[GW2] Heart of Thorns Expansion

‘All you, necromancers,’ Colin implied at yesterday’s PAX South Twitch stream, ‘can now be as mighty as Trahearne by using a greatsword.’

I would buy the expansion for that single feature, I decided.

The Heart of Thorns website is now live along with scroll down information format. The HoT trailer with seemingly only in-game footage is amazing.

Blogger compatriots respond. Dulfy in her usual form provides a breakdown of the information from the PAX South presentation. Bhagpuss writes his blog post based on the feelings and memories from the announcement. Jeromai put out a quick response post as well with lots of nice trailer stills. Even Syp and TAGN have stuff to say.


I agree with the HoT website that I feel the greatest addition is the “masteries”, which is right at the top of the scroll-down features. It’s a progression system. It’s the progression since HoT is keeping max level at 80. Masteries are also account based. Players complete content to earn mastery points, which they can apply towards various progress.

I loved the example of progressing through lore by learning about lore, which then leads to understanding more lore and clues that players with less mastery might not receive. Colin said at the end of the mastery the players might even get whole areas only accessible to these lore masters. The HoT site also says “rip the bark off a heavily armored Mordrem”, which is a dream to anybody that has had to power-kill a husk.

New to Class

There is a new profession, the Revenant, which we don’t know much about except it’s a heavy profession that uses legends of Guild Wars past. Channels them, actually.

To stem the tide of every player creating and playing one, there are also profession specializations. These grow the existing professions and allow them to wield new weapons. A Ranger becomes a Druid with a staff. A Necromancer gets a greatsword. Maybe we will finally add something to PvE!

Expand This

Of course there will be new zones to explore in the Heart of the Maguuma. There will be a new sPvP format based around supply and killing the enemy guild lord. There is a new WvW borderlands map that emphasizes surrounding objectives to a main keep objective. And Guild Halls! And Guild Teams for sPvP!

The expansion sounds great. I can’t find anything to be skeptical about. It feels like they are bringing a complete expansion that expands every corner of their game.

Living World?

I understand why during the PAX hype event why this was not discussed by ArenaNet, but my burning question is not “tell me about [feature]”. The question I want to know is:

What does this mean for the frequent Living World updates? Are we pausing everything “content” related? I know in two days we’re getting a balance patch, which is a little relief, I think.

Is Guild Wars 2 on new content hold until the expansion? I assume festivals will still be around to provide some temporary entertainment, but beyond that?

Anyway, I’m obviously sold on the expansion pack, Heart of Thorns. I just picked up another account… for $10, I just couldn’t pass it up. Things are looking pretty bright for Guild Wars 2.


15 thoughts on “[GW2] Heart of Thorns Expansion”

  1. As I said in my first reaction post my main emotion was relief. We are getting a real expansion and it does have at least some stuff that should be of use and/or interest to me. Beyond that, though, unlike you I can find plenty of things to be skeptical about.

    What’s this new obsession with difficulty, for a start? They are doing that politician thing, where every representative who opens his or her mouth has to use the current buzzwords, which appear to be “challenge” and “difficult” and “hard”. In the interview with Massively Mike O’Brien says “The way that you earn mastery points is, I think, a very Guild Wars 2 way to earn mastery points: You do really really hard things that you on your account have never done before.”

    What? On what planet is that a “very Guild Wars 2 way”? Pardon me for actually having played the game obsessively for the last two years but I thought the “Guild Wars 2 way” was all about inclusiveness not elitism. Here, let me quote from their own online manual: “There’s no wrong way to play Guild Wars 2; just explore, have fun, and keep trying out new things!”

    Well I guess they kept the “new things” part. The more I think about this the more ticked off I get. I do not want “hard” or “difficult” from GW2. That’s not what I expected and it’s not what I was originally sold. I want relaxed, easygoing, entertaining. The kind of thing we were all gushing about when we first filled out a Heart by throwing snowballs at farm kids in Wayfarers or helped the crazy charr load his Cowtapult in Diessa. That’s what GW2 means to me and that’s what I was hoping we’d get more of in HoT.

    Also this whole have cake/eat cake paradigm whereby they load all new content onto Level 80 and yet maintain full and active interest across the entirety of the game is a pipe dream. I’m pretty sure what that means is seeding old areas with lures for level 80s (the Collection system for Precursors is a shoe-in). That may mean established players needing to spend time in non-level-cap zones; it does not mean those zones retain any intrinsic interest. It’s more as if you’d put your washer-drier in the back room you never go in so now you have to go in there every so often to do your chores.

    I wouldn’t be this negative had I not listened to Mike O’Brien’s opening address. Even as a longtime player of GW2 I felt he was having a dig at me for daring to think any other MMO had anything to offer. I realize he has to big up the firm but even so it’s not pleasant to listen to. GW2’s nice enough but really it’s not like it doesn’t have just as many design mis-steps and poor decisions as any other MMO.

    Oh well, if nothing else it’s an expansion and an expansion is what the game has needed, badly, for at least 12 months. Best not look a gift horse in the mouth I guess. Er, make that a B2P horse.

    And we bought a third account each too because why not !

    1. I think I pretty much agree with Mike’s opener. You could tell that in certain points he really wanted to expound, but had to stop short to let Colin wrap up. I honestly feel a little bad because I don’t feel gamers, including the PAX crowd there, wants more “philosophy” as great and necessary as it is for MMO development. They want concrete facts. Not raising the level cap was a good one.

      Anyway yeah, $10 for another GW2 account was virtually free. ;)

  2. Offtopic question from a GW2 dabbler: What are the main advantages of an additional account? At $10 I could see it being a cheap way to expand storage and character slots, but I’m not sure if there are more things that I’m missing.

    1. Apart from storage and character slots:

      (1) mailing things back and forth sometimes is helpful, especially if you like parking characters,

      (2) 1/day crafting things, or 1/account-type rewards,

      (3) an account to hold down a personal guild.

      All rather slight all told. Still…$10….

  3. Unlike the original GW2, there’s no way I’ll pre-order anything wrt HoT. They’ll have to earn my money first — and I’m not swallowing anything from their hype machine this time. Remember the manifesto? Burn me once, shame on you… burn me twice…

  4. “challenging the conventions of MMOs”

    I don’t see a single thing that hasn’t been done by _someone_ before this.

    1. I agree with tehbare. While overall I think the expansion features are solid (and long overdue), there is nothing here challenging any conventions. What is so different about the mastery system versus adding another ten levels? You basically have to grind through harder content you have never done before on your account to unlock new abilities. This is just like leveling to me. I have to get to level 95 to be able to fly to that mountain. I have to get to mastery flying 4 or unlock flying to access that mountain top. Same thing except there is no level attached. I still have to level something or progress something to get x.

      Also, is this content level 80 only or will there be starting zones? If not, then how is this any different from other MMOs when I have to get through 80 levels to access the expansion?

      Still, I will check it out (necromancer with greatsword = win) but probably when it is on sale.

      1. I think that is the most cynical way to view masteries. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, and I do appreciate skeptics here, but automatically equating a progression to “another 10 levels” is on par with the “challenging the conventions of MMOs”. We don’t know either way.

        Think of GW1. You needed race reputation at a certain level that was obtainable by merely playing in EotN. Then you /could/ grind out to master the race reputation if you wanted max level on the race skills. It was a progression. It definitely wasn’t grind unless you needed that max level.

        Masteries to me sounds more content based. So we’ll have to see. I am hoping their first explanation blog post is on it.

        1. Yes it is cynical :) but not out of the realm of possibility. But like you say, too early to tell. We will see what it looks like on release (or beta).

    2. This, along with the fact that B2P isn’t really working for them (see TAGN), is my main issue with GW2. That manifesto was a joke, and it still seems like only ANet isn’t able to see that what they are doing is basically what the rest of the genre was been and continues to do (generally better).

      Is it a horrible game? No, not really. Is it anything truly unique in the genre. Not at all, and ANet trying to sell it as such is rather hateable.

      1. Which MMO, apart from glorious god-king EVE which has everything, has provided account-based progression on an expansion instead of raising the level cap? I would like to play that MMO.

        That being said. Can’t blame anyone for the dislike. ArenaNet pushes it hard. I think they wear it like a badge.

        1. It seems very similar to Rift’s planar attunement schtick. Although I’m not sure if it’s account based. Several other non-MMOs I’ve played have had a similar setup at max level. It’s nice enough, or can be. But it’s not challenging anything.

  5. Smoke and mirrors is what it is.

    The Level 80 starting point is very interesting. They have consistently moved away from the initial “anyone can play” approach to requiring that you have characters of an appropriate level. Living Story 2 has a hard-coded Level 80 entry point. You can’t even access it with a Level 79 or below. Also the two new maps that came with it may not be hard-capped at 80 but good luck surviving there at anything less.

    The presentation stressed “end game” for the expansion and it’s a given that you’ll need a Level 80 to do anything there. Whether they’ll throw a Level 80 in with the purchase like other MMOs have begun to do remains to be seen. My guess is that since this is the first expansion and leveling in GW2 is very fast they won’t, which would indeed mean that there would be a requirement to grind levels in traditional catch-up style in order for any late starters to get as far as HoT.

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