Its been a while since the writers of GW2 Hub fought over an issue and the Ascended items, introduced a little over a month ago, certainly stirred up many a discussion. In this installment of the Last Whiskey Bar, Innuendo and I go toe to toe on whether Ascended items are a good or a bad thing. To mix things up a little, Innuendo is (less than willingly) in the 'for' camp and Xerin is in the 'against'.
Ascended Items - Against
In many ways, I am actually fine with Ascended items. They add an extra layer of progression, pink is a good colour for an item and the Ascended back pieces (or better back pieces in general) were a much needed addition. However, my issue is the fact that Ascended items have only been added to Fractals of the Mists (which has many problems by itself) and are almost entirely lead by the luck of random drops. Admittedly some Ascended items can be crafted if you throw money at it (mine cost me around 50g) but not all players have the luxury of such wealth and not all players are even fortunate enough to receive the Vial of Condensed Mist Essence. Luck would have it I received two from two enemies only seconds apart, other friends have not been so lucky and after hundreds of fractals have still to receive just one.
The fact that Fractals are the driving force behind Ascended items also ostracizes so much of the player base especially those who don't enjoy dungeons and all their 'perks'. The tedium of finding a group or the fact you have to complete three fractals to even progress through the agonizingly ill thought out difficulty system is enough to put many off. What is frustrating in all of this is the lack of consultation with the community or that Ascended items were even ready to be placed into the wider game world.
If an item provides a statistical advantage and yet can only be obtained by one method (despite claims it will be rolled out to other areas of the game world) we really need to be asking ourselves whether it should have been put into the game, in its current form. While ArenaNet have certainly gone about (or are going about, in upcoming patches) alleviating some of my concerns above , I still believe that Ascended items add an unnecessary hurdle for players who flocked to Guild Wars 2 to avoid the gear grind.
The stepping stone to a legendary weapon, from exotic is huge and rightly so, but do we really need something in between this to appease the player base? My gut instinct tells me that Ascended items and their implementation is all about ArenaNet actually adding a subtle gear-treadmill to the game to encourage the player base to continue playing. The carrot-on-stick is a guaranteed method of snaring players in the long term which further ensures money is spent on the Black Lion Trading Company. In terms of bottom-line, that's surely all ArenaNet's paymasters care about.
Ascended Items – For
This should be fun.
The argument for having Ascended Items only in dungeons isn’t one I want to make. ArenaNet has already stated they want to roll out Ascended gear across all forms of play. So allow me to sidestep the question a bit and talk about larger points.
Dungeons get you cool gear. That’s been a conceit of nearly every D&D inspired game since it’s inception. If you want cool stuff you don’t get it by standing in a town crafting, you don’t get it by running around the fields. You get it by going into the deepest darkest dungeon and prying it from the corpses of ancient and mysterious evil. Even in games with legendary status items that are “forged by finest dwarven hands” 9 times out of 10 the components in that item came from a dungeon somewhere far off.
The simple fact is finding the best stuff in the universe inside a dungeon makes sense. These are the pinnacle of bad ass in the universe. Fractals especially. Small shattered fragments of time laced with enemies and steeped in mythos. I would be enraged if I didn’t find the most epic loot to go along with that accomplishment.
You can make a good case for playing the way you want, and not everyone wants to run dungeons. Fair point, and one ArenaNet is already looking to cater to. But this isn’t about those players. This is about the players who want to tackle the hardest content, and get rewarded for their accomplishment. Any why shouldn’t they?
Just like a crafter expects to be rewarded for their time, and a PvE player wants to get rewarded for running around Tyria, the Dungeon running players should expect to get rewarded with some of the best gear. A huge issue in this game prior to this change was that outside of dungeon tokens, there was very little reason to farm dungeons. Especially when Karma was in scarce supply. Sure the gold was alright, but gold is one of the easier to come by resources in the game already.
Putting Ascended Gear in Fractals is step one to making dungeons worth running for character progression reasons. And without diving into ArenaNet’s possible future plans for progression. Right now the curve stops at Ascended, and that makes high level dungeoning both the hardest, and the most rewarding, experience in the game. And as we’ve seen, if the reward is the same for every activity, players will only ever do the one that is the easiest.
While the roll out of Ascended gear was sloppy, it’s a path that once refined will elevate the hardest content in the game the way it should be. Provided you can complete the dungeons, you should get the rewards to show it off. Once they get the rest of the roll out complete, you’ll see a truly vibrant set of options as players, ones that reward both time and challenge.
We've had our say, and now we'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter, and which of us should be declared the victor for the latest round of The Last Whiskey Bar. Do you believe Xerin makes a better argument for Ascended items, or do you side with Innuendo in thinking this new item addition is good for the game? Let us know in the comments below!