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An Honest Discussion about Ascended Gear

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November 13, 2012 - 10:16am -- innuendo
Guild Wars 2 Ascended Armor

I haven’t been doing this long enough to be mad at ArenaNet, so I’ll try to temper my rage with some insight. First, story time.

As I leveled my main, I’ve had 3 major milestones that brought me a huge sense of joy due to the freedom they rewarded me with. 

First when I was a young Asura wondering around Frostgorge Sound. I was in a cave with bats when slaying one I reached level 80. Ding! At that moment I knew I could go to anywhere on the whole of (the current) Tyria and be stacked up to the competition. I might not be able to get there, or have the best gear, or be able to tackle any dungeon yet, but I could get there and not worry about my base stats. Great feeling.

Second was when I completed “Been there, Done that,” the 100% world completion achievement. That, for me, meant even though I hadn’t seen everything Tyria has to offer, I had at least been to the neighborhoods, and for a few silver I could be back there. My friends in game could be anywhere on the map and I could join them in a moment because I had all the waypoints. Great feeling.

Third, I completed my Exotic armor set shortly after that through crafting. I still don’t have exotic weapons (no rush), but having the armor was crucial since it provided best in slot gear, and completed my character progression through the stat ranks. Save a few damage I was giving up by only have a Rare weapon, my character was as powerful as they were going to be. I could leave the game for a month, come back, and still be ready to take on any challenge. Great feeling.

More importantly, it was at this moment that I was finally in Tyria with a new feeling. Anything I did in the game was because I chose to do it. Not because I needed to do it for something else. Sure there are some carrots still out there (legendaries, cultural armor for looks), even perennial ones like daily achievements that I do. But those don’t make my character stronger, just cooler. I liked the freedom the game suddenly had. I could be anywhere I wanted and do whatever I wanted because I wasn’t falling behind some curve, or locking myself out of content. This was no carrot gameplay for me, it was all the dessert after a good meal.

This is why the story was important for ascended gear. I think ArenaNet was really close to a watershed moment in MMO’s. Training players, carefully and slowly, to play without carrots. Or at least not carrots that make you better at getting the next carrot than previous players. Yes, there is a gearing up phase to the current best in slot gear, but that is very minor and takes most casual players around a month. But that was it for the progression based carrots. Everything else was for fun. 

And that’s my chief complaint today: I don’t see how Ascended gear creates fun.

It might be a good system. It seems at least ArenaNet has done this with some temperance. You only really need infusions for the new dungeons, and you can get them from said dungeons. But it feels exactly like in days past “you need fire resistance to do this dungeon, and if you don’t have it no one will group with you” or other mechanics from other games that have ironically all be scrapped because they are divisive in their communities. 

Maybe, and I honestly hope this is the case: this is ArenaNet correcting an error in their original design, and not just introducing power progression. There was a huge gap in the time cost between getting Exotics and getting a Legendary. If Ascended gear fills that gap for them, that can be a huge gain for the game. But, I think what we as a community of outraged players want to hear from them say something along these lines:

“Ascended Gear will be best in slot for the lifecycle of the game. We needed to fill a gap we left in our original design while introducing the infusion mechanic we used in GW1. Ascended gear allows us to do that, and hopefully solve many problems for a slight pain to current players.”

If I had that once piece of confirmation, I would be set. Because there is a weird huge chasm between Exotics and Legendaries, and if Ascended gear, and the new crafting mat that comes with them, helps bridge that divide (possibly even solve some precursor issues), I'm all for it. New players who come into the game won’t notice this pain because Exotics will no longer be best in slot gear, and instead their gear grind ends at Ascended. And so long as I know I wont be back on this gear treadmill replacing my Ascended's with "Deity" level gear in six months, I can live with it.

But today I feel like ArenaNet in one fell swoop has removed one of my favorite achievements in the game. I was off the treadmill and now it looks like I’ll be back on it, for however short. We went from what was turning into no carrot gameplay and instead went back to baby carrots. So long as this does not divide the community into tiers, does not lock players out of content, provides a meaningful bridge up to a legendary, and I wont be doing this again in half a year, the upsides should outweigh the bad. If not...

We’ll see how it works out.


Zerdav's picture
Submitted by Zerdav on


Questions, will ascended gear be acquired through all the regular non dungeon means as well?

Will infusions really be useful only in said dungeons?

If those can be answered with yes, then they created a pretty smart system. Not particularly imaginative though, sadly.


Ayelet's picture
Submitted by Ayelet on

From Colin Johanson in the "Is it Fun" blog post:

This metric of success impacted a lot of our early content-related design decisions for Guild Wars 2. Some examples include:

Fun impacts loot collection. The rarest items in the game are not more powerful than other items, so you don’t need them to be the best. The rarest items have unique looks to help your character feel that sense of accomplishment, but it’s not required to play the game. We don’t need to make mandatory gear treadmills, we make all of it optional, so those who find it fun to chase this prestigious gear can do so, but those who don’t are just as powerful and get to have fun too.

Now I'm asking what has changed?  Is it no longer about Fun, or is it that they believe they have implemented a gear progression system that allows Fun?  Currently I feel that it's one more thing that they promised, but aren't following through on.  Like guesting.  Like full focus on building community. But, maybe I'll change my mind after I see the actual implementation.  I know that when they first said there would be Karma and Experience boosters in the gem store I pitched a raging bitch fit, when in implementation they are so inconsequential they should never have been mentioned.  I'm trying to avoid that type of overreaction this time around.  

chaosgyro's picture
Submitted by chaosgyro on

Heh, I'm going the opposite direction.  I preached temperance and moderation in response to earlier issues, but I"m throwing my raging bitch fit now.  I so very very much want to be wrong, but this pit in my stomach won't go away.

Maybe I've somehow fallen into the alternate reality ruled by my evil double from the Infinity Ball....that would explain a lot of things.

BZmek's picture
Submitted by BZmek on

I think if you go back and have another read of Linsey's blog, you may read some points that you have appeared to gloss over. They talk about in the future adding more ascended and legendary items - not adding higher tiers later on. They talk about the ascended tier being used to bridge the gap between exotics and legendaries so that players aren't hitting the "Legendary Wall" (as you state are wanting). I'm surprised too that people aren't thinking that this wasn't the plan all along from ANet and its simply that they are just implementing it now rather than at release.

Also, it was mentioned that in another users post about ANet not following through on promises like guesting. Come on now, they are working on it and don't want to implement something that won't work. Have some patience before donning the leather and grabbing those pitch forks. ANet is one of (if not the ) best out there. They've held true to their words and have made some pretty awesome decisions along the way. But I suppose theres no helping the naysayers doing what they do best.

Linsey's blog:

Ayelet's picture
Submitted by Ayelet on

Have some patience...  How much patience?  At what point would it be appropriate to stop talking about being patient and start asking that the problems be fixed?  They have been telling us since 2010 that guesting will be in the game.  It isn't.  Like you I don't want them to implement something that won't work, but I do expect them to follow through on their advertising promises, and that includes guesting.  

I've been a Linsey fan since the very first time I travelled down the Rabbit's hole.  Since doing the scavenger hunt for the black moa chick, and since trying to learn the path for the run through the Burning Forest.  Linsey gets more of my personal respect than any other developer at any gaming company, bar none.  She is tough as nails, imaginative, and sometimes downright sadistic (see the Burning Forest reference above).  I have never crafted in any game before, but when I found that Linsey was in charge of crafting I decided to do it in GW2.  I haven't been disappointed.  What I'm doing is certainly not grabbing a pitchfork to go after Linsey.  What I am doing -- and quoting while I'm doing it -- is saying that this move doesn't meet what they've said before.  It goes against the design philosophies that A-Net has touted quite literally for years.  

Years.  See the problem here?  


chaosgyro's picture
Submitted by chaosgyro on

You know if they wanted to add in a new tier of accessories that baked in jewel stats in order to make way for some kind of infusion mechanic for dungeon running....ok, I could get on board with that.  However, we know they're going to extend this system into weapons at least (since they're updating Legendaries - which are weapon only right now) and likely into armor as well.  

On weapons and armor this new slot will probably conflict with sigils and runes - if items can have more than one upgrade they likely wouldn't have removed jewels from ascended accessories - which hurts a lot of the really fun customization that this game sorely needs.  Also, it puts the unholy shaft to all the exotic gear acquired through the mystic forge.  Some of the weapons from that require damn near Legendary lists of ingredients.

Hell, that last line alone should invalidate everything Anet has done.  They ALREADY have a tier of stuff between bog standard exotics and Legendaries: the unique, named stuff from mystic forge.

Brock Samson's picture
Submitted by Brock Samson on

Honestly I do not see it as a large problem.

1, Theoretically the agony-countering infusion slotted gear will only be needed in the Fractal dungeons, and can be obtained though playing the Fractal dungeons. In these areas as in understand, the difficulty can be set by the players themselves. (If you do not like the place, you don't have to go there, if you like it, then you will have the appropriate item.)

2, The Ascended items do not give a large boost in any other stat than agony resistance.

3, You cannot stop players in sorting their party members by criteria. One of these criteria can be the agony resistance, but same stands for damage type, boon and condition applying/removal or even experience. Open minded parties will welcome you with less agony resistance as well.

chaosgyro's picture
Submitted by chaosgyro on

To quote that piece of information: "With this and upcoming updates, we view ourselves as introducing large amounts of content with supporting systems and features, akin to an expansion pack, building on Guild Wars 2 through a series of live releases. So it’s important for us to be able to add an expansion pack’s worth of progression and rewards to support that content." (emphasis added)

So they will A) be doing multiple content updates to equal or rival expansion packs over the life of the game (no news there) and B) it is important to add progression like this with each of those.  How exactly is that supposed to mean that this will never happen again? I'll answer that for you: it doesn't.

Rooggewonna's picture
Submitted by Rooggewonna (not verified) on
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Ken.zie's picture
Submitted by Ken.zie (not verified) on

Now ascended armor also come out. It is obviously to create a level of different stats power of player. Leveling up the mob of end level would be possible in someday which I believe. I am causal player and had never plan to craft ascended any gear till the ascended armor appear and my my bank inventory flooding of bloodstone and dragointe. I started to level skill for crafting ascended and the stress become killing me. I can no longer play the way  i used to be. I am forced to play those content which I dislike. Playing starting like working. I feel like to trap by the dilemma. Behind the PvE content few months later or start to craft. Crafting is so painful on more MMO. I have enough and now the nightmare feeling return. There is now have only one method to save myself -- that is making this not my game anymore. Anyway MMO is time sinking stuff that cannot give myself my good reward in real. I thinks Anet is going too far. Ascended now become a hallmark of grinding. It really hurt some players' fun.