How could ascended gear be improved to be worth all the effort of acquisition?
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, be that 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.
Since the introduction of ascended armor last December, a common topic of conversation is the worthwhileness of ascended gear in general. The small stat increase over level 80 exotic gear is very minor, which has many people crying out for an improvement in either function or straight up stat increase to make the sizeable amount of effort worth the end reward.
While I agree that the end reward is not quite up to par with the effort given, I am hesitant to give this new gear a substantial buff. As it is currently, having ascended gear is not a necessity. I have played Guild Wars 2 since the game’s head start, but it wasn’t until this last October that I had my first character in full Exotic+ gear. For most of the game, having the best in slot is not a requirement, and it wasn’t until World vs World Season 1 that I felt the need to equip myself in the best gear I could. The same holds true for ascended gear as it is not required for any part of the game, though the small stat increase will help in those special min/max spots such as WvW, high-level fractals (where ascended is also needed for gaining agony resistance) and the highest echelons of dungeon speed running.
So when I see people suggesting that the effort match the reward, I only see that they are wanting to change ascended gear from a good, but completely optional, upgrade into a mandatory one. The idea of raising the stats to match the effort is a perfect example, as obtaining max stat exotic gear is so much easier than obtaining ascended gear that the stats would probably have to double to match the effort (which would be far from optional for any area of the game).
Yesterday’s blog post announced that Legendary and Ascended gear would never become soul-bound, instead only going as far as becoming account-bound. This means that players will be able to transfer their legendary and ascended gear across each of their characters.
For legendary weapons this makes sense. It takes a lot of effort to make these, the stats can be freely changed and weapons are a common thread across multiple classes. With ascended gear, however, being able to transfer the gear is less useful. If I have a condition damage armor set for a condition Necromancer, it wouldn’t be very useful to transfer to a Berserker, Elementalist or Mesmer. While your Engineer might have a condition build, it uses a different armor weight and shares none of the same weapons as the Necromancer. While it makes a lot of sense for legendary weapons, it starts making less sense for ascended gears.
Being able to change stats on ascended gear would help with this, but being able to select any stat at any time would be too great of a benefit. After the wardrobe announcement this is even truer, as players could make the easier to craft ascended weapons and skin them with the legendary skin to have the exact same functionality and look as if they put in the effort for another legendary weapon. Instead of giving ascended gear that functionality right out of the box, I would like to see the ability to grow ascended gear to include the ability to swap stats.
From the start, crafting ascended gear would be the same and give the same end result. For example, I could craft a Berserker ascended staff and it would be an ascended staff with Berserker stats. Now from here players would be able to craft a consumable item, use it on their staff and unlock the ability to swap between unlocked stats. So if I craft an Infusion of Celestial and apply it to my ascended staff, I would be able to freely switch between Berserker and celestial stats on the staff. The staff could then be expanded to include every stat combo until it would be on par with the legendary weapon’s ability to freely swap to any stat.
How would stat infusions be made? These stat infusions would be crafted by each armor and weapon crafting discipline as well as Jewelcrafter once jewelcrafting is raised to level 500. Each discipline type would then make a unique infusion for its type of gear. For example, Armorsmith, Tailor and Leatherworker would all make the Armor Infusion of Berserker, which could be applied to any armor of any weight. The weapon crafters would make weapon infusions and Jewelcrafter would make infusions for the jewelry and probably the backpieces as well.
The recipe itself I would want to include Bloodstone Bricks. These are ascended level crafting mats which would fit well with these infusions being solely for ascended gear, and this would be a good sink for them since they are in such high supply for most players. The recipe I imagine for these is the level 400 crafting exotic stat component, 5 bloodstone bricks and 5 Mystic Coins. The stat components would determine which stat is being made as well as for what type of gear it is for. For example, to make an Armor Infusion of Beserker I would be using Berserker’s Intricate Gossamer Insignia, for a weapon version it would use Berserker’s Orichalcum Imbued Inscription and jewelry would use an Exquisite Ruby Jewel. The Mystic Coins would be to round out the recipe and mimics the laurel cost of ascended, but in a more readily obtainable form as these can also be bought off the trading post.
With this system, ascended gear can grow to become a really valuable (especially with their upcoming change to account-bound gear), but are not instantly the best in slot players can instantly obtain. This is how I would want ascended gear to be improved, with a clear benefit but still remaining entirely optional.
Matt "Mattsta" Adams can't wait for... Wait, is nothing happening on April 1st...?
I am really excited for all of these features that we are getting on the 15th. That is not including the 4 (at the time of writing this) blog posts still to be revealed and 3 additional Ready Up livestreams before the big patch. The big feature patch really seems to be living up to the hype. I can't wait to dive into all these new features on the 15th.
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