This past weekend, at PAX South, ArenaNet finally let us in on the secret of the ending of the Living Story Season 2 for Guild Wars. Rumors have been rampant on social media when people started completing the last episode of the Living Story and its cutscene ending with the HoT logo, and saw that heartofthorns.guildwars2.com had been reserved as a domain name. I watched on Saturday, along with upwards of 76,000 other people on Twitch, and a packed audience as ArenaNet set the record straight and announced that they are, in fact, releasing a long-awaited expansion. You can watch both the announcement video and the trailer at the link above. It has been 2 years this past August, since the release of Guild Wars 2 and a lot of people feel that we should have had an expansion by now, but ArenaNet has never been one to rush a project, as we saw with the time between announcement and release of the base game all those years ago. As far as I’m concerned I’d rather they take their time and release a complete product than rush something to market recklessly because of demand.
Let’s get down to it then, the key hints, teasers, and information that we got out of the video.
People may, or may not have been disappointed that the level cap most likely won’t be raised. I, for one, and glad. Levels, while necessary in any MMO to denote progress, become arbitrary after awhile. I didn’t have an issue with the 20 cap in GW1 and I don’t have an issue with the 80 cap in 2. In the end it becomes unimportant in the grand scheme of the game, more as a gauge to unlock content rather than a measure of skill or power. They will, however, be adding a new system after level 80 to increase your PC’s abilities and usefulness, and give you something to strive for other than grinding for more gear, or just running new maps with no sense of progress beyond 80.
From what we understand, the mastery system is going to give you a whole new set of ‘skills’ of some sort to work on. One that they detailed was being able to leap from high places and hang glide to the ground. Another use for this system will be acquiring precursors more easily than before, as well as leading to new equipment. They also talked about one that piqued my interest, because I love the lore of GW so much. The lore mastery will allow your PC to find hidden places, stories, quests, and such, to expand the world and make it more immersive.
New Maps, Maguuma Jungle
Of course, what expansion wouldn’t be complete without new maps? Many players have been begging for these for awhile now, and have long since completed world exploration on more than one PC. For me, I just got my 100% on my main so this hasn’t been as big of a deal, but I’m looking forward to more to explore. They are promising larger maps, with much more vertical movement. Climbing, jumping, and now hang gliding will make these new maps quite interesting to explore. Of course, with this we’ll be seeing new creatures, quests, exploration landmarks, and stories.
WVW is also getting a new map, which will also add a new game mode they’re calling stronghold. ArenaNet promises this will change up the tactics of WVW as holding and defending points becomes more important. Having locations on the map will increase, or change, your side’s combat effectiveness, making defense of certain areas a priority. Will this break the standard ‘zerg’ tactic? Could we see more focus on smaller formations taking and holding points? We’ll have to see how this hits the WVW community.
I’m very excited for this one, and it’s going to add another element of progression for your PC after 80, or maybe before, that wasn’t quite clear. These will essentially be advanced professions, but not quite ‘secondary professions’ like we had in GW1. Your PC will have the option to study a more specific path beyond the base prof. and gain new skills, traits, and a new weapon added to their available selection. In the announcement they teased a specialization for the ranger who will be able to step into the role of a druid, gain abilities to suit, and open up the staff as an available weapon. They also dropped a tiny tease for the necromancer, saying they will be able to use a great sword. Could we possibly be seeing the beginnings of the Death Knight? I’m sure speculation is already rampant.
New Profession: The Revenant
I’m sure people wanted more than just one new profession. In the past, expansions for GW1 added two new professions each (except for EoTN), and I know people wanted new playable races, but then again this is all just teaser stuff. I doubt we’ll get playable races, but it’s still a possibility.
The Revenant is going to be another heavy armor class, rounding out all the armor/class types to 3 each. They’ve given us a bit of a background, stating the profession can channel the powers of legends past, such as the dwarf Jalis Ironhammer, giving the profession abilities to mirror that of the legendary hero. We don’t know yet what form that will take, but I expect it will be some of the skills, perhaps all of them. It’s possible the PC will shapechange as well, or possibly just be overlaid with the ghostly image of the legend they channel. We saw some of this in the teaser video, with Ritlock, but it’s still hard to tell exactly what form these powers will take in the final version.
Finally, something that should have been included in the base game is going to be available. People were worried that these were never going to happen, or that ArenaNet had decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Whether that’s the case and ANet changed their mind, or it was just a matter of logistics and having to cut something to finally get GW2 to market, the days of speculation and wishing will soon be over. We don’t yet know how they will be accessed, how many there will be, if they will be themed like they were in GW1 or even how much they will cost. This was, by far, one of the most loudly applauded announcements at PAX.
So my thoughts? I’m excited. There’s a lot already announced and I’m sure more to come. We will don’t know how many new maps, or all the details of each feature of course, but I expect they’ll blow us away again with the sheer amount of content. I’m looking forward to seeing how they deliver a jungle with the sort of vertical scope they are hinting at, and what that will add to exploration and the look of an already beautiful game. There’s still time, and so much information to come, so I don’t want to speculate too much. We’ll keep you posted on what we find out as time goes on.