After dropping hints since May 2014, ArenaNet has unveiled the first full expansion pack to role-playing game Guild Wars 2 at PAX South.
This comes after the developer teased further news at the show at the end of season two of Guild Wars 2’s Living World updaters.
Titled Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, the expansion sends players deeper into the Maguuma Jungle, where the game’s lead bad guy, elder dragon Monrdremoth, is hiding. A trailer for the expansion showed off new classes, weapon types, areas and enemies, as well as players using gliders to soar through zones.
Mike O’Brien, ArenaNet president and co-founder on the expansion:
“I think you need real character progression that you can keep using to evolve your characters long after you hit max character level and have the best gear in the game. Now you understand why we had to go build this expansion pack.”
Heart of Thorns introduces a new progression system called “Masteries.” It focuses on building new skills and abilities that players need to survive in the expansion’s deep jungle environment. The game’s professions will also have new specialiations, with guilds getting new progression as well.
“This all comes together, so it’s not a collection of features. It’s a comprehensive experience.
“I’ll put it simply: Heart of Thorns is our new vision for character progression in Guild Wars 2.”
Challenges and story pieces completed in the expansion will award Mastery point, according to game director Colin Johanson, which can be used to purchase abilities. These are account-wide, so they will apply to every character you have.
“This is part of our no-grind philosophy for Guild Wars 2.”
Mastery skills will include the aforementioned hang-gliding, as well as more abstract things like learning the languages and lore of ancient civilizations in the Maguma Jungle. The mastery system will also tinker with the game’s crafting system, making legendary weapons less difficult to create.
The new specializaions system will change professions in Guild Wars 2, according to Johanson. For example, rangers will be able to specialize into druids, opening up new healing and utility skills, access to a new weapon type and “new profession mechanics that fundamentally chagne the way that rangers play.”
One new profession was revealed for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns: the revenant. Rytlock Brimstone was revealed as the game’s very first revenant. The class will channel powers from legends of the world’s past. The historical figure they channel will change the abilities available to them at an one moment.
Turning to player-versus-player, ArenaNet wants to continue building on the idea of players being units in a massive RTS for the game’s world-versus-world mode, according to Johanson.
This includes a new map called Borderland that is the biggest map made by the developer so far. ArenaNet is also tweaking the world-versus-world experience to make holding onto objectives a bigger part.
For the game’s small-team competitive PvP mode, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will receive a new game mode called Stronghold. This is an evolution of PvP modes from Guild Wars. Players must build up resources, hire troops and assault an enemy stronghold. The game will alco receive leaderboards for guilds, encouraging more competition between them.
Johanson on the expansion’s launch:
“When it’s ready.”