Aside from sidescrollers and Fallout 76, another game I have been spending my time with lately has been Guild Wars 2 (again). Each time I come back to this game, I am utterly amazed at how unrewarding it is, at almost every level.

One of the much-touted features of GW2 is its horizontal gear progression. There have been two expansions released, but no level cap increase, and the most powerful gear has not really changed. Technically, there have been new sub-classes added and the optimal gear for them drops only in the that expansion content, but for the most part, you can be done with gearing permanently rather easily.

This makes for some extremely odd reward mechanisms.


Play for an hour, get 16 bags of junk loot.

Basically, GW2 showers you in random bags of useless loot at every stage of any activity. We’re talking Diablo-levels volume of drops, every one of which is utterly useless to anyone anywhere. Seriously, I doubt there is a single level 80 person out there that has ever picked up something off the ground and equipped it. Much like with Diablo 3, it’s much easier to simply hit up the AH once you get that final ding and just buy a full suit of Exotics with some of the free daily gold.

Ascended is the next (and final) gear tier above Exotics, and most of them come from longer-term grinding. The Living World Season 3 “episodes” are the go-to place to grind these items, and usually takes 100-125 currency to purchase something. While you can sometimes get 10-20 depending on luck/group events, the casual player can expect maybe 5 currency a day. Aside from Winterberries, which is what everyone should be farming, as it’s the only currency you can farm on multiple alts and funnel to a main.

I am not opposed to the slow accretion of currency to purchase things. Slowly gaining something gives you a sense of purpose, and having a defined target helps you plan your activity. You may not get stronger today, but you are one step closer to getting stronger tomorrow – and thus the time you spent playing was meaningful. It’s possible to get discouraged if the goalposts are too far out, but it otherwise works well as a system.

In contrast, the random loot GW2 hands out feels wildly out of place. Pointless to sell on the AH – the price is generally set to vendor +1c – the main thing you do is salvage it for materials and Luck… which increases your Magic Find stat… which results in more gear flooding into your bags. Now, sure, there is always a 0.00001% chance you get some amazing drop or whatever that might be worth something. But you can’t play around that. In fact, the odds are so low that I cannot even imagine a gambling addict being satisfied.

I don’t know. Is there anyone out there (other than Bhagpuss) that plays GW2 and enjoys opening dozens and dozens of little bags of loot and immediately scrapping them all? At this point, the only reasoning that makes sense to me is that ArenaNet does this specifically to drive real-money sales of extra bag/bank slots. I have seriously never seen such dedication to vendor junk.

Posted on November 7, 2018, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I am no longer playing GW2 – but this was the game I played the most in my life.
    Yes, the rain of junk is an issue, mainly because as I am now in Exotics, I no longer care for loot, and it take a loooong time to sell all of those.

    6-8months agos, the last time I tried to replay it, some items were still valued more than just Vendor Price +1c, so I still needed to check the AH to check every prices…

    The last interesting part is that low level armor/weapon were in fact more expensive than the max lvl items ! So the leveling game was still fun.

    My main complaint with the game is that they are focusing on grinder. I fully understand this might be the best move for them, but I still strongly prefers the old zone VS the new one.


  2. Not really disagreeing here, but I’ve never been one to be excited about any kind of gear grind. WoW raiding was “managing to kill the boss”, the loot was only a tool to progress.

    Also some of the chests (e.g. Tequatl) used to be quite good, and although I don’t know if the chance is really better, I’ve pulled some fancy stuff out of there already.


  3. I’m quite surprised to see you post this since I know you understand how the economies work inother MMOs. The way you describe GW2’s economy is how I’d expect Syp to characterize it (he clearly never even attempts to understand it). The vast majority of loot, as you correctly describe but incorrectly parse, isn’t intended to be used. it’s intended to be salvaged.

    There are valuable drops (and indeed useable ones because you can get Ascended drops – I’ve had maybe twenty so far not counting jewellery- with jewellery more like 70). There are also valuable Exotics – most of the World Bosses have at least one on their loot table – which sell for good amounts of gold. The drop i got from Jormag sold for over 100g for example.

    Those are exceptional drops, though. You might see one a month if you paly regularly. The rest are you either salvage to keep the mats if you’re working on any of the countless HUGE grinds for Legendary weapons or armor or sold if you aren’t. The reason I have in excess of 10,000 gold across my three accounts is partly due to my 200g a month income from dailies but also from my routine salvaging and selling of mats.

    The whole “vendor + 1c” is a complete myth, of course. Have you actually checked the prices of your loot on the Trading Post? While there are some useless items that drop commonly that no-one wants, the vast majority of all salvaged mats sell for many, many times vendor prices, as do all Rare and Exotic weapons (which in any case you would probably salvage for Ectoplasm, which has been the GW2 alternate currency for six years).

    It’s by no means my favorite loot system or economy but it’s fully functional. It just has to be studied and understood like any game economy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just because it is “intentional” that mobs drop dozens of loot bags that contain gear that is intended to be salvaged for mats, doesn’t make the system any more rewarding or coherent. I might have been fine if it wasn’t gear itself that dropped, but rather some kind of other obviously salvage-bait item. But the fact that it is gear, something you can theoretically equip, just highlights the meaninglessness of gear generally. People already complain in WoW when World Quests hand out epic gear for clicking a few buttons, but they would be in for another level of shock if epics dropped from every other mob killed, but were so poorly itemized or useless that you needed to scrap them by the dozens just to have room in your bags.

      And to get to your other point… what are the mats for? Legendaries? I guess. Like I mentioned, I bought a full suit of Exotics for around 2g per item something like four years ago and haven’t replaced it since. Every other upgrade I received was from grinding Season 3 Ascended gear, which requires no interaction with the rest of the GW2 economy. Well, for the Heart of Thorns Ascended weapon, I did have to level a crafting profession up to max, which was highly annoying. But otherwise, I was selling all my things to people who apparently have some kind of mystery use for these things. Or perhaps they are simply gambling all their mats away in the Mystic Forge?

      The bottom line is that I do indeed understand the GW2 economy. I just don’t like it. I don’t like opening dozens of loot bags and receiving nothing of value, then having to salvage everything and sell it on the TP for a couple of silver apiece. Just drop the silver itself, or “trophies” if they must.


      • The sneaky thing about doing like this is that ArenaNet gets to sink gold every step of the way. 15% cut to the TP when you offer it to someone else, and 15% cut again when that someone buys it from you via the TP.

        It redistributes the wealth from more hardcore players who can afford to build legendaries to those who don’t even have one on the radar, and what’s even more impressive, the latter doesn’t lose out too much stat-wise (or at all, if they can build Ascended, but then those -do- cost mats.)

        It’s also worth pointing out that Ascended has more or less become the new baseline of gear since HoT. At least trinkets+weapons, while armor can take a back seat until and unless someone wants to do high level fractals. So the old “exotics are enough” mentality is only still relevant for the more casual end of the player spectrum.

        Conversely, just dropping the silver itself to players would cause inflation, as casual players get some silver from the game and the more intensive players get even more silver/gold.

        But yeah, the system does have a tendency to lack in excitement or wind up feeling like one is working for a pittance as a result, if players are just focused on the potential gain/reward. There are the occasional RNG drops of nice to unfathomable wealth, in an attempt to offset this, but at a very low chance.

        Then again, is such focus on extrinsic rewards desirable in the first place? Being a coattrack for greatness isn’t GW2’s schtick at all. Perhaps players should break their usual MMO habit of expecting signposts and lavish stat-based gear as rewards for doing anything in a game and focus on what they want to do intrinsically.


      • …or ArenaNet could have just made a fighting game MMO or whatever.

        But, yeah, the overall system is designed to chew up the thousands of pieces of inventory debris the game throws at players at every stage of any activity. Part of that is the consequence of having individual resources nodes, multi-tapping of mobs, and so on. Some of that though, is because ArenaNet wanted to have a million pieces of debris. They could cut the amount of drops by 50-75% and re-balance on the new baseline, and the game would feel about a million times better, IMO.


  4. You mean the TP price is set to value of raw materials obtainable, plus minus some variation from players who didn’t bother to calculate it, desirability value of the skin and usefulness of the item to low level players buying a gear upgrade.

    Honestly, I think the whole gear situation harkens back to Guild Wars 1, which was also built around salvage kits. Except I seem to recall the scale of loot salvage and material regain was more in the tens, not hundreds or thousands.

    Unfortunately, GW2 tacked on a more WoW style crafting system along with the salvage kits of old, so we begin to have the absurdity of bags within bags and loot showers that exist to be salvaged into tiny fractions of raw materials.

    At this point in the game, any regular GW2 player has just gotten used to it. The upcoming sigil/rune tweak will hopefully get rid of the one last nuisance of minor and major sigils clogging the inventory after a salvage session. The trick is to think of the items not as gear upgrades as typically viewed in other MMOs, but as potentially valuable raw materials. I get happy every time I open some bags and see a T6 Powerful Blood or Armorer Scale pop out, because that’s one less I’ll have to buy later when making a Legendary.

    Some players will also purposefully open champion bags at specific level ranges so as to salvage more valuable low level raw material, which is priced higher due to the lower supply from leveling players, as opposed to max level stuff that everyone can get their hands on.


  5. > Much like with Diablo 3, it’s much easier to simply hit up the AH

    There is no Auction House in D3. Maybe you meant WoW?


  6. The huge issue is how it makes you open a bunch of bags just to get a bunch of gear you are going to put through the scrapper. I’m someone who really doesn’t give a crap about gear upgrades and I love the game…. but Having to open 100 bags of crap that then spawns another set of bags is really patience trying.


%d bloggers like this: