At PAX South, ArenaNet announced Guild Wars 2's first expansion, Heart of Thorns.
Many people guessed that Heart of Thorns was going to be the first expansion for Guild Wars 2, but that didn’t steal the thunder from ArenaNet as Mike O’Brien took to the stage and showed off the announcement trailer for the game’s first expansion pack.
After the trailer finished, Mike went on to say that Guild Wars 2 has been about working together with other players, which has created the friendliest community in any MMO. In Guild Wars 2, the journey is the reward, Mike said. In other games, talking about an expansion is about the new end, with a new level cap and new gear to grind. In Heart of Thorns, however, there will be no new level cap and the current high end gear will remain as the best in slot.
That isn’t to say that there won’t be any new progression. In fact, it looks like there will be more progression included in Heart of Thorns than if they had simply raised the player and gear levels. In Heart of Thorns, players will be able to continue their progression through the new Mastery system, Profession Specialization and new Guild Progression. This is on top of the new areas, allies, enemies and challenges players will face during their journey through the Heart of the Maguuma region.
Heart of the Maguuma
In Heart of Thorns, players will journey into the Heart of the Maguuma. There they will venture out into the jungle, where the last good dragon, Glint, hid a secret for players to discover. While there, players will be able to obtain new rewards and complete challenging achievements, as well as discover new creatures and meet new civilizations.
The maps in the Heart of the Maguuma will be on a completely different scale than the core maps, as verticality will be put to the extreme. From the roots and the core of the jungle all the way up to the canopy where players will find the remains of the Pact fleet; these maps will have a massive gaming space.
In order to survive in the jungle, players are going to need some new abilities. Mastery is a new account-wide progression system for PvE. While journeying through the jungle, players will accumulate Mastery Points from things like story, exploration, group challenges and other challenging achievements. Once you have enough points, you will be able to spend them to unlock new abilities.
While not going into specifics, Colin Johanson gave some examples of what players can expect. With all of the verticality of the new maps, players will need a new way to get around. Players can spend Mastery points into a new hang glider line that will allow players to glide instead of fall. After unlocking the hang gliders, players can continue to put points into the line to improve their ability to use the glider to reach new locations.
Mastery Points can also be used to expand the player’s knowledge of the lore in the game. An example would be the ability to learn the language of one of the new civilizations and then be able to read more about them. Like the hang glider, putting points into a lore line could open up new areas of the game as you get more familiar with a civilization.
Colin briefly mention that combat would be another area that players could infest points into. While he didn’t give any specifics, he said that there would be challenges including new enemies and bosses where players would need new abilities obtained through the Mastery system.
The last section of Masteries that Colin talked about was Collecting, Crafting and Building. As part of this, players will be able to unlock new and challenging collections that will reward precursors. This will be a timely addition, as Heart of Thorns will also be releasing a complete new set of Legendary weapons for players to acquire with new precursors to craft them.
In Heart of Thorns, players will be able to customize their character’s professions in further with the new Specializations, which Colin said are almost like a secondary profession. Specializations will build on top of existing classes, giving them a new weapon and new heal, utility and elite skills.
The main example given for Specialization was the new Ranger Spec: Druid. Colin said that the jungle has a rich Druidic history, and as Rangers journey into the jungle they will learn to master the Ranger and grow into a Druid. Each specialization will give a profession a new weapon with Druids gaining the ability to use a Staff, Necromancers a Greatsword and Engineers a Hammer. As for the rest of the specializations and what weapon they use, ArenaNet will go into more details before Heart of Thorns launches.
Possibly the biggest surprise announcement is the new profession: Revenant. Revenant will be a Heavy Armor profession, which will round out the professions to three for each weight class. Players who have been following Guild Wars 2 lately have probably noticed the teases of Rytlock’s return from the Mists. Rytlock has indeed returned with as the new Revenant profession, which will be able to control and channel the power of the Mists.
While Colin didn’t go into great detail on what the Revenant will do, he did say that it will be able to channel the power of great legends from Guild Wars past and uses them to change the skills they have. King Jalis Ironhammer will be one of the legends the Revenant can channel to gain the power and abilities of the great dwarves of the past to change the Revenant skills and abilities. Another example given was the Demon Malyx from the Domain of Anguish as a legend Revenants can channel to gain control of conditions to use against their enemies.
Heart of Thorns will have two major additions to the PvP areas of the game: Stronghold and a new Borderland. Structured PvP is getting a new game mode with Stronghold. Stronghold will be the evolution of GvG from GW1. Players will be able to gather supply to hire friendly NPCs on the map and assault the opponent’s base and kill their Guild Lord. Alongside Stronghold, players will be able to form Guild Teams and compete on a leaderboard to discover which guild is truly the best.
In World vs. World, Heart of Thorns will be introducing a new map that will be added to a borderland rotation. This new map will be the largest and most diverse map in WvW that puts more of a focus on defending objectives. While not delving too deep into the map, Colin did say that locations will comes with unique bonuses if players can control them. A couple examples were an Earth keep that would make the ground rise to help fight off invaders and a Lava keep that would allow faster travel across the map by jumping from lava pool to lava pool.
The last reveal of the announcement was the addition of Guild Halls in Guild Wars 2. Colin didn’t go into much of any detail about what Guild Halls will be about, just saying that in Guild Wars 2 it will not just be a guild home, but a place to gather, organize, host events and to build and progress your guild and guild hall.
You can check out the Heart of Thorns page on GuildWars2.com for this information, more images and to keep up to date on the latest HoT news. Return to ZAM.com tomorrow and check out our interview with Mike O’Brien and Colin Johanson over everything Heart of Thorns.
Matt Adams aka the Mattsta
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