An Ascended Dilemma

An article on reddit made me think a little today, I had never really thought about it in that way before and now that I have it really seems to resonate with how I feel about the game. The title pretty much says it all but there is bit more to it then just being about better gear. Reading that thread I kind of had one of those epiphany moments, it revealed that one niggly little feeling in the back of my head which has been spoiling a bit of my gameplay of late. Guild Wars 2 was supposed to be more casually orientated where it was more about grinding for outfits than for gear but i don’t think they achieved that aim very well. I know people have thought this for a while but the extent of it was just out of sight until recently.

While exotic gear isn’t too hard to get, when combined with the great customisation inherent in the classes with weapon and trait swapping it just becomes a headache as gaining multiple sets for each spec you like from Carion to Beserkers or Soldiers is actually a big ask for the average player. I have had the time so far so I have 3 sets of gear for my one main class but there is more I honestly would like given the chance  but anyone else without the time is unfortunately going to be stuck with the one.. Maybe 2 major roles fully geared out.

Then there is this problem which becomes multiplied by the inherent design towards people alting. The different classes are a lot of fun to play even if leveling them isn’t and a part of the fun to the game is enjoying these classes in the games different aspects. But gearing up one character for the different circumstances that may arise takes enough time as it is, now we are multiplying that per class. It is a shame not to enjoy a class’s different to aspects due to the grind and time that goes with gearing but that’s what happens. I haven’t even finished leveling the Ele and I’m already dreading the fact of getting more gear for it, doing dungeons all over again makes my skin crawl (even speed running them feels awful , or grinding out these Lagons that everyone is piling onto at the moment. I just don’t want to and even if it does eventuate i can never imagine myself doing it for another character.

And then we have Ascended gear which have a huge time value attached to them, around a month just to attain a single piece from the laurel vendor. Anyone who wants to progress now has to play everyday otherwise it is going to take far longer. While I still don’t have a single Ascended piece and honestly don’t plan too I am still rather unhappy with the system because due to the time factor the Ascended system makes the classes more limited then any other factor. We’re looking at months right now just to fill up the jewelery slots, imagine when we have armor and weapons to contend with. That then is just one for one stat combination, what happens when i want to switch to a different spec, lord knows if I actually want to play an alt.

You can see how that then becomes the primary factor in a person’s choice of character, if you want to remotely min max you are limited to one character and one spec. Now people do say that it is inconsequential anyway, the difference on an Ascended item and exotic is minimal but when you add up having an entire set it is actually a decent increase. For a beserkers set you were getting a 7% increase in power, 6% for crit chance, and 12% for crit damage… now think when we can get ascended for each piece of armor and weapons.

Now this may not matter much for fighting random ai in dynamic events or in dungeons but when it comes to pvp every bit matters, and believe me that that increase does matter. But then even if it doesn’t matter is it ok that progression wise all you can hope to achieve in the foreseeable future is to upgrade one spec of one class… It just doesn’t feel right as the time factor involved is exorbitant. As many Laughs points out in his recent homage to GW2 I am indeed bored of this grind, I don’t even have to be playing I just get bored thinking about what I would have to do to get it all.

We were promised many different avenues for progression before release and I was expecting a lot more from them.. Interesting outfits, abilities you find in the world, unlockable events and contents not this. Hell as it is right now I would prefer the dungeon grinds for gear rather then this prolonged time based restriction. I remember getting our entire guild geared up through raids in rift in a much shorter time then it takes to get just the Ascended trinkets and I enjoyed that far more. I can even come back with alts for another run if I wanted to as content and progression weren’t account bound.

Now there do seem to be a few better options here that keeps the systems that have been designed already and allow people these avenues for progression but which may also appease the many of us who don’t want to feel forced to complete a daily everyday or run through recycled fractal content.. that want to enjoy they class customisation or even other alts. Firstly why not have these token purchased items account bound and second why not allow people to trade them in for a different set and just add a price for the convenience. I wonder if there are any more ways this model of gear progression could be better suited to the foundations of the game… i hope so and I hope Arenanet can better mold this system into matching their original manifesto, that one that was oh so alluring until it was promptly crushed.

Oh and need moar horizontal progression.. I don’t really like most of the dungeon models so all I really have now is to collect all the dyes… I thought we would have had more gear models added by now.

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6 thoughts on “An Ascended Dilemma

  1. The reality is that there are a lot of very good reasons why existing games are they way they are. Yeah, sometimes its laziness and someone just copying what another game has done, but sometimes its because previous games really have found a system that just works.

    I remember in one of the pre-release bits of PR they talked about how they didn’t want floating icons above heads. But, then they said that during playtesting, the players would just run by NPCs who had been poisoned. So, they added icons to indicate the NPCs were poisoned to encourage people to stop and help. More recently, they added icons above the “bounty” NPCs for guild events. But, essentially, they simply rediscovered why other games had the icons above NPC heads.

    I suspect the “grinding for gear” part is actually part of the evolution of the game. GW2 has attracted a lot of the traditional MMO players, and those players are used to grinding for gear. But, to what end? I mean, honestly, what do you need Ascended gear for, besides for the infusions to resist the damage in the fractals? My main is in mostly level 79 gear (top level medium armor looks hideous, and I don’t want to blow my limited level 80 transmutation stones before I settle on armor), and I’ve done a bunch of dungeon runs without being the weak link int he group. Getting the ascended gear seems like overkill.

    Anyway, as I’ve said before, it’s interesting to see this sort of malaise settle in just six months after the game has launched. We’ll see if they can keep the game going for as long as other games have. I do wish them tremendous luck.

    • The question I think is working for who. Developers probably don’t enjoy iterating on existing concepts or down right cloning. Then there is the pressures of crunch times to stay with deadlines and budgets.

      Players.. Hmm, not from what I can see. Some are of course but there has been a predominate voice of dissent regarding the current paradigm for a while.

      Investors… Yes until recently. They sold enough boxes and got a few months sub earning a decent return but with the fickle nature of most and inflated budgets profit is getting rather negligible.

      I think we the players (including myself) can be very wrong sometimes.. Many times regarding what we truly want we often can’t voice the nuisances or even imagine it. We have yet to really have that many games that test what our interests and dislikes are.

      Sure the playtest/interest group testing can be useful at times, often enough though all it does is confirm existing biased and comfort towards the stereotypical norm. Quest icons are the norm and anything else like a truly quest less system would be rather foreign and of course garner a little apprehension from the average mmo gamer.

      What this can’t tell you though is how a certain new concept or product would perform over the long term if implemented. One of the biggest complaints I hear (and have myself) regarding GW2 is that it often feels just as on rails as the others when it’s apparent selling point was a more freeform system. Maybe it would have been much better had they stuck with the original design and had players adapt to and and gain a new comfort.

      I’m still not convinced that worthy character progression must be statistically better gear, the slew of recent failures (subjective) is indicative of that. GW2 taking that on isn’t so much an evolution of the game as it is settling back into traditional mmo standards that people are familiar and comfortable with.

      Comfort and familiarity can definitely be a good thing but usually only when your the origin or best iteration of a certain concept. In the long term for most I don’t think it is a good practice for a newer game which is trying to set itself apart.

      And you would be surprised how much full Ascended makes a difference when it comes to pvp. It further skews the dynamic of skill being paramount to success, the ease and normalisation of gear in pvp is a great thing and people being on a relative equal playing field was another selling/differentiation point. Ascended gear is a slippery slope.

      You might say it doesn’t matter in WvW where it is about group combat, but then, what about when we start getting casual guilds and groups going against the more hardcore… Ascended gear further skews it in their favour. And then what about the under levelled characters who are already at a severe disadvantage, this just further exasperates the issue.

      It’s no where near the difference between gear levels in other games but that really isn’t the heart of the argument. It’s that I, and probably others feel a bit lied to. This isn’t the expectation we had, I honestly was expecting and wanting a system like the original Guild Wars just with a more open ended experience and less instancing… In fact I think that’s what a lot were wanting.

      I wish GW well in the future as well, it is an excellent game but unfortunately it is not the one I feel I purchased.

      • The answers are complicated. Do developers like copying existing games? Actually, some do. Some want to copy a popular game but make it better. WoW was largely a clone of other games, with a few innovations like the quest log and a whole mountain of Blizzard’s trademark polish. EQ1 was an attempt to recapture some elements of a beloved text MUD the original developers played. As I said, I suspect what might be happening is that the ArenaNet developers aren’t necessarily copying other games as much as they’re stumbling across the same answers that other games arrived at before. Given their design decisions (which look a lot more like other MMOs rather than GW1), they’re coming to what seem to be the obvious conclusions.

        Do players want more of the same? Some people with longer MMO histories and more discriminating tastes might not want them, but keep in mind that GW2 sold millions of copies. It’s hard to generalize what such a large population wants. I imagine that ArenaNet is taking care to pay attention to what people are doing in the game, and creating content to satisfy those needs. They might also be looking at the people who are spending the most money and catering to them, making sure that they get a compelling experience to keep them playing and paying. Gold sellers have taught us that as much as people might claim to hate “pay to win”, there are a lot of people out there all too happy to do just that.

        I’ll agree with your point that it seems ArenaNet was promising one thing, but is ultimately delivering something else entirely. I have a few theories about this, but I think I’ll save them for an actual blog post rather than another wall-of-text comment. 🙂

      • It’s definitely a more complicated issue then I’ll ever be able to understand.. But that won’t stop my rambling nonetheless.

        From my point of view they’re stumbling once more on the easier of the answers to the content question. There are many other systems that would probably work better and be more within the original design brief then a simple time gated gear grind that really doesn’t have an idea extra content created specifically for it (maybe fractals are but that’s one very recycled part). I think the use of this method comes down to time and resource constraints, I’m guessing it is the best they are able to do for now as anything more substantial is not possible.

        I mentioned the original because it had a more unique system that let people progress and gave the hardcore things to aim for.. Reasonable things to aim for. GW2 seems to be the much bigger project with more money and manpower at its disposal so it just strikes me as odd to fall back to a very simplistic easy to implement system.

        Starting to wonder if the service and live team progress would have been better if the went with a sub

        Looking forward to hearing more on your thoughts.

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