Last week a bomb shell exploded that resulted in a lot of commotion. Unlike most of the dramatic instances that have happened in the last year, this time around the commotion is well warranted. Of course I’m talking about the new legendary precursor journeys being indefinitely suspended.
For those who don’t know, ArenaNet President and temporary Game Director Mike O’ Brien got on the forums last Friday and dropped the news that after the April release of the Legendary short bow—Chuka and Champawat—all work on new legendary weapons will be indefinitely suspended. The team that worked on this content will be shifted to work on Living World style content.
First off, let’s talk about the word “indefinitely”. It has two meanings. For an unlimited period of time or unspecified period of time. So yes, there’s a chance that the weapons are cancelled. There is also a chance that they’ll work on them later, but even so I’m not expecting anything extra this year in terms of legendary weapons.
Another thing that I have a problem with is that O’Brien referenced the Guild Wars 2 Design Manifesto that came out in 2010. That was a bad move as it validates players who reference Guild Wars 2 blog posts concerning legendaries when talking about this suspension. The most notable one concerning legendaries was the “Looking Ahead: Guild Wars 2 In 2013” post that states in the Legendary Gear and Precursors section:
“… what I can say is you will see a specific way to build precursor items on your way to a legendary. On top of this, you’ll also see new legendary weapons and new types of legendary gear in 2013“.
It’s obvious we didn’t see anything like this in 2013, but that post also says near the end “As always, the content above is subject to change as we test and iterate on these systems.”
There’s also the blog post titled “Hot (not HoT) New Legendary Weapons” made shortly before the release of Heart of Thorns that says “… we will be releasing new legendary weapons in small groups at regular intervals until the full set of sixteen has been added to the game“. Note that they said game not expansion which leave room for a huge time table to release them all. Given we initially thought all the new legendaries would be accessible at HoT launch to begin with, I feel that many players thought that it was heavily implied that the legendaries would be regularly released within a reasonable amount of time after the release of Heart of Thorns. I think that’s a fair assessment to make given the information we had at the time.
By quoting these blog posts I’m not trying to start a he said/she said with whether it is ArenaNet or the players who are right. This is just what I see in these posts. Getting into the actual news, if I had two words to describe the situation they would be disappointment and concern.
Despite the format of releasing new legendaries, I believe it’s not unfair to say that the goal was to have sixteen new legendaries and their journeys in the game within a reasonable amount of time. Let’s say a year or so after HoT release, all sixteen new weapons were supposed to be in the game. After all this time, with only one new legendary journey coming out after the newest first three journeys, you can obviously see ArenaNet can’t deliver on this. At least not right now.
It can be really irritating for players that consider legendaries their end game. Then there are players that have been holding off for months to craft their Legendary shield or greatsword to see what the new versions of these legendaries look like. These players have to take the hit so that new Living World content can be focused on.
I think this is the first time in all my years playing Guild Wars 2 I’ve been truly concerned about the development process. It has been 5 months since the release of Heart of Thorns. Let’s say they had a month off—Christmas and all—which makes 4 months of development on new legendary weapons and their journeys.
You’d think ArenaNet would have a good understanding of the time and resources needed to make legendary journeys at a reasonable pace. They did give journeys to all the original legendary weapons and we did get 3 new legendary journeys. Buggy or not, that is what was delivered. There could have been issues within those months that reasonably hindered progress—such as fixing all the current Legendary journey bugs.
On the flip side, one Legendary after 4 months isn’t so hot. I know there’s a lot that goes into making the journey—connecting events and NPCs to the collections, making new items, developing the lore background of the weapon—but I feel like ArenaNet should have had a good understanding of how fast this process would take long before now. I can only speculate that they overestimated their abilities to build these journeys.
Staying on the concerned train of thought, I have to ask: why is this team now going to work on Living World content? Is this content behind if the Legendary Weapons team doesn’t help? Is it to speed up the timetable of Living Story Season 3 because of the recent content drought?
These questions were the first things to pop into my head and quite honestly scare me as it’s the more important issue that O’Brien’s post brings about. There’s also the mention of work on Expansion 2 which makes me ask: shouldn’t most of the issues in the first expansion be fixed and evaluated with feedback from the community first before working on another expansion? The reason I say this is that there are a lot of issues right now in every mode of Guild Wars 2. Some of these issues might be mirrored into the next expansion which is just overhead to fix once fixed in Heart of Thorns which means more wasted time on development.
In the end, I do like the transparency and I am glad that Mike O’Brien did come out and say ArenaNet can’t do legendary journeys, at least for now. It’s a sad thing to happen but Living World hits a much bigger audience than people who want to make legendaries. I feel like the timing & phrasing for this news could have been better though. After all, the April quarterly patch is just around the corner and would have resulted in less blow back. This news does however bring up concerns about how resources are being managed right now with all these issues and announced delays and cancellations on features.
It’s always important to keep in mind that people are mad, disappointed, or concerned because they love Guild Wars 2. Seeing this one forum post about indefinitely suspending work on expected content does however, raise a lot of questions that has me feeling that something needs to change.