In September, ArenaNet heralded the age of a new kind of MMO. One that eschewed the leveling game/raiding distinction in favor of horizontal progression. This was lauded as “the endgame reimagined”, an escape from the skinner box carrots of old.
Many critics at the time questioned whether this model could work in a market where competing themeparks continue to offer exponential character power progression to hold the attention of their audiences. But ArenaNet stuck to their guns and launched an MMO with a unique philosophy:
“We didn’t want the endgame to be something you could only experience after a hundred hours of gameplay or after you reached some arbitrary number.”
Two months later, this new endgame is starting to look uncannily like the old endgame. From the most recent official blog post:
“We have always worked hard to create a sense of satisfying progression rather than gear grind and this new item progression initiative is no exception. By adding challenging new combat mechanics to end-game content and ways to mitigate those mechanics through gear progression for high-end players, we can add personal progression without making the game feel like an endless treadmill of gear that is just out of your reach.”
In effect, ArenaNet will be offering new content that is gated by a requirement to grind more powerful gear to fully complete it. This is the antithesis of ‘flat progression’ and a far cry from the lofty rhetoric we saw in September.
2 months is not a very long time to wait before adding a feature which is a complete about-turn from your original design goal.
What’s next – the return of the holy trinity of tank/DPS/healer?