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#2352415 Heart of Thorns Hands-On Preview

Posted Neo Nugget on 03 March 2015 - 02:28 PM

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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!


#2351980 Revenant Worries; GW2 Worries: The Good and the Bad

Posted Doof on 24 February 2015 - 09:29 PM

View PostDirame, on 24 February 2015 - 08:20 PM, said:

Keep throwing those words in my mouth. I haven't eaten today.

You already admitted that it can have an effect when stacked with other passive procs.  My question to you afterward was "Who doesn't stack passive procs in GW2?" especially give that the vast majority of traits and gear are comprised of entirely passive procs that may or may not even require specific skill usage in order to trigger.

Then you go ahead and say:

View PostDirame, on 23 February 2015 - 10:31 PM, said:

but when you start poking at a minor trait that doesn't even factor into much until you try to stack all the passives together

You're just repeating yourself.  Either stop talking or address whether or not you're fine with passives running the show in GW2.  Look at I Post Stuff.  He's clearly fine with it.  I mean, we can argue why it is an awful idea for a game that seeks to be competitive and engaging, but at least he's honest about it.

#2352064 Heading to ArenaNet

Posted Neo Nugget on 25 February 2015 - 07:08 PM

View Postdavadude, on 25 February 2015 - 06:33 PM, said:

Awesome, were you able to answer the questions asked here, or are hints also part of the NDA?

Not all of them, as there were several topics that they didn't discuss at all, but at the same time there was plenty to dig around for.

Can't say what those topics were specifically though. Sorry :P

#2351893 Will you play again?

Posted Haggus on 23 February 2015 - 11:03 PM

View Postilr, on 21 February 2015 - 10:03 PM, said:

I'm thinking no...  And it hurts to say that b/c Maguuma was my favorite zone in Gw1.   And what they're saying about Combat itself and how they're tentatively admitting that they completely DESTROYED the depth that Gw1's combat had ... is an important first step. But I completely do not trust them anymore to actually listen to the hard-cases in the community to fix any of it.   All they want to listen to anymore is the Fanboy Whale minority who would be happy with whatever they did anyway.  It's not like the days of Gw1 where you could (still today even: go all the way back in the Dev's archives of the Wiki and Guru to....) find them constantly working with the disenfranchised and hardcore audience to solve real issues.

Instead they had these heavily sanctioned little threads on their official forum where the Designers obviously just gave up not even 1/10th of the way into the discussions.  They've made it really clear time and again that they only want to do what they want to do and what they want to do is to never deal with any of the challenges ever again that made GW1 the complex game that it was.  They're simply not responsive.  They don't say what they're thinking.  They do everything they possibly can to avoid tackling real criticism. I see them now as being everything that's wrong with the new Overly-Politically-Correct Afraid-to-try-Anything-Dramatic WestCoast-Culture Cabal within the gaming industry that is passive-aggressively trying to take everything away that we loved about old-school gaming.  

It is impossible to trust them anymore b/c they made it abundantly clear that Transparency and Honesty are meaningless to them.  They embody the completely insular polarization and cronyism and corruption which is fueling the culture divide that the gaming community is at war with itself over right now.

Dude, you know we're talking about a GAME, right? Something you're supposed to do for fun.  Don't convert it into a treatise on society.  If you aren't having fun, fine.  Don't have a stroke giving a Rand Paul oration on the decline of gaming in America, as if people were dying because the devs didn't tell you what they were going to do.  

As for how great GW was...we seemed to remember the game differently.  IWAY, sabway, 6 shouting paragons and two healing monks owning Mallyx; "GTFO if not a barage-pet ranger" in Urgoz Warren; "LFG Healz" and "Show me your bar" the top two phrases uttered for missions; URSAN BLESSING!!!!.  SHADOW FORM!!!!!11!!!1!  These are just some of the tard moments that sprouted up in my mind.  Not the land of milk and honey you think it was. Oh, and all instanced with no y-axis or ability to cross bodies of f'ing water!
I won't even get into the ranger running like he had a stick up his butt.

#2351869 Revenant Worries; GW2 Worries: The Good and the Bad

Posted Dirame on 23 February 2015 - 09:27 PM

Doof, you're definitely overly negative. Determined Resolution is a minor, Empowering vengeance requires that you build for it, Close Quarters is actually alright, only it would never be used and improved aggression works on only NPCs. The downside is the fact that it doesn't work on players. I mean come on! You could at least try to be constructive.

#2351272 Will you play again?

Posted Phineas Poe on 19 February 2015 - 05:13 AM

View PostMazingerZ, on 18 February 2015 - 09:30 PM, said:

So what I'm hearing is... you need two very specific professions, probably with a specific load out, to deal with Defiance?  Good to know.

Do you really gotta have a glass half empty perspective on everything?

No, you don't need two very specific professions with a specific loadout to deal with defiance. Every class has access to crowd control skills to reduce stacks; they're simply the best at it, just in the same vein that elementalist is best at stacking fury and engineers are best at stacking vulnerability.

#2351416 Revenant Worries; GW2 Worries: The Good and the Bad

Posted Hobbesqt on 20 February 2015 - 01:53 PM

View PostI post stuff, on 20 February 2015 - 01:45 PM, said:

No this isn't a bit exaggerated. It's completely exaggerated, glass half empty thinking.

I agree. Glass half empty thinking isn't really needed here.

View PostI post stuff, on 20 February 2015 - 01:45 PM, said:

But like I said, they'll try to "fix" combat and we'll end up with the most idiotic combat system ever before the game dies.

Wait...what? Did you just talk about exaggeration...and then? Huh?!





(; ̄д ̄)


#2351413 Revenant Worries; GW2 Worries: The Good and the Bad

Posted I post stuff on 20 February 2015 - 01:45 PM

No this isn't a bit exaggerated. It's completely exaggerated, glass half empty thinking.

Support, control and positioning play a vital role. It's not just pull then DPS. But then again, explaining this to forumites is like talking to a brick wall.

But like I said, they'll try to "fix" combat and we'll end up with the most idiotic combat system ever before the game dies.

#2351410 Revenant Worries; GW2 Worries: The Good and the Bad

Posted Hobbesqt on 20 February 2015 - 01:44 PM

View PostDoof, on 20 February 2015 - 06:05 AM, said:

Slow.  Just because combat is a visual mess that resolves more rapidly than anyone can properly narrate even in a mere 2v2 situation doesn't mean you need to add a new condition to slow everything down for you.  Slow down the combat.  Don't add more passive effects (which probably trigger instantly/nearly instantly too) to do it manually.  Slow it down at its core.  Just by adding more directional skills and delayed cues, this issue can be resolved.

Resistance.  See above except it's conditions this time.  GW2 conditions are a DoT effect that manage to deal lethal spike damage if someone doesn't have the right button to press that instantly saves them (skill and esports™ and all that).  That's not proper.  Instead of relying on more rock-paper-scissors, just reduce condition spam.  Load dangerous amounts of conditions into directional/delayed attacks.  Punish enemies and reward players for landing condition bombs as one would direct damage instead of making conditions something that stack miles high while you press all of your easy rotation buttons.  Moreover, it's not like condition cleansing will be removed.

Not gonna happen. No sense in even debating if it is a good idea or not.

View PostDoof, on 20 February 2015 - 06:05 AM, said:

Taunt.  This better be PvE only, that's all I'm saying.  I'm also calling a rune or trait that makes players passively deal +300% damage while taunted because anet is probably silly enough to do that.  They love their passive esports™ procs after all.  Instant/near instant "reverse fear."  Gotta be kidding me.

This actually excites me. Taunt is something that hasn't been done in this way before in PvP to my knowledge. A unique mechanic for once in an MMO. And your non sequitor about the rune or trait is just obnoxious.

View PostDoof, on 20 February 2015 - 06:05 AM, said:

Specializations.  As cool as these things are, there is a forked road ahead:

1) Specializations will become meta and stock classes will be relegated to PvE-only.

2) Specializations will never take off because they may actually make players sacrifice something in order to fit into a specific play-style (like a role... in ROLE-PLAYING game). Due to this, the stock class will end up being superior in many situations because currently nobody gives up anything ever in GW2. Every skill and trait that you take is simply a bonus. There are no role-defining trade-offs in GW2 (which is why everything plays so samey in the end).

And in either case, the stock classes will simply not be getting overhauls despite numerous individual game-play issues across all of them regarding player responsibility and roles (as in there really isn't any of that which defines any given profession).  Anet seems poised to abandon them for new specializations.  Even if specializations are a great success, this just may lead to another level of tedium in GW2:  "Uugh, I have to get through leveling this awful class so I can finally specialize!"

Straw man. You deliberately ignore the goal they are attempting to hit, which is more options, and a balance all around. This is entirely possible, and your cynical attitude is pretty tiring here. The negativity is unfounded.

View PostDoof, on 20 February 2015 - 06:05 AM, said:

All in all, 3.5/10.  The good brought in by the Revenant is simply not enough to cancel out the foreboding bad concentrated in resistance, slow, taunt and the future of classes at the throttling hands of specializations.  Revenant is really, honestly, pretty amazing, though--especially considering that it came from "GW2 launch + 2 years" anet.

You should go somewhere else if you are this cynical. The expac was just announced, beta isn't out yet, and you wrote a novella on how much it is going to suck. Time to reassess your priorities.

#2351467 I’ve been playing GW2 wrong, and loving it.

Posted Arkham Creed on 20 February 2015 - 06:35 PM

View PostI post stuff, on 19 February 2015 - 10:05 PM, said:

At this point you are contradicting yourself.

Zerker rush parties can't aford to screw up, which is in part why they take more skill to finish content because almost every move is important in some way or another. Tankier build are slower, but let players get away with stupid shit. It's that simple. New players and pubs generally screw up zerk rush due to lack of skill or organizaqtion, or both.

I had all manner of builds for all game content, and let me tell you this; my cleric Guard was the simplest thing ever compared to my zerk Thief. This game can be played in many ways, but the meta is by far the most challenging.

I think at this point you and I should just agree to disagree. I will never see a playstyle that ultimately boils down to "just dodge everything and hope nobody screws up" as anywhere near the same level as the kind of planning, preparation, coordination (there is a difference between working together and working beside each other), and dynamic adaptability offered by pretty much any other party comp. And that is another important distinction to make; a build can seem simple if you approach it from the mindset of "I'll do my thing and they'll to theirs" yet be very complex and challenging when actually played as part of an organized group. Zerker groups are not what I would call organized; they are five+ people standing in the same place, doing the same thing, and hoping nobody screws up. That isn't teamwork.

#2351560 POIR: Points of Incredible Rage

Posted Dirame on 20 February 2015 - 11:37 PM

You can always rewatch the broadcast. I mean, you haven't missed anything like, AT ALL. It's all there.

#2351443 Heading to ArenaNet

Posted Neo Nugget on 20 February 2015 - 05:20 PM

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 ^^

#2351251 Will you play again?

Posted I post stuff on 19 February 2015 - 12:20 AM

To the poster above...

Don't listen to the forums. Doubt everything. Take every "popular" opinion with a pinch of salt. Until you do that, your game knowledge will be highly inaccurate. At least as long as you continue to learn the game from the forums rather than by playing, for whatever reason.It might look like forums are the voice of the community, but in reality they only represent a small minority of vocal shitposters (guilty as charged here) or serial whiners, with a handful of experienced players like Phineas mixed in the lot. The latter make accurate posts that get buried under a pile of shit... Tough!

#2351224 Revenant: The Master of the Mists

Posted Arkham Creed on 18 February 2015 - 09:33 PM

View PostMazingerZ, on 18 February 2015 - 09:25 PM, said:

Hopefully they'll have something that resembles a vision.  I've no idea why they're so gun-shy on details.  WoW's telegraphed 6.1's deliverables since the PTR went up and they manage to maintain their hype up till the patch launch.

The difference is that GW2 gets new updates all the time, while WoW rarely ever get them. I'm not saying WoW's aren't a heck of a lot more...content rich, but the fact remains that because these things are so few and far between they have to keep revealing information consistently just to keep people aware the patch exists, let alone interested. By contrast GW2 is constantly releasing something-or-other to keep the core audience's attention, and thus can skimp on the details a lot more than WoW can afford to.

#2351188 Revenant: The Master of the Mists

Posted NerfHerder on 18 February 2015 - 07:41 PM

Really cool how they snuck in the old power system from GW1, in a way. It plays with all the other retro things about the Revenant. Like giving it Avatars. Cant wait to see if it gets more weapons. And a color scheme? I hope more professions get this type of customization as well.

I'm even more intrigued by the new boons effects and mechanics coming to all the professions.