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Legendary Fury

By Jason Winter on April 04, 2016 | Columns | Comments

Legendary Fury

I made a semi-New Year's Resolution that I wasn't going to write “this kind” of article any more, the long and ranty screed about something being So Terribly Wrong in Guild Wars 2. It might feel a little nice to get it out, but I always feel a little guilty afterwards, like I'm just another “angry gamer” spouting off a half-informed opinion on the Internet, which there is no shortage of.

Also, I like that people at ArenaNet still talk to me, both officially for press-y stuff and unofficially via social media.  I swerved a little off my resolution last time, but I thought I was able to stay pretty level-headed throughout. This time, though, I could tell things were going to get unpleasant.

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A week-plus ago, Mike O'Brien told us via the forums that there would be no more legendary weapons after the upcoming new legendary short bow in the spring update. That put me in a not-so-good mood, and with about a week to stew about my next Guild Wars 2 article, all sorts of dark thoughts rolled through my mind. This was not going to be a pretty column, one that would make Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses look like a short list of mild grievances. I was going to nail this one to ArenaNet's door.

Maybe I won't get to 95, and the return of Super Adventure Box has mollified me somewhat (more on that later), but this one still won't be pretty.

The one thing I can mostly agree with O'Brien about is that Living World content is a “bigger” part of the game than legendaries and that more players probably do LW than legendary weapon acquisition. I've heard a few percentages floated around that try to encapsulate just how many active players try to make legendaries, to try and support both sides of the argument about how big a part of the game they are, but I have to believe that O'Brien knows those numbers better than you or I.

So, pragmatically, it's probably the right choice to focus on Living World content over legendaries. But this decision still brings with it a lot of negative consequences:

The biggest thing people seem to be up in arms over is that a full new suite of 18 legendary weapons were promised as coming with, or shortly thereafter Heart of Thorns. I don't think as many people plunked down their $50 (or more) solely on the hopes that they'd have fancy new shinies to chase as I'm hearing now, but there must have been some. I think folks were pretty patient with getting just three initially, with the promise that there would be more, but now we know there will only be one more, six months later – with no idea of when the next batch will arrive. The expansion promised us something, took our money, and then said we wouldn't be getting what was promised until some unspecified time in the future. That's just not a good impression to leave.

Regarding the schedule on those new legendaries... I know I've preached patience in the past with ArenaNet, saying that I'd rather stuff takes longer if it's done well and doesn't burn out the dev team with mountains of crunch. But when you directly tell us how long something will take in a blog post:

...and then a few months later, say, “Nope, it'll take longer. A lot longer,” why should we believe you in the future?

There are issues with the current precursor crafting method. I think ArenaNet knows that, I think Mike O'Brien knows that. My guess is that the dev team is going back to the drawing board and trying to work out some of the kinks to make things less grindy and more like the “epic journey” it was intended to be.

But that's only a guess, because ArenaNet insists on treating us like children who can't handle the truth, or is so full of itself that it can't admit a mistake. Look, I have a lot of respect for Mike O'Brien and the rest of the GW2 team, but this paragraph from his forum post:

…is simply insulting to players. You've been using “focusing on the core game” or its counterpart, ”laying a foundation,” for years as the reasoning for why things don't get done fast enough or well enough. We're not buying it any more. You've had three and a half years – six since the manifesto you referenced – to figure things out. If you're having trouble “taking on additional responsibilities,” then stop selling them to your players. It's either the fault of management putting unrealistic demands on its people, or those people doing a poor job of executing on a reasonable time scale. Figure out which one it is and fix it.

While you're at it, stop trying to convince us that everything will be fine if we'll just be patient and wait for you to get some solid footing. We did that for nearly a year in advance of Heart of Thorns and we're not going to do it again. You told us point-blank that it took about a month to get a legendary done and now you're saying it can't be done in any current time frame. We want to know why. If the new legendary system is messed up enough that you need to redo it, tell us that, and don't try to pacify us by saying that you're shifting development to Living World – until that becomes inconvenient and resources are shifted away from it.

Which brings me to my final point. There's still the issue of all the abandoned or half-executed elements in Guild Wars 2, such as dungeons, guild missions, the personality system to consider. Toss in the long content gap in 2015 and the three-year wait for precursor crafting to exist in the first place, and, suffice to say, consumer confidence that ArenaNet will ever get back to the HoT legendaries in something resembling a reasonable time frame is abysmally low. There just much of a positive track record to go on here, and we needed something, anything, to make us feel good about being told to wait... again...

As it turns out, we did indeed get “something.” As I was considering this article, I was planning to add “Super Adventure Box” to that list of timeless promises. As I think about it, I could still be a little sore about it taking two and a half years to return, but I'll let that slide. Instead, I'll look at it as a positive sign that ArenaNet might actually be capable of keeping at least one of its promises. It allows me to have the slightest hope that those legendary weapons might still see the light of day, somewhere down the road, after I'd pretty much written them off as more in-game vaporware.

That doesn't mean I'm totally pleased, or particularly patient, especially after another patronizing “laying the foundation” talk. If legendaries were supposed to take a month, and now that's more like six months, then something went horribly wrong. I'd wager that there is a systemic problem in their implementation, and Mike O'Brien is tactful enough not to point fingers at the employees responsible, but at some point there will need to be accountability. I hope the new game director proves up to the task of enforcing it.

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