You can then have a few extremely difficult "elite" encounters that require significant skill. These can be for your relic weapons and whatnot. They give players something to aspire to without restricting the majority of the content to .
No, no no. Cause if you do this you get the balance problem you see in XI where all the new content is balanced against relic level weapon holders and people who want to play just once in awhile and aren't into 1000 hour grind super weapons are locked out of content.
Make high level weapons, sure, but make them reasonably accessible to all so that content can be properly balanced. Oherwise, the most hardcore get those weapons, then complain all the content is too easy and it messes up the game for everyone else.
It seems like you may have been reading that out of context. If the content is tuned to have multiple difficulty levels (which is what I was talking about), then no one is locked out of content. They may be unable to defeat the elite encounters, but there will be slightly less challenging versions that they can do. All of this also assumes that there is no significant grinding to earn the relic weapons. They're purely a matter of skill. In other words, the statistical bonuses of the relic weapons shouldn't even be the thing which really determines the challenge.
Moreover, we're talking about game design here, sort of in the sense of "what we would do if we were the game designers"... so if the problem is that the designers are tuning the balance to the most elite players, then the obvious answer is to not do that.
Edited, Dec 10th 2012 2:20am by Kachi