Endgame Plus: ArenaNet Explains GW2 Gear Progression

By Nathan Grayson on November 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

I've always wondered if things can see and/or aim while firing lasers out of their eyes. I think this image answers my question.

So this is potentially a bit problematic. Once upon a time, ArenaNet prided itself on taking the “end” out of endgame in Guild Wars 2. And admittedly, it’s not like Tyria’s baddest beasties and best quests are suddenly making a beeline for the back of the bus. But ArenaNet is moving full-steam ahead with that oh-so-restrictive of popular MMO practices: gear checking. Put simply, if your stuff’s not up to snuff, the upcoming Fractals of the Mists dungeon will eventually chew you up and spit you out. The solution? A brand new “Ascended” gear tier that’ll allow for special upgrades that mitigate progress-slowing (and in tougher cases, halting) debuffs.

Notably, ArenaNet was quick to point out that its goal isn’t to rope off portions of the game from all but the most dedicated players. Rather, it hopes to “add personal progression without making the game feel like an endless treadmill of gear that is just out of your reach.” So its heart seems to be in a non-evil place, at the very least. Here’s how the first bit of gear progression works:

“In the upcoming Fractals of the Mists dungeon, we’ll introduce a new monster condition called Agony. This extremely dangerous condition ticks percentages of player health away and can’t be cleansed by normal means. Players who wish to delve deep into the Fractals will find that Agony makes progress increasingly difficult, until they reach the point where some defense against this condition is a must. The only way to mitigate Agony damage is by building up resistance through Infusions, a new type of upgrade component that can be acquired in the Mystic Forge.”

Ascended gear – which outdoes Exotic items stat-wise and is roughly on-par with Legendaries – includes special Infusion-specific slots, which take the place of upgrade slots and come in Offensive, Defensive, and Omni flavors. In this specific case, players will need to collect necessary supplies in the Fractals so they can then progress even further in, well, the same dungeon. That said, ArenaNet’s calling it a series of “mini-dungeons,” so that may not be as repetitive and grindy as it sounds.

ArenaNet’s ultimate goal, meanwhile, is to keep expanding Guild Wars 2’s collection of high-level activities – which will, of course, involve adding new types of Infusions and Ascended gear. I’m interested, then, to see how it’ll avoid falling into the dreaded treadmill trap, given that players will also presumably have to earn the new types as well. I mean, what do you think? Does Guild Wars 2 need a more concrete endgame? And if so, is this the solution? Is this the sort of thing you play Guild Wars 2 for? At all?

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79 Comments »

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  1. Wodge says:

    This seems to be in reaction to the “Uber Epeen Thumpers” who refuse to do downlevel content simply because they love the big huge numbers.

    I’ve been level 80 for a while now, and still working on map completion and don’t really feel the urge to only play around in Orr.

    • Jumwa says:

      Yeah, my friends who whine and moan about having rushed to 80 as fast as possible and that Orr sucks are mind boggling to me. It was made apparent from the beginning that this wouldn’t be a WoW style thing, where you rush to endgame to grind gear, yet they chose to treat it as such and are now disapointed.

      Having a blast personally, and I’ve only explored 40% of the map, thus far!

      • x1501 says:

        I haven’t played GW2 yet, but I saw enough “having rushed to …” comments back in recent SWTOR to have an opinion on this. Which is: if you make your 300-million game so easy that people can “rush” through most of the content within a couple of weeks, it’s your own goddamn fault, not the players’.

        What people like you fail to understand is that so-called “rushers” are mostly just experienced gamers who play at their regular pace and don’t really try to rush at all. Anticipating the lack of endgame content, I played SWTOR as slowly as I reasonably could (that is, without losing interest and abandoning it entirely), and I still was running out of worthwhile things to do by the end of my second month. By the end of the third [free of charge, courtesy of deck chair-rearranging EA executives] month, after casually leveling a couple of ~lvl20-30 alts, getting some of the best gear and 2-manning every single 4-man “Heroic” and “Hard Mode” dungeon—as well as most lower level “world bosses”—without breaking a sweat, my co-op buddy and I were basically through with the game.

        If it was really my fault, and not Bioware’s for making the game so damn easy, next time I decide to get into an MMORPG, I’ll make sure to break a couple of fingers on both my hands to make the things more challenging and exciting.

        • Jumwa says:

          You haven’t played the game, so don’t fret about not understanding.

          I am not some ultra casual piddling along at a low level. I’ve reached max level in Guild Wars 2, same as my friends. In fact, in WoW I held a Server First Achievement for being the first to hit 80 on my realm. In TOR, I was late to start, but I still outpaced my friends in hitting end game, much to their frustration.

          The difference being, in GW2, all those zones you didn’t do while leveling up? All that content which you didn’t need to hit 80? It’s still relevant. Because of level/loot scaling, it’s all very relevant. And there’s tons to go back and see and do.

          So the comparisson doesn’t work, unless you’re trapped in such a WoW-clone mindset you can’t acknowledge these facts.

          • x1501 says:

            Since the core leveling system in GW2 is still linear and works similarly to those of WoW, SWTOR, etc. (get enough XP, gain a level), and since scaled down characters continue to receive “experience and loot comparable to what they would receive at their real level”, dynamic level adjustment is not really an issue here. Again, you remind me of “I’ve been savoring the game for six months and so I’m still at level 13″ fanatical anti-rusher cries I saw back in SWTOR, where extreme casuals tried to blame the failing state of the lackluster game on more experienced players who had the audacity to level up faster than they did.

            In short, Guild War 2’s been out since late August. If you’ve been playing it since then and only managed to explore “40% of the map”, you can’t seriously expect the rest of the players to be as slow as you are and then blame them when they aren’t.

          • Jumwa says:

            None of the people I’ve known to complain about the ‘lack of content’ have 100% completion. None of them. They are all people who assumed that once they hit 80 the game is over except for a gear ladder/dungeon/raid content.

            And if after what I said you can accuse me of being someone stuck at level 13 and complaining about people leveling fast, then you’re being willfully ignorant in your attempt to make a point about a game you never played.

            I am not a casual player, I just recognize that there’s more to this game than replicating the WoW clone formula. It’s not about getting to max level so you can start the real game. The real game is exploring the world and seeing what there is on offer. If that’s not your cup of tea, then fine, but don’t blame it on lack of content.

            There’s a reason that map completion is the foremost stat tracked, with the biggest achievement display area. Whine and moan that it’s not a WoW style setup, and that exploring the world, and doing events isn’t your thing. But that’s not the same thing as a lack of content.

            And how is level scaling not pertinent? It means the content you’re doing at level 80 is always relevant. You’re still gaining levels (yes, you gain levels still at 80, and there is a purpose to it), karma, coin, and other rewards. And while doing so the combat isn’t a joke either, the enemies are still a threat.

          • Wreckdum says:

            None of the level 70 and below content is relevant if you have a fully exotic geared character. It is trivial. They said they would have an awesome level scaling system so all the content would be challenging regardless of level. I’m a level 80 exotic geared TANK and I can 2 shot everything in lower level areas.

            If they fix the level scaling maybe people would stop complaining about nothing to do. I despise going to lower level zones because I know all I’ll be pressing is 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

            Shit NERF 80’s in lower level zones if you have to. Do something to add some challenge and skill to the game.

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            jrodman says:

            I’m an experienced gamer who’s been playing gw2 since september and have explored 43% of the map.

            I consider myself in the NORMAL range. I think people who rushed to 80 in weeks are ABNORMAL. They are playing the game like its their only reason for living, and I consider it unhealthy for them, the game, and others in their lives. I would rather these people get frustrated and leave. Maybe if it happens enough they’ll stop gaming this way?

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          I agree with you that these games are all far too easy, but I don’t know what developers can do about it while still catering to a wide range of players. Difficulty options would solve some problems, but how on earth do you implement them in practice? Removing levels and vertical power progression could open new avenues for varied difficulty, but that would be an incredibly bold move in a very conservative industry.

          Not that the current situation is much better. I can’t manage to play GW2 in its current form for more than 30 minutes or so without becoming desperately frustrated; either I’m mindlessly killing monsters in complete safety, or I’m getting instakilled by higher level mobs that take a couple minutes of circle-strafing to wear down.

          This is especially galling when compared to a game like Dark Souls, which demonstrates perfectly how to balance real danger to your character with a sense that your attacks are effective and lethal in their own right.

          In GW2 it often feels like my enemy has an assault rifle to my paint gun – he or she is just really terrible at using it.

        • Docslapper says:

          years ago I played a nice little MMO called Horizons. It had a lot of problems, mostly to do with an amazing premise that was completely screwed up in implementation. But… you could level to 100. The content kinda stopped around level 40, and all the cool events and co-op play stuff was around 30-40 (which was a lot of fun).
          But some people just saw the whole thing as a race to 100 and the only way to get to 100 was to grind continually on one mob type. So that’s what they did, they spent weeks grinding to 100.
          Of course, there was no content for them when they got to 100, because the devs had a grand plan that involved creating the higher-level areas as we progressed through the co-op events.
          So they quit the game moaning about the lack of content, when in fact there was tons of content but it was all back at level 40. Stupid design decision, sure, but also some really stupid player decisions as we all knew the situation and had been told repeatedly that racing to 100 was pointless.

          But there’s no telling some people…

          • x1501 says:

            “They are playing the game like it’s their only reason for living”? Good god, people, you simply don’t get it. The maximum amount of time I used to spend on SWTOR on any given week was no more than 12-15 hours. Maybe closer to 20 hours during the first two weeks (it was released right before Christmas), but 12-15 hours tops afterward, with the bulk of it usually being spent on the weekends. So with my less-than-2-hours-a-day average, how much time was I supposed to spend on this monthly fee-charging game in order to not be seen as a rushing hardcore no-lifer? 30 minutes a day? 15? 5? Your disparaging argument might have had any meaning back when MMORPGs were still highly demanding timesinks, but now it’s about as relevant and up-to-date as the one about all gamers being fat and living in the parents’ basement.

            And you could claim all you want that, for example, there’s a tons of stuff to do around levels 8-12 in today’s World of Warcraft, but that won’t change the fact that no experienced gamer could possibly stay in that level range for longer than maybe a couple of hours of extremely lazy gameplay. Even breaks from the game are of no help, since the newbie-friendly offline “resting” experience multiplier will then shorten your actual in-game leveling experience by 50%. And when you outlevel an area, whatever little challenge and sense of danger was there is—poof!—all gone. Sure, you may decide to stay and explore the area completely, but you may as well be playing with God Mode on. The leveling process there is so pathetically easy and awards you with so much experience, the only choice to stay in that bracket is to skip on all in-game activities, sit in the general chat channel, and bitch about the rest of the players “rushing” through all the abundance of the 8-12 experience instead of enjoying it fully. Because that’s what non-ABNORMAL gamers do.

        • Apocalypse says:

          x1501 you are talking about the wrong game. For swtor you have to go back on topic and than turn left.

          In the context of GW2 you are simply not making sense, the game is way broader and richer than TOR in spite of not even claiming to be a game that offers much endgame.

          And while I have to agree the the level scaling works not perfect outdoor, those 40 dungeons seem all interesting enough even at level 80.

          I am playing since release, and I have jet to high level 80 with my two mains which are both level 67 right now. Simply because I do not focus on XP but just enjoy content in a non-linear fashion. My wife plays every day a few hours and still has only 2 level 80 chars and both lack still their legendary equip.

          We both have not played pvp so far at all. I think this are enough signs to proof that there is a significant amount of content to play. And after all there is a content patch this week to give more progression for those whole like another tier of their dungeon play, which is fine, because the dungeons currently are easy. More challenge is always good.

          • Incanus says:

            One of the worst problem with GW2 is that: it’s fraking ultra easy. It’s a total cake walk. You can nearly activate your abilities randomly and still own mobs 3 levels higher by packs.

            A game with no PVE challenge at all from 1 to 80 is not worth playing for me. At least in the early days of WoW, there was some PVE challenge. When you were facing solo an elite two level higher, you would be prepared to some difficulty.

            I don’t see any improvment coming in this matter for GW2, so no point playing further. Seriously, i will not play a game just to “jump ohoh, jump to get achievement, ohhhhh so cool” or zerg dungeons. Or contemplate the abysmal readability of what happens on screen when more than 3 players are involved…

            It’s the new trend: players (a vocal minority) are frustrated by even the slightest PVE difficulty or time to spend O_o. They want to breeze through the content and feel like a superhero even at lvl 1. They want to kill kings and dragons at lvl 2. Feeling of progression or achievement is no point for them.

            Ok, why not? But then, don’t play a MMO based on progression and levels, play ATID, i dunno.

    • aliksy says:

      Did 100% map completion in Orr, don’t plan on going back very often. At first it was kind of neat because I thought the event chains actually would lead to big things, but they kind of don’t. There’re a lot of camps to defend, and Lyssa’s Temple is kind of cool, but for the most part it’s just annoying zombies.

      • Incanus says:

        Big problem: “interactive events” and “dynamic quests” are a total lie. That’s just things with no meaning at all and no impact at all on the world happening ever 5 minutes. What’s the point doing them more than in one area? Even Daoc or WoW did things better.

        Where is the fraking phasing GW2? It’s a technology existing since several years and they are lazy enough to not even use it to make the player feels that what he does in the world change the world at least for him O_o.

        When you have done one area, you’ve done all. It’s more of the same. No narrative originality or creativity, always the same activities (kill things in a zone, wow! very different from WoW indeed? Hmm not at all).

        If we are supposed to play this game only to contemplate different scenery hmmm..no thanks, i can take a walk outside home and enjoy full 100% interactive and high resolution environment.

    • Enikuo says:

      In fairness, the game could stand some adjustments around down-leveling, loot scaling, and travel cost to encourage people to get out of Orr. The reward structure does imply a linear, upward progression. Personally, I ignore those upward progression ques b/c I’m a slow-poke altaholic. But, I get why other players feel disappointed by “end game.”

      That said, I don’t think new tiers of gear, with better stats, and content gating mechanics are the answer, at least not long term.

      • Apocalypse says:

        Fractal endless dungeon mode sound like a good idea for long-term progress.

        Procedural generated content has always a little feeling of exploration to it. Just think how long Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 content stayed fun because you explored each time a new dungeon and had to option of gear progression while doing so.

        This is for sure not the only solution, and other content patches are needed as well, with new art assets and maps, etc, but imho this is a good step forward for content creation that is not faster consumed than produced.

  2. Trithne says:

    Sure, ANet, “Personal Progression”. Except tying that progression to what gear you’ve got is still a gear grind, no matter what you call it.

    And we had this exact same mechanic in GW1, except there it was part of the plot, the counter to Agony wasn’t restricted to a handful of top-tier items, and you didn’t get infusion by feeding materials you again have to spend god knows how long getting to a swirly portal in the middle of a city.

    The Mystic Forge has become a crutch that they’re using for all their content instead of actually having meaningful adventures.

    I really miss GW1 itemisation.

  3. cyrenic says:

    ArenaNet is clever enough that they could have come up with something better. Gear checks are just lazy design.

    • rittenhaus says:

      Let’s go back to GW1.

      Seriously, I love GW2. And even with two 80s, I’m far from having exhausted all the content in the original release. The real shame of it is that ANet has decided to cater for the things I thought were stupid and unfun about WoW: gear grind and gear score. I know I can just keep playing the game my way anyway, but the game’s about since August, and already ANet’s so afraid of everyone “going back to WoW” for their dopamine treadmill that they pull a stunt like this.

      Whatever. I’m up to my neck in games, anyway.

  4. PopeJamal says:

    How is this a problem? I thought this is what “real players” wanted: gear grinds and chances to strut and preen. Isn’t fun and interesting for “casuals”?

    I’m confused. I don’t think I know what an MMO is anymore…

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Therein lies the problem. Too many people holding fast to their definition of what MMOs should be like.

    • Phantoon says:

      Actually, one of the main complaints going into Wrath of the Lich King was how everything had been casualized and there was no real challenge.

      Which really just meant there was no gear grind to make a fake challenge, either.

      • Brun says:

        There was a gear grind, it was just too easy. That became less of a problem later in the expansion, but the first raid tier was a total snoozefest if more than half your raid wasn’t brain-dead. LFR now fills the purpose that Naxx 25 did in Wrath (i.e. giving casuals somewhere to raid).

  5. Laurentius says:

    And people objected when i say that this game is grindy, it is far more grindy then GW1. It really does feel like at some point of development something changed and instead of something new we have more of something that does every other mmorpg. GW2 is broken game that cannot decide in which direcetion to go, more of GW1 or more of WoW. I predict ANet will be switching back and forth between these two roads: one update will bring forth more grind for hardcore players , half year later another update to mitigate it.

  6. Blackcompany says:

    Let me know when its a sandbox with player driven events, decisions that matter and real consequences.

    Right now it looks a lit like WoW/Rift/EQ with slightly improved combat. Which is a shame, since I want MMO games to change. Sadly, I doubt they ever will.

    • Phantoon says:

      Procedurally generated games aren’t really a thing right now, save for Minecraft’s terrain generation and what not.

      It’s certainly the next step.

  7. Squirrelfanatic says:

    To answer the questions at the end of the article:

    – Presumably there is only a small percentage of players that feel (important: feel) like they have seen everything and need more “high end” content. Granted, there are only few high level areas, so that might become a concern in the future. Right now I have no idea how people could possibly have seen and done everything.

    – Not gear is the answer, but love. And new group / single player content that is fun. But mostly love.

    – I don’t play the game for gear, but I am looking forward to the new dungeon (I have to say that I haven’t seen, let alone finished the existing dungeons yet). At the moment, I play the game for two things: 1. Running around the world and looking at the awesome things in it. 2. WvWvW :P

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    harvb says:

    One “problem” or issue with GW2 is that it, like every other MMO out there since time began, wants to keep adding stuff for the higher level peeps. Well I reckon they should add more low- to mid-level stuff, especially in a game like GW2 where your level isn’t as much of a factor as you will always down-grade when you enter a lower level area.

    Just my two copper pieces worth.

    • Phantoon says:

      Actually, a bunch of new events were added to lower level zones in the Halloween patch.

    • aliksy says:

      Agreed. They should also make sure the rewards for being in low level areas are on par with high level areas. Or get rid of levels for areas altogether.

      The downscaling should also be much more aggressive. I shouldn’t be able to one-hit bandits when I go to a lower level area. Kind of defeats the purpose of downscaling.

      And for people who want to FEEL POWERFUL, go play any of the many power fantasy games out there. Or get skilled enough that you can do well without “elite gear” as a crutch.

      • Brun says:

        So basically you want an MMOAG – Massively Multiplayer Online Action Game – rather than an MMORPG. Removing level and gear progression means taking out all of the game’s RPG elements.

        The level scaling in GW2 bothered me because it was annoying as hell. If I want to go back to a level 10 area and either explore or farm crafting materials, I have to slog my way through mob after mob, because low level mobs continuously attack me and the downscaling means that it takes a non-trivial amount of time to deal with them. It’s not particularly difficult or dangerous, just time consuming and boring (and immersion-breaking) – the entire time I kept thinking, “what was the point of leveling to 80 in the first place?”. The idea has merit but it got to the point at which I didn’t even feel like going out and filling in the map anymore.

        • aliksy says:

          An MMOAG might be fun, but you can have an RPG without numbers going up. RPGs are about decisions and consequences, not bigger ability scores.

          Guild Wars 1 worked fine with a low level cap. Played it for years, never whined about needing a new tier of equipment or more hitpoints. There’s no reason GW2 shouldn’t continue in that spirit.

          If you can’t kill or avoid low level mobs when downscaled you may not be very good at this game. When you’re level 80 you have better gear (3 stat bonuses), all the trait points, runes and sigils, and all your utilities. Some of that is vertical progression, but the wider options on runes and utilities are more interesting.

          I’m not sure how you see it as immersion breaking that ‘low level’ creatures are still a threat. For me, a giant ettin being a pushover because he has a “12” over his head is immersion breaking.

          If you let level 80 people trivialize low level content, that adds many more problems. I can’t play with my friends without keeping a character at their level. Events might be dominated by people one-hitting everything so I can’t contribute.

          Anyway. If you’re bored with the game, leave. Come back in a few months. No subscription fee lets you do that. And if the power ceiling was static, you wouldn’t even have to worry about trying to catch up with everyone else.

          • Brun says:

            If you can’t kill or avoid low level mobs when downscaled you may not be very good at this game. When you’re level 80 you have better gear (3 stat bonuses), all the trait points, runes and sigils, and all your utilities. Some of that is vertical progression, but the wider options on runes and utilities are more interesting.

            It’s not that killing them is difficult, as I said. It just takes a non-trivial amount of time which makes it annoying to do any kind of off-road travel, necessary for exploring. I would be fine if it were time-consuming due to difficulty – that would create a sense of danger and enhance the experience. But as it currently stands, trying to explore feels less like venturing into incredibly dangerous and mysterious areas and more like hacking through thick patches of weeds or underbrush to get there. Tiring and slow, but not terribly dangerous.

            As for avoiding, I don’t see what skill has to do with that. The mobs have a fixed aggro radius, if there are resource nodes that I want within that radius, those mobs are unavoidable.

            I’m not sure how you see it as immersion breaking that ‘low level’ creatures are still a threat. For me, a giant ettin being a pushover because he has a “12″ over his head is immersion breaking.

            I find it immersion breaking that fights between high level characters – supposedly grizzled veterans of foreign conflicts against the forces of death itself – and low level mobs aren’t completely one-sided. My character fought those same bandits when he was a greenhorn in his starting zone. Now he’s been fighting in Orr for 3 months, and those bandits actually stand half a chance?

          • aliksy says:

            Takes a few seconds to kill most mobs in PvE. What do you expect, one hit kills? Maybe it takes longer if your character isn’t built for heavy offense, but even then it shouldn’t take long.

            Fighting in orr doesn’t somehow make you better able to withstand a direct hit from a giant ettin. Compare that to real life if you want. Fighting in Iraq won’t make a NY mugger’s knife or gun hurt less. That’s why levels are often immersion breaking. But that goes into an off-topic “levels and hit points are stupid” argument, which is old hat (but maybe new to you).

            If the skills you’ve developed (plus the traits and equipment) don’t make fighting those early bandits easier, I don’t know what to tell you. You shouldn’t need 13,000 extra hipoints and 2000 more attack power to trivialize early content.

            I think the PvE fights in general are too easy, and shouldn’t become trivial so easily, but that’s also kind of off topic.

        • Enikuo says:

          You don’t role play stats on gear. A lot of RPGs have gear progression, but I don’t think that’s the main point of an RPG. I think you can have an RPG without it.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Leveled. Area. Two words that, when used together, mean i will never play this game. I want explore a game world, not move along a linear track. The concept of leveled areas kills enjoyment, for me.

          In fact, I think its about time we replaced levels with skill unlocked that produce new moves visible onscreen, & leveled health bars with good, tough A .I. in this day & age anything else is lazy design.

          Tl;dr – scrap levels & let me explore your world.

          • Trithne says:

            During the development I remember reading a blog post somewhere that said they tried the game without levels, and their playtesters got confused and didn’t know what to do.

          • aliksy says:

            That makes me really sad. I’d love if the world was really open without artificial level restrictions.

          • Brun says:

            The whole point of having “leveled” zones is to create the atmosphere of danger over the zones that (according to game lore) are “dangerous.” Places like Orr are high-level zones because the ingame lore casts it as being extremely hazardous and only accessible to the most skilled and experienced adventurers.

            The game’s narrative will break down if you remove that and inexperienced level 1’s can go prancing around in Orr and survive five minutes after they’re created.

          • aliksy says:

            @Brun:
            That doesn’t work when you have wolves in this area are level 20 but wolves in that area are level 70.

            Orr should be dangerous because it’s dangerous, not because those zombies stats are artificially boosted.

            I would love if I could survive Orr at level 1, if I’m skilled enough. You can hop into WvW and get by from lvl 2, so why not the same for PvE?

            If Orr still was the only place to get the best loot, that would be bad. But if they throw out leveled areas, that’s not a problem anymore.

          • Brun says:

            The stat boost is not artificial – it’s there precisely to make Orr dangerous! The levels and stats are just a means of quantifying the danger. Levels are a means of telling the computers (and players) that “Zombies are more dangerous than wolves because they are more durable and stronger than wolves, due to being dead (and thus less sensitive to injury) and being driven by necromantic magics.” Similarly, “the wolves in the arid steppes are more dangerous than the wolves in the lush forest due to the scarcity of food and water culling the weak from their packs.”

            Combat in these games will ultimately be based on numbers like hit points or damage because they are run on computers. Hiding those numbers from the player won’t change that fact, because a game’s narrative needs to be supported by its game world – when the narrative calls for some areas to be more dangerous and uncivilized than others, the designers have to have a means of doing that in a way that is compatible with computer technology. The most convincing way to do that in a combat-based game like most MMOs EVER MADE is to make combat more brutal in those dangerous and uncivilized zones. And how do you make combat more brutal? You make things hit harder and last longer, by giving them more hit points and damage – that is equivalent to increasing its level.

            TLDR: You can’t make places like Orr “dangerous” without filling them with mobs that make the combat more dangerous. You make the combat more dangerous by making the mobs higher level. This is true as long as the player’s primary means of interacting with the PvE world is via combat.

          • aliksy says:

            @Brun
            That’s a nice rationalization to explain why these wolves are so much more dangerous than those wolves, but it’s also kind of silly. You don’t honestly think the developers thought about things like that when placing wolves in the different areas, do you?

            You’re right that you’re going to need numbers to represent damage, health and so on, but you don’t need the old-timey levels and bloat. If you added Risen to WvW, they would be more dangerous than those damn birds because they do more than peck and screech. They could still be around level 80 like everything else.

            Guild Wars 1 had difficult end-game content without stretching out the levels. I half-remember a hard fight well after the level cap that was tricky because the dervishes kept doing vow of silence (can’t be targeted with spells), their elementalists keep setting us on fire, their warriors keep knocking people down, and I think one of them could revive the others. You don’t need to up their levels to make it a challenging fight. You can look at that group and say “That’s a lot of guys, and I bet they have nasty powers.” That’s good for immersion.

            You don’t need to just up their numbers to make it more ‘brutal’. Tucker’s Kobolds come to mind.

            Honestly, I’m kind of losing track what we’re arguing about.

          • Brun says:

            You don’t honestly think the developers thought about things like that when placing wolves in the different areas, do you?

            The guy placing the wolf spawns probably wasn’t thinking about it, because narrative tends to drive world design from a relatively high level in MMOs (this is arguably one of the bigger problems in modern MMO design, but that is for another discussion). But the lead designers that were creating the story and drawing the world map probably decided that “hey this will be our level 40-50 zone because INSERT LORE HERE.” (N.B. In reality I imagine that the process begins with deciding on the starting and ending zones and working from both directions to fill in the gaps). I was simply flowing the world designer’s rationale down to the placement of an individual mob, for the sake of clarity.

            You’re right that you’re going to need numbers to represent damage, health and so on, but you don’t need the old-timey levels and bloat.

            Levels are just an abstraction of stat differences (assuming the relationship between stats and levels is linear). It’s just a number you can use to quickly determine which of two different-leveled mobs has more stats, which usually means determining which one is more powerful.

            Guild Wars 1 had difficult end-game content without stretching out the levels.

            Having a low level cap (like GW1’s 20) just means that either adjacent levels will have huge differences in strength or level 1’s and level 20’s will have only a relatively small difference in strength, depending on how stat progression is curved vs. level. Neither of those things are necessarily bad, as long as your game is built to accommodate them.

            Two further notes. First, there’s nothing wrong with throwing a few groups of high level mobs in lower-level zones, as long as they have legitimate reason story-wise for being there. “Leveled zones” do not need to be rigid, making mob distribution somewhat flexible makes things more interesting.

            Second, the point I was trying to make is that I feel like some people don’t like “leveled zones” because they feel they are arbitrary, but I believe that is (usually) not the case. Even without levels, any game with a strong narrative built on its world will continue to use them to facilitate that narrative – they won’t have explicit numbers attached, but they will still exist behind the scenes. I will agree though, that in some cases level ranges for zones ARE selected arbitrarily, usually because there is a gap that needs to be filled and no story exists for justifying that level range. Doing so is a bad design decision UNLESS you flesh out the story as part of the in-game story of the zone.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          “Removing level and gear progression means taking out all of the game’s RPG elements.”

          I’m pretty sure there would still be crafting, horizontal gear collection, questing, personal story, talking to NPCs about their lives, exploring the world, making skill builds, etc. etc.

          Sorry for the snark, but that’s a weird statement to make. Levels and gear progression are not required, and the stubborn idea within the industry that they are the only real option is a huge driver in the genre’s stagnation.

          Now, I do agree with you that GW2 as it currently exists has been built around these systems, and would feel somewhat empty if they were just removed. Though personally I would still rather play that version of the game than the current one.

          Then again, I’m not a huge MMORPG player anymore. Not aimed at me and all that.

        • ScubaMonster says:

          “Removing level and gear progression means taking out all of the game’s RPG elements.”

          I don’t know, I considered Asheron’s Call 1 a regular MMO and it didn’t rely on any of that. I actually miss that game and wish someone would make a spiritual successor, just remove the tedium and update it to modern standards. AC2 was garbage, and it’s telling that AC1 is actually still running while AC2 shut down years ago. The problem is AC1 is so outdated that it’s painful. But it definitely has great mechanics when it comes to skills and how they handled gear. And dungeons. I also liked that the game had a real sense of danger.

        • Apocalypse says:

          You are just talking out the typical and so eighties d&d elements. Mass Effect for example was an RPG primary because of the freedom of choice and not because you could spend a few points in a few abilities. Implement meaning full choice and you are building an RPG, even if there are no special gear or stats points.

          But to be honest, without sandbox I have no idea how you would achieve something like this in an MMOG and sandbox games are not very popular because not everyone will be the hero in them.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    If I can Nathan, I’d just like to clarify something for you:
    In the article, you say “Ascended gear – which outdoes Exotic items stat-wise and is roughly on-par with Legendaries”. This is not exactly right, and here’s the point that’s annoying a lot of the userbase.

    If you log in to the game right now and are able to get someone to link you a Legendary weapon (or just paste this into the chat window [&AgHidwAA] ), you’ll see that its stats are no better than an exotic weapon’s. Much as in the first game, the way it stands at the moment is that top stat gear is relatively easy to get and that the Legendary or other prestige gear simply has aesthetic advantages. This keeps the game in balance while giving those who want something to work towards a goal to aim for.

    What ArenaNet intend to do with this update is introduce a new tier of equipment more powerful than what you may have already gained, and they’re increasing the stats of Legendary weapons to reflect this increase in power.

    Myself, I’m heavily against this move having come from a Guild Wars 1 background where an axe I got at top level when the game first came out was just as powerful as a top level axe 7 years and 3 expansions later.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Very well said. More than anything I just find this choice sort of inscrutable. There is zero precedent or existing logic in the game mechanics that leads to this change, so it comes off, more than anything else, as a failure of discipline or will.

      Like they started second guessing themselves – “do we need progression? Are we too much like WoW but not enough?” – and finally decided “oh OK, we’ll put in some gear progression, but only REALLY SMALL NUMBERS”.

      The whole thing just makes no sense.

      • MacGuffin says:

        I am similarly confused by this, they seem to be saying that Exotics are too easy to get so people are maxing out their stats too quickly and then don’t feel like they are gaining anything after that. Except that this very mechanism was a selling point for the game, an early gear plateau so you could focus on the aspects of play that you enjoyed instead of grinding the endless treadmill but this change seems counter to that philosophy.

      • stillunverified says:

        Started?
        They’ve been second guessing themselves since half way through development and the game has continued to suffer for it since.
        Perfect example: Hearts, their addition basically turned the PvE into Warhammer Online with better combat, which is okay, but not what we were promised.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Seems like a shame for Anet to move GuildWards 2 in that direction. I suppose they gave in to the progression junkies.

  10. JD Ogre says:

    “Ascended gear – which outdoes Exotic items stat-wise and is roughly on-par with Legendaries ”

    Actually, Legendaries and Exotics have exactly the same stat totals. Once Ascended weapons are added (the first batch of Ascended are a back item you can craft at the Mystic Forge and some rings you have to find in the Fractals), the stats of Legendaries will be upgraded to the Ascended level.

    The worst part is, one ArenaNet rep (Linsey, who wrote the explanatory blog post) says this is just the start and that more tiers will be added, while another (Chris Whiteside, on the forum, who I’d never heard of before yesterday) says that they definitely won’t be adding more tiers.

    The thread on the official forum ( https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/gw2/Thoughts-on-Ascended-Gear-Merged-threads ) about this is up to 7184 replies – and that is AFTER several hundred deletions. The GW2Guru forum was up past 1800 replies when I last checked last night. I hear the threads on other big fansites are also going strong.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mungrul says:

      I’m also curious about Lindsay’s claim that this is in response to player feedback. What feedback? I wasn’t asked what I wanted and whether I was enjoying the game by anyone from ArenaNet. I’ve never seen them ask anything of anyone in game. I certainly wasn’t consulted about whether I’d like the introduction of tiered gear invalidating my efforts thus far.

      • aliksy says:

        If someone asked me if I wanted more gear I would have laughed and laughed and then said “Fuck no.”

    • Premium User Badge

      Screwie says:

      Linsey’s actual words don’t mention adding more tiers – just new Ascended and Legendary items – so while the blog post is kind of vague, it’s not contradictory to the dev response that came later.

      • JD Ogre says:

        “This is just the beginning. In November, we’re only adding the first level of Infusions and Ascended Rings and Back slots, so that leaves us a lot of room to build upon these levels of Item progression in future content” sounds like more tiers to me, since it’s just “the first level” coming out on the 16th.

  11. aliksy says:

    Gear checks are bad design. Hard-to-get loot with better stats is also toxic for PvP.

    You know what they should do? Let the people who rush to end game and complain leave. Let them quit! They make the game worse with their presence. Cater to the rest of us.

    If they wanted to make “end game start at 1″ like they said, they should have scaled everything up to 80 like WvW. Don’t have different leveled areas that are harder or easier because these wolves are arbitrarily level 80 instead of 10. Do things like ‘these wolves are more deadly because they are covered in spikes and spit fire.’ This worked well in Guild Wars 1, so it’s not some radical unproven idea.

    If they did this, people wouldn’t feel compelled to farm orr for loot they don’t need.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      PvP won’t be touched by the addition of the new gear.

      https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/info/news/A-message-from-our-Studio-Design-Director-Chris-Whiteside

      Quoting from the post: “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. PvP will remain unaffected to ensure our intended PvP balance going forward.”

      Edit: Just realised you could argue that WvWvW is PvP. Individual gear of a few players won’t change much in there, I can assure you.

      • aliksy says:

        WvW is PvP. You fight other players. There have been many fights that I’ve won with < 1000 hit points left, and that's the difference between exotic and ascended gear. That means if I want to continue winning those close fights, I need to get the bigger stat items.

    • Trithne says:

      This is pretty much it though. They took everything they did well in GW1, threw it out a window and said ‘Look, now it’s a real MMO!’ ignoring the fact that what many people, myself included, liked about GW1 was that it wasn’t a real MMO. GW1 felt like an actual RPG, what with the instancing and the story that was always there and your progress across the world map actually representing something.

    • rittenhaus says:

      This.

      My forum post saying basically the same thing (without bad language or name-calling, I swear) was deleted within minutes.

      It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. I’m afraid they may be shooting themselves in the foot after all that good rap about how they’re a “community-building company that happens to make some really cool games.”

      • Focksbot says:

        “My forum post saying basically the same thing (without bad language or name-calling, I swear) was deleted within minutes.”

        The official forums are an absolute shambles. Posts are deleted left, right and centre with no rhyme or reason. No one knows who is doing it except ‘a moderator’. The messages you get when your post is deleted or moved are cryptic. I don’t know anyone who’s got a reply from the email address you’re supposed to use if you have an issue with the way your posts have been handled.

        I just went ahead and told them straight out they were doing a bad job of managing it – that moderators should be accountable in some way – and I was on a temporary ban within seconds.

  12. DK says:

    “Ascended gear – which outdoes Exotic items stat-wise and is roughly on-par with Legendaries – ”

    This makes no sense. Exotic Gear has identical stats to Legendary gear. The entire point of Legendaries is that they’re ludicrously difficult and time consuming to acquire, but look very pretty. They are allowed to be ludicrously difficult to acquire *because they are not better than non-Legendary gear*.

    So what is it? Is Ascended gear better than Exotic? (making them better than Legendaries)

    • Trithne says:

      There was a screenshot showed in one of the blog and/or forum posts by ArenaNet showing that Ascended gear has better stats than Exotics. Legendaries will apparently be uprgaded to match Ascended gear.

      Currently there will only be Ascended Rings and Back Pieces, but eventually Armour and Weapons at that tier, which is when they’ll upgrade the Legendaries.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        which would seem to indicate that people who want max-stat gear will need to farm this new dungeon to get Ascended gear, only they need ascended gear to reliably progress in the dungeon.

        I assume some ascended gear will be available elsewhere. I hope they add crafting recipes for it, at least.

        Eh. It’s all very circular, gamey MMOLOGIC. If they added a personal story arc in which you travel across the world to build a set of ascended gear, I’d certainly be more excited.

        • Trithne says:

          Heh. As I understand you get the infusions (which are what you need for the Fractal Dungeon) by feeding relics to that convenient chamberpot in the middle of Lion’s Arch that they rely on to distribute everything for them.

  13. pretty fiendish says:

    Maybe I’m a bit too casual, but I don’t really understand the rage some people are venting (mainly on official forums). I say casual, but I’ve been playing a huge amount of GW2 and enjoying it very much. I’ve never really cared about PvE that much, although I do a fair bit of it, so this doesn’t bother me a great deal. I guess games are such serious business (sorry: srs bznz) these days that you have to howl at the moon every time something isn’t exactly to you liking. If they add new gear then I guess I’ll get some for WvW, unless the sky falls before I get the chance.

  14. Blackcompany says:

    In other words: we are out of ideas for how to entertain high lvl players, so, – gear grind.

    You weren’t going to keep those people who leave. Period. They are leaving out of boredom. After, what, 300+ hours they are bored? Yeah, that’s pretty natural. So let them go. Then find out what the people who want to be there enjoy, & cater to them, instead.

  15. Phantoon says:

    This doesn’t really affect me, because I’m just leveling alts to level cap rather than bothering to get full exotics.

    And I think people are missing that the ascended whatsits will clearly require exotics to make in the first place.

  16. JarinArenos says:

    This sounds more dungeon-specific than a new higher tier of gear. Sorta like how you needed to stack fire resistance for Molten Core in early WoW. I really don’t have a problem with this concept, as long as they mix things up a bit as they go along. just introducing a new higher tier of gear with the required special defenses won’t work every time.

  17. Bios Element says:

    As someone who has bought 3 copies of this game, I support these changes.

  18. AngoraFish says:

    I play to 80 then start a new character, so it’s not big deal for me what they do with endgame. I’m onto my third character now – might just be sick of the game once I max out my starter 5 character slots. The idea of grinding for hours for a random endgame drop just gives me the heebie jeebies.

  19. ghoststalker194 says:

    I wish there was more to work towards other then gear. Give me a tiny playerhouse for 5g which I can then work for to upgrade more and more. First from cottage to large house, to mansion, to castle, to flying castle or something! And being able to decorate it with trophies you find around the world, or adding a new furniature proffession.

  20. Lotus says:

    They ahve done it before!, well sort of.

    GW1

    “All Mursaat and some jade constructs use Spectral Agony, which requires intense healing and/or protection for any characters not wearing infused armor to survive.”

    http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Mursaat
    http://guildwars.wikia.com/wiki/Infusion

    • kalniel says:

      Infused armour was your normal armour though, just with a mini quest to set the infused property on it. I don’t play GW2 so don’t know for sure, but this sounds like you need new items/take up a socket type thing.

      If inventory is handled like GW1 was, then I can see a commercial incentive in making you keep different sets of items around, so you buy more slots etc.

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  22. pixelrevision says:

    Their heart is in the right place, but they’re trying to cater to everyone which doesn’t really work so well. As it is the exotics make all of the content they currently have so trivial that most of it will end up getting ignored and will be hard for them to tune up around. The outcry over this is large, but once you’ve added stats lowering them would cause an even larger rage. Adding gear that has stat increases also gives people who like to “feel more powerful” a nice taste of it and when they run out of these upgrades to feed them then what are they going to do? In the end I think it’s a big mistake because it pushes them more to focus on developing content that their game does not even do particularly well.