Guild Wars 2 fans waited for weeks for something big, and the wait ended today. ArenaNet took control of PAX South 2015 on Saturday morning to announce the first expansion pack for the game. “Heart of Thorns” will take the MMO into new lands and create new challenges for the players who spend their days immersing themselves in the lands of Tyria.
Mike O’Brien, ArenaNet president, and Colin Johanson, game director, took over the stage with a packed room of fans waiting for every single detail. Before the announcement, fans took over Reddit and Twitter with speculation about the big announcement. Many wanted an expansion for the game, but fans did not know if an expansion would come.
Many players had expressed disappointment in the game in recent months, and ArenaNet listened. Players wanted new challenges, new lands to explore, new professions, and more character progression.
“Heart of Thorns” is giving players all of those things.
A trailer for the new expansion started the presentation. The short video featured the return of Rytlock. He entered a new land, and he faced new challenges.
Rytlock has been missing from the game since the end of the fourth episode of “Living World” Season 2. He will return, and he brings with him a warning about one of the five playable races in the game – the Sylvari are evil. They come from the elder dragon, Mordremoth, and some of them will turn against the Pact and other races.
Guild Wars 2 has been building up to “Heart of Thorns” with 40 playable “Living World” episodes. Each episode added to the content of the game and changed the world of Tyria. Lion’s Arch, one of the major cities in the game, has been in the ruins since the end of “Living World” Season 1.
That is the history. “Heart of Thorns” is the future of Guild Wars 2.
This expansion will add several features to the game. This expansion far exceeds the feature pack introduced into the game last year. Colin Johanson touched on some of the additions during today’s presentation. He promised loyal Guild Wars 2 gamers that more would be revealed before the release of the expansion.
What are these new Guild Wars 2 game features?
The first is the Heart of Maguuma. This is a new region that players will enter and explore. The region will contain three different biomes, the core, the roots, and the canopy. At the end of “Living World” Season 2, players saw a cutscene that showed the pact ships attacked.
The wreckage of those ships now rest at the canopy level of the new region. Gamers will be able to explore this area, and they will find new bosses, new creatures, and face new challenges that will lead them to new achievements.
The new achievements will lead gamers to the next new feature, called masteries. O’Brien promised fans at the start of the presentation their top tier characters today would remain the top tier characters needed for this expansion. Unlike many other MMOs, this expansion will not be raising the current level cap or introducing a new tier of gear.
However, they will face new challenges and progress in a new way with a mastery system. This system will give players points that will unlock new abilities. One of the abilities teased during today’s presentation is the use of a hang glider. Instead of a character jumping off a cliff and falling to the ground with a huge splat, they will have the ability to use a hang glider to fly above the land.
The mastery feature will also add new abilities for lore geeks. They will have the ability to learn the languages of Tyria. Combat mastery was also introduced, but no details were mentioned during the presentation.
For players who like to craft and collect items, they will have the ability to collect items that will give them a precursor once a collection is finished. Precursors are needed to create the top tier legendary weapons. Johanson revealed that new legendary weapons would be added to the game with the expansion.
“Heart of Thorns” will also feature new profession specializations. There are currently eight professions in game, and the expansion will add a ninth profession. The Revenant profession is a heavy armor profession, and Rytlock will be the first. Members who use this profession will be able to channel the powers and abilities of past legends.
All of the professions will have the ability to add new specializations. These will allow each profession to learn new abilities that they can use in combat to battle the new enemies they will face in the new area. An example was giving during the presentation.
“Rangers [will be] able to master druid abilities and become a druid. With druid, [rangers] can use a staff weapon and have access to a new heal skill, a new elite skill, new utility skills and new profession mechanics that change [game play].”
“Heart of Thorns” will also make additions to the player-versus-player portion of the game. For World-versus-World, the expansion adds a new borderland. This borderland will add a new style of play that will make defending and holding objectives more rewarding and necessary.
For player-versus-player competitive gaming, a new game mode will come with the expansion. Stronghold will allow gamers to form teams and fight for supply, hire troops to battle lords, and take control of the other team’s stronghold.
Players who belong to guilds can also form teams, and there will be a leaderboard. Fans were excited to hear about the return of guild halls, a feature from Guild Wars 1, with the expansion. Those in attendance at the presentation went wild with this announcement. Johanson had to wait to continue.
A release date for the expansion was not revealed, but more information is promised in the weeks to come. Right now, ArenaNet announced that there will be both a digital edition and a boxed edition available for the expansion at stores. Pricing details are not yet set. At the end of the presentation, the new “Heart of Thorns” website was unveiled.
Fans have been buzzing about this announcement for weeks. With the announcement, it is clear the buzz and excitement are continuing. Fans have taken over social media with praise for this announcement.
I’ve not been this excited about Guild Wars 2 in a very long time. *climbs aboard the hype train* #GW2HoT
— Martin (@wanderingfist) January 24, 2015
— Chris Jacobs (@SgtBenton) January 24, 2015
— Oliver Brix (@oliverbrix) January 24, 2015
ArenaNet is celebrating the announcement with a huge game sale. Guild Wars 2 is on sale for just $10 this weekend, according to GameSpot.
What do you think of these upcoming Guild Wars 2 features? Are you excited for the “Heart of Thorns” expansion?
[Photos: Twitter/”Heart of Thorns” official website]