Last weekend marked the three year anniversary of Guild Wars 2’s launch. To celebrate, ArenaNet president Mike O’Brien announced two things at PAX: the core game is now entirely free to play, and Heart of Thorns, the upcoming expansion, has a date. It will be launching Friday, October 23. Expansions always get me excited for games, even if they are games I don’t actually play – I have a far greater urge to run out and buy a game if I see an expansion than I do for a launch.
It looks like this expansion will be dropping quite a lot of content players’ way, so lets take a look.
Raids are coming – there is even one currently available for those who pre-order Heart of Thorns. I’ve really never been much of a raider, I find the experience of being one cog in a huge group pretty boring. Perhaps it’s the way players have evolved to raids – remember back in classic EQ when people would take anyone to hit a world or raid boss that spawned? That was exciting and fun. Now more often than not I see people insisting on specific character specs to participate, and there are often multi-guild diplomatic discussions and politicking involved. Not exciting and fun. But then again, taking a classic example, I’ve always been more interested in the fights through Moria than the Battle of 5 Armies – I usually glaze through army on army encounters in any media.
But these raids sound interesting. Guild Wars 2 raids are built for groups of 10 people. They’re also built on top of GW2’s combat and event system, so presumably the same raid will be different across multiple runs. They discuss holdouts, assaults, captures, defends, and – the now ubiquitous to gaming feature lists -more. One thing that does catch my attention is the statement that ArenaNet doesn’t want raids to become outmoded whenever new tiers of gear are acquired. “Wastelands of raids” is how they describe the scenario they are actively trying to avoid. 10 is pretty close to the Fellowship group size. Now I’m actually curious..
ArenaNet feels that guilds and community are the heart’s blood of Guild Wars 2, so it’s non too surprising that guild progression has been touched. Guilds are being given more strategic choices, and hopefully encouragement to work together and interact with other guilds. World vs World guild claiming has been given an overhaul. Guild halls will have a new building called a War Room that is used for the claiming managing of objectives. Objectives will level with time as a guild holds them, giving guilds incentive to remain active and attentive rather than grabbing and walking away. I just love the sound of an ability to turn into a car to run over enemy players.
The mastery system provides new training opportunities for level 80 characters to progress. Some examples include hang gliding, ripping armor off of foes, and building collections that are precursors to the acquisition of legendary weapons. There are 39 mastery tiers in 7 tracks, and will allow you to do things like learn languages, open hidden locations, fight hidden enemies, bounce off of mushrooms and jump higher. Crafters aren’t left out – the Central Tyrian Masteries provide the means to craft legendary weapons.
All in all, Masteries remind me quite a great deal of EQ’s AAs.
A new zone, new class, new specializations, the mastery system, raids, guild halls, new competitive WvW modes, Heart of Thrones is looking to be pretty content packed. And with the core game now free to play, there’s no reason not to check it out.
Learn more about the expansion and pre-order it on the Heart of Thrones expansion page.