The problem I have with this is that it's vapid and patronising, the game doesn't treat you like you're intelligent enough or a decent enough player to have fun by your own merits, it believes that the game has to be played for you (better stats) for you to have fun. This is something that I see as a cancer in game design, because if you keep making people feel good about doing nothing, eventually it'll be 'that one game' that gives them a (fake) sensation of being good. So despite all the hardships of that game, they'll keep playing it.
Ridiculously overdone assistance where bullets curve mid-trajectory is an example of this. This is almost Universally hated by FPS players. Why? It makes people feel like they're being amazing, but it never encourages them to grow as a player. If the game is difficult, then the problem can be dealt with in other ways, like lower enemy health pools. But basically taking that bullet that they shoot into a wall and teleporting it into a foe's head?
When you teleport that bullet from a wall to a foe's head which is three feet away, you stop the game from being a game. And a realisation sets in: The simple fact that if you were to give your cat a gamepad and let him/her walk over it, then they would be able to 'play' this game, too, because no matter where or how you shoot, the bullets are always going to land in the heads of foes. One of the classes in Borderlands 2 even has a parody talent tree skill of this where bullets 'ricochet' and somehow magically find their mark.
And this is where the issue is, this is where it becomes bad game design. In order for a game to be a game, it must require input from the player. And in a good game the player succeeds or fails based upon their inputs. Look at what raspberry jam said about Ascended Gear, she won because she had better gear, that's horrible game design. Because in GW2 as it was prior to Ascended, she would have lost. Her choices and her actions whilst playing the game were incorrect, logically she should have lost.
What this then means is that Ascended gear users get a 'free win' card. And that 'free win' card becomes more and more pronounced with each tier of vertical progression they include in the game. It makes the player feel more and more like they're good, because the game is playing itself for them. I'm sure that in that match, raspberry jam felt good for a moment. Then s/he realised that what was actually happening was that the stats were providing him/her a buffer zone for bad decisions, and s/he won because of that.
Is that what we want out of a videogame? Should the numbers of our gear dictate whether we win or lose? Again, this is no different than ridiculous aim assist, because what's happening is that it's deluding people into believing that they're better than they actually are. But this has the negative effect of stagnating someone's ability to play other games. Worse, it necrotises their ability to be good at other games, because they don't feel the need to practise.
This is why the WoW players I know of are horrible at any game which isn't WoW. They never feel the need to try to improve. In the case of GW1, they found even the easiest combat punishingly hard because they had to think and act. Because the game wasn't playing itself for them, they were upset. And this is ultimately what a vertical progression fan wants: A buffer zone where the game plays itself, so that they don't have to. They won't even have to worry about being bad at a vidyagame. So is that a good or bad thing?
I'm sure that some people will tell you that self-playing videogames are a good thing. But I disagree. It removes the real sense of satisfaction of actually learning to be good at something. I mean, look at WoW and how things are won with numbers, or a game with ridiculous aim assist where the bullet always lands in the head of a foe regardless where it's shot. Do you honestly believe that that is as much of an achievement of a person playing a bullet hell game ridiculously well? There are some people who can do that.
In fact, there are some people who can sit down and play a bullet hell shooter that they've never touched before, and because they're good, they can excel without even being familiar with the waves. And these are the gamers who impress me. The ones who rely on Ascended gear are those I see as being a bit pathetic. If you were a good gamer, you wouldn't even take Ascended into PvP. And raspberry jam's brilliantly worded experiment explains why.
As the 'stats are more important than skill' mentality continues to work its way into the game thanks to the gear treadmill, personal skill will become less and less important. Perhaps this is why the AI in GW2 is a zerg, one that doesn't require any tactical play at all. See, this is why I like Mass Effect 3's multi-player. The tactical AI is mercilessly efficient in the proper and effective strategies it uses. You can't rely on ME3 playing itself for you.
Even the bronze difficulty is a little challenging for beginners, and personally, as a disabled person, I've welcomed that. I'm okay with challenge when it actually is delivered by the game expecting me to make the right decisions and to have the reflexes to pull them off. And when you play ME3's multi-player on platinum, it really is an achievement, since you need full and efficient communication between a team to succeed, it actually requires good teamwork.
Again, look at the part I've bolded in the quote. Is that really what we want? A faux sense of achievement by a patronising game that feels it has to nanny us? "Don't worry, dear, I'll shoot that arrow for you." What that means is that the entire game becomes less and less meaningful, and with each tier they add, it edges more and more towards being meaningless. The time when it's most meaningful is when you have reached the power plateau, and the difficulty is balanced against your current equipment. That you can't just faceroll through the content because you have better numbers, because there are no better numbers to have.
This is why the power plateau is good game design. In fact, not having any form of vertical progression at all is the best game design, because that way you never have stats deciding whether you win or lose a fight. But I can accept that GW2 had to have some vertical progression for the people who are conditioned to believe they needed it. But like GW1, I was hoping that GW2 would get them to the power plateau and then coax them around to my way of thinking, where they'd realise that the false sense of achievement provided by gear numbers is a terrible, terrible thing. And that that will then feel hollow for them.
Before I finish up with this post, let's have a bit of a thought experiment. At least have enough respect for me to do that. Okay, take... Mario Bros 3. That was a great game, wasn't it? A fantastic game, even. Can we really deny that this is a truth? I'd have to disown you if you'd disagree with this point, to be honest, and I say this as a Sega fan! So, Mario Bros 3. Now, let's do terrible, horrible things to it! No, stick with me, this is necessary.
Okay, let's add a jump stat. The jump stat can be increased as you play the game, it allows you to do double jumps, up to a maximum of eight double jumps. Now, on top of that, let's add stats that allow the invulnerability star to last for longer, so that when it's maxed out it can almost last for the entirety of a level, including the boss. So, Mario with his maxed out stats can remain invulnerable for a good amount of time, and can double jump so much that it renders the difficulty of the game null. Is that good game design? If so or if not, why?
Just let that percolate for a bit. That's all.