Flameseeker Chronicles: Last-minute hopes and preparation for Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns
It’s no secret that I’m rather excitable, but I have to say that I’ve been overwhelmingly impressed with the attention to detail and collaborative effort that has been the HoT development cycle and especially the beta testing phase. I’ve enjoyed every beta event along the way, perhaps most surprisingly the Stronghold testing that helped switch me on to PvP. Now I’m simply trying to contain myself until I get to tinker with the real thing on Friday!
In the final edition of Flameseeker Chronicles before the expansion launches (squee!), I’m going to talk about my hopes and expectations for HoT and provide a quick rundown of last-minute things you can do before jumping into the expansion yourself.
I’ll be keeping a launch diary, so throw me your suggestions!
First things first: I’ll be keeping a launch diary in which I cover my first steps into the Heart of Thorns content over the first few days. As you might expect, my life is going to be all about the expansion for at least the next week or two, and I’m delighted to have the chance to share my HoT journey with you. I’ll be spending the entire weekend playing as well as putting in as many hours as is feasibly possible next week alongside my lectures, cheer practices, and need to eat and sleep. My content will include various adventures, comparisons of launched content compared to the corresponding beta events, and maybe even some fun videos along the way. I’m very susceptible to peer pressure and suggestion, so get your ideas to me in the comments below, by email, or even on Twitter and I’ll do my best to oblige.
Building up the expansion: What I expect from HoT
I’m not so crazily excited for Friday without good reason: The hype train for HoT is real, people. We’ve been bombarded with a sizeable feature list and some beautiful sneak peeks at the expansion’s content, and all the while I’ve been ravenously consuming said information. I’ve avoided some story-based kernels — such as the Revenant backstory — to keep things exciting when I get to play the final product. I’m sure you can imagine how difficult that has been, but I just adore the “wow” moment of exploring new content without knowing all the answers in advance.
I would have needed to live under a rock to not have built up a solid list of expectations for Friday. Between all of the beta testing and big reveals over the last few months, we’ve teased out plenty of information to keep us going until release. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been reading closely to start preparing your characters for HoT while building your expectations for the content ahead. Here’s what’s making the wait until Friday feel that much longer:
1. More challenging content than I’ve ever faced in GW2 before.
Perhaps the most welcome announcement for me was that raids were most definitely coming to Guild Wars 2. I had long expected their inclusion in the expansion because I enjoy following the official forum where the team at ArenaNet hosted a focused discussion on some content ideas that included raiding, so I wasn’t exactly surprised that the challenging group content we were promised turned out to be raid-based. I now can’t wait to raid in another little while as soon as the content comes to Heart of Thorns.
I was very intrigued by the concept of raiding in GW2: The whole idea of raiding to many MMO players conjures up images of the most hardcore playerbase decked out in top-tier gear that was hard-earned by many months of grueling wipes who form elite squads that are impenetrable by newbies. This, of course, sits in direct contrast with the ArenaNet vision for Guild Wars 2, so I was a little perplexed as to how raiding would work in the game I know and love. My fears were laid to rest when I participated in the raid beta, and this new content type will most definitely extend the game’s appeal for years to come if it’s executed as well as I expect.
2. Daily PvP for the first time in my MMO career.
I have explained numerous times that PvP is usually not my cup of tea; I’d much rather spend my time in PvE exploits. My perception of PvP as a brutal, scathingly fierce environment in which only the best were at all useful was shattered when I tried my hand at Stronghold, however. For the first time, I felt useful and included in PvP, and I very much enjoyed the supportive roles I had the capacity to fill in the new-to-HoT mode. I’ve been actively volunteering to do PvP dailies ever since (shock/horror!), but what I’m really pepped up by is the chance to get into PvP in a big way through Stronghold. I expect I’ll spend much more time popping player heads in future!
3. An amazing story that doesn’t forget about seasons.
How heart wrenching was that opening scene of all-out destructive devastation that smacked us in the face when the beta events began? I am absolutely gripped by the GW2 story so far, and I certainly hope that the first expansion is only going to enhance that narrative. Hope is the theme to which I have clung as Mordremoth’s terror has touched Tyria, especially with the beautiful rebuild of Lion’s Arch despite the imminent danger. I don’t want to see an end to seasons with the expansion, and I really expect that HoT won’t let me down on that front.
4. A jungle playground for my characters to get lost in.
I’ve fallen in love with the Maguuma varieties of Hylek, and one of my pre-HoT coverage highlights was the massive Hylek reveal interview I conducted with Narrative Designer Scott McGough. The interview was a lore-rich gem and Scott’s enthusiasm for his creations was palpable: The information was a fantastic glimpse of the difference between Hylek species and was a great way to tease out some lore without spoiling the story. I just can’t wait to learn from the jungle inhabitants and really assimilate into their ranks, and I expect that the Itzel village will be my new favourite hangout. From canopy to roots, I’m sure to get myself lost with all that verticality, but somehow I don’t expect I’ll mind in the least.
5. More refined professions that are easy to customise yet difficult to master.
I welcome the expansion’s elite specializations and masteries with open arms! Heart of Thorns will allow us to refine our characters more than ever before, and I’m totally excited to branch out and improve my characters as I explore and get comfortable with the Heart of Maguuma. I expect that training in the masteries will be a major focus of mine for the first few weeks, especially since we already know that those masteries could prove useful or even vital in raids.
My final advice for pre-HoT preparation
Have you been slacking in your expansion preparation? Are you totally new to Guild Wars 2? It’s not too late to get ready for the expansion, so I’ll leave you with some last-minute advice for getting prepped. Can you add to or expand on this list? Don’t forget to have your say in the comments below.
1. Get back in the game now if you haven’t already! The base game is free, and there’s still no subscription fee, so whether you’ve never played or have put the game down at some point, there won’t be a better time to join us in Tyria.
2. Organise your guild and do a quick cleanup. If you’re in charge in your guild, do a quick sweep of your roster and rally the forces in advance of Friday. In the expansion chaos, be sure to welcome back the old faces and task everyone well to ensure they stick around and help out with the guild hall!
3. Ensure that your materials are all in order. We’ve heard that ArenaNet’s aim is to avoid anything becoming useless or redundant as far as possible, so it’s never a bad plan to farm those mid-level materials for future crafting use and auction house trading.
4. Start levelling a backup character just in case you hate the changes to your profession. Not an altoholic? Now is the time to use up those spare Tomes of Knowledge and Writs of Experience if you’re not saving them for a Revenant. The playstyle changes are pretty drastic, so this could give you a quick second option if you decide your old favourite toon isn’t working for you any more.
5. Test your communication with some world boss runs. You’ll need to be sharp for the wonders in the Maguuma Jungle… not just any bookah can roll into the new content and solo all the things. If you plan on raiding, for instance, I’d highly recommend that you work on your teamwork and solidarity now before the content rolls out in a few weeks, so don’t slack on the guild missions and world boss runs.