It’s hard to believe that Guild Wars 2 has been out for 2 and a half years already – it seems like it was just the other day that I came home with that slick white box, eager to see what the next big MMO had to offer. Fast forward to a fresh faced 2015 and the announcement of the first official expansion for Guild Wars 2, mysteriously named Heart of Thorns.
Heart of Thorns was announced back at PAX South a couple of weeks ago and caused quite a bit of confusion. ArenaNet had previously said they would rely on their Living World series to expand Guild Wars 2 and introduce new content so the decision to commit to a fully fledged expansion was a bit unexpected – this doesn’t mean we’re angry though, on the contrary, we here at Continue Play are really excited about this decision.
Initial details on the expansion were pretty extensive to begin with and ArenaNet did a fairly good job explaining what they plan on achieving with the expansion, however, more details have emerged recently that make this plan even clearer.
The Heart of Maguuma
Heart of Thorns will throw you right into where Season 2 left you. Players will delve deeper into the Heart of Maguuma and try solve the mystery surrounding the Pact Fleet. The predominantly jungle-based environment will consist of three biomes designed to add a sense of verticality to the game, expanding on the platforming systems of the original release. Players will need to learn various masteries such as hang-gliding and mushroom jumping to get around this area – I don’t know about you, but it sounds like the Jump Puzzles in this area are going to be pretty tricky.
Other details on this deep jungle include a bit of information on what to expect when you first enter this new environment. One of the first things players will see are Pact Fleet survivors who spend the daytime building and repairing their various positions, why? Well, when the area switches to its other nighttime phase, the Mordrem masses raid the Pact Fleet defenses and attempt to overwhelm their outposts. Helping the Pact Defenders will play an integral role in the dynamic environment as these outposts have the ability to be leveled up – what this actually enables isn’t clear yet, but we’re pretty sure it’s going to be important. A new adventure system will also be implemented and will apparently provide a number of challenges for players to rack up high scores in different activities, minigames, and challenges.
Heart of Thorns also aims to provide maxed out characters with a little more to work towards with a new and improved mastery system which will allow players who have hit the level 80 cap to progress and improve their character further in new ways. These new masteries will include things like the aforementioned hang gliding and mushroom jumping abilities and will be earned through experience gained in PvE regions tied to specific abilities. Masteries will also be leveled up on separate paths which will allow for multiple tiers and simultaneous progression on multiple masteries. If you’re a bit confused on how these new masteries work perhaps this information from NCSoft will clear things up:
“Masteries must first be unlocked with Mastery points, which are gained from tasks like completing a chapter in a character’s story, completing achievements, finding secret locations, defeating difficult enemies, performing well in the new adventure system and earning 100 percent completion in maps. New characters can accumulate mastery points, but the points cannot be spent until a character hits level 80. Furthermore, Masteries will bring new benefits to all of the characters in a player’s account. The mastery system was designed to expand players abilities without invalidating past achievements and to grow their characters while focusing on gameplay instead of grinding for new gear.”
Get it? Essentially, instead of increasing the level cap like most MMOs tend to do, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will have you growing your character through an extended and more advanced mastery system. You’ll earn Mastery Points (used to progress in this new system) by doing the same things you would have been doing to level up before you hit 80, such as defeating enemies, finding secret areas and obtaining various achievements.
First Live Gameplay
Last but certainly not least, players who would like to get a glimpse of the Heart of Thorns expansion will be able to tune into the official Guild Wars 2 livestream show, titled Points of Interest, later today from 21:00 CET (20:00 GMT) on the official Twitch channel. Rubi Bayer, the host of Points of Interest, as well as the Heart of Thorns content designers Anthony Ordon and Steve Hwang will venture through Heart of Maguuma and discuss various aspects of the area as well as the new mastery system. Other appearances will include the popular streamers like the wonderfully-named Richie “Bog Otter” Procopio and Aurora Peachy, who will be livestreaming their own Guild Wars 2 programming before the actual show starts – this will kick off at 20:00 CET (19:00 GMT) on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel.
I strongly believe the decision to go back to the original Guild Wars‘ roots (of releasing different content-rich expansions) and release an expansion to breathe a breath of fresh air into the rich world of Tyria is a great one, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on everything surrounding this expansion. Keep your eyes peeled to our homepage for more information – we’re as eager as you are, trust me.