controversially added to the game within a few months of launch.
GW2 was always touted as an MMO without a gear grind. It was suggested that all "endgame" content could be successfully and enjoyably completed in Exotics, the original, if short-lived, uppermost rung of the gear ladder. Legendary weapons merely offered a supposed visual and aesthetic advantage. They glowed with particle effects and also added a particle effect to the player's footsteps, but a player was no more powerful wielding one than he would be with an exotic.
The visual appeal was always lost on me. In my opinion,
most Legendaries look like they would be better employed as props for the late Liberace's stage act if not the accouterments of an especially demented children's entertainer. Timmy Mallet comes disturbingly to mind and just be thankful I decided against a YouTube link. Call me a traditionalist but I rather like weapons that look like weapons and bows that fire arrows not unicorns.
Legendary weapons do have one, minor practical advantage over the more easily obtained Ascended and the common Exotic in that you can change their stats. For a long time only Legendaries offered this option and, even now that it has become possible to re-forge Ascended items in the Mystic Forge, Legendary weapons retain an edge since only they can be re-modelled on the fly.
The occasions when you might have wanted to change the stats on your weapon, however, have always been few and far between. Most players pick a build and stick with it. A berserker does not change his meta. Tweak it, perhaps, but only when the change has been duly authorized by MetaBattle.
With the imminent arrival of Heart of Thorns, and particularly the raids that will follow close behind, the practical advantages of Legendary weapons may increase. There is some indication that players may be required to become more flexible. Sticking with the same build through thick and thin may not be the sound strategy it has proved for so long. Being able to swap the stats around on your big stick between raid bosses or even during the long open-world event chains could, theoretically, come to be considered optimal play.
Weapons are extremely important in GW2 but a weapon, Legendary or not, only occupies one slot. You can hardly change your entire build just by swapping the stats on one item. Which is where Legendary armor comes in. The announcement seems rather to have slipped in through the back door, tucked away in the last paragraph of a dev blog on Raids, but yes, the game is getting another tier of gear:
"...raids will introduce the very first ever set of legendary armor. This
isn’t any ordinary armor set! Similarly to legendary weapons, you’ll be
able to change the stats that the armor provides."
It may take a while but Full Legendary will become de rigeur for serious raiding guilds. Raid leaders will certainly require key roles to be able to swap seamlessly from one build to another, without leaving the instance, as and when circumstances and Bosses demand. There must also be the risk of Legendary Creep if devs choose to design (or revamp) some of the larger open world events to use the supposedly more advanced AI of HoT mobs in a way that assumes players are able to hot-swap builds.
All that's required to complete the transition would be the addition of a feature that's been demanded, almost half-heartedly, in the past but which is now beginning to appear essential: the ability to save traits and skills to a specific template. With that in place we could potentially see a de facto gear grind after all.
Or we could if the bar for raids hadn't been set so extremely high. So long as Legendary armor stays behind the skill wall of raiding, where, lest we forget, "Only the bravest of heroes will be able to collect and craft these legendary threads" then I'm guessing the bulk of the game, and the bulk of its players, will either have lug several sets of Ascended around with them in their bags or just do what I do and ignore the whole darn thing.