Guild Wars 2's crab-tacular Lost Shores update (opens in new tab) , launching November 16, will introduce Ascended gear as an intermediary bridge between the current Exotic and Legendary gear tiers. ArenaNet's explanatory post (opens in new tab) reveals how a critical mechanic of Lost Shores' new Fractals of the Mists dungeon underscores Ascended loot's importance in addition to combating the so-called "Legendary wall" encountered by end-game players.
"Our desire is to create a game that is more inclusive for hardcore and casual players alike, but we don't want to overlook the basic need for players to feel like they are progressing and growing even after hitting max level," ArenaNet Game Designer Linsey Murdock wrote. "Adding item progression is a delicate process normally undertaken in an expansion, but we feel it's important to strive to satisfy the basic needs of our players sooner rather than later."(opens in new tab)
See, the salty scoundrels populating Fractals inflict Agony during combat: a stacking, uncleansable debuff slowly ticking away percentages of your health. Slotting the new Infusion upgrade within your Ascendancy duds shields you from the condition, a necessary step for progressing further into the dungeon for more loot. Wheel-shaped movement analogies spring to mind.
Murdock also stated current Legendary items will receive stat bumps to Ascendancy's level to maintain the appeal of undertaking the enormous resource and time efforts to get them. Of course, the stats afford by Ascendancy gear trumps Exotic items in nearly every way, defining a very apparent gear progression curve set forth by ArenaNet.
Like most MMOs, more gear means more risk for power creep—the gradual unbalancing of a game due to successive item tiers. Murdock wrote "complimentary Ascended and Legendary items" will be handed out as more high-level content unlocks in Tyria. The November Lost Shores update will provide Ascended rings and back items, with additional slots appearing in subsequent updates in the future.