I was going to wait until Lost Shore–the newest update com­ing to Guild Wars 2 on Friday–hits before mak­ing a judge­ment on the new “Ascended” tier of equip­ments.  Lin­sey Murdock’s insight­ful devblog saved me some trou­ble… or maybe added to my trou­bles, as I now feel com­pelled to com­pos­ite a “pre-rant” in face of the oncom­ing, bla­tant power creep of the worst for­mat to my beloved MMO.

Some bul­let points from the devblog:

  • The new Agony con­di­tion is a DoT on per­cent­age of player’s HP.  It is intro­duced in the newest series of dun­geons called “Frac­tals of the Mists”, in the Lost Shore update.
  • Infu­sion is a new upgrade type of items that can only apply to Ascended gears, with the sole effects of reduc­ing dam­age dealt by Agony.  Rarer Ascended gears have built-in Infu­sion stat.
  • As shown from the screen­shot, the Ascended jew­elry have roughly about 8% more stats than the Exotic ver­sion, plus the unused Infu­sion slot.
  • One impor­tant dis­claimer is that Ascended gears can­not uses upgrades other than Infu­sions, and given the flex­i­bil­ity of Runes and Sig­ils on armors and weapons, the effec­tive advan­tage of them ver­sus Excotics is not pre­dictable at this moment.  How­ever, Leg­endary weapons will have buffed stats to the equal of Ascended weapons.
  • Only Ascended Rings and Back items are going to come with Lost shore.  Rings are obtained in the Frac­tals dun­geons, and Back items are crafted via the Mys­tic Forge.  More Ascended items are in later updates.
  • After this update, power pro­gres­sion of equip­ments will look like: Com­mon < Uncom­mon < Mas­ter­works < Rare < Exotics < Ascended (Rings and Back items only) < Leg­endary (Weapons only, same stats as Exotics as usual for now).
  • The Infu­sion stat will be a “must” in higher level Frac­tals dungeons.

The last sec­tion of the devblog has a lot to say about future of the game, which I shall just present the quote ver­ba­tim… with lib­erty of bold­ing some impor­tant stuff.


The Future of Items Progression

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.

As we release more new end game con­tent in the future, you’ll see more Infu­sions and Ascended item types being added to the game.  Even­tu­ally, you’ll be able to kit your­self out with a full set of Ascended gear and high end Infu­sions to help give you the edge in end game content.

You’ll also see more Leg­endary items in the future and an update to our exist­ing Leg­endary weapons. Leg­endary items were always intended to be on par with other “best-in-slot” items. So fear not, all exist­ing Leg­endary weapons, which are cur­rently on par with Exotics, will be upgraded to be on par with Ascended weapons at the same time that we add Ascended weapons to the game. Thus Leg­en­daries will remain “best-in-slot” items. All Leg­endary items going for­ward will be of Ascended power. We also have plans to add more fun ways to acquire Leg­endary pre­cur­sor items with a more “scav­enger hunt” feel than they are acquired currently.

The new addi­tions in Novem­ber are just the start of our item pro­gres­sion ini­tia­tive. We’re going to add tons of new high-level con­tent to Guild Wars 2 in the future. As we intro­duce the new high-level con­tent, we’ll also roll out com­pli­men­tary Ascended and Leg­endary items (to say noth­ing of the other rewards you can earn by play­ing the content).

I hope you are all as excited about these new items as I am!

Sur­prised I am, to see Guild Wars 2 is now actively embrac­ing power creeps–the very sweet poi­son trap of MMO design which it was built to guard against. The game has been mar­keted to “have no end-game/everything is end-game”, but intro­duc­ing a top tier of equip­ments only obtain­able in a series of lv80 dun­geons, cou­pled with spe­cial resist stats, cries noth­ing but hypocrisy, deceit, and betrayal to the core vision of the game.

I truly do not believe the Ascended tier is the solu­tion to the gen­uine com­plaint of lack­ing of pro­gres­sion at end-game.  Just look at the game’s pre­de­ces­sor, Guild Wars 1.  The only thing I would call “power creeps” are con­sum­ables and PvE-only skills; none of them hides behind the man­tle of “char­ac­ter pro­gres­sion”.  Con­sum­ables are foods that give a good stats gain for a mod­er­ate amount of time.  Their craft­ing com­po­nents being the most abun­dant mate­ri­als in game, eas­ily farmed and traded, and the craft act as a sink for these items.  PvE-only skills, intro­duced in Fac­tions cam­paign and becomes a true power creep in Eye of the North expan­sion, is well bal­anced and since then became part of the metagame.  Like con­sum­ables, these skills are very eas­ily obtained by any­one, their power is lim­ited by only allow­ing each player to have max­i­mum of three PvE-only skills out of eight total skills.

Any­way, from the look of this devblog, I think the fol­low­ing will grad­u­ally befall to Guild Wars 2 as its expan­sions accumulate.

  • A gear “pro­gres­sion” sys­tem that is sim­i­lar enough to the other MMORPG, (you know, the one that is pretty much this game is built from ground up to be dif­fer­ent), to the degree that one is excluded from pugs doing level x Frac­tals dun­geon for not hav­ing y amount of Infu­sions.  ANet does not real­ize that play­ers who want this kind of dis­crim­i­na­tion will always feel more at home at the other MMORPG, and are not who they mar­keted this game to.
  • A few new series of dun­geons equiv­a­lent to Frac­tals are intro­duced in future expan­sions, fea­tur­ing their unique resist stats, and require play­ers to farm inside those dun­geons to acquire the appro­pri­ate gears.  Wel­come to Gears Wars 2.
  • The newer breed of dun­geons, like Frac­tals, will be the de facto PvE end-game con­tent.  Play­ers are com­pelled to farm in whichever of these dun­geons that just came out from the lat­est expansion.
  • The Leg­endary weapons’ power will con­tinue grow in the form of higher stats, as there will be enough expan­sions before a higher tier than Ascended is introduced.

I’m sorry, Lin­sey Mur­dock, but can you please enlighten my hum­ble self, who I believe is part of the tar­get audi­ence that you guys made this game for, on where exactly should I feel excited rather than wor­ried?  Any­way, if you’re read­ing this and feel this is exactly what you want in an MMORPG, please try out Guild Wars 2 because it still is a fan­tas­tic game at time of this writ­ing, even more so with these likely changes in the future.  And to my future self who will reflect on this post months and years later, as much as my dark side wants to have a smirk on the face and spout “I told you this would hap­pen”, I’d rather be laugh­ing at this entire post of gib­ber­ish fuss­ing about some­thing that never have materialized.