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As some of you already know, last week, myself and several other members of the Guild Wars 2 community were fortunate enough to be invited to the ArenaNet studios in Bellevue, Washington to try out a portion of the new Heart of Thorns expansion. While we didn’t get the secret scoop on every detail of the new content, we were able to test drive the PAX East demo as well as the new structured PvP mode, Stronghold. And of course, nearly everybody who attended rolled Revenant, so expect some cool stuff on that, too. We were also given some gameplay footage, so keep an eye out for that at the end of the article (or watch it now, whatever). Enjoy!

PvE and The Heart of Maguuma
The beginning of the demo starts off precisely where the end of the Living Story ends. The Pact airships are flying towards The Maguuma Jungle with a clear focus on Mordremoth and the threat he poses. They’ve already toppled one Elder Dragon, so you can sense a pinch of confidence in the air as they inch closer to the domain of another. That confidence soon turns to chaos as vines shoot up into the sky and pierce the Pact airships like party balloons caught in a ranger’s barrage storm. Destiny’s Edge (minus Caithe, of course) rallies to control the situation, but their efforts fail as the entire fleet comes crashing down into the Maguuma Jungle.

And so begins a new adventure.

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Right off the bat, you can tell that Heart of Thorns has been designed with the past two-and-a-half years of live Guild Wars 2 development and community feedback in mind. One of the most obvious pieces evidence of this can be seen five or ten minutes into the first playable instance. Yep. Your character has found its voice again. A big strength of the original game that was unfortunately absent from any further living story updates was the idea that your character felt directly included. This was partially addressed in season 2 through more involved dialogue options throughout the story, but now your character will speak when spoken to, and respond back as the situation demands. There are standard, unspoken dialogue options as well. One example being if a story sequence finishes up, an opportunity to hunt for secondary information arises and you can hound surrounding NPCs until they spill their secrets.

Another big area of improvement is the new map design philosophy. Heart of Thorns takes what we’ve seen in the Living Story zones, more specifically Dry Top and The Silverwastes, and applies the concept of masteries to open up new play styles and adventuring possibilities. For the uninitiated, masteries are account-wide ability points you unlock as you progress throughout the game. Once you have enough points for an ability, such as gliding or mushroom hopping, you can use your new mastery to traverse the map in new, usually easier ways. Aside from gliding, one of the masteries I encountered in the demo was a mushroom-type jump pad. In the PvE footage at the end of this article, you’ll eventually see a tall hill where players spawn as they complete the initial story sequence. This is actually a defensive sniper hill where players can provide support to those who decide to head down to the lower levels of the region where the enemies are spawning. Should this position be compromised and fall to your foes, players will need to run up quite a ways to reclaim to position. Or, if they had the foresight to invest in a mushroom mastery, they can use the jump pad below the hill and arrive almost immediately. It provides a great convenience to those who choose to spend their points in that specific area, but more importantly, it provides options. I did not invest in the mushroom mastery, so I had to take the scenic route up to the top of the sniper hill. However, once the enemies were killed and our base reclaimed, I used my glider to sail smoothly to the ground and get back to fighting. It’s probably one of the most important features being added to Guild Wars 2 right now, and if the demo is any indication of the future, I don’t doubt we’ll be seeing many more masteries in the game’s future.

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The Revenant
Speaking of important features, let’s talk about the Revenant for a second.

At first glance, the Revenant is just a warrior with a blindfold, but once you make one you’ll get a glimpse of the sheer amount of versatility the profession offers. The big perk of playing one is being able to channel the power of spirits to unleash all sorts of effects on your foes. These spirits are bound to your F1 and F2 keys and, upon activation, determine the entire right side of your skill bar, including heals and the elite skill. And while the Revenant does not come equipped with a weapon swap, you can swap spirits. This means that you’ll be playing much more like an elementalist than other other professions when it comes to skill management. Though this time, since you’re swapping the right half of your bar instead of your left half, you get access to two heals, two sets of utilities, and two elite skills, which is something unlike any other profession. You’re going to want to carefully choose your main weapon and the two spirits that you can equip if you want to be a successful Revenant. Having access to twice as many skills comes with twice as much responsibility. If you don’t know your own bar, you’ll absolutely get wrecked in structured PvP.

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Which brings us to our next topic...

Structured PvP and Stronghold
Stronghold is amazing! At least I think so. If I didn’t have a time limit I would probably still be in the ArenaNet offices playing. And this is coming from a hardcore World Vs World player. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to finally have another gamemode in sPvP. Sure, Conquest is fun, but for those who are looking for something a little more focused, I’m confident Stronghold will satisfy that hunger.

Stronghold is a crazy hybrid between World Vs World and Guild Vs Guild from the original Guild Wars. Two teams of five players are tasked with killing the enemy lord while simultaneously defending their own. It’s mighty difficult to be in two places at once, so luckily you can recruit NPCs with supply to aid you in this most challenging endeavor. Door Breakers, or bomb-toting skritt, are your ticket into the enemy’s fortress. If they can find their way from their spawn point to a door, they’ll blast away at the defense until it’s destroyed. There are two doors to destroy before the lord can be attacked, and the Door Breaker is the most effective means to achieving this goal. If the enemy team has a thirst that can only be quenched by the blood of a skritt, make sure to shut that player down yourself, or by summoning the archer NPCs to help escort the Door Breaker. Archers have a less focused objective than their skritt partners, as you’ll always need the extra firepower during the match. A team that manages to break down both doors already has a huge advantage over the other, as they no longer need to waste supply on Door Breakers and can focus solely on producing more archers to bring to the fight.

There are so many possible roles to fill in this game mode, which is probably why I love it as much as I do. A player isn’t pigeon-holed into just attacking the entire match’s duration. You can have supply runners, Skritt assassins, trebuchet supporters, NPC escorts, and probably something nobody has even thought of yet. It all comes down to what you, as a player, are comfortable with instead of what the game decides for you. And that is something worth getting excited about.

But honestly, I couldn’t pick just one area of Heart of Thorns I’m excited for. I’ve already seen an incredible amount of promise, and this is hardly even the tip of the iceberg. We still have specializations, guild halls, World Vs World (HYPE), and a whole mess of other areas to learn about before the expansion releases. But if you really need to satisfy your hunger, be sure to check out the gameplay video and screenshots we have of Heart of Thorns as well. And if that still wasn’t enough, there are tons of other Guild Wars 2 community members that painstakingly put together their preview content as well. Don’t even get me started on PAX East.

See you guys in game sometime!


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Guild Wars 2 getting a first-person camera

In an interview mixed with information from a press release to Eurogamer, NCSoft has confirmed that multiple perspective changes are coming to Guild Wars 2 in the 10 March 2015 update, including a first-person camera addition.  A field of view slider and UI horizontal/verticle options are also coming.

"There aren't any restrictions on where first-person can be used," the press release said, which means you're free to use it while fighting other players or casually exploring the lustrous world.
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For those keeping track, there was a game update last night that concluded the New Year celebration.

Lunar New Year
  • The Lunar New Year event has ended. Thank you to everyone who participated, and have a joyful and prosperous Year of the Ram!
    • Finolla and Phaedra have left Divinity’s Reach, and the Dragon Ball arena is closed for repairs.
    • Celebration firecrackers have been removed from Divinity’s Reach and the WvW citadels.
    • The Memories of Home effect has been removed.
    • Lunar New Year food items no longer provide a bonus to magic find. Their other effects still apply.
    • Quartermasters in WvW maps will no longer create fireworks when they spawn.
    • Lunar New Year daily achievements and bonus rewards are no longer available.
  • Fixed some recently introduced audio bugs.
  • Moved the miniature collection achievements to the Basic Collections category. Selecting a miniature collection will now display the missing miniatures.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the Griffon Mail Carrier’s sound effects from playing.
  • Introduced the ability to view all locked dyes in the wardrobe, and players can now preview them on their character.
  • Added the Randomize Finisher option. Select this box to randomly choose from any unlocked finishers—including single-use finishers—to stomp your foe.
New Items and Promotions
  • A Chickenado Finisher is available in the Upgrades category of the Gem Store for 800 gems.
  • Lord Faren’s Rapier Skin is available in the Style category of the Gem Store for 500 gems.
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Hey guys. So next Monday and Tuesday I'll be in ArenaNet territory to get some hands-on time with Heart of Thorns. It's gonna be a pretty quick trip, with me leaving Monday and coming back home Tuesday night, so I'll be squeezing as much as I can out of those two days.

The basic overview of the press event will consist of previewing some PvE content along with some of the new PvP stuff they have lined up. If all goes according to plan I'll even be able to record some footage of what I play. This, of course, isn't counting any interview opportunities I'll have with the developers, so there's no doubt plenty of stuff I'll be able to see and do while I'm there.

While I'm not specifically asking for questions to feed the developers, if you guys here have anything you want me to keep an eye out for, just post below and I'll do my best to keep track of everything for when I can talk about what I've seen. I can't promise I'll be able to get an answer for everything though.

Also, keep in mind that there will be a short embargo on the content, so I won't be able to do any sort of juicy live-tweeting while I'm there. However, if you want some non-specific details of my adventures I'll likely be tweeting from my personal Twitter account quite a bit.

That's all for now! I'll let you guys know if anything else comes up that you would want to know about ^^ Back to Top

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Revenant: The Master of the Mists

Arenanet has released a detailed blog post in which the new profession for Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns, the Revenant, is detailed.  The blog post includes information regarding mechanics, the legendary dwarf and demon stances, and the weapons that the revenant can use at launch of the expansion pack.  You can read the entire announcement/blog post on the official Guild Wars 2 website.

The blog post also details the first playable HoT demo during the first week of March, new conditions including slow and taunt, and other subtle hints at what is coming.

The revenant is the ninth profession, added into Guild Wars 2 as a unique archetype not seen in other games. Revenants are heavily armored masters of the Mists with abilities that allow them to harness and manipulate energy in order to perform immense attacks. They invoke powers from legends of the past to dominate foes and unleash chaos on the field of battle. Those familiar with lore from the original Guild Wars will see many familiar faces reappearing as legends, which you can invoke through this profession.
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Points of Interest: Heart of Thorns Gameplay

Arenanet has announced that tomorrow's Points of Interest stream show will be the first look at Heart of Thorns gameplay.  Some gameplay and overviews will be shown of both zones.

I’m back from our announcement at PAX South and ready to talk about Heart of Thorns! I loved the overview of all the major features, and I want to see more. Thankfully, this week’s dev guests are coming to the rescue. Expansion Content Designers Steve Hwang and Anthony Ordon are joining me tomorrow on Points of Interest for our first look at Heart of Thorns gameplay!

They’ll venture into the Maguuma Jungle to show you one of the adventures we heard about earlier this week. Plus, they’ll discuss how some of the systems work.

Today, a blog post was also launched regarding the mastery system, informing us about information and styles found in the new mastery system.

Through Masteries, players who’ve reached level 80 will have the opportunity to continue their journey by acquiring powerful new abilities for their entire account. Masteries are the way you will progress after reaching level 80 in PvE, but they’re quite a bit different than traditional progression, so let’s take a closer look at exactly how this new system will work.
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Journey into the Heart of Maguuma in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

Arenanet has just released a blog post with a video that shows off and describes the design process behind the new Maguuma maps in Heart of Thorns.  The blog post outlines how their old map design compares to these new maps, what activities and outposts are now and how they are being changed, and that the expansion's maps are focused on replayable, challenging content.

One of our focuses in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is to provide truly challenging content for our players to overcome. Within the jungle, you’ll encounter entirely new species, creatures, and bosses that are more advanced than the encounters we’ve introduced in the past. These encounters will require greater skills and tactics to overcome, whether you’re adventuring through our jungle on your own or with a party. Not only are we presenting these new challenges throughout the outposts and adventures you’ll find in the jungle, but they’ll also be layered across other types of content experiences. As we get closer to the release of the expansion, we’ll come back and give specific details on the new types of challenging group encounters we’ll be introducing to Guild Wars 2 and explain how these new types of challenges work within the Guild Wars 2 content experience.

You can find the full blog post on the official Guild Wars 2 website.

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Current Trait Unlock system will be removed in Heart of Thorns

Arenanet has just confirmed on their official forums that the current trait unlock system, which requires players to complete specific events or activites to earn them, will be removed in the upcoming Heart of Thorns expansion.  It was also confirmed that other grind/annoyance-based progression systems are being evaluated to be placed in the mastery system.

The mastery system has been confirmed to be account bound, meaning traits will also become account bound.

It has also been confirmed that masteries will be removing some other RNG/grind based system, including the acquisition of a precursor weapon.

Now that the HOT is out of the bag, we’re able to update this thread with more details. With the introduction of the new account based mastery system for end-game progression and growth in PvE, we’ll also be re-evaluating our other systems of character progression to ensure they match our over-all pillars and goals for Gw2.

In doing so: we’re going to be removing the current trait unlocking system currently on live and replacing it with a more simplified system that supports where skills-traits-specializations are going in the future. We’ll go into more details between now and the release of HOT on how skills, traits, and specializations will work in the new Gw2 world.
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The big, PAX round-up topic

Today, Arenanet is presenting their heart of thorns panel.  This thread will be updated with all announcements, important quotes, and information that is relevant.  If you wish to view the panel, you can view it on the official twitch channel.  Be sure to refresh this thread a lot... prepare your F5 keys!

Status:  Conference Finished.  All time are in GMT +1.

18:20 - Official trailer reveals new weapons for existing professions incoming.

18:18 - Official website.

18:17 - Colin leaves the stage.

18:15 - Heart of Thorns is "about the journey."

18:14 - Guild Hall is much more than what it has been.  It's a home and gathering location for guilds.  Guild Halls provide great adventures, a new sort of raids.  Guild Halls act as bases and are grown through those raids.

18:14 - Guild Halls confirmed.

18:14 - Stronghold allows teams to register as guild teams.  Guild teams are for leaderboards between Guilds.

18:13 - Guild versus Guild confirmed.

18:12 - Stronghold is a mode based on GvG, except for teams, and with buyable AI.

18:11 - Brand new sPvP game mode called Stronghold announced.

18:10 - Core world versus world will be changed to force worlds to hold objectives.

18:08 - New World versus World borderlands map confirmed.

18:06 - Revenant channels anicent Guild Wars heroes.  One channeling hero is King Jalies, granting the power of the great dwarf to the revenant.  Another hero is Mallyx the Unyielding, which can be channeled to use conditions and turn them against the enemies.

18:05 - Revenant profession allows control over the powers of the mists, Rytlock first revenant.

18:04 - Revenant profession confirmed, heavy.

18:03 - Another specialization:  "Why do all necromancers get greatswords?  It's another specialization!"

18:02 - Specializations allow each profession to learn one trait or mechanic that are not part of the core, almost like a second profession.  Colin Johanson gives an example:  "Rangers in the jungle should be able to master jungle connection elements.  So, a ranger can learn the ways of the druid.  When a ranger learns the druid mechanics, they can use the staff and learn new profession utility skill, healing skills, and mechanics."

18:01 - Brand new legendaries and precursors part of the expansion.

18:00 - Precursor crafting confirmed.

17:59 - Collections and crafting are also part of mastery.

17:57 - There will be mastery chains that focus on combo and combat changes.

17:57 - Another mastery is the ability to master languages of civilizations in the jungle, and gain lore.

17:56 - Hang gliders confirmed as a mastery trait.

17:54 - All level 80 character get masteries.  All masteries must be earned once, and are account bound upon unlocking/mastering.

17:53 - Heart of Thorns takes and focuses on the concept of bringing players together... making others should make you happy, according to Colin.

17:51 - The end of the Guild Wars one story is the start of the heart of thorns expansion.

17:50 - Maguuma region are incoming.  Deemed "area."  Consists of three biomes... the roots, the canopy, and the heart.

17:48 - Colin will go through all major features in the expansion.

17:47 - Colin "colinsmile" Johanson incoming, Mike O'Brien thanks fans for loyalty and patience.

17:46 - Heart of Thorns is not about loose features, it's one huge feature chain.

17:46 - Profession Specializations announced.

17:45 - New Group challenges are based on mastery mastery.

17:44 - Maguuma Jungle is a vertical environment.

17:43 - Masteries announced.  New character progression system.

17:42 - Max level characters with top-tier gear now will remain that way at the end of the expansion.

17:41 - O'Brien discusses problem with modern expansions:  gear and loot tiers, character degression.

17:40 - Mike O'Brien mentions GW2 development, from manifesto, to 40 LS updates, to now.

17:37 - Mike O'Brien confirms expansion.

17:36 - Trailer ended... contains flying combat, huge new zones.

17:34 - Trailer.

17:33 - "Mordremoth in Maguuma Jungle, so that's where we're heading next."

17:32 - Recap of season 2.

17:30 - Conference started.  Boomstick orchestra welcome Mike O'Brien.

17:28 - Ambient loading screen ends the pre-show.  Preparing for conference.

17:27 - Boom stick orchestra prepares for conference.

17:16- Arenanet's Rubi Bayer confirms that that next weeks' point of interests show will be a more in-depth look at many announcement of Heart of Thorns.

17:13 - Live Stream has begun, with Jennifer Hale (the voice of Queen Jennah, among many) doing some pre-show speculation.  Discussion is about the amount of people and audience polling. Back to Top

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PSA:  Arenanet aware of ongoing disconnection issues

As Arenanet prepares to announce what comes beyond the point of no return, their servers have also reached the point of no return and are throwing gamers out of the game with constant disconnects.  This issue has been ongoing for 12 hours since the evening of the 23rd of January.  Arenanet has updated players stating they are working on a hotfix for the issue, and that this is a problem on their end

We are aware of some connectivity issues for players, and are working on a solution. Thank you for your understanding and patience. ^RD

Be sure to stay tuned to Guru for coverage of the announcements later today, including a liveblog of the announcements for those that cannot watch the stream. Back to Top