E3 2015: Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns prepurchase is live; we get the scoop on guild halls

By now you are no doubt familiar with the guild halls arriving in Guild Wars 2‘s Heart of Thorns expansion. What you probably didn’t expect is that the expansion is available for purchase as of tonight and is already stirring up controversy for its $49.99 standard rate that comes along with a copy of the base game whether you’ve already got it or not. The deluxe version will run $74.99 and come with an extra character slot and several cosmetic goodies, while the ultimate edition runs $99.99 and is just like the deluxe set only with 4000 gems in addition to the fluff. All editions grant access to weekend beta events slated for the game, and many of the in-game goodies will be unlocked on accounts now instead of when the expansion launches.

But earlier today, ArenaNet wanted to dish on the guild halls coming to the game, and it was worth the flight to LA! I sat down with ArenaNet Game Designer Link Hughes, Design Lead Crystin Cox, and PvP Test Lead Jessica Boettiger here at E3 2015 to get a look at and talk all about guild housing. Here’s the scoop (and a video, too!).

The what

What are guild halls? Let’s just say they are not your grandma’s dainty little houses… unless your grandma’s teeny tiny abode sits on a massive swath of land that encompasses half the county! Even as a veteran MMO housing aficianado, I was shocked and awed by the scope of these halls. Seriously, players will need to rethink the scale of housing; they are less halls and more zones. Don’t take my word for it: Check out the grand scope of them in the video below.

Another great aspect of these halls is that they exist as an integral part of the world in this expansion instead of as some tacked-on afterthought that is instanced away with no connection to what is going on. In fact, players will have to follow through the story and game play to earn one of these beauties (more on that below).

The halls are more than just one standard hall; there are two to choose from, Guilded Hollow and Lost Precipice, and as you probably noticed from the visual tour, they aren’t really “halls” at all! Each one is an outdoor zone with its own distinct style. Benefit-wise, there isn’t a difference between the two. They are both gargantuan, and both sport the same bells and whistles. The key differences lie is in their decidedly distinct aesthetics and theme.

Guilded Hollow, a monolithic cavern underneath the jungle, is connected to an abandoned outpost called The Forgotten Golden City. This hall is filled with hidden caverns, tunnels, and beautiful waterfalls, and it’s carved out of huge chunks of solid gold. The Lost Precipice, on the other hand, is a hidden canyon located northwest of the jungle. It features an abandoned secluded canyon settlement composed of a river, a temple square, and small buildings carved into the sides of the canyon. With so many sheer drops, Hughes called this style a “love letter to cliff diving and hangliding.”

Both halls are enormous, and guilds can select which they prefer. But guess what? Guilds are not locked into that decision! If your gang decides to explore the other one, you can switch between the two maps anytime without losing any progression.

The why

Why would anyone want access to a guild hall beyond wanting a cool place to call home? Because like other zones out in the world, these halls are feature-rich with gameplay opportunities. Do you like crafting? There’s a brand-new crafting discipline (the scribe) being introduced with the Workshop to create decorations and guild-focused tools. If WvW is more your thing, the Warroom is your place; it’s decked out with new crafted upgrades and tactics that can help in those battles. (I’m drooling over the Charr car transformation that looks like a Mad Max like motorcycle and acts as a siege engine!). Do you like socializing? There’s a tavern, which also gives buffs. If you’d rather fight, there’s an arena your guild can host matches with other guilds at. And of course, there’s plenty of space for those who like to decorate to flex their creative skills.

As for the buildings, there are six different ones that relate to styles of gameplay that can be added to a guild hall. Hughes explained, “[These buildings] are taking the place of our existing discipline progression. We are moving the upgrades into these buildings and of course adding a host of new upgrades for players to unlock.” Don’t worry, though: Players who have already unlocked upgrades in the current system will still have access to them, with the exception of those that are permanently retired.

Back on the topic of decorating, there is a difference between the buildings and general decorations like tables, lampposts, and fountains. While the buildings must be placed in specific locations (players are basically just rebuilding the ruins), the decorations can be used freely. I can’t wait to see player creativity with this system and this space. It’s really almost as if players will be designing their own map. Fun fact: Hughes revealed that decorators can be active during an arena match, adding traps, turrets, walls, and other elements to the battle. He told me, “We’re really looking forward to how players will use their creativity to make their own new types of play. It should be really exciting.”

The how

So the big question is just exactly how guilds can get their hands on these halls. Heart of Thorns is introducing a new organization into the world. Called the Guild Initiative, this organization was created by the world governments to mobilize guilds against the threat of the elder dragons that still survive in the world. Players who’ve noticed the scaffolding in Lions Arch have already caught a glimpse of the new headquarters where they will go and sign up to take part in this initiative, which will give their guilds certain benefits, including support staff and research projects.

More than that, however, is that guilds who head out to the recently discovered dragon minion hotspots around the jungle have the chance to take ownership of said spots if they eradicate the dragon threat and can hold it. (Good news: Guilds will get the ability to fast travel to their hall once it is unlocked — sound familiar, classic Guild Wars vets?.)

The who

Perhaps one of the greatest parts about this new feature is that it is not going to be the domain of just the mega guilds of the game. Cox made it clear that the guild progression system is set up so that small guilds won’t get left behind and lose out. She mentioned that much of the progression is time-based, so a tight-knit group of 15 could progress a guild just as quickly as a giant guild. And for those who aren’t in a guild, visitors can be invited in to check things out, visit, or even participate in arena battles.

The future

Hughes emphasized that ArenaNet looked carefully at the three CDIS that were done on guild halls and took the feedback to heart. One example is being implemented in the form of cross guild chat, something players have long asked for. Another example will take shape in the form of making sure progression is balanced for larger and smaller guilds. However, ArenaNet’s reps stressed that although they’re listening to everything, limited time and resources does affect what is launching now. “We can’t do everything tonight,” Hughes said. Emphasis on tonight! Cox emphasized that the guild halls are considered a core fundamental feature, and they will enjoy more developmental attention as time goes on.

You can prepurchase the expansion as of tonight.

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Los Angeles, California, for E3 2015, bringing you expert MMO coverage from NCsoft, Blizzard, Ubisoft, BioWare, and everything else on display at the expo!
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499 Comments on "E3 2015: Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns prepurchase is live; we get the scoop on guild halls"

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Gankdolf
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Gankdolf

I left this game because WvW while an amazing concept is just simply boring as shit … Hopefully the obvious fix of making it worth defending the capture points will make WvW more than a revolving cap fest.

DanielReasor
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DanielReasor

rgkeydet 
I was around for World of Warcraft’s attempt to incentivize guild recruitment with the Cataclysm expansion’s guild leveling system, and I don’t envy any Guild Wars 2 player who will encounter the coming automated recruitment spam for the first time when these guild halls need to be built.

Telos_
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Telos_

A terrible debacle over this.  Their public relations has handled this very poorly.

AvatarOP
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AvatarOP

Midgetsnowman AvatarOP Rozyn i don’t think the environments are “meh”. i think they are quite good. opinions…

Eolirin
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Eolirin

Superbrak Eolirin  Well, there are a few changes that have been made, or are in the process or being made, that’d suggest that’ll be much less of a problem in the future.

Megaserver and the changes to map rewards should help keep map populations more balanced, and they’re definitely making it so that all of the story content can be completed solo; that dungeon you got stuck on is being changed in a coming update so that it’s a story instance that can be soloed. I can’t imagine they’d make the mistake of repeating that kind of forced group content to complete story related material given all the effort they’re putting in to removing the one instance of it that’s currently in the game.

And I’m not sure that you’ll be locked out of the Living Story unlocks because you don’t have the expansion; you might not be able to play them, but if they don’t restrict the unlock to people with the expansion, you’d still be able to log in with the vanilla client and unlock them, even if you couldn’t play them just yet.

Superbrak
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Superbrak

Eolirin Superbrak Yeah I could… but its always been my experience that you either get in when the new content is fresh or you risk never being able to see all the content. Nevermind the LS releases I’d miss in the interim that I’d have to pay for if they interested me.
It took me over a year to finish GW2’s living story because I leveled too slowly and by the time I got to that point no one was running that dungeon anymore.
I don’t think I’ll start HoT months behind everyone else waiting for a sale.

Eolirin
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Eolirin

Rustybladez  You don’t get another copy of GW2, that is just for new players.

Eolirin
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Eolirin

Nreff tobascodagama  How would providing gems result in increased gold inflation? Gems don’t create gold, they just take it away from other players.

Eolirin
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Eolirin

SoMuchMass Nreff BobDobalina  You know for a fact that there are no raids in HoT? Cause I’m pretty sure we don’t know what “challenging group content” means just yet.

Now to be fair, Anet REALLY should have announced all that stuff *before* announcing the pricing, but right now it’s really impossible to know what the value proposition is for HoT in terms of PvE content.

Eolirin
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Eolirin

Superbrak  You can always wait for the inevitable sale?

Eolirin
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Eolirin

breetoplay Kanbe 
Also, gifting the base game would rather defeat the purpose of doing the expansion this way in the first place, which is to make sure that all new players are normalized on the most current version of the game. HoT becomes the only version of the game now, Anet isn’t selling the base version at all. Constantly rolling new expansions out like that means any time someone gets interested in the game, they make one purchase and are done.

If avoiding fragmentation is important to them, and given the way living world content updates fit into things, there’s good reason to be concerned about fragmentation, they’ll keep a close eye on upgrade percentages amongst active users and do sales to get those numbers closer to 100%, while meanwhile not having to worry about new player influxes at all.

Eolirin
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Eolirin

breetoplay Kanbe  I’d much rather they give people who upgrade, and only people who upgrade, 800 gems as part of the base package. 

Not everyone needs that character slot, and I don’t see why new players should get it. It’s really only necessary for people that have used up all their slots and want to make a Revenant.

Eolirin
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Eolirin

KenAddeh AvatarOP  You’re not paying more for expansion because the core game is free… new players just don’t have to buy the base game. Upgraders don’t get a second copy of the core game, it’s not a bundle.

HeckHound
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HeckHound

SoMuchMass
Out of curiosity, where did you read that the xpac will only have one zone and no dungeons or raids?

Xephyr
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Xephyr

breetoplay Kanbe they’d sorta have to add something additional to make the deluxe edition worth the price they’ve put on it if they do this though.

Robotroll
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Robotroll

Hmmm I wonder how big a guild has to be to get a hall.  I am in a 5 person guild and we like it that way…. we have been waiting for this for a long time, and don’t want to have to game the system to get a hall….

Serrenity
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Serrenity

alexjwillis Serrenity breetoplay Kanbe I will say, it annoyed me that in-game, when trying to get you to buy HoT, it tells you that $50 includes the core game … but it tells you this while you are already logged into the core game.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

alexjwillis Serrenity breetoplay Kanbe agreed – I enjoy it too, thought with some irregularity, and I have no intentions to stop :)

imayb1
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imayb1

hypersan Kurogane335 rgkeydet Also, they mentioned a special fast travel to the guild hall.

anarres
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anarres

imayb1 breetoplay Kanbe Exactly, for all I see, an older player gets a key which they can use to upgrade their account, or, to make a new account (which would then have both). “Or”, not “and”.

imayb1
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imayb1

breetoplay Kanbe I think a lot of existing account holders would be happy to pay the price for the expansion + character slot, instead of the expansion + core game (that they don’t need and don’t want to pay for again). 

It sounded to me as if the pre-ordered serial code could be used for an expansion upgrade, but as a single serial code could not be separated into a HoT expansion for the main account and a separate mule account. This has not been clarified in any of the discussions I’m watching.

scratches16
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scratches16

BobDobalina Aywren 
No, it took a couple years for Anet to drop their own pricing for GW2. I picked up the game a couple months after release, right around either the Halloween or Xmas event for like $20. Retail box, sealed, whole nine yards. All you have to do is look for it.
Anet’s clearly turning into a “let’s fuck over as many people as we can before we’re caught” company, because they certainly weren’t like this during Prophecies > EotN… (that’s the most disheartening about this whole thing for me… *shrug*)

groo the wanderer
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groo the wanderer

Nreff I like both games but I would say ff14 is a far more depth and content to it . GW2 is more of a side mmo to me that I like to dip in and out of and as such 50 dollars is a little to much . I would rather spend the money on a single player game or several single player games in the steam sale .

Siphaed
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Siphaed

AvatarOP Well said.

hypersan
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hypersan

Kurogane335 rgkeydet they are instanced

scratches16
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scratches16

SoMuchMass 
Honestly (and shockingly), I don’t think this is entirely an NCSoft problem. I mean, look at what they’re ‘allowing’ Carbine to do with Wildstar’s free-to-play business model. Granted, if their first expansion rolls around at a $50 price point I’ll gladly eat my words, lol, but so far it seems like a level of “generosity” that seems a bit dissonant to the issue with HoT here.

Makes me think this whole thing is squarely just an Anet issue, which…doesn’t surprise me at all, considering Anet’s record with GW2 as a whole… *shrug*

Craywulf
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Craywulf

nameistake12 No, there’s never an excuse for personal insults. I wasn’t being nice when I said gullible. Do yourself a favor and look up the definition. Very intelligent people can be persuaded to buy something.

anarres
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anarres

Nreff anarres ihatevnecks Yangers Siphaed OK, so there isn’t other content than LW to pay for.

The effect of all this is interesting. For new players, about everyone I read seems so sure that for 50 bucks one gets ALL; when that isn’t strictly the case. For older players, too often in this all I see that people would have been happier with something as inconsequential (for ANet!) as one character slot.

scratches16
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scratches16

Craywulf 
I agree, sort of. See, when I think of an expansion in relation to Guild Wars, I think of whole new worlds (dazzling places I never knew…) with rich histories, storylines, factions, and so on…… not a few new zones with a continuation of a story that was set in motion years ago, that, as you say, would’ve probably been patched in as part of the Living Story anyway.
The whole thing just feels like a total rip-off considering Anet / GW history and past developments (and that’s why I feel the price is completely unjustifiable) =/

scratches16
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scratches16

SallyBowls1 
And whether it’s with a mobile provider, cable provider, or even my
electrician, if they’re giving new customers a better deal than I’m
getting — who has demonstrably given them repeat business — then I
ask, when it’s time to renew my contract or whatnot, if I can get the
same deal as they’re giving to someone who has shown absolutely no
loyalty to them. If not, I walk… and I take my (obvious) business
elsewhere, along with all that free advertising that businesses love so
much, too. Any smart business understands this concept and acquiesces to
everyone who asks.. (politely?)

Don’t shaft your existing customers just so you can maybe get some new ones. Bad word of mouth can hurt more than any “deal” you’re giving new people would gain.

Or, in business sense: Don’t sacrifice long-term gain for short-term success. Myopia kills.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

SallyBowls1 Thats the thing though, usually, with a cable company, if you call and say you’ve decided to cancel, half the time they authorize giving you a better package deal just to keep you subscribed.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

SallyBowls1 Thats the thing though, usually, with a cable company, if you call and say you’ve decided to cancel, half the time they authorize giving you a better package deal just to keep you subscribed.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

SallyBowls1 Thats the thing though, usually, with a cable company, if you call and say you’ve decided to cancel, half the time they authorize giving you a better package deal just to keep you subscribed.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

AvatarOP Rozyn You realize postinga trailer we’ve all seen dozens of times doesnt constitute an argument.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

Radfist Kurogane335 the problem is the elite specs seem to require you be at level cap. It’d be nice if they offered a new gameplay experience from level one, but they dont, so theyre basically prestige classes

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

Nreff Midgetsnowman Kurogane335 Yes. But that also means they have a right to voice their feelings on the subject. Same as you do,

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

Serrenity Midgetsnowman PrettyPixie I agree. I just dont feel I can justofy 50 bucks for an expansion to a game I play only occasionally, and only casually, and also being guildless.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

AvatarOP SoMuchMass

why? just posting the trailer over and over isnt gonna make any of us change our minds. we’ve seen the trailers.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

AvatarOP Midgetsnowman wolfyseyes all of those are only extremely long content if you’re after all the achievements. I did the holiday festival events once, felt extremely bored, and quit.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

breetoplay woolydub to be fair..thats what GW2 endgame feels like anyhow sometimes >_>

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

Craywulf actually. as someone who wanted expacs instead of the living story..I still think the living story was awful. I just also think this is a ripoff :P

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

breetoplay DJjazzy right. It feels like a bigger bargain because of the insta 90

solipsis
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solipsis

Nreff was trolling ^_^

solipsis
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solipsis

DrZaius I kiss you! MWUAH!

solipsis
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solipsis

Nreff I’ve tried this. the latest one doesn’t work on Windows 8. Also there’s just something about GW2 that doesn’t catch me.

solipsis
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solipsis

groo the wanderer ESO but i’m slowly getting bored with it. Might get the Witcher 3 soon while waiting for Blade and Soul. I don’t know. I just can’t seem to play single player games anymore. I get lonely.

alexjwillis
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alexjwillis

Serrenity breetoplay Kanbe Something about this game really brings out the hate. Objectively speaking, nothing about it screams “trollbait”, and yet people just come here to vent their frustrations about the game. In the meantime, I’m having a blast with it (as I have since launch) and see no reason to stop doing so.

AvatarOP
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AvatarOP
Rozyn
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Rozyn

I don’t think the base price is outrageous, but I’m also not going to buy it any time soon. Nothing I’ve seen so far even remotely tempts me to return. Even the environments in the promotional materials are kinda meh, and I’m a huge fan of GW2’s art. I think I’ll wait a year or two, see how their updates go, wait for a sale and then maybe give it a try. 

I do however, hope that people who are excited about it get their money’s worth and continue to enjoy the game. I realized years ago that just because GW2 isn’t for me doesn’t mean it’s bad or it’s not for anyone. And I’m okay with that.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

DJjazzy WoW’s expansion bottom-rung price was $50 (I looked up what I paid last November to be sure!) and included a $50 character boost.

wpDiscuz