Hello everyone! I thought I would write up a big wall of text about Precursors and wider concerns. I am going to go through a quick summary of current acquisition, where I think mechanical and psychological problems arise, the potential scavenger hunt that one day might release and finally my views on how to handle precursors. I think in the current light of the slow feature pack reveal and a lot of grumbling that it would be healthy to have a big deep discussion with some healthy speculation.
The Situation as is:
Precursors are expensive; really expensive. At the time of writing, the cheapest sits around 200g and the most expensive are above 1000g. This is a huge amount of money for old or new players. Every other aspect of Legendary creation is either cheaper or is something you can more gradually work towards, like the t6 mats for the Gift of Fortune. Currently, you have the following ways to acquire a precursor:
- Get one as an incredibly lucky drop from game content.
- Get one from the mystic forge, a huge gamble.
- Save up enough gold to buy one from another player.
- Convert real life money into in-game gold to buy one.
Personally, I don't think that any of these options are fun or rewarding. The chances of getting one as a random drop or from the forge are far too low and, unless you are specifically forging the weapon type you want, you are most likely to get a precursor you aren't interested in. The gold grind for the average player is crippling, especially with the prices of precursors steadily climbing.
I believe this leads to an important psychological split: either you acquire one by accident and it loses its inherent value (an inherent value I believe should be attributed to the Legendary, not the precursor) or you spend hours and hours and hours working towards buying one or getting the resources to forge one and it becomes the largest grind of the whole legendary. I guess you could summarise this split as the precursor being either priceless or worthless mentally. This is even worse if a particularly new player acquires one by accident because it breaks a lot of the general gold = reward structure of the endgame.
A Scavenger Hunt:
For the players who aren't aware of the term, a scavenger hunt is the term for adding a feature that allows players to slowly collect resources that eventually output a precursor, presumably of the player's choice. I think it can safely be assumed that it won't be a short grind and that it will probably require a mix of exploring, crafting and a lot of resources.
The purpose of a scavenger hunt is end game. It gives level 80s some more direction in the content they play and what they do. I think that any hunt design would require a lot of thinking about how this would impact the game in the long run.
We have seen an example of something similar recently: the various vine backpieces of the latest couple of patches. I like almost everything about this, the making players go to locations in the world, the daily crafting allowing patient players to make money off the more impatient players and the inclusion of flavour text on items that act as road signs for what you need to do next. I think that the Foxfire Clusters could be improved, primarily by adding them as potential drops to ALL types of wood rather than just the top two tiers. It creates an interesting 'class divide' in the game where you effectively have rich or impatient players paying other people to gather for them.
Some players have, for good reason, brought up that the backpiece crafting is probably a test run for a larger scale scavenger hunt. I think this makes sense and I wouldn't be too disappointed if there were some similarities.
I think that simply adding a similar - but larger - scavenger hunt to create a precursor as a fifth type of acquisition would be unhealthy. This might sound a bit strange but my reasoning is as follows:
- Acquiring the precursor you want by accident rather than through the hunt would cheapen the whole system, especially for newer players.
- Acquiring a precursor while you are currently working on the scavenger hunt would be even worse! This is especially important if the components are accountbound.
I don't mind the ability to sell them to other players as it adds more of the 'class divide' I find interesting in games. Some players do the legwork and some players pay them.
An Example Solution:
Thanks for reading so far guys, this is where it gets a bit more speculative. The following is not perfect but in an imaginary world where I had 100% control of ANet, this is at least where I would start.
- Step 1: Precursors become Ascended in quality and are no longer found in loot tables or the mystic forge. This sounds drastic, I know. My point here is to make them a more major step towards having a legendary. If Dawn is going to be harder to acquire than an ascended greatsword, why shouldn't it have the same stats? This still allows rich players to shortcut the system and keeps the intrinsic value of a precursor.
- Step 2: Add NPCs at a few appropriate locations that are studying the history of Legendary weapons. These NPCs give a little backstory about how the Mists cause multiples of a particularly important weapon to exist. They are also based in a location vaguely important to the weapon. For example, the Rodgort NPC would be somewhere in Fireheart Rise, not too far from Citadel of Flames.
- Step 3: These NPCs sell a guide/blueprint that allows you to craft the first step in the process. It costs something like 10g and with 400 in the relevant skill you can craft [Replica of (precursor)], a Fine (blue) rarity weapon. The crafting requires more materials than a normal level 80 weapon but not something quite as silly as a full stack of greatsword blades.
- Step 4: Each step of the scavenger hunt increases the rarity of the replica by one until you get to exotic. Not only are you making progress towards your precursor of choice but it is also growing in power as you do so.
Step 4 is important for another reason. I believe the creation of a precursor should be akin to a tutorial on how to make a Legendary weapon. For example, one step should require a quantity of mystic clovers. On a side note, I think one step should be adding the dungeon gift currently required for the Legendary. The cost of these should be lowered to 300 tokens to compensate for needing two. It would be nice if in this process you could have goals like killing a number of specific enemies or completing certain event chains. If Anet are pleased with the way Foxfire is handled I would suggest adding a similar material to metal nodes but with the caveat I wrote above: they should drop from all nodes, not just the top two.
- Step 5: Your Precursor is now Exotic and nearly finished. Upgrade to Ascended using 500 crafting. This should require something like a vision crystal and the weapon components, but not the inscription you would normally make.
- Step 6: Your Precursor is finished! You completed a genuine journey walking in the footsteps of the original weapon.
The whole purpose of this is that you have obvious, well communicated steps to work through. These are communicated to you through the flavour text on your current rank of [Replica of Dawn] etc... I'd even suggest giving each rarity you work through a slightly different name:
Common - [Plan of Dawn]
Fine - [Replica of Dawn]
Masterwork - [Echo of Dawn]
Yellow - [Reflection of Dawn]
Exotic - [Birth of Dawn]
Ascended - [Dawn]
Again, to anyone who actually made it this far thank you! I just want to stimulate some conversation on the precursor debate rather than simply reiterating the 'we want a scavenger hunt' argument. I've other topics I would like to talk about to this degree so I might end up doing some more lengthy posts in the future!
I'm Theoclymenus, I mainly play Purity of Ashes, a Sylvari Guardian on Seafarer's Rest. I have played since the beta weekends and I don't have a legendary yet. I have slight attention span issues so working towards one thing for that long is almost impossible for me. I love the game though! Feel free to contact me on Reddit or in game for any reason. I have other topics to try and cause debates about, so watch this space.