The ordeal began with one word: Ascended (opens in new tab) . During Guild Wars 2's Lost Shores event two weeks ago, ArenaNet introduced a new intermediary gear tier bestowing superior stats and a clearly defined upgrade path from Exotic items—a vertical progression structure many players felt betrayed (opens in new tab) the developer's design manifesto (opens in new tab) set forth years ago. In a Reddit AMA thread (opens in new tab) (via Eurogamer (opens in new tab) ), ArenaNet co-founder Mike O'Brien reiterated his position and appealed to the community for understanding.
"I hope we've been clear that Guild Wars 2 is not a game with virtually no stat progression in it like Guild Wars was," he wrote. "That's why GW2 shipped with a higher level cap and with a hard separation between PVE and PVP. In GW1, we never advanced the level cap through four campaigns/expansions. The game design didn't allow for it. But GW2 was designed without those restrictions, and we've always expected that we will someday raise the level cap in GW2."
Forum threads and Twitter messages cropped up frequently within the past two weeks to voice the displeasure of players feeling "lied to and deceived," with one forum member writing (opens in new tab) , "I spent a lot of time, effort, energy, and gems into acquiring my two and a half Exotic sets. With the implementation of Ascended gear, I've realized that this wasn't the case. All of the gear that I so painstakingly earned and bought is now obsolete. I've really worked for nothing."
"I truly hope ArenaNet recognizes the mistake that they made in gating their content and encouraging fracturing the community and forcing us to grind," wrote another (opens in new tab) . "I will not play a game that treats its players like this one did before and after the initial introduction of Ascended gear, so I truly hope the apology comes with some serious reflection and ACTION."
O'Brien also addressed concerns surrounding Ascended gear's timeliness in relation to Guild Wars 2's relatively fresh launch, writing he "appreciates that worry" but requested everyone not to lose sight of the bigger picture.
"So, I would ask you to judge us by details, and not by making slippery-slope arguments," he explained. "We introduced a ton of new content in November, and the sum total of new progression rewards we added to go with it provided a 5-10 percent stat increase in two of 12 slots. I hope you'll agree that that kind of very shallow and gradual progression does not force people onto a gear treadmill."
Elsewhere in the AMA thread, Studio Design Director Chris Whiteside revealed the backlash was "definitely expected" by ArenaNet, and releasing Ascended gear "would have been better at launch." He subsequently bombshelled his bombshell by declaring, "We have no intention of adding a new rarity gear such as Ascended."
Ultimately, ArenaNet will begin moving forward with itiered loot. "We have never said there would be no vertical progression," Whiteside concluded. "We do intend to focus on horizontal, but we will have vertical progression moving forward with the focus on zero grind and a very low power curve."