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?