Guild Wars 2 has been out for some years now and has just recently attained it’s first expansion, Heart of Thorns. I felt thrilled to have a good reason to hop back onto the Tyria Express and get my fill of Elder Dragons, great looking armour and Pocket Raptors, many, many Pocket Raptors.
The story of Heart of Thorns follows on straight from Guild Wars 2’s story and throws the player into the action after Scarlet has awoken Mordremoth, one of the 5 remaining elder dragons (after the player has defeated Zhaitan in original Guild Wars 2 story). The Pact send in their fleet of airships to try to destroy Mordremoth but he is far more powerful than they thought. Manipulating the jungle Mordremoth brings down the pact fleet and leaves them scattered with the members of Destiny’s Edge and Marshall Trahearne nowhere to be found. The player must then take action, as the commander of the pact you rally the pact forces from a great divide (after it is found that Mordremoth is the progenitor of all Sylvari). Furthermore you must gather races within the Maguuma jungle and Magus falls such as frog like tribal men (who have very fancy headdress).
The expansion also adds another class, Revenant, a heavy armour class (meaning there is now 3 heavy, 3 medium and 3 light). The Revenant channels heroes of the past through the mists to make himself more powerful. Capable of channelling 5 different heroes, the player has a choice of Assassin, Centaur, Demon, Dwarf and Dragon (Dragon is the elite specialisation. Each having it’s own bonuses and abilities associated to it, for example dwarf stance tends to be focused around shrugging off large amounts of damage whereas Centaur is focused on healing. All of these different stances means that the Revenant can fill a huge number of roles for Dungeons and soon Raids.
Revenant isn’t the only class to see a new specialisation, every class receives it’s own elite specialisation. Each of these new specialisations allow the class to wield a weapon it previously wasn’t able to. For example the Necromancer’s new elite specialisation is called Reaper and allows it to use a Greatsword. Each of these new trait lines mean that classes can fill different roles in a team, for example Druid, the rangers new elite specialisation is very focused around healing and could be useful for team sustain during long drawn out fights.
Additionally, Fractals of the Mist (An array of mini-dungeons) have been changed. Instead of entering and doing a multitude of mini-dungeons and a boss dungeon at the end the player only has to do a single mini-dungeon for the chosen reward level. The boss fractal has been moved to every 10 difficulty levels. However this doesn’t mean they’re in anyway easier, with the difficulty scaling then it takes an approach of ‘the higher the risk, the greater the reward’ additionally with Fractals of the Mist containing a condition called Agony (literally the most powerful effect in the game) then you will still require specific gear to counter it taking all of your health away. Perhaps the change down of these from multiple drawn out dungeons to a single dungeon long is due to the fact that the creators (Arena Net) wish for the new Raids to be the time-consuming events.
Guild’s see themselves getting some new features as well, with the new guild system having been edited and getting a fresh new system then it shows clear reasons of why to be in a guild. With Guild Halls coming into the game now then it adds more of a community feel to a game that already has an excellent community. But these guild halls aren’t simply given to the guild. The guild has to build up enough resources through Guild missions and overall funds to be able to attempt an assault on the Mordrem guards (Mordremoth’s minions) who lurk inside. If successful then you can customise and upgrade your hall and even experience the new job profession of ‘Scribe’ which can build items exclusive to the guild. Furthermore there is extra guild weapons and armour for the players to work towards this is a great bonus in the place of a single set of weapons and armour and gives player a large choice for their community.
Heart of Thorns also brings in a mastery system which is primarily for players who reach level 80 (max rank). It gives these players something to do with all the experience points they are earning instead of just leaving it waste, players can choose what they want to unlock with their new mastery points after they have earned enough XP to do so. These masteries allow players to unlock different trees of bonuses, such as ‘Legendary crafting’ which is a new requirement of being able to build a legendary weapon. Furthermore ‘Pact Commander’ is another mastery which buffs the player in general and means he can buff his party with increased speed. Lastly for central Tyria there is ‘Fractal Attunement’ which gives bonuses to aspects like loot drops or access to special vendors.
Although the new areas of the Guild Wars 2 map added in Heart of Thorns have their own unique mastery tracks. Glider mastery is a new track which allows the player to glide from high up places, gliders are new with Heart of Thorns and therefore allow players a new method of exploration across the vast new expanses of the jungle. Furthermore other masteries for the new areas include ‘Exalted lore’, ‘Itzel lore’ and ‘Nuhoch lore’, these three are new races to the game and each provide different bonuses, for example in Itzel lore you can learn their language to trade with them for special items, or in Exalted lore the player can gain access to services in their Forbidden City.
Finally, Raids, Guild Wars 2 will finally be receiving raids, large-scale 10 man dungeons against what will most likely be some of the hardest foes to exist in Guild Wars 2. These events will take time and planning finding a good team that works together, finding that sweet-spot of a team that is the most efficient for taking down the boss, after all there are now many other viable builds than just ‘Zerker’ (Berserker gear is mostly geared towards DPS). These Raids are meant to be the ‘Ultimate Challenging content’ of Guild Wars 2. The first raid is said to have three bosses which ArenaNet have said to be ‘Very challenging’ as well as an epic event. These bosses will require information on weaknesses and strategies to be developed and refined to be given a chance at the loot that awaits. This won’t be any gear, ArenaNet have said that raids will be how you obtain Legendary Armour, meaning risks in these raids will have to be clearly thought through given the opportunity for such a great reward.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is a great purchase for people just getting into Guild Wars through the new Free-to-play and Guild Wars veterans alike. It expands many features and explores more of the deeply rich story that has been long-established since the original Guild Wars released. It is a fantastic experience and definitely goes among my personal top 10 games ever played, even after I think I’ve done everything I want in the game it entices me with something new to keep me interested, whether that be fighting an Elder Dragon or the hope that I may one day outrun a Centaur.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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