Heart of Thorns: Small Additions Bring Big Changes

As an avid Guild Wars player since the original title came out in 2005, I obviously had an obligation to move on to Guild Wars 2 when it was released seven years later.

Unlike the original title, Guild Wars 2 did not have the option to have a multiclass character. How this worked in the original game was that your class was able to have a major and minor class, allowing you a plethora of combinations and playstyles. Wanted to be a tanky support? Why not make a Warrior / Monk? Wanted to quick, evasive, and lethal? A Ranger / Thief was probably your best bet.gw1_1

However in the 2nd title ArenaNet went with a different approach. Instead of having the ability to have multiple classes per character, each class was refined by weapon sets and trait lines instead. Now at launch a lot of players (including myself) had agreed that this ending up feeling stale up to a certain point. Without the ability to mix and match classes you were bound to a certain amount of core skills that no matter how you built your class you were stuck using them.

Lately though, ArenaNet has answered the outcry and completely revamped the trait system. While this doesn’t directly affect your core skills per weapon, its approach made the classes feel new again. In a recent overhaul, each class was given a new elite skill along with a few new utility skills. And like any other MMO, adding anything to the game requires a huge amount of time devoted to balancing the classes. Amazingly ArenaNet has done a fine job keeping each class in check in all 3 major aspects of the game. PvE, PvP, and World vs. World.

With the recently announced Guild Wars 2 expansion Heart of Thorns, players were anxious to see what would be added to the game to make each class feel new.
How would ArenaNet make the game feel more progressive in a new expansion without increasing the level cap? Luckily, the game has never been about grinding out the max level and obtaining the highest possible tier of gear.

Instead, they did what most players hope and dream of, adding a new weapon set per each class (along with an entirely new class, but that is a whole other article)! Each class will recieve a new elite trait line that will need to be obtained in the new Maguuma Jungle zones of the expansion. Once unlocked, the class will be able to use a new weapon set along with their elite trait line.

Lets take the Guardian for example, a class I am very familiar with since the beta before launch. While ArenaNet refrains from agreeing there is a holy trinity, Guardians would be the tank if there was. They are great at mitigating damage to their nearby allies and taking the brunt of damage in the front lines. They have the ability to use the staff, but it is commonly known to have a very niche role and they rely heavily on their melee weapons sets.

In Heart of Thorns, with the new Dragonhunter specialization, guardians will unlock a 2nd ranged weapon, the longbow. The addition of one weapon set alone unlocks a whole new play style for the class finally giving them the ability to give support from the back lines of the battle as a primary role.

“When we set out on the search for the guardian’s elite specialization, we looked for areas in which the guardian lacked a solid role. It turns out that wielding light and virtue as power sources is actually somewhat difficult to do, and a guardian’s abilities are fairly short-range or unconventional in their application. We thought about how the guardian might handle long-range combat and supporting allies while fighting on the back lines. To this end, we’ve decided to incorporate a more physical aspect into the guardian, and its powers in light-wielding have deepened to the point that they can better physically manifest objects into the world and send them flying as swift as an arrow.”
Along with a completely new trait line, and new combinations of the ones already in the game, this small addition adds an entire new flavor to the class. With each new class receiving an elite trait line and new weapon set, it will bring several new way to approach each aspect of the game. You will have to learn to work with and against a whole new set of roles and play styles per class.

This one example, a small piece to a giant puzzle, that ArenaNet has intricately put together, will bring a new look and feel to the classes of Guild Wars 2 which has been long overdue.

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is available for pre-order now. Pre-order to included in closed beta events and participate in stress tests.

The new Maguuma Jungle awaits.