Heart of Thorns

Will the Heart of Thorns expansion bring new life to Guild Wars 2?

After 3 successful years, developers ArenaNet opened their flood gates and announced their first expansion for Guild Wars 2 at PAX South! When the game was first conceived ArenaNet stood strongly against expansions and said there weren’t any planned for the future. It seemed as if they just wanted one complete game, so future players wouldn’t have to make multiple purchases when joining. That’s a respectable play by ArenaNet and having a handful of expansions for a game is truly a deterrent for new players.

Instead of expansions they gave us the Living Story. The Living Story is essentially mini updates that furthered the “endgame campaign”. These mini updates have brought a few new zones, more story content, and an onslaught of new cosmetics and armor/weapon skins. Originally it was intended that a new living story update would come each week, but the time between each update slowly widened. Veteran players quickly became bored of the content and complained that the new updates were too stale and too little. Guild Wars 2 really hit a plateau and it still remains at that plateau. It was never a bad game in any aspect, but there just isn’t much endgame content beyond the dungeons, World vs World, and PvP. Guild Wars 2 is a renowned “casual MMO”, but a casual MMO doesn’t mean that the content should be short-lived, it just means that the existing content should be more oriented around enjoyment rather than competitiveness.

GW2 Revenant

With that, ArenaNet announced Heart of the Thorns in hopes of winning back their vets and putting Guild Wars 2 back under the limelight.

Lets look at what the expansion has in store for us so far:

  • The Mastery System & Specialization — New systems will be implemented into the game that allows for more class diversification. It gives players the option to unlock new weapons for their class, new skills, new traits, and virtually reworks the way your role is played.
  • Maguuma Jungle — Unlike the zones the living story gave us, this one will supposedly be far more vast and explorable.  The boss fights in this zone will be more elaborate and will require cooperation rather than zerging. It’ll even bring gliders that will allow you to “hang glide” from place to place since the Maguuma Jungle will be a very vertical zone.
  • The Revenant Class — Like most MMO expansions this one will also contain a new class. The Revenant can only be described as a heavily armored mage. They have the capacity of getting up close and personal due to their tankiness, but most of their abilities rely on casting spells as that’s where most of their damage output derives from.
  • Guild Halls — It’s about time! What is Guild Wars without guild halls? There hasn’t been much information on how they will work, but I assume it will be much like Guild Wars 1. Instanced and upgradeable through guild influence. With this being implementable I could definitely see ArenaNet expanding on guild features and adding things such as an Allies/Foes systems.
  • New PvP Gametype and WvW Zone — Shockingly GW2 has currently only one PvP gametype! With the addition of the new Stronghold mode PvP players won’t be singing the ‘Conquest Blues’ anymore. The mode features an attack/defend playstyle with aspects of a MOBA sprinkled on top. The new WvW zone is simply a new borderland for those tired of the same scenery. Most likely littered with new ways to play.

So will Heart of Thorns hold up and re-kindle that blazing fire Guild Wars 2 once had? It might be too soon to say as the announcement was only made weeks ago, but we must be wary. The vibe I’m getting is that this could potentially just be another update with the word “expansion” slapped on top. So far the expansion seems very minor in comparison to other MMO expansions, but I think I’m getting ahead of myself. There is much more new information to be released and tons of announced content to be elaborated on, so keep that in mind before believing that you’ve already heard everything there is to it.

Heart of Thorns will be ArenaNet’s only shot at sparking new life into Guild Wars 2. The game is already 3 years old. That’s a young adult in MMO age! The game is not on it’s last leg just yet, but if they wish to see a rise in number of players and longevity then this expansion will be the determining factor. The hype train is already full bore and this was ArenaNet’s intention. Let’s hope that it was not their only intention to just stir things up, but instead truly bring fresh and new content to Guild Wars 2.