RNG is dead, long live RNG
Well, perhaps not quite, but we sure did just take a significant step towards a Tyria in which we can be deliberate in obtaining items instead of weeping into the Mystic Forge or endlessly running dungeons in order to overcome randomness with sweet, sweet gold. ArenaNet have at long–last given us some more juicy details regarding the ability—coming in the expansion—to craft our very own legendary precursors by using the Mastery system to unlock three tiers of themed collections, providing a path to legendary weapons for those of us who aren’t so hot at making money, or have been spurned by Zommoros for too long.
First things first, you’ll need to put some of your Pact Tyria Mastery points into the relevant track and then progress it up in order to unlock the first tier of legendary collections; it’s worth noting that it’s been confirmed that the two different Mastery zones (Pact Tyria and Heart of Maguuma) will have separate pools for points, so you won’t have to make the tough choice between legendary crafting and gliding. After selecting the precursor that you want to work towards from a Mastery vendor, completing the appropriate weapon’s collection will reward you with a crafting recipe, which produces a non tradable exotic–quality weapon resembling a tarnished version of the existing precursor skin. Add more Mastery points, progress it again, and you’ll unlock the second tier of collections. Finishing everything at this stage will give you the recipe to upgrade the pre–pre–precursor into a slightly less shabby (but still account–bound) version; think about how Mawdrey and her descendants became increasingly impressive as you fed and watered them.
What’s up next? That’s right, you guessed it. Mastery points. Progression. Third and final tier of collections open up, and this is where it gets really interesting. On completion of this final tier, you’ll get the final recipe that you need to upgrade your pre–precursor into the actual precursor that you will eventually throw into the Mystic Forge in order to receive your legendary weapon. These original–release weapons will be receiving updated skins—described as resembling the legendary weapon itself “before it has been imbued with its soul—and will be tradeable; there is some confusion around this point, as discussed on the latest GuildMag podcast. I think that it’s reasonable to expect that there will be significant cost to crafting precursors in this fashion—although we have no details yet—but it will almost certainly be less than the cost of some precursor weapons on the trading post at present. I see this as ArenaNet taking the deliberate decision to control the price of precursor weapons, and predict that while there will be a modest value assigned to the effort involved in completing the three collections, the eventual price on the trading post will likely be representative more of the cost of the crafting materials required; at the moment the cost is relative to the chance of receiving the precursor by throwing rare and exotic weapons into the Mystic Forge, and higher for the most desirable weapon types.
A few as–yet–unanswered questions popped into my head while reading the official blog post last week, and I think that they could well affect the likelihood of whether or not someone would choose to get hold of a precursor by crafting it or buying it.
- Will the crafting recipes require account–bound and/or time–gated materials?
- What will the overall cost be relative to the current cost of found or forged precursors?
- Once I talk to the Mastery vendor to choose which precursor to work towards, does that choice stick right through until I finish the third tier collection? Or,
- Could I conceivably work on completing ALL of the tier ones before I move on to tier two?
It will be very interesting to revisit this new system once we have everything nailed down so that we can truly assess how attractive it is. That said, even if the overall cost works out to be similar to what it is now, I’ll be much happier working towards it by doing stuff instead of running dungeons over and over or manipulating the trading post.
 “This final collection unlocks the recipe to craft the polished final iteration of the precursor. For all of our existing precursors, this is a tradable exotic weapon…”
We’ve known for some time that the expansion would bring with it the first new legendary weapons since the game was released, and we now know that on Heart of Thorns release day we’ll only be getting “the first handful”. Some folks are disappointed by this, having probably expected a new legendary for each available weapon type, but it seems understandable given that—according to the blog post—obtaining these new weapons will be “more of a journey, similar to precursor crafting”. No one knows yet quite how different the process will be, or whether or not it will still require items like the Gifts of Mastery and Fortune that all original–release legendaries use; heck, maybe the Mystic Forge won’t be needed at all and the weapon will come straight out of a fourth tier of collections? I have no doubt that we’ll find out all about it eventually, but one thing that is extremely interesting is that the new precursors and the resulting legendary weapons will be account–bound – no more buying them on the trading post. Finally, legendaries will be evidence of hard graft and involvement in the game, and not just a once–heavy coin purse.
So, if we’re not getting one of each, which weapon types will get new legendaries? For my money, expect to see something equippable and aesthetically suited to the revenant, probably a staff (which would also work for the Druid). The Bifrost looks fantastic, but it’s definitely more magical in appearance, and not all that ‘smack Mordrem Court enemies in the head’. I think that it’s quite likely that we’ll see other new legendaries align with the as–yet–unannounced specialisations, so perhaps another shield or hammer, but not a new greatsword since there are three of those already (albeit fairly similar). An alternative approach would be for ArenaNet to introduce ‘serious’ legendaries as alternatives to the more gimmicky weapons that we have now, such as Quip, The Minstrel, and The Dreamer.
While more details regarding legendary crafting were expected sooner or later, we were also introduced to a new game system that has the potential to be huge, and that is what ArenaNet are calling map bonuses. As they explain it, most explorable maps (not including the starter zones) will have an associated set of bonus rewards that rotate on a regular basis; crafting components will be given for completing events, jumping puzzles, mini–dungeons… basically just doing content. The currencies used in Dry Top and Silverwastes have been a test run for the new system and will be updated to use the new map rewards UI instead of wiggle chests like they do now; any new maps that come with a related currency will follow the same pattern. If you’ve seen any footage of the Heart of Thorns beta so far, you’ll probably have noticed the blue and green ??? items that are given as rewards for completing events like killing the Wyvern. Now that we know about map bonuses, I think that it’s likely that these are put there as an example of this new system.
I’m now looking forward to map bonuses almost as much as other new systems coming in the expansion. ArenaNet are taking another firm step towards freeing us from the yolk of random drops, and the alternative of grinding for gold in order to use the trading post to bypass it. We’ll now have the option of looking up on whatever timetable the community inevitably produces to find out where and when we need to complete game content in order to be rewarded with the crafting materials that we need. This will give players a way to work deliberately towards tier six materials (Vials of Powerful Blood, Ancient Bones, etc) that they need to make legendary weapons, and also gives players not working on such things an extra revenue stream; expect the prices of T6 materials to drop from what they are now. This change also makes me wonder if ArenaNet have something in store for laurels, since one of the primary uses for those in the game at present is to buy Heavy Crafting Bags in order to get those precious T6 materials (three, at random). Giving players an alternative way to get these through map bonuses means that we might be able to save our laurels for something new and shiny.