heart of thorns

Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion.

PSA: This is your last chance to grab the end of Guild Wars 2 Living World Season 3 for free

Coming back to Guild Wars 2 this week due to the hullabaloo over Path of Fire? You might end up with a nice content freebie if you act sooner rather than later. The Guild Wars 2 team sent out a reminder that this is the last week for players to get One Path Ends for free.

Even if you’re not into the game right now, you might as well log in and grab the chapter for some possible future date. Otherwise, the episode will end up costing you 200 gems if you decide to purchase it later. (It should be noted that, as with all Season 3 episodes, this one requires the Heart of Thorns expansion to access.)

Curious about this episode while you’re patching up? Check out the trailer and the expert analysis of MOP’s Tina!

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Choose My Adventure: The return to Guild Wars 2

Many moons ago, when I was first hired on Massively-that-was, my fellow hire at the time was a lady by the name of Rubi Bayer. We hit it off pretty well and became friends. She was also very excited about a title that had yet to come out at the time, a game by the name of Guild Wars 2. For those of you coming to this story without knowledge of names, she’s now working for ArenaNet on that exact same game, along with two other former writers from our staff, all of whom are people I consider friends of mine.

So perhaps it’s a bit odd that I’ve not played Guild Wars 2 since well before Heart of Thorns launched. I have some history with the game, but it’s never been one of my main titles. And now that I’m heading back into it for its second major expansion, I think it’s a fine time to walk back through my experiences there, what I hope to find, and also ask a few reader questions along the way. Because that’s how polls work, after all.

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Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire is rejiggering crafting material storage to prevent hoarding, and fans are not happy

Material storage in Guild Wars 2 is a pretty important part of the game, especially if you have any interest in crafting. People who hold on to everything and/or craft a lot will not be happy with the announcement that some common materials will not be placed in material storage when Path of Fire launches.

The reasoning, according to ArenaNet, is that the studio saw players hoarding certain materials in Heart of Thorns that should have been common, but players were hoarding and selling small numbers at best, leading to some unbalanced costs on the trading post. The studio’s ostensible hope is that this change will encourage players to sell more and keep materials moving.

“With the arrival of Path of Fire, many new materials and components will be added to Material Storage,” says ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray. “But for a handful of items, we’ve specifically decided not to start with them in Material Storage, and instead to add them to the storage system later. Why? Well, at the launch of Heart of Thorns, we noticed a peculiar behavior: most players will deposit first when clearing their inventory, and then proceed to take actions like salvaging, opening chests, or, crucially, putting items on the Trading Post. This tended to mean that before a player will post an item on the Trading Post, they’ll wait to accrue a full stack in their Material Storage. During the early period of Heart of Thorns, this significantly contributed to the early expense of flax, which was abundantly available but, for the most part, was ‘warehoused’ in the banks of players.”

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Choose My Adventure: Shroud of the Avatar in summation

All the time through playing Shroud of the Avatar, I found myself wanting to like the game a lot more than I did. And my brain kept turning back to Minecraft, which seems like a worthwhile comparison to make.

Much like SOTA, Minecraft is a game strongly based on the concept of making your own fun. You are definitely making your own adventure in the game. But at the same time, it seems very relevant to point out that the game starts by giving you a clear set of parameters to work within. Monsters will spawn at night, there are resources under ground, you break things to get better things, and then combine those things to make still better things. From there on out, much of the game is devoted to figuring out how these various elements play off of one another.

So they’re both sandbox-ish titles in which you make your own fun. Except that one of them starts by showing you the fun that you’re supposed to be having and giving you a goal, and it does so with absolutely no story to guide you along that route. It shows you exactly the sort of game it’s trying to be and lets you start working at meeting it halfway. But SOTA never quite got there, at least for me.

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Global Chat: Overwatch’s stalled story

With all of the attention, fandom, e-sports, and development given to Blizzard’s Overwatch, have you ever suspected that the team shooter has a critical weakness in its narrative?

Tyler at Superior Realities unloads with both barrels at what he calls the “failure” of Overwatch’s story: “The thing is, a 10-minute video clip once a year and a 10-page digital comic every six months aren’t a story. They’re marketing […] Nor has there been any forward momentum to the story. We’re still just hovering, frozen in time, at the moment Winston reactivated Overwatch. If this were a movie, we’d still be in the first five minutes.”

Our whirlwind tour through the latest that the MMO blogosphere has to offer continues, with a look at Destiny 2’s PC beta, FFXIV’s nostalgia trip, the perceived value of MMOs, and more!

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG is the worst at balancing difficulty?

Justin’s LOTRO Legendarium article on whether or not Mordor is too difficult struck a chord wth me. “I do not envy devs and their monumental task of creating world content that is somewhat balanced for players of varying skill and gear levels,” he wrote. “Make it too easy, and players get apathetic and drift away from your game. Make it too hard, and players pound their keyboards and ragequit.”

That’s a balance many MMORPGs have struggled with over the years as new patches are rolled out, from World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm to Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns, and as Justin argues, some games take “wild swings” from too hard to too easy and leave us frustrated and hunting for a new online home.

Set aside the specific’s of the LOTRO issue for now and consider the question more broadly: Which MMORPG is the worst at balancing difficulty — and why?

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Guild Wars 2’s free-play Path of Fire preview weekend is live

Update: It’s up, go go go!

Ahead of its September 22nd launch, Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion will be on public display this very weekend — likely starting early this afternoon, if past patches and tweets are any guide. ArenaNet has previously said we’ll be playing only the first chunk of the storyline and tripping to the Crystal Desert, where we can explore the Crystal Oasis map and test out the mount system with the raptor.

As a reminder, anyone can play this weekend, even if you’ve never purchased the base game (which has since gone free-to-play) or the Heart of Thorns expansion (which is not and will not be free-to-play), and yes, even if you have not yet preordered Path of Fire. That makes this weekend the perfect opportunity to decide whether it’s something you want to buy or skip. Are you giving it a go?

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The Daily Grind: How long before an MMO or expansion launch do you want to know about it?

I admit to being worried about Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion release as the year wore on and we’d still heard nothing. While I tried to reassure myself that the devs were just holding onto as much as they could so as not to spoil the whole season, I also kept reflecting on the long period between Heart of Thorns’ announcement and launch — the better part of a year. Whereas with Path of Fire, we’re getting barely two months. Is that too short? Which one will turn out to be better for revenue?

That’s a question Gamasutra asked earlier this month too; game devs polled offered a number of factors that weigh into when release dates are announced, ranging from “when it’s done” and when it’s “shippable with only reasonable regrets” to when there’s “a big press opportunity” (like a convention) or “what other games are already set to release.”

Let’s poll the MMO audience: How long before an MMO or expansion launch do you want to know about it? What’s the “sweet spot” time frame for announcing an MMO release date?

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Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire’s huge new in-game map and the promise of PvP

There’s a joke on the Guild Wars 2 subreddit that you don’t need to read anything about the game — you just wait for WoodenPotatoes to put out a 30-minute video on 2 minutes of content and explain it all to you and more. It’s probably true, but since you’ve some time to kill until Path of Fire launches on September 22nd, so why not fill it with WP?

His latest videos zero in on several big subjects. The first and most intriguing is the new map; it’s clear that the map has almost doubled in size as huge parts of the deserts southeast of Orr are now colored in and soon to be accessible. The scope of the map is compelling, maybe especially compared to the Heart of Thorns zone area, which is positively tiny to scale. He also raises some questions about why the developers would bother including empty but drawn-in areas to the east of Ascalon (like that big ol’ lake). Hmm!

The second video focuses much more on PvP and WvW, something ArenaNet has only lightly touched on since the big reveal. We’ve tucked both videos down below – and don’t forget to vote in our morning Leaderboard poll on whether or not you intend to play the freebie preview weekend in GW2 starting Friday!

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Guild Wars 2 devs open up about the new elite specializations

It seems fair to say that one of the most exciting aspects of Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire for fans is the announcement of the nine new elite specializations. Each class is getting a new one of these with a different weapon than those classes have been able to use in the past, and the devs have had their hands full in whipping up these creative builds.

YouTuber WoodenPotatoes sat down with the elite specializations team at ArenaNet yesterday and talked about the creation of the new builds, especially in light of the efforts of the team for what they did back with Heart of Thorns.

“We had some ideas and because we had a little more time this time around, we able to think on these ideas a little more and make sure that they were more fleshed out,” the team said.

Check out the full interview after the break!

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Guild Wars 2: Loot rumors, RNG grumblings, character boosters, and map spoilers

Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire detail rumors are swirling as info (and disinfo) is trickling back from the test environment. Here’s a few of the more interesting bits (we’re tucking spoilers behind spoiler tags, so don’t sweat it).

It appears that the shared inventory slot granted with Heart of Thorns will indeed stack with the shared slot granted by Path of Fire, which is a nice little bonus ANet didn’t hype, given how much those account-wide slots are worth. The character boost tokens also appear to stack with each other.

Click to reveal potential spoilers about gear
An image floating around Discord has led players to suspect that gear drops in the expansion may arrive in our inventories as stackable, unidentified items rather than predetermined items that clog up inventory. This would be a giant step forward for the game’s drop and inventory system, at least if our commenters in today’s coincidental Daily Grind are any judge!

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Massively Overthinking: Gathering our thoughts on Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire

This week, the dominant story has become Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion, which is coming our way far sooner than a lot of folks had guessed. For this edition of Massively Overthinking, I’ve touched base with some of our writers to measure their reactions to the big announcement, asking them to gauge what’s in it, whether it was worth the wait, what they’re disappointed about, what they think of the pricing, and whether they’ve felt sufficiently enticed to play. Let’s dig in!

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Check out trailers for all Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire elite class specs, mounts, and Elona

Yesterday, ArenaNet formally revealed Path of Fire, Guild Wars 2’s second expansion in five years. This standalone, campaign-like expansion won’t introduce a new class, but it will roll out a new elite specialization for all nine of the existing classes, just as Heart of Thorns did. It’ll also add mounts that we’ll be using to romp around parts of the nostalgia-laced Elona desert from Nightfall.

Since the stream, the studio has released videos of damn near everything. Let’s dig in.

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