The Lost Their Shit Shores

November 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 14 Comments
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Guild Wars didn’t have gear progression. You could get to level 20, buy a cheap set of armour, slap on some superior runes, and still be just as powerful as someone who had been playing for years. Progression in that game came with the multitude of skills you could acquire, the skins, titles, location unlocks, and other aesthetic goals.

Guild Wars 2 is a different game. Among the updates coming this week are rings that are slightly better than the current max stat rings available to players. Ascended gear. Not including whatever the infusion adds to the unused slot.

The rings in question.

Personally I suppose I expected gear to progress with an expansion. You don’t make a game that is this gear dependent and then do nothing with gear when an expansion is released. I fully expect progression of several types in the future as Arenanet have said they’re going with a more traditional expansion model. Seems like they’re probably thinking about that too.

Adding item progression is a delicate process normally undertaken in an expansion, but we feel it’s important to strive to satisfy the basic needs of our players sooner rather than later. – Linsey Murdock

What I did not expect was gear progression to come in this soon. 2 and a half months in and the exotic rings I finished making last week are going to be replaced next week. But to me that’s merely a minor annoyance. Others aren’t taking things nearly so well.

There is a lot of outrage at how this seemingly flies in the face of Arenanet’s philosophy that gear progression should be based on aesthetic looks rather than stat-based power. The thing is I don’t think they ever said there would never be any sort of gear progression. They just said it wouldn’t take you thousands of hours to get gear that is comparable to the rarest sets in the game.

“Here’s what we believe: If someone wants to play for a thousand hours to get an item that is so rare that other players can’t realistically acquire it, that rare item should be differentiated by its visual appearance and rarity alone, not by being more powerful than everything else in the game. Otherwise, your MMO becomes all about grinding to get the best gear. We don’t make grindy games — we leave the grind to other MMOs.”

-Mike Obrien, President of Arenanet

A lot of the outrage likely comes from the perception that Arenanet isn’t doing what it said it would do.

Exotic gear is difficult to get but reasonably difficult. Legendary weapons are difficult to get but unreasonably difficult. These rings, the back piece, for all we know are reasonably difficult. It’s probably only as grindy to get them as any other max stat ring.

What is more important a question to me personally is whether this sort of lateral progression, the infusion, is the direction Arenanet wants to go. This could easily create an atmosphere where groups don’t want to take a player with them because they don’t have anything infused.

The original Guild Wars had a type of infusion. The Mursaat had a skill that was called Agony and the only protection from which was infusion on your armour. Plenty of room for speculation about that in another post. But I certainly remember running Iron Mines of Moladune on every single one of my characters trying to do missions in Guild Wars with someone who was not infused and seeing people kicked out of parties due to their lack of infusion.

On the other hand infusion seems like a reasonable way to laterally progress gear, if only the stats didn’t seem to better on that ring. And I think Syp would probably have something to say about lateral progression systems.

All that aside I’m pretty sure this is a little bit of genius planning on Arenanet’s part. Argue about the possible hypocrisy if you like, but most major MMOs begin to have a big fall off in activity after their first 3 months. Adding in a bit of gear progression just as some of the more hardcore players begin to be done with the game is a very strategic move. The Lost Shores is timed extremely well if you ask me. 2 and a half months after launch.

As for me, am I a fan of the idea that Guild Wars 2 will have plenty of gear progression? I’m going with optimism on this one. This doesn’t have to be such a bad thing. I’m not really thrilled that I’ll be replacing my rings but I’m happy that I’m going to have more stuff to do and that Arenanet is charging forward with new content and ideas. I’ve done gear progression in plenty of other games it was always cool to get something better. Whether its Skyrim, Borderlands, Runes of Magic, Minecraft, or virtually any other video game ever, gear progression is not the worst thing in the world.

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14 Comments

  1. “vertical” progression

  2. “The Mursaat had a skill that was called Agony and the only protection from which was infusion on your armour.”

    Nitpick: It was actually called Spectral Agony. http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Spectral_Agony

  3. I think I’m in the same vein as you with this one, Hunter.
    I’m a bit irked that my gear may become out of date, and I do believe it is rather early to be doing stuff which (as you rightly point out) doesn’t quite go against what they said originally – but rubs up against it, certainly; but I just can’t find a concrete reason to get infuriated about it.

    I’m too excited to see the new zone, quests, missions, gem store items, dungeon(s?), enemies, drops, crafting mats, skins, mechanics. All for free. How can I be mad at that?

    • Yeah I don’t want to cheerlead but there’s no real reason to freak out here, Guild Wars could have benefitted from an occasional change from the strict level 20 and max gear philosophy.

  4. The drama surrounding this higher tier of gear is a bit preemptive. We already the know the highest tier is legendary, and they’re sliding in a tier below that. If they had just jumped to legendary, nobody would be complaining now. Except months down the road people will be disappointed with nothing else to work for. My one complaint is the current armor skins, and how the acquisition for them is all very distinct. I miss having materials to farm. Simple.

    • Drama surrounding gw2 is typically preemptive and nonsensical, there is a slight basis for it this time around but as usual its all overblown.

  5. Someone on the forums had some good insight on what ANet has been saying.

    He re-read Christ Whitside’s blog post and interpreted it as saying that ANet had messed up exotics; that they were supposed to be harder to obtain. This is the “gap” they are talking about between exotics and legendaries because everything except legendary weapons are pretty easy to get. Sure, that’s fine in and of itself, but people are fickle, and the players that weren’t already set out to get legendaries are sitting tight on their exotics but starting to stagnate.

    Ascended gear will only be slightly harder to get, and for now it will just be rings and back pieces to see how the integration goes. I know they are also going to be making legendaries slightly easier to obtain. This will close that gap and (hopefully) retain those players who have maxed out their gear, but are getting bored because legendaries are too daunting.

    I think ANet has an opportunity to better implement lateral progression and to play on their skill-based system and I don’t think they always live up to that potential. Ascended gear is a bit of a cop-out, but if the new content is truly epic, it makes sense that they didn’t have time to create a new zone and dungeon AND a sophisticated lateral progression system between their halloween content and the November content. I also think the agony mechanic is a bit lazy BUT there is also another side to that coin as well.

    Grinding is not all bad and some people just want to grind. Hell I know that since i’ve gotten my inventory to around 90 slots I’ve been known to randomly just start clearing mobs as I figure out my next move. FotM might be a compartmentalized grind for those players who want it, but in a way that it doesn’t creep out into the rest of the game.

    THAT does jive with their original philosophy.

    In the end, I think I’m like you: intrigued with a lot of this drama and feeling a bit mixed on how I weigh in on it all, but in the end optimistic that ANet will pull this off.

    We will see in just a few more days.

    • I think a great deal of Arenanets fans from guild wars are more casual players and as a result the exotic gear is a bit, not entirely, difficult to get. There are plenty of people still working on getting full sets of the stuff. So these rings they are essentially for the hardcore players who’ve had exotics for a while. I’m not sure they did mess up exotics, just they’re trying to please two crowds.

  6. […] Read more by checking out Hunter’s Insight’s latest post entitled, The Lost Their Shit S… This is a very opinionated article but many valid points are brought up and is a great read for any diehard GW2 fan. […]

  7. The faster Anet decides to start allowing these events to repeat every hour or so for a week the better. Their QandA doesn’t cut it, and making me miss out on stuff just makes me cranky. As for gear, don’t care. I just completed my story mode, still no professions or much karma. Call me strange but I suspect this is much closer to normal levels of play. The faster they go the more I feel left behind and loose interest. Man I’ve done 1 dungeon so far for gods sake… I’d like to see average time played and some stats like that. I can’t be the lower 1/2 of any average. I play as much as a family/job guy can without getting divorced or fired!

    • I have to agree with the qa comment, they’re just not cutting it.

  8. I am looking forward to the next event, I bought a couple of items off the trading post that people were just throwing on as soon as they got them. Hopefully I will make a profit on them.

    But yeah, I actually missed the whole event myself due to working night shift, so having the ability to repeat the event would be awesome.

    • Prices of some of the rare stuff have already come down quite a bit, but the exotics and precursor prices are beginning to rise again.


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