This edition of the Scrying Pool wonders if the transmutation system is all it could be.
In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, whether that be lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.
In Guild Wars 2 there exists the Transmutation system. Through this system players can combine the stats of one item with the appearance of a similar item type, such as the stats of one staff with the appearance of a different staff.
This process is done through the use of Transmutation Stones and Transmutation Crystals. Using a transmutation stone or crystal opens a window with two slots: one for each of the two component items. After placing both items in the window, the player can select the appearance, stats and upgrade that will become the new gear item.
One problem with this system is that while two items are always put in, only one item comes out. If a player acquires two unique swords with amazing skins that he or she really likes, instead of using the transmutation system to alter the sword's appearance the player is instead carrying around two swords to preserve both skins.
While that in itself is not too much of problem, it does create the side effect of stagnation. While there are many different skins for armor and weapons, most players end up finding the coolest combination of armor that they would wear for the rest of forever. It prevents players from having a flavor of the week while also making some armor and weapon skins very common sights.
The other cause of this problem is that this system runs almost solely on gem store consumables. The only difference between stones and crystals is that if either piece of gear is level 80 a crystal must be used. If both pieces of gear are level 79 or lower the stone can be used. While stones can be obtained fairly easily in game, crystals are almost solely obtained through the gem store.
This means that a level 80 character is going to be paying 50¢ (USD) every time he or she wants to change the skin on each individual piece of gear. Want to change the look of your entire armor set? That's $3.
One suggestion that comes up occasionally is for there to be a PvE Locker. The idea is to make a version of the PvP Locker for use with PvE gear. This idea, however, only targets problems of storage presented with the transmutation problem. Even then it doesn't solve storage woes as the PvP Locker only stores a single piece of any gear skin.
The PvP Locker also doesn't have to worry about different stats. Any weapon or armor piece that can be stored in the locker has a default set of stats, unlike in PvE where you might have a level 20 Bandit Sword and a level 40 Bandit Sword with one having Power as the main stat and the other with Condition Damage as the main stat. Even weapons with sigils will lose the sigil when it is stored in the locker.
An inherent part of the locker is that every PvP weapon shows up within it, something of which I am not very fond. A negative of this was shown when the Super weapons were “leaked” almost a week early due to them showing up in the PvP Locker. Having every weapon shown removes any mystery of what is out there, in addition to being another thing completionists need to fill or unlock.
Between the slight negative of the locker showing everything in the game and that the locker most likely would not be able to handle different stated weapons, I don't think that a PvE locker would ever be added to the game.
So how do we improve the transmutation system?