Announced by Mike O'Brien and Colin Johansen this morning at PAX South, ArenaNet has confirmed that Heart of Thorns is, indeed, a brand new expansion pack that will be coming out WHEN ITS READY™. Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to have gotten a ticket to PAX East before it sold out, it will be featured there for attendees to play the new content.
In this entry, I'm going to review all the things that were revealed to us in the announcement. They have made a website just for Heart of Thorns content that they will likely be updating for weeks to come, so check that out for some other information. Hang onto your butts, this is pretty awesome stuff.
ArenaNet, in true form, is staying true to their vision of a game that eliminates expansion based power creep. After confirming that the level and gear cap will remain at level 80, the natural question is, “how do I continue to progress my character once I’m max level?” Masteries are GW2’s solution to end game character progression, introducing new experience-based mastery points that will help your character be more effective in the environments that they are adventuring in. This will introduce GLIDERS to characters spending time in the very vertical jungle maps (no more falling and dying, I’m crying tears of joy!) as well as fight based masteries to make you more effective against the mobs that you are fighting. Oh, and did I mention PRECURSOR mastery lines? In addition to getting brand new legendary weapons and precursors, you will be able to work toward earning your precursor, rather than squandering time and gold at the forge or hoping for that lucky drop. Great news for us, not so great news for people who buy and flip precursors… Though, it also does mean that prices are dropping, so that out-of-reach precur that you’ve been drooling over is coming down in price already. (Dusk fell ~200g in the first 5 minutes after the announcement.)
“Then, we can take masteries and build on top of that, new group challenges way beyond anything you’ve faced before; challenges that you wouldn’t be able to complete if you hadn’t learned these skills and abilities.”
There was not a lot of depth in the short mention of challenging group content, but I’m hoping that some of the images in the trailers that we were shown and the fact that Mike mentioned group content means that we will be seeing some large scale raid-based content in the jungle. Fingers crossed, hopefully I’ll be writing more about this soon.
Marjory’s been using a greatsword. But wait, she’s a necromancer! This feature will allow each class to train into a new class specialization, as well as open up a new weapon for each class. The specific example given was training your ranger to become a Druid, unlocking the staff for your character to equip. A second glance through the trailer videos that we’ve seen lately have shown us a few more odd class/weapon combos, including necromancers with greatswords, mesmers with shields, rangers with staves, and engineers wielding hammers. Please, by all means, speculate away, tell us what you think the other classes will be able to unlock. Make guesses as to what the name of their specialization will be. This… this is gonna be fun to talk about.
Wondering why Rytlock’s been wandering in and out of trailers lately with a blindfold on? It’s been confirmed that he will be returning to Tyria as the very first REVENANT, a brand new heavy armor class. This is particularly exciting for the lorehounds and GW1 folks, as the revenant’s gameplay is based on Guild Wars lore, with the class channeling the powers of legends of Tyria’s past. An example given was of King Jalis Ironhammer, who, when channeled, will give the player dwarven themed abilities. Very cool. Can’t wait to see who else we’ll get to channel, and I can’t wait to have big lore conversations in TS about the days of old. Who wants to play some GW1 to reaquiaint themselves with the old lore? (Psst, come out on Sundays and revisit Tyria 250 years ago!)
Finally, a place for KT to call home again. Colin spent a few minutes telling us about Guild Halls being implemented as part of the expac. They will be expandable over time, offering more room for us to put our boots up after a long day of WvW. (And ok, Hoshi. We can have a plushie room.) In addition to guild halls getting its own section in the announcements, Mike mentioned new guild support and new guild progression. I have no idea what that means, but boy am I looking forward to it.
A brand new borderland map for World Vs World was revealed, and it looks and sounds absolutely massive. It was also mentioned that the map will be part of a borderland map rotation - though not much clarification was made on that right away. ArenaNet seems to have taken a good lesson from EotM and have brought in new elements that will make this map exciting to play. Keeps will be themed (the screenshot below is the earth-themed keep) and will have dynamic ways of interacting with invaders and defenders.
“...will literally raise up parts of the ground to defend itself when enemy forces assault.”
There will also be some fundamental changes to the core WvW experience, making holding objectives an essential part of victory in the mists.
PvP is getting a brand new game mode called Stronghold that sounds like it is going to be a throwback to Guild Wars 1 GvG. Teams will fight over supply that they can use to hire allies to help them assault the enemy’s base, destroy the gate, and kill their Guild Lord to win the match. In addition to this new game mode, Guild Leaderboards will be re-introduced, finally giving a way to compete and see where you rank as a guild.
This topic is sure to bring with it a lot of murmurs from the GW2 GvG community, but I want to take a second to remind you that ArenaNet defined what Guild Vs Guild in Guild Wars really means over ten years ago, and this is much closer to the spirit of that game mode and all of its successes throughout the years. In the video, Colin never uses the phrase GvG, instead only referring to old game modes in the franchise. Even though I think they could call this GvG because they defined what it was in the past and have every right to re-define it today, I don’t think they want to stir up problems with the player-driven GvG matches in WvW. I’m curious to hear everyone else’s thoughts on the subject, knowing fully that there will always be a divide in opinions surrounding GvG.
On that note, I can’t wait to get a team together in the Guild Hall and get back into PvP in Stronghold. It looks awesome.
Guild Wars 2 : Heart of Thorns looks like a really great expansion package so far. There’s something for everyone, and everything looks really well done so far. I’m glad to see that this is what they’ve been working on for so long, and now I just can’t wait for them to tell us when we’ll get to play it!