[GW2]What do you give the gamer who has everything? More progression!


Someone is a bit enthusiastic about serving the Mad King

The Guild Wars 2 team have been wasting no time with pushing new content into the game. We have already seen a Halloween Event which included new quests, jumping puzzle, mini instance, mini PvP zones, and lots of cosmetic rewards. This weekend sees a slew of one off events and the introduction of a new zone (and free trials for the first time) and there is a new PvP map for sPvP also. Then there are the inevitable Winter/Christmas events which are doubtless in the pipeline.

But the latest announcement about this month’s new iteration of dungeons has been greeted with a 126-page threadosaur of outrage on the official forums. Why is that? Item progression. Entombed explains in more detail what the players are angry about. Some of his points look more valid to me than others – sure, a portion of the player base will care deeply about which site breaks the news but probably most don’t.

Truth is, in a game that was going to break open the MMOsphere by ditching all the conventions, this new content and gear looks very much like a traditional endgame gear progression. A new tier of gear is being introduced that sits between exotics and legendaries in terms of stats, and includes sockets for players to add a stat that will allow them to go further into future dungeons. Syp comments on the similarity with the unpopular LOTRO radiance mechanic.

And like the LOTRO radiance mechanic, none of this will impact on players who play the game more casually because they probably never had much intention of grinding cutting edge ‘endgame’ anyway. If I lack zeal for attacking Arenanet on this, it’s because I think their logic with the new content is sound. It’s just unfortunate that it goes against the entire spirit in which the game was sold.

To be clearer: The current dungeons are flawed, inconsistent, and not particularly fun. Let’s call it ‘inconsistently fun’; there are some cool encounters. There is also way too large a gap between exotic gear and legendaries, in terms of the amount of effort players need to put in. Legendaries stand at the end of an excessively long grind. Enough so that a player looking at the legendary requirements is likely to get sticker shock and end up playing the game LESS because they decide it’s not worth investing the time.

So a slew of new mini dungeons and introducing a tier of gear between exotic and legendary are both pretty good ideas. Introducing a classic MMO progression endgame grind into GW2? Nope, was never going to be popular. Particularly when the only way to get the gear is via dungeon runs. Particularly when players had become used to multiple pathways to gear so that dungeoneers, crafters, PvPers and dynamic event fans could all collect similar gear.

The outrage will get worse before (if) it gets better.  Yet still, Arenanet are putting a lot of effort into supporting their game with new content.

The problem with cosmetic progression

There is one huge sucking problem with the concept of cosmetic progression, i.e. letting players grind for gear that looks different/interesting/better rather than gear that has better stats. It is, “What if you don’t like the look of the grindy cosmetic gear?” Taste is subjective in a way that stat improvements are not.

And whilst you can transmute gear in GW2, who wants to grind dungeons so that they can buy some exotic gear with a new skin that they then transmute to looking like the old gear?

11 thoughts on “[GW2]What do you give the gamer who has everything? More progression!

  1. They’ve said on the official boards that there will eventually be other ways to get this tier of gear besides the ‘fractal dungeons’. I think that they should get those alternate options out sooner rather than later.

  2. They just posted that it’ll be obtainable in WvW and PvE. “Ascended and infusion rewards will be available in both PvE and WvW over time, and be made available through all sorts of content around the world including existing content. “

  3. There isn’t just cosmetic progression. There is also acquiring various sets of armour with different stat setups, I may start with a set of fairly balanced stats, but later may want one that is pure berserkers or one that is more healing/defensive focused. That may vary by profession, build and playstyle. Having that kind of versatility does take time acquiring the different sets. I wish they stuck to that model, maybe better communicate it to players because many will say what’s the point, all the while working on adding armour with more stat combinations from a variety of sources, and also work on giving professions as varied amount of playstyles as possible.

    There are also weapons that are in between exotic and legendary in terms of acquisition, they are made with specific recipes in the mystic forge, so can’t accept that argument put out by Arenanet either. On my necro I’m going with a staff that drops, and couldn’t be happier, plus karma exotics suits the main playstyle, the karma easily acquired from monthly achievements. Other characters may need much more investment of gold and materials to get the right stats.

  4. A new tier of gear is being introduced that sits between exotics and legendaries in terms of stats
    This falls into the same category of “true because we say it is,” but people are oddly repeating it. Exotics and legendaries have the exact same stats. The only reason that legendaries will be anything other than cosmetically different than other exotics is because they are adding this new change … and then the new items will have exactly the same stats as exotics, not a step in between.

    • This is the bit that threw me, too. I was under the impression they had the same stats as Exotics, just a different look. Either I and many others had that wrong all along, or it’s been retro-fitted so that Legendaries now have better stats than Exotics, or Legendaries and Exotics *are* still the same but Ascended has something on top and is therefore “better”.

      It doesn’t materially affect me because I never planned to get Legendaries or do dungeons. It does appear to materially affect the spirit of the game as it was repeatedly described and indeed marketed before launch, though. It’s hardly surprising a lot of people who may have chosen to play it because of those design decisions aren’t happy that they are now being trashed, even if it does prove to have been a sound move commercially.

      • Legendary weapons currently have the the same stats as exotics. All of that hard work is for the sake of looking cool and showing off that you did the hard work.
        Ascended gear is (a bit) better stat-wise. What ANet have said is that when ascended weapons come in, legendary weapons will get bumped up to match them in stats so they aren’t inferior, but still won’t be better than anything else out there.
        So basically, at the moment if you’re looking for ‘best stats’ – get an exotic weapon, and there are plenty for under 2 gold on the trading post as long as you aren’tr obesessive about a specific look (and my engineer got a very funky hi-tech asura rifle, the Azure Railgun, for 1g50s). If or when you get your legendary it won’t make a whit of difference to your effectiveness but people will turn their heads as you walk past and go “Wow, that guy has no life” 🙂 When ascended weapons come out they will have a (probably marginal) edge in effectiveness that will help in the new dungeon but is not necessary in current PvE (quite doable even without exotic level gear), is completely irrelevant in sPvP (where you don’t wear your real gear anyway) and won’t save you in WvW (where you tend to die to siege engines and/or being zerged).

  5. “who wants to grind dungeons so that they can buy some exotic gear with a new skin that they then transmute to looking like the old gear?”

    I don’t know – my DK transmogs his armor to the starting zone set and weapon (when possible) to the Barov sword.

    More broadly, no game company is going to please everyone and they really need to stop trying. Just decide on a supported play-style and bend your efforts in that direction.

    • Ah but the gear in WoW does have better stats. if you were collecting gear that had identical stats to your starting zone set but that didn’t look as good, you might not bother.

      • Yes-ish. As you said, taste if very personal. How much of an RPer you are is also important. I had some gear in LotRO that I really didn’t like but was very appropriate for some situations. Corner case, I know, but aesthetics is contentious in the best cases.

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