grinding is usually less useful than just making a better persona. Your Social Links also bestow a large surge of experience that would normally take a fair bit of grinding to achieve, encouraging the player to fuse Personas rather than collect them from Shuffle Time. For other party members, their personas level at the same rate as them, but this still leaves them far behind the MC, who can easily be fusing personas many levels higher than anyone else.
    • After characters fight a certain number of enemies, the character will be inflicted with "Tired" status. All of the character's stats drop a considerable amount, making battles risky to fight. When any party member returns to the lobby while "Tired", they will leave the dungeon, and will not fight for a few days, depending on how many battles they fought while "Tired". Returning to the lobby also heals all party members' Hp and Sp, and is the only place where you can save in the dungeon, meaning avoiding the lobby to keep party members from leaving is not always the best idea.
    • Hang around a floor too long, and a nigh-invulnerable Reaper will show up to ruin your night. It is possible to kill him, but doing so requires either abusing the Armageddon fusion spell that kills everything instantly, or having a party powerful enough to beat the final boss with no effort anyway. Killing him does unlock a secret dungeon full of high-level enemies that can boost you to level 100 easily, but by then you definitely won't need it.
    • Persona 4 gets rid of "Tired" status entirely and instead the lobby will no longer heal the party's HP and SP. SP restoring items are hard to come across early game until you are given a way to heal SP in exchange for Yen by the second dungeon, however it costs a large amount of money until you increase the Hermit Social Link, but by then you probably will not need it anymore, since you gain a few methods of recovering SP after battle.
      • Golden gives Golden Hands a large amount of experience and Yen, making grinding significantly easier. They have a shocking amount of defense, but it can be easily avoided with damage dealing items, or by triggering All-Out Attacks via critical hits.
    • Persona 5 incorporates elements from 3 and 4: The Protagonist's Persona gain experience slower than he does, making it easier to fuse new Persona to get new abilities than fighting random Shadows. Story dungeons become inaccessible after finishing them. And finally, the Reaper will show up in the Randomly Generated Mementos dungeon if you hang around a floor too long, encouraging you to continue deeper.
      • Like in Persona 4, returning to the lobby doesn't restore your HP and SP. However, there's no option to spend money to recover your SP. Instead, SP restoring items are more readily available, but only if you've raised certain Confidants that allow you to acquire said items. Otherwise, they're just as rare as before.
    • Devil Survivor and its sequel possess the usual Anti Grinding method common in SMT (less Exp gained if overleveled, Demons needing too much Exp to level up etc). However, in New Game Plus, you are given the option to purchase removal of this Anti Grinding feature to an extent, allowing your party to obtain Exp as normal regardless of level.
  • The dungeons in Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale actively discourage adventurers from staying too long on any one floor by summoning living balls of pure fire, electricity, and hatred out of nowhere.
    • In addition, the enemies that spawn on a given level are finite anyway, those less than half your adventurer's level give piddly amounts of experience, and the areas with the weaker enemies have pretty pathetic treasure - and in a game where your primary goal is running an item shop, bad random drops are a bigger problem than usual.
    • And in addition to that, higher-level adventurers cost more to hire.
  • Ruina: Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins: EXP from individual battles are far lower than event EXP. Additionally, the encounter rate for an area goes down if the player kills too many mobs.
  • Sonic Chronicles has enemy exp drop as your characters gain levels until it finally hits a piddly 10 exp per fight, regardless of enemy strength.
  • The Suikoden games feature an experience system in which each level is 1000 experience away from the next, and XP rewards are based on a comparison between your level and the enemy's. While this isn't much of a problem if you want to be three or four levels stronger than the local Random Encounters, it's a fairly big one if you want to get further than that. This does help to prevent other party members from falling behind, and to keep the game at a reasonable challenge
    • It has the odd side effect where if you take a low level character into the final dungeon and kill something, their level could slingshot past everybody who fought their way there. Taken to the extreme in that the least ground characters are the only ones who can reach max level.
    • The .hack games also do this, exactly the same way.
  • Sword of Mana gives a set amount of exp for monsters defeated, but levels shoot up in difficulty every time, and one strategy is to store several level ups to use in boss fights as opposed to using them as you get them. Additionally, if you really have the patience to sit in an area long enough, killing a thousand of any enemy will net you a tough version.
  • Tactics Ogre has a similar system to Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem, with the general standard being that striking a unit the same level as yourself earns you 10 XP, and working from there. However, the game developers were wise enough to include a "Training" mode, accessible from the main map at any time, that pit your units against each other and allowed everyone to grind up, with the only penalty being that enemy units would be the same level as your highest-level character (terrifying in the late-game secret dungeon). Although plot enemies would, with only some late-game exceptions, cap out at level 30 anyway, so it was still possible to grind up and beat the game.
    • The GBA version also gives out emblems for various in-battle achievements: most of them increase your base stats or they're required for advanced jobs, but some of them have negative effects and once you have one, you can't turn its effect off. 2 of these emblems are gotten by killing 20 targets in training (which increases your damage during training by 25%, meaning you'll be able to get less hits off your targets and thus gain less XP) and gaining a total of 20 levels in training (which makes performing critical hits impossible).
  • The Tales Series usually has some form of this. Tales of Symphonia, for example, cuts your EXP gains if you're at too high a level compared to the enemies you're fighting. At most, this can halve your EXP gain, making the 10x EXP upgrade in the New Game Plus more like 5x EXP.
    • However, while such encounters are a poor way to grind EXP, they are an excellent way to grind for Grade or items, both of which are easier to obtain when battles are finished quickly and with minimal damage taken.
    • The Directors Cut version of the Playstation 2 remake of Tales of Destiny surprises level grinders of the tape-the-analog-stick-to-the-right-and-set-all-characters-to-auto kind by greeting them with Barbatos, an Optional Boss fight which is literally impossible to beat by normal means. It is possible to beat him in the Bonus Dungeon, but not on the overworld map where he appears to punish auto-levelers. He even kicks the battle off by calling out the player for taking the cheap way out.
    • A slight example exists in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, where the player characters of the first game do not gain EXP whatsoever and only have different levels and equipment based on your point in the story. This, however, doesn't stop you from leveling the two new characters or the monsters.
  • Trails Series: All monsters have a level, and the experience gained from killing them is a function of the monster's base EXP and the difference between the party's level and the monster's level. This means that an under-leveled party gets extra experience to help level up to where they should be, while an over-leveled party gets virtually nothing.
  • Triangle Strategy: Characters above the recommended level for a battle will gain less experience points per action, making it grindy and painful to have characters more than two levels above the battle's level. Conversely, those characters that are underleveled will gain more experience the lower their level is.
  • Undertale discourages grinding in two ways. The first is by having only a set number of encounters you can kill in any region. The second is by making you feel like an absolute monster for grinding by deconstructing the entire concept and showing what kind of psychopath would wipe out an entire habitat of monsters just for power.
  • Unlimited SaGa has this to the point where it can screw you over. The only way to increase your stats is to get Skill Panels. These are mostly given after successfully completing a quest. With the exception of one character there's only a finite amount of quests in the game. Also, killing monsters usually don't net you money and in the long run will make you meet stronger monsters.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, in adapting the Old World of Darkness' Storyteller system, came up with an elegant and rather clever solution: the player gets experience points solely for completing quests, not for defeating enemies. It elegantly provides incentive to seek out sidequests, and makes stealth-runs and verbal conflict resolution perfectly viable (except for the Scrappy Level.) There are even cases where killing enemies will give you less experience than charming or sneaking your way through, most notably the Elizabeth Dane mission, where killing a guard will not only lower the XP you get, but piss of LaCroix and seriously hamper your ability to get the Downtown haven.
  • Most of the games in the Ys series decrease the EXP value of the monsters every couple of levels. In some of the games, the EXP of all enemies reduces to 1 well before you can max out. If you fall behind somehow, they go one step further — grinding up to par will take minutes at most because killing anything higher than yourself fills visibly large chunks of your EXP bar. Many versions of the first game prevented grinding in a different way - the max level cap for the entire game was so low that the typical player can reach it halfway through the game without seriously trying, at which point all stat improvement came from finding better equipment.
  • In War of the Dead, an Action RPG for the PC Engine, the player's EXP could overflow from 9999 to zero. This perverse mechanic was apparently intended to be a feature.
  • Wild ARMs 3 makes level grinding pointless - random encounters give a pittance of experience, and the Migrant System encourages not fighting low-level battles. Smart use of Lucky Cards and skills makes it easy to gain levels from boss fights alone.
  • In The World Ends with You the amount of experience needed to reach the next character level increases on a linear scale, making grinding fairly quick and easy compared to most RPGs; however, all this does is increase your HP. To increase your stats, you have to give your characters food and digest it by fighting battles, and they can only eat so many large items every real-world day.Explanation 

  • Xenoblade Chronicles series
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has its Loads and Loads of Sidequests who, along with money and equipment, also give XP to all members of your party. Granted, you can still grind, but these sidequests give several times more XP than enemies would give you.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2:
      • On the punishing side, killing low-level monsters is horrible if you want to level grind, as experience scales based on both the player's and enemy's levels. Killing anything 20 or more levels below you gives a negligible amount of experience. What if you come up with a tricky way to kill something more powerful than you? Anything 20+ levels above you gives only a small amount of experience as well. Given everything else the game offers, however, level grinding is very rarely needed.
      • Completing side quests and mercenary missions gives you bonus experience. It isn't redeemed automatically, but whenever you stay at an inn, you can cash out that experience to level up, so if you've been doing quests and reach a point that you're underleveled, that can be fixed very quickly.
      • When it comes to actually getting experience from killing enemies, chain attacks are your friend. Getting a big chain attack going allows you to overkill the enemy, and all the damage you do beyond what's necessary to kill them provides a multiplier to the experience you get from killing them. Done right, it's possible to get multiple level ups from a single story boss.
      • Blade affinity charts have a ton of requirements to power up their skills and special attacks, usually of the Mass Monster-Slaughter Sidequest variety. For any blades that you can send on merc missions (and most of them can be), most of these requirements will be filled in on said merc missions, even if there's no logical connection between the mission and the requirement. Since merc missions happen in the background, all you need to do is remove the blade from your party from a while, send them on missions, and they'll come back stronger.
      • Finally, there are many ways to make your Drivers and Blades stronger without level grinding. Spending points to level up arts or a Driver's affinity chart or equipping accessories, core chips, and aux cores will all greatly improve your battle capability without the need to do any grinding.
  • YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG places a certain number of enemies in each dungeon with a significant amount of EXP, once they are defeated, they don't ever respawn. They are also Random Encounters on the overworld, but they are limited as well and don't occur again until the next chapter is reached. If a dungeon is reached with a high level, all the enemies give out 1 EXP when beaten, otherwise the only areas to gain more EXP are monster dens.
  • In the Ys series, the amount of XP granted from a given enemy is a function of the monster's level relative to Adol's level. After a while, defeating a monster will only yield 1XP, with hundreds or thousands needed to level up. Most versions of Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen also have a 10 level cap that is maxed out so quickly that there's usually no point in grinding (even without trying, you'll end up within one level of reaching it by the time you find the third book of six).

    Roguelike Games 
  • In most Roguelikes, there are a finite number of levels, and each level is only stocked with monsters and items when it's first generated. While there are Random Encounters, they happen infrequently enough that the scarcity of food forces the player to move forward.
  • In Ancient Domains of Mystery the higher the kill count for a particular monster race the tougher the members of that monster race become. In extreme instances this can lead to situations where a pack of jackals can kill a demon lord.
  • Chocobo's Dungeon 2 accomplishes this through four means. The first is limiting recovery items in a game where enemies powerful enough to give you enough EXP to make leveling up on them fairly quick are also deadly enough to make you want to not go out seeking fights with them. The second is setting Doom on you if you spend too long on any one floor in a dungeon. While you can escape from Doom, fighting Doom is a suicidal proposition. Doom can often kill you with one strike, has 32,000 HP, and can shrug off just about anything you can throw at it. The EXP is negligible. And it hunts in packs! Annoyingly, it sometimes seems like the game sometimes gives you floors with no exit. The third method is by having you equipment gradually degrade as you use it. Considering just how much you can put into gear by Item Crafting, and how much easier good kit makes the game, you do not want to wear it out on level grinds. Fourthly, the game makes leveling up by grinding an intensely laborious process.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, anti-grinding is a core part of the design philosophy. You need to eat if you're not undead, and staying on a level too long causes diminishing enemy spawn rates... although the chance of encountering out of depth enemies increases.
    • And if you waste an absurd number of turns you get a custom Kill Screen just before the turn counter overflows.
  • To prevent story missions from being too easy, once you receive one, Freelancer prevents you from leveling up any further until you finish it. And then there's the level cap which can only be raised by finishing story missions; the cap is too low for the best fighters in the game until you complete the single-player campaign.
  • NetHack uses a combination of Rubberband AI and unfeasible numbers of experience points being required at the top end (each level from 21 to 30 requires another ten million XP), although there are instant Upgrade Artifacts available.
    • There are still infinite level-grinding techniques so easy that a script can run through the busy work for you. At least two of them have inspired anti-grinding community patches.
    • This in a game where killing Death gives not even 2000 XP. You would need to kill about 50,000 Black Puddings to advance from level 20 to 30, if not for potions of gain level.
    • In NetHack there are two way to circumvent this:
      • "Pudding farming": Find a black pudding, hit it with a dull and rusted weapon so as cause it to split in two but only giving it a little damage, kill one of the puddings while giving the other rest so it heal up to full health, and repeat. The character can eat the corpses created to stave off starvation, gain experience from the kills, pick up the occasional Random Drops, and if there's an altar on the level the corpses can be sacrificed for divine favor.
      • A wizard who has completed the wizard's quest will regenerate mana quickly enough to be able to spam the "Create Monster" spell and kill the created monsters. This gives the same benefits as pudding farming, with the added benefit that humanoid monsters will drop their equipment and gold when killed.
    • The Angband based roguelikes require grinding, but it will be tedious if you aren't grinding deep enough. In addition to growth in amount of exp per level, the XP gained by kills is divided by your current level. More strongly enforced is the item-grinding, as there are things that will kill you in one hit without the proper equipment.
    • In another roguelike, XirrelaiRPG, grinding isn't discouraged much, and levels can be gained extremely quickly by methods such as zombie scumming, and there's no hunger either so you can hang around as long as you like. However, the level cap is only 10, so the relative lack of stat-upgrading items means you'll still find yourself outclassed in last area, which is full of crazy pyromaniacs and blue fairies wearing the third-best armour in the game.
  • In Children of Morta, each character has a chance to develop "Fatigue" that decreases their maximum health whenever they're sent to battle. As such, you're encouraged to switch out characters so that others can get rest.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • In Aleste Collection, the leaderboards for all games besides GG Aleste 3 prioritize stage reached over score, e.g. a stage 4 play with 300,000 points will beat out a stage 3 play with 500,000 points. Furthermore, if you beat the game, the tiebreaker isn't score, but rather how fast you completed. This punishes boss milking and instead rewards killing them as quickly as possible, as well as encourages playing the game with slowdown turned off.

    Simulation Game 
  • FTL: Faster Than Light discourages the player from procrastinating in getting to the next sector by having a slowly advancing Rebel Fleet creep from left (where the current sector begins) to right (where the current sector ends). Should the player be unfortunate to jump to a sector within the Rebels' encroachment zone, they will face off against an Elite Fighter with exceptionally strong weapons and defenses. You can't farm these ships for resources, as they will only drop a single fuel cell (the explanation being that you don't have time to grab anything else); thus, your best option is to simply tank the Fighter for long enough for your FTL drive to recharge...or manage to defeat the ship somehow if you're out of fuel.
    • To further encourage you to push off, the expansion introduces Anti-Ship Batteries, environmental hazards that periodically take shield-piercing shots at you and deal 3 damage if they hit (that's 10% of your maximum health). They are fired from off-screen planetary bases or enemy ships, and one will always be present at a sector occupied by the Rebel Fleet. This is to dissuade players who were able to tank the regular Elite Fighters, allowing them to roam around the sector forever to rack up a higher score.
  • While Youtubers Life does allow for Stat Grinding to help you build your streaming skills, each phase of your career puts a hard cap on your overall Character Level (the one that governs unlockable items) until you fulfill the quota to move onto the next stage.
  • Levels in Actraiser are a function of world population, and the maximum possible population is a factor of how much settleable land there is and the civilization level, which can only be increased by continuing to clear obstacles and monster lairs and settle more of the map. In addition, at some points the population refuses to stop growing even when there is space, and won't start again until you fight a boss or resolve a local problem.
  • War Thunder discouraged players exploiting sim battles room first by introducing the rule that your research points and in-game currency rewards are halved if you don't return to base and safely land after an action (to prevent the so-called "zombers" that simply spawn a cheap bomber, fly a suicide mission to an enemy airfield, bomb, die, respawn and repeat) and then by reworking how rewards are granted by putting more weigh on useful actions per time rather than individual killcount or TNT dropped, with a limit on how much you can gain before a certain amount of time has passed. It didn't work, as these players simply adapted and grinded even more to overcome the reduced rewards, deploying full squadrons of friends and alternative accounts that fill rooms and turn them into dedicated farming lobbies.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Warframe: Whenever you die in a mission (if a friend doesn't revive you first), you use up one of your free revives. When the game first came out, you only had a limited number of revives per day, and had to pay for more. This soon got changed to merely a limited number of revives per mission, with no way to buy more.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • The Fire Emblem series calculates the experience a character receives in combat based on how powerful the opponent is compared to them, so if you grind your party members to high enough levels, you will end up getting a mere 1 point of experience for each fight. Conversely, defeating enemies much stronger than you gives massive amounts of experience, with many lower level party members able to level up after getting just one kill, and almost all party members getting a level up if they defeat a boss. Since most Fire Emblem games only contain a certain number of enemies, this also helps to prevent grinding. Moreover, in Fire Emblem, the missions are non-replayable, effectively preventing grinding except for Arenas. Arena-grinding itself tends to be rather slow and tedious, and in some games, it can even be extremely dangerous.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones averts this trope, not only allowing the player to backtrack to past shops, but giving them a tower that seems to be specifically made for grinding! Not to mention that you get chances to fight past battles over and over again, allowing you to get money and weapons AND allowing the player to run through these with the cheapest weapons money can buy (iron weapons/fire tomes cost almost nothing, and have enough uses for multiple battles). However, Manaketes (arguably the strongest units in terms of attack power) are impossible to grind, as their Dragonstones have limited uses and cannot be repaired, bar certain bugs.
    • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, the developers seem to have learned their lesson from Sacred Stones. You can grind in skirmishes all you want on Normal mode, but on Hard or above the item that summons Risen costs so much gold to buy that even with the Random Drops you get from enemies, you'll always lose money in the process. But Lunatic Mode is especially cruel about this: not only are StreetPass teams rigged to give out almost no exp, but regular random skirmishes throw Lv 20 promoted enemies with maxed out stats at you when you aren't even a quarter of the way through the game! Even worse, while there is DLC specifically designed to EXP/money grind, it doesn't help that the enemies' levels, stats, skills and abilities scale with how many chapters you've completed (including repeat plays of grind spots), forcing you to min/max and make the most out of every single chapter.
    • Fire Emblem Fates plays with the trope. On the Birthright and Revelation paths you can freely level grind like you could in Sacred Stones and Awakening, but there's a limit to it. Heart Seals (Fates's version of Awakening's Second Seals) still allow you to class-change for new skills, but don't reset you to level 1 like they did in Awakening, so you can't just continually grind for max stats as easily as you could in Awakening. However, the Eternal Seals do allow you to go beyond Level 20... but they cost a whopping 12,000 gold to obtain.
  • In the original SNES release of Front Mission, there are some (risky) ways to grind for money, but there's almost no way to grind for experience; enemies only offer useful chunks of experience in actual missions, and the enemies are limited in those missions. While you can replay the arena challenges all you like, all you really stand to gain is money, as arena experience quickly becomes a case of diminishing returns. Defeat an enemy enough times in the arena, and he simply stops being profitable in terms of money or experience. It's not uncommon to have even tougher enemies eventually giving you 0 experience points in arena mode.
  • Considering it's possible to reach the top levels in a single fair-sized map of Heroes of Might and Magic V, it's not really surprising that the campaign features a level cap. It's the map itself that carries the limit, which leads to the odd situation when characters from previous campaigns join up with you and are already beyond it.
  • The Shining Force games also decrease the experience you can get from enemies as you go up in level, so that if you're intent enough on Level Grinding, they will eventually start not giving any experience. Healers are easier to grind, as the experience from healing only depends on whether the spell/item actually did any healing, and a successful heal spell or healing item will always give a healer at least 10 experience (out of the 100 needed for each level up).
  • Stella Glow employs the usual tactic of causing lower-level enemies to give less experience, but it also subtly enforces this trope by encouraging the player to make use of Level-Up Fill-Up to turn the tides of battle in the middle of a stage.
  • Super Robot Wars uses a similar system to Fire Emblem, although games with units that have the Repair ability can spam it as long as they like on another unit that has it to gain free experience for as long as they like. It still only allows them to level up their pilots, though: the mecha themselves need to be upgraded with money between stages.
    • Many stages throughout the franchise feature either endlessly respawning mooks that have to be survived for a certain number of turns, or a boss who immediately regenerates to full health whenever they die until an event happens. In the latter case, the boss will usually give no or significantly reduced rewards for deaths after the first. In the former case, the mooks often, though not always, have some limit after which they either stop respawning or will deliberately stop attacking on their turn to stop the player from infinitely killing them with counterattacks.

    Visual Novels 
  • Tears to Tiara 2 also plays with this. You get less experience against units of increasing lower level. But that doesn't stop you from using skills and items on yourself for experience. It's called "Apple Throwing" which easily allows you to get pretty high on the level curve. If you're a 100% Completion player, unless you only overleveled one character, you can say goodbye to that S-Rank since the game penalizes you for having characters having a higher level compared to the highest leveled campaign enemy on the field.

  • Several of Atari's arcade games from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s prevented Loophole Abuse in scoring with a rather subtle strategy: Instead of zeroing out players' scores at the start of each new credit, these games ranked players based on their cumulative scores divided by the number of total credits played (e.g. 100,000 points / four credits = ranked score of 25,000).
  • In Ingress, Portals "burn out" after being hacked enough times within a short period of time, and cannot be used again by the same player for four hours, forcing them to find another portal to get items from. While the Multi-Hack mod can be installed on a Portal to increase the number of hacks before burnout, nothing can manipulate the burnout timer.

Non-video game examples:

    Fan Works 
  • I Woke Up As a Dungeon, Now What?: The higher an adventurer's level relative to the monsters he kills, the lower the chances those monsters will drop any loot. So a high-level adventurer could fight his way through an entire floor of low-level monsters, and maybe get one cheap drop out of it.

  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): The System permits some amount of Level Grinding, but restricts the benefits in a number of ways, forcing individuals to descend into the deeper levels of the Dungeon, and face stronger monsters, if they want to progress. For example, levels and mutations and core strength are all capped by evolutionary level — but evolving increases a creature's mana requirements, and imposes a penalty for experience and biomass points gained from less-evolved monsters. So, a monster that wants to stay in the first stratum will find it increasingly difficult to gain any experience, and will eventually hit a hard limit, where it can't grow without evolving, and can't evolve without descending. Anthony does eventually find ways to reduce the biomass penalty for eating weaker monsters, but not eliminate it.
  • The MMORPG Mechanics 'Verse that is Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? seems to use this to avoid "Level inflation." While Stat Grinding is allowed and only limited to diminishing returns and a cap of 999 stat points, levelling up requires a "heroic feat." While defeating level bosses counts, level bosses are also Random Encounters... and they spawn once every 14 in-universe days. More than half of the adventurers in the universe never had a level-up as a result.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In most tabletop RPGs, the GM can decide to stop giving or severely restrict XP to high level characters who look to grind by going to places with lots of low level monsters that they can easily kill in one turn. Depending on the GM, he of course ALSO has the ability to replace the goblins and what not the PCs THINK they're about to go slaughter for easy XP with say, high level dragons...
    • Another variation is once PCs reach a certain level, most of their XP will be from completing quests/storylines as a whole, with maybe only specific enemy XP given out for the higher level baddies they defeat.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, the amount of XP you get from a given monster shrinks as you level up, and is cut off to nothing when you are more than eight levels above a monster's challenge level. DMs usually scale the monsters they use to the party's level anyway.
  • In Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution in order to keep players from exploiting the sheer destructive power of overloading, kills racked up from overloading do not grant xp.
  • In all Palladium Books games, three ranges of XP are assigned to Minor/Average/Major threats. The GM decides how to classif them relative to you. An enemy who was a major threat before can shrink to minor if you gain power or tactical advantage. If you severely outclass them they may not even be considered a minor threat and give no XP at all, or a collective group of enemies might qualify as a singular minor threat.
  • In its third edition, The Dark Eye awarded a large amount of experience for the first encounter with a creature and decreased it with every following one (as it is less of a new experience, one can learn from). Since the fourth edition, experience is only awarded for completed tasks and adventures to avoid grinding.

  • In Star Trek (Stern), it was discovered very early on that you could advance all six of the Level 1 missions without penalty simply by catching the ball on the flipper and waiting it out until time runs out. This cleared the mission, and upon clearing all six, Kobayashi Maru Multiball would begin. This would prove incredibly boring to watch and, according to some top players, boring to play. Subsequent patches to this game increased point values for Kobayashi Maru Multiball based on points earned during the Level 1 missions, froze the timer if the game figures the player isn't doing anything, greatly increased points earned by actually shooting the correct shots for Level 1 missions, and awarded broze, silver, or gold medals for having made enough successful shots for each Level 1 mission.

    Video Game Systems 
  • The Nintendo 3DS features a pedometer that rewards you with "steps" for taking it with you on walks (not to mention the ability to gain other peoples' Miis on StreetPass). You get "play coins" for walking enough (or just shaking the device up-and-down and side-to-side), which you can use in Mii games, but you can only get 10 a day, and can only store 300 at maximum. This was probably implemented so that people wouldn't spend all of their days farming for points, and possibly also suggesting that the owner of the system just take a nice, long easy walk, and not risk a wrist cramp.
  • PlayStation Home's Aurora space had a minigame where you could collect orbs to level up and get items. This sounds simple enough, and you could go back and retry as many times as you wanted to get better scores, however Aurora only registered your best try for that day. You had to come back tomorrow if you wanted more XP, so you could try to max out your XP for a day to your best ability, but it was more worthwhile to come back tomorrow.