Flameseeker Chronicles: Five reasons to buy Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns while it’s on sale

Ever since Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion released, retired players or MMO hoppers have been insisting in comments across the internet that they would only consider buying Heart of Thorns if it went on sale. I understand the sentiment, particularly with the MMO market being as saturated as it is and there being a sizeable strain on our MMO budgets to keep up with the latest developments in the genre. This week, the expansion is 50% off and still includes the max level boost and base game, so I thought it was a great time to talk about why those who haven’t already should take the plunge and step into the Heart of Maguuma.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll list some lighthearted yet nevertheless compelling reasons for those who haven’t already to get on board with the HoT train. Hopefully, some of my reasoning will help tip you over the edge if you were considering purchasing the expansion and just needed a good excuse.

HoT GW2 sale1. Never look a gift-horse in the mouth

I’m the type of lass who knows a good bargain when she spies one, and my general rule of thumb is that a sale isn’t really a spree-worthy sale unless we’re getting at least half off the original price. This is an especially important checkpoint in my digital goods purchasing choices: I have a game wishlist larger than my extensive GW2 to-do list, and I always appreciate when companies make it that much easier for me to justify my purchases by recognising the fact that not producing physical copies reduces their overheads per unit significantly. Passing these savings onto the customer is always a wise choice!

Many would-be players were put off purchasing the expansion because of its prohibitive starting cost and the fact that some felt that a player was expected to double-purchase the “free and included” base game that was rolled into the expansion price. Knocking off half the price tag most certainly helps to soothe that sting if you were initially irritated by the pricing debacle and makes the overall cost more fitting for an expansion. Add to that the fact that we now have much more content to enjoy than we did at the start of HoT and I’d call it a bargain buy!

Gliding_Over_Lions_Arch2. Gliding… need I even explain?

The mastery system’s overall value as an enriching, enduring mechanic that builds on the basic MMO toolset is debated by the game’s community but most agree that the gliding mechanics are a fantastic addition to the usual exploration of Tyria. I’ve always appreciated the beauty to be found in Guild Wars 2, so getting a unique, panoramic perspective on the terrain and finding even better vantage points to enjoy the view from has been amazing. My screenshot game has been improved drastically since I started gliding: Not only do the new zones maximise the use of the mechanics by including regular updrafts and rest stops to maximise the height you can reach, but gliding is also now possible in Central Tyria too.

The only kink in the rope is that these masteries are locked to the expansion, for obvious reasons: You can’t exactly gain mastery of zones you’ve never set foot in, after all! If you want to open your glider and take to the skies over your favourite spots in Tyria, you’ll need to sink some cash into purchasing the expansion, and there’s no better time to bite the bullet than sale time. The new maps offer hours of content when combined, so you’ll have much more to do than soar around for your money too.

GW2HoT_10_2015_Maguuma_Crash_Site3. New zones are worth exploring

While I’m mentioning the new maps, I have to outline just how much new ground the expansion will allow your character to cover should you push that purchase button. Sure, you’ll unlock the core expansion storyline and the Heart of Maguuma zones that form the backdrop to that story, but you’ll also get to enjoy the new Living World Season 3 content too, which requires players to have the expansion to play even though each episode unlocks for base game players who log in during that episode’s live timeframe.

Believe me when I say that the new season is most definitely worth jumping into: The action will see you through two new, unique, and dynamically engaging zones that are both rather impressive in terms of scale and playthrough potential. Each episode so far has seen the player character leap across Tyria and follow new threats across the map as and when dangerous or scientifically interesting phenomenon crops up. The maps are stunning experiments in verticality and stretch the game mechanically via the mastery system, and there are some lovely bits of very organic-feeling NPC dialogue that you’ll miss out on should you never touch HoT. It’s not too late to join in on the action for yourself if you haven’t done so already; you’ll still find fairly strong, eager populations in these zones.

GW2_HoT_10_2015_Hylek_Verdant Brink_Environment4. The story really HoTtens up!

I simply cannot imagine missing out on the hunt for Mordremoth and everything that happens along the way. Your character covers new ground, holds together fragile alliances, helps mend old wounds, and enters into a long journey of self-discovery that rivals that seen in some of the best fantasy you’ll read. Eureka moments abound as you go through the expansion’s story chain, and I for one feel much better connected to the game’s lore and where it might lead in the future. Stack on top of this some excellent characterisation throughout both the expansion story and the Season 3 content we’ve been given so far for a great big chunk of heartwarming, adrenaline-pumping entertainment.

If you’re at all unsure of how much you’ll enjoy the content, have a look through some of my previous articles that look at each story chunk and you’ll see how much is packed in there. The content drought might well have made keeping your wallet in your pocket an easy task, but I can assure you that you’ll enjoy Season 3 and that the promised cadence is being met thus far. Based on the rough timeline we’ve been told to expect, episode 3 should drop this side of Christmas, so if you do pick up HoT during the sale, then you’ll be able to get up to date just in time for a holiday play binge.

GW2-Taimi5. More Taimi for your buck

You might think I’m mad to give one NPC a whole point of her own, but Taimi makes the expansion worth buying on her own if you ask me! Her role in the story really picks up as time progresses; I’ve found myself laughing out loud when I’m immersed in the uncannily believable exchanges she has with my character’s other friends. Characterisation is the strongest it has ever been in the entire span of Guild Wars 2, and there’s no indication that the scripting will decline as the story unfolds further over the next few months. Although I sing the praises of Taimi, practically every line of speech written post-HoT is well positioned, aptly put, emotive, and strongly engaging.

Over to you!

Massively OP’s very own Brendan Drain and I are game-swapping some time this month for an EVE Evolved article he’s working on that requires my husband and me to play EVE Online while Brendan observes our actions, so I’m planning on getting him to buy the expansion while it’s on sale to get him rehooked as part of the bargain. He does log in occasionally to complete dailies or jump into some unranked PvP to blow off steam, but I’ve long argued that he’d find playing much more engaging if he’d just buy the expansion. He now has my list of reasons to jump onto the expansion, but I’m sure you’ll have some to add if you’re a current player. Add your points in the comments below, especially if you have recently talked friends into taking the plunge.

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see covered, drop a comment Tina’s way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
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