Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns Expansion Released

Guild Wars 2 was always subscription-free, but since August you don’t even need to buy it to play. That’s kinda free-to-play, but sorta not, since the base game hasn’t been filled with loads of extra microtransaction bits to squeeze players. What won’t be free is its expansions, and today the first of those arrived. Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns [official site] launched this morning. Doing all the usual expansion things – new areas, a new class, new enemies, new items, and so on – Heart of Thorns costs £35.

Heart of Thorns ventures into the Maguuma jungle to fight a nasty old dragon. Its new profession is the Revenant, who, in lore terms, draws upon heroes of the past. In what-you-actually-do terms, revenants are a heavily armoured and hit things with melee weapons but can change how they play a fair bit by using different stances. All professions get new elite specialisations opening up extra weapons and skills too, and a new ‘Mastery‘ system adds a new progression track bringing new abilities like hang-gliding. Plus new raids and whatnot. ALSO it features an adorable species of friendly frog people.

On the PvP side, it finally adds Guild Halls, along with new modes, leaderboards, leagues, and so on.

A hefty update launched alongside the expansion too.

I played hundreds of hours of the first Guild Wars (I still remember sections of the Droknar’s Forge run) but have never touched Guild Wars 2. I might pop in this weekend, now it’ll probably be buzzing with new players, returnees, and general excitement. Here, have a launch trailer:


  1. anHorse says:

    Still with no endgame content beyond cosmetic grinding!

    • Zanchito says:

      Level 100 fractals? Raids? new PvP and WvW options?

    • Chalky says:

      Yeah, wtf? HoT is the first major update to the GW2 endgame since fractals with 100% of the content in the expansion being end game content except for the storyline aspects I guess.

      What a daft reply from someone who’s clearly not even read a single thing about the expansion.

    • Flopper says:

      He clearly defines endgame as gear treadmill.

      So to your definition no there’s no endgame. Level 80 ascended is still the highest level gear.

      But that guy is clearly an idiot. A gear treadmill with the illusion of progress is not a real gauge of endgame. Challenging content that gets increasingly harder… CHECK. Buy HoT.

    • Merus says:

      I think this comment exemplifies the problem with the RPS commenters every time this game comes up: the game is super different to where it was in its first year, and in most cases much improved, but you wouldn’t know that from the people who speak with authority about the game who quit before Lion’s Arch was destroyed. Even small things like the compass that points you towards the nearest thing to do makes a huge difference. Part of the motivation for doing an expansion when they had a good thing going with fortnightly updates is that it’s very difficult to convince people that things have changed at all if you don’t give them clear epochs; no-one assumes that they know what WoW’s like now because they played vanilla WoW, for instance.

  2. Xanadu says:

    Anyone who wishes to join the RPS guild Rock paper Signet please do so at the forum link below:
    link to!
    New or old players, F2P or those buying the expansion pack all welcome.
    We play WvW on the Gunnar’s hold server (so pick that if you are starting a new acount), but players on other EU servers can join us for PvE and PvP.

  3. Mungrul says:

    I stopped playing a year after release, and the game finally killed any impulse I had to play MMOs.

    I loved the original, but I found the gradual shift of focus towards F2P monetisation unpalatable in GW2.

    After a certain point, the only rewards for completing content are cosmetic ones, and most of the new cosmetic content that gets released is exclusive to the gemshop.
    Sure, you can trade gold for gems, but the economy has been set up to gradually but surely make the amount of gold needed to buy gems increase steadily over time.
    So in the end, you’ve been trained that cosmetics are the rewards for playing, and then most new cosmetics are only available for cash.

    Additionally, if you want to change the appearance of the gear you’re using, even if you’ve unlocked multiple different styles, you have to use expendable items (transmutation charges) to perform that change. Yes, you can get some of these items for daily play, but again, for the player who’s not playing 24/7, the most “efficient” / least time intensive method of getting these items is to buy them through the gem shop.

    And on top of all this, they do that scummy thing that most F2P games do and add a layer of abstraction between real world cash and in-game gold.

    Ignoring the ability to exchange gold for gems, a complete outfit consists of 6 pieces. You can only buy transmutation charges in multiples of 5. So if you want to buy enough charges for a single costume change, you have to buy 10 charges, more than you actually need. 10 charges will cost you 270 gems, 5 will cost 150.

    But can you buy just 270 gems?

    Nope. The minimum amount of gems you can buy are 800 for $10.
    And as 270 doesn’t go into 800, even if you try to reason out that you’re buying multiple costume changes, you’re still going to be left with an odd number of gems and charges that conveniently won’t equal the value of anything in the gem shop.

    All of this is done to obfuscate the dollar value of items players are buying, and to force them to spend more than they actually need to.

    It’s a horrible, dirty practise, and to be honest, I think governments should be legislating against virtual currencies that seek to con people out of more money than they should need to spend.

    There is a lot of good content in Guild Wars 2, and a lot of cool things to see and do. And if you can ignore the gem shop, you’ll have a grand old time.

    But the magic of the first game is long gone.

    • hemmer says:

      Why WOULD you ignore the ability to exchange gold for gems if one of your big problems is that you can’t buy a custom amount of gems? Because you can with ingame gold. You can buy 137 gems if you want. Any amount you want.

      Of course your arguments are partly valid, but there are a lot of baseless claims as well. Especially since you yourself state you haven’t played the game in a long time.

      The “Guild Wars 1 magic” will never return, because we all have that time in our life when an MMO just perfectly fits us and we’ll never get back to that.
      The Season 2 story is great though and if they continue to put out storybased content of that caliber I’m quite happy.

      As for the cosmetic rewards….it’s kind of the point. You don’t have to play content xyz, you either like it and do it because it’s fun, or because you want the cosmetic stuff (and for some reason a lot of people do), or you just do something else you do find fun.
      It’s certainly not a system that’s for everybody, but it’s a bit in the vein of the first game, where gear was easy to come by and after that you just played for prestige (i.e. cosmetics/achievements/bragging rights) or because you wanted to see the content.

      That said I took looong breaks between my times with GW2, but I’ve always done that with MMOs and at least this one doesn’t punish me for it.

      tl,dr: Some good, some bad, internet comments are biased (mine as well, obviously), try for yourself if you’re curious. :P

      • Mungrul says:

        Sorry, I knew that someone might pick up on the “Ignoring the ability to exchange gold for gems” bit, and I should have really explained why there, but the post was already long and this is another example of the game economist’s long game which turns my stomach.
        Compare the gem exchange rate over time using gw2spidy (link to, and the overall trend has been to increase how much gems cost the player. This means that over time, it becomes more attractive to spend money rather than time in order to buy gems.
        When I stopped playing (actually about 18 months in; I stopped with the second Super Adventure Box), the rate was 100 gems for about 5 gold pieces. Now, 100 gems will cost you 14 gold pieces.

        I can’t comment on how easy it is to make gold now compared to when I stopped playing, but I would hazard a guess and say that the ability to earn gold hasn’t increased in line with the cost of gems.

        • Canazza says:

          So you don’t know anything about the game as it is and make inaccurate statements posing as facts.

          You’d be a great tabloid journalist.

          Nowadays you can make 10G/hour easily. 10G will get you 50 Gems. It’s still a good ratio.

          • Mungrul says:

            So you get this gold by doing story content and regular events now, with little repeat content?
            Or do you make this 10g/hour by running an event timer and bouncing from high profile even to high profile event, repeating the cycle as each one resets?
            I usually find that people who talk about how much gold you can earn per hour in an MMO are the most dedicated players who have earning patterns and are not bored easily by repeating the same content over and over.

            Or are you telling me that an average player will be able to get this 10G by doing their dailies?

          • Cederic says:

            At $10 for 800 gems, you’ve just told us how to effectively earn $0.63/hour.

            No offence, but I earn more than that per minute (worked).

            You really think that’s a reasonable return on time invested for people?

          • Canazza says:

            Even if all you do is log in once per day you get Laurels from the daily rewards. 1 Laurel buys you 1 Tier 6 crafting materials bag, which is worth about 80-90s each. By doing literally *nothing* but logging in once a day for a month you can get 50g.

  4. Penguin_Factory says:

    I put well over 100 hours into GW2. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s easily the most time I’ve ever spent on an MMO. It was my first time levelling a character to the level cap.

    I have a lot of fondness for it, but I’m not sure I’ll be going back to it for the expansion. I got what I wanted out of it.

  5. Simbosan says:

    I think it was a great game. While the graphic engine might not have been the best the art direction was simply breathtaking. Huge beautiful zones. Lots of the simple mechanics of MMO play were so well done it was a revelation.

    Then they dumbed down the skill system taking something versatile and forcing choices on you and in particular making my build unplayable so I left.

    Probably if you were new to the game, it wouldn’t bother you as you wouldn’t know what you were missing, but for my part they can go jump. In many ways it’s a wonderful game.

  6. BuckFlanksteak says:

    I really want to like Guild Wars 2; I still boot it up every couple months despite never getting a character to cap (and this is coming from someone who has multiple max level characters in WoW, so I’m not allergic to the time investment). But for some reason the combat never clicked with me. It feels floaty and I feel like killing anything takes longer than it should. Maybe one of these days I’ll get it.

  7. aircool says:

    Loved the original, love GW2. I’ll pick up the expansion once I’m bored with Wildstar again.

    • aircool says:

      Lots of bots again in all levels/Battlegrounds in Wildstar now, so I’m bored of it again.

  8. Enkinan says:

    I loved GW2, in particular the World v World aspect. The initial concept was great and played great: It’s quite easy to level cap, and also pretty darn cheap and easy to craft top tier gear so that you can focus on the WvW play and not on farming if you didn’t want to. The problem is that they broke that with Ascended gear. The awesome WWW guild I was part of also broke up shortly after, so I finally called it quits after a bit over a year. I still have a slight urge to get back into it, but I feel like I would be so far behind at this point.

  9. Urthman says:

    My favorite thing to do in games is explore beautiful, interesting, and surprising spaces. I’ve never explored a more beautiful, interesting, and surprising world than the one of Guild Wars 2.

    I’m sorry if it doesn’t scratch all the right itches for MMO fans, but I couldn’t care less about that (or whether they charge real-world money to make your character look fancy). The only slightly annoying bit of F2P nonsense is that your inventory space is a little tight. I just know GW2 is the most beautiful RPG I’ve ever played and the combat has been interesting enough (I’ve only just cracked level 40) to not get in the way of enjoying the exploration.

    • draglikepull says:

      “My favorite thing to do in games is explore beautiful, interesting, and surprising spaces”

      This is precisely why I *want* to like the Assassin’s Creed games, but the actual gameplay they put into those beautiful spaces has been getting worse with pretty much every game since AC2.

    • Simbosan says:

      It shows that art direction is more important than graphic fidelity. It is a jaw dropping game sometimes

  10. Tasloi says:

    I don’t think i’ve ever played an MMO that’s seen as many loot / reward nerfs as Guild Wars 2. This expansion even kicks that up a notch along with questionable implementation of things like ascended salvaging. Talk about a buzzkill.

  11. pistachio says:

    Great game, but I feel I stuck with it for too long.

    I really only liked one class, the elementalist, more specifically dagger/dagger ele, which turned out to be a bit too strong in pvp (not pve or wvw) once people started to get good at the game.
    The class was clearly designed to disengage from combat, but it made the class god-like in the wrong hands (say, the top 5% of pvp-ers).
    So they removed their ability to disengage from combat reliably, even though some classes could one- or twoshot them in world-vs-world (the infamous Ride The Lightning nerf among many others in one big sweep). Good for pvp perhaps, but I couldn’t care less about pvp, all I was interested in was wvw.

    It took them about 18 months to make significant changes after that. When they finally did ‘fix’ them, the class was all about spamming all your moves (all 25 of them :S) and arguably too strong again. Admitted, they opened up new builds, like staff glass cannon but by then I had lost all hope, Arenanet is simply too slow with balance fixes.

    A shame. If I were more interested in the other classes and game-modes, I would probably still be playing today. And I can still recommend it because it is amazing value for money.

  12. citrusninja says:

    Oh man, Droknar’s Forge run, that takes me back! I believe I used to charge 2 to 3 plat per run, still remember bits of it as well, and I would typically fire up a song to get me amped up to do the run. I have yet to find a game that fulfils that void of the thrill of Drok’s Forge run.