Wait… If it scales contract payments, and we know that contract payments are the most reliable way to determine difficulty…
That would imply that renown is in fact the primary driver of difficulty.
“Reliable”.. I really wouldn’t call it that. 2 contracts, one after another. First catch thieves, 2 raider 6 thugs 3 poachers – 2* contract rewarding about 800 crowns. Immediately after I take a 1* contract for about 400 crowns, retrieve relic, so I assumed it would be 8-10 auxiliaries at most. Turned out it was 2 necrosavants, 7 auxiliaries. In woods, so no information about enemy composition – companion archer got 2-shot. If it were 800 for a 1* contract I might have expected a bit more resistance. I should probably also mention that the savants started off with about 50% of their max HP. I would like to know if that is the reason they were being treated as low-tier?
Sometimes, you get a 3* contract for say 1500 crowns against 15 or so enemies, mostly thugs, some raiders, a leader and 2-3 marksmen. At the same time you get a 2* contract for 1k crowns against 10 raiders or so – which is the more difficult fight imo.
The thing about renown scaling rewards but not difficulty makes the whole guessing of what we may encounter a bit inconsistent. If the difficulty is scaling with company level or ingame-days but rewards are unaffected, we get to situations like this: we take a contract one day, it is easy and a few guys get a levelup. We go straight to the next city, take a similar contract with the same rewards, same amount of skulls – it should be just as easy, right? I mean we literally just did the same job 5 minutes ago, however in the meantime difficulty got ramped up and now you may be in trouble.
Anyways the balancing in general seems pretty decent to me right now, just sometimes there are these random occasions where I feel really cheated.