[GW2] First Weekend in Heart of Thorns

Mrs. Ravious stared at the computer screen at one point this weekend and exclaimed, “there is too much to do.” The weekend was filled with that. Imagine heading to a grand Vegas buffet and instead of heaping a plate and walking away  you have to stand at each steam tray and eat from there. You start eating beef’n’broccoli while eyeing the roast carving station and listening to the chocolate waterfall behind you. 

The first thing we did, and the first thing everybody should do is get through the first story instance of Heart of Thorns. I don’t know why this isn’t forced down players throats, but I had to open my story journal (“H”) and start the Heart of Thorns story. Then just follow the green blips. The reason for this is without this critical step you won’t be gaining any mastery experience. So we did that.

For most of the weekend we duo’d the story steps. The story I find has been really interesting both storywise and mechanically. I’ve been enjoying it, and I feel ArenaNet has finally figured out that it can supplant ye ol’ quest hubs. The story is the perfect initial guide through the expansion maps and initial masteries.

We also made sure to fill out most of our Halloween achievements, and of course we were as disappointed as everybody that the Labyrinth’s experience didn’t count for core masteries. I’ve been enjoying Silverwastes for that, especially given that the maps aren’t quite as full. ArenaNet’s scaling system works very well for a mildly difficult, very active time in the Silverwastes.

Most of our time has been in Heart of Thorns. It should be noted that Heart of Thorns masteries can only be advanced by experience gained from Heart of Thorns content. This makes it almost feel like there are two games going on. Do I want to advance in game 1, the core game, or game 2, Heart of Thorns? It is a decision we make each time.

Anyway, when we play together it has been Heart of Thorns. We will mostly focus on a single event hub or a small portion of the map. It is far easier than hopping about trying to help out whoever asks for it. Occasionally someone will try and rally at a hero point (which has champions now), and if it is one we need we’ll head there. I feel bad for when we don’t, but that’s a post for a later day.

I feel like we are truly playing Guild Wars 2.5, and I would give Heart of Thorns a solid A-. There are a few systems that need massaging. I have a few issues with longevity of the expansion maps and scaling with low/imbalanced populations. Yet, we are also in learning phase, and the community has a lot to learn. Viewpoints need to shift as well as ArenaNet and the players see eye-to-eye.

Is it worth it? Hell yeah. Mrs. Ravious and I each had no problem plunking down $100, and this weekend alone was well worth it. I imagine months of content and gameplay, easily. I haven’t even had a chance to really scratch at the new PvP Stronghold or get in to the new WvW map! Fractals… haven’t had a chance. And raids are on their way!? Sheesh. Need to win Powerball so I can just play Guild Wars 2 all day.


7 thoughts on “[GW2] First Weekend in Heart of Thorns”

    1. I wonder how many hypocrites were proclaiming the game to be “about the journey” and are now complaining about imagined “grind”.

      1. It’s a grind when you don’t actually enjoy the process of getting there and just want to be there!

        Meanwhile I am up to my old solo wander-everywhere-without-actually-looking-closely-at-the-map-killing-everything ways, and marveling at how many mobs have been left untouched as giant bags of Maguuma experience.

        1. I don’t understand that. I mean I do understand a person not enjoying “the process”, but said process is /THE/ game. If you aren’t enjoying doing events, playing adventures, or finding bonus bags of experience (in the form of a pig left too long for this world), then why are you* playing?

          *The colloquial “you”, not you, you.

          1. I seriously think it’s a mentality left over from WoW training that the game only “starts” after you have reached X milestone. So folks are rushing to be uber and “elite” in a special specialisation without realising that it’s not the spec that makes them elite but player knowledge.

            Granted, there is a partial case to be made for masteries which are essentially acting as attunements and blocking progress to areas of the map or rewards. Some people might prefer the freedom in being able to go wherever they want, or be earning max rewards at any time.

            Dunno, I don’t really mind it either way. Right now, it basically feels like a bit of a forced leveling/learning process – at least it gives me a reason to consider killing mobs in the new zones instead of running past them on an 80.

            I appreciate some amount of impatient folks in my game though! Those are the ones willing to pay me good gold to harvest things for them, like *cough cough* flax!

          2. I haven’t purchased the HoT expansion yet — I’m waiting for the dust to settle, and maybe an eventual sale price.

            However I spent an hour or two reading on the GW2 forums yesterday. My best summary of the issues causing player anger:

            1. You cannot access the new features on your character class without doing the “other stuff”. Players want to do that “other stuff” as a Tempest, Druid, Dragon Hunter, etc.

            2. Content is gated by masteries which are gated by other content (which may also be gated, hard to tell reading the forum posts).

            So there’s this consensus that “play your way” has gone out the window in the expansion until you complete the path that the HoT designers want you to follow.

            Sorry if I misrepresented this as it’s my understanding from reading the forums and some other reviews.


            1. Pretty accurate. My brief thoughts:

              1) You can start the elite spec. fairly easily (50% with old world completion). Completing the HoT elite spec. require finding hero points (old skill points) in HoT. I’ve read a lot of players that feel they are playing just fine with 2.5 trait lines. Other players, like myself, couldn’t make the switch until I had 3 full trait lines, and some need the whole thing unlocked.

              With zero masteries, zero knowledge of maps, etc. if the thing you are most excited about is the elite spec. you will have to work to get it fully unlocked. Now that I have masteries and map knowledge, unlocking my next elite spec. will be a lot faster.

              2) Like I said in the post the story is a guide to the expansion maps. You will need gliding. You will need bouncy shrooms. The other two lines nuhoch and exalted seem less necessary for jungle traversal. Still getting the required masteries is really easy if you just play the events, adventures, etc.

              So by “content” if you mean core content like story instances, then yes, it is gated by masteries. It is also very reasonably gated. I feel personally that these gates are way less annoying than the ones in GW:Factions. Otherwise a lot of small things like hero points are hard-gated by masteries, but that’s not really “content”.

              The “play your way” arguments is dumb. It’s the equivalent, IMO, of saying I shouldn’t have to go to Orr to complete the core personal story. There are “content gates” everywhere. Masteries are account bound and can be done by basically doing anything… I’ve heard of people going through alts and just by exploring each map with alts, they’ve crushed the initial masteries. They definitely got to play their way.

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