heart of thorns

Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion.

Check out WoodenPotatoes’ multi-video Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns review

YouTuber WoodenPotatoes, whom you might remember from Tina’s top five Guild Wars 2 vloggers review earlier this week, has posted a lengthy review of Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns, now a year and a half on. It’s a critical look at the promises made for the expansion, the expectations we had for it, what was actually delivered, and how the game has progressed over time to now.

“I think you’d be crazy to say that Heart of Thorns didn’t disappoint at release,” he says in the first video. “It disappointed me. The story was too short, the content was too limited, and very importantly, it didn’t feel like much more had been added with the raw expansion than if they’d simply continued the previous living world season instead. And that would’ve been free.”

But since then, he argues, ArenaNet has fleshed out the game and made 2016 the game’s strongest year (though it wasn’t without its own content droughts). If you’re a fan or former fan of the game, it’s worth a look — it certainly resonates with me and echoes a lot of the complaints (and praise) we’ve seen over the last many months down in our own comment section.

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Maclaine Diemer opens up about composing Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

Today we are sitting down with ArenaNet Lead Composer Maclaine Diemer, who players might best know from his work on Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and Living World Season 3. Diemer picked up the baton from Jeremy Soule, the original composer for the base game, and has been pumping out terrific music for the MMORPG ever since.

Massively OP: At this point in your career at ArenaNet, how many pieces of music have you composed for Guild Wars 2?

Maclaine Diemer: I think about this from time to time, but I honestly don’t know. I’d say it’s in the “several dozen” range, between all the holiday festivals, Living World content, Heart of Thorns, and other miscellaneous stuff like cinematics and marketing videos. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

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Watch the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns orchestral performance in its entirety

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns music would be featured in concert in Seattle — not so useful for most of our readers, who do not in fact live in Seattle! Fortunately, ArenaNet has just released the entire concert for you video game music junkies who couldn’t hop to the Pacific Northwest for the real deal.

The concert was performed by the Evergreen Philharmonic Orchestra, a professional training orchestra made up of local high school students. Take a listen (and a look!) at the whole 48-minute, 14-piece show below.

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Guild Wars 2: Head of the Snake living world episode coming February 7th, plus new trailer and Heart of Thorns sale

Next week is shaping up to be a big one for multiple MMORPGs, Guild Wars 2 included: ArenaNet has made good on Mike O’Brien’s tease for the fourth episode of Living World Season 3 with the announcement that it’s landing on February 7th.

The episode’s called The Head of the Snake and will see “the advancement of the story as Queen Jennah summons players to her side, where they’ll act as her personal witness in uncovering the nest of corruption in Divinity’s Reach,” the studio says. “Along with The Head of the Snake will come the brand-new raid wing Bastion of the Penitent. The destruction of the Maguuma Bloodstone has opened a mysterious portal in Bloodstone Fen, and beyond it lies a sinister and ancient place with little chance of escape. This raid will provide players with four bosses to overcome as they discover what mysteries are still chained behind its walls.”

As always, players can simply log in to the base game, even if they don’t own Heart of Thorns, to “bank” the episode for the future, though you’ll need to own the expansion and be level 80 to actually play it. That goes for the current episode as well.

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Massively Overthinking: Hopes and wishes for MMORPGs in the new year

One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.

But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2017 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.

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Perfect Ten: The best MMORPG updates and expansions of 2016 (that aren’t Legion)

Sometimes you have to exclude something from a list. I could, for example, praise World of Warcraft: Legion for being a really good expansion yet again… but I already did that. Heck, we already did that. It won an award and everything. And it deserves that award, but let’s be real, we did not suffer at all from a paucity of updates over the past year. So it’s time to honor some of the other updates that were great this past year that haven’t gotten enough recognition.

Of course, this is my own curated list, so if you’re looking for objectivity combined with a subjective rating like “best,” you may be looking for love in all of the wrong places. Let’s take one last look through 2016 at all of the really cool game updates that made the onslaught of deaths and tragedy at least slightly more pleasant.

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Here are all of the online gaming deals from Amazon’s Digital Day sale

Wake up! Are you awake? Good, because you’ve got less than 24 hours to take advantage of Amazon’s first ever “Digital Day” sales event. Until midnight today, a whole bunch of digital content (movies, ebooks, and yes, games) are on sale.

We’ve rounded up some of the best deals on online games for you so that you can spend those Amazon gift cards you just got for Christmas… which may have been Amazon’s plan all along. Sinister!

Want even more deals? We’ve got a few more after the break!

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Jukebox Heroes: The 2016 Online VGM Awards

With all of the award madness going on at Massively OP this month, it’s the perfect time to unveil the 2016 Online VGM Awards! It’s been a great year of soundtracks from our favorite MMOs, and since I have the opportunity to singlehandedly dish out any awards I like in this column, I wanted to give some honor to terrific composers and tunes that we got to listen to this year.

As with last year’s awards, I’ll be fashioning each category and selecting a winner. Some of the categories are 2016-specific, while others have more flexibility to stretch beyond this calendar year. Unlike last year’s awards, this round will have categories that are more universal and can be carried forward in future years.

So who won? We’ve got six categories to go through, including best MMO soundtrack of 2016 and composer of the year, so let’s get started!

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Ask Mo: Scoring last year’s Massively OP MMORPG predictions

As we do every year, today we’re going to squint back a year, into the depths of a Massively Overthinking from the tail end of 2015 when we issued our predictions for 2016. Sure, sure, it’s a little unfair since we usually egg each other on to make wild and bold assertions for the fun of it — plus that makes the hits all the sweeter — but all the same: Did we nail it or fail it?

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Perfect Ten: The healthiest live MMORPGs at the end of 2016

About a year and a half ago, my colleague, co-worker, and friend to man and beast alike Justin compiled a list of the healthiest live MMOs at the time. Since then, every single one of those games has shut down, except for… you know, all of them. They’re all still doing just fine. So as we wrap up 2016, it seems prudent to look at which games are looking hale and healthy before we head into 2017 and beyond.

As before, this is based on a combination of several factors including news trends, news stories, Steam charts, Reddit, and our own experience in the news room. It should not be taken as an ironclad promise, but it does mean that if any of these games were banished to the land of wind and ghosts, we would be quite surprised. So if you’re looking to see what games seem to be doing well and are worth counting on still running in another year? Yeah, here’s the way to bet.

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Jukebox Heroes: Massively OP’s guide to grabbing 120+ MMO soundtracks

One of the most common questions that I’m asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, “Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?” OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.

The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.

So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I’m going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles — some of which are free and legal for the taking. You’re welcome; don’t mention it!

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Massively OP’s 2016 gift guide for the Guild Wars 2 fanatic

The best holiday of the year is almost here! I’m talking about Black Friday, of course, that magical day when everything is on sale! I’m not even being sarcastic: I save up for Black Friday for months. (And then I shop the sales on my PC in my PJs. I’m not going out in the shopping mess. Those people are bonkers.)

This year, we’re rolling out a guide a day all week in the lead up to the Black Friday hoopla, all MMO-related, all useful for gamers who read Massively OP — and useful for us, too, because anything you buy through Amazon through us kicks some monies our way and helps us stay online, all for stuff you were going to buy anyway. In fact, even if you don’t like any of our suggestions, clicking through us to get to Amazon and buying whatever you want helps us out. We love those of you who already do that!

Today’s edition is all about Guild Wars 2, since even though I tease its foibles from time to time, it is my favorite modern MMORPG. Enjoy!

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