Pax East Interview With Colin Johanson And Isaiah Cartwright

Originally posted on Gamebreaker March 10th, 2015.

During PAX East Guild Wars 2 game director Colin Johanson and lead game designer Isaiah Cartwright took some time to go through their Heart of Thorns demo with me and answered a ton of questions about the upcoming expansion. Unfortunately, there is still a lot information they aren’t ready to talk about yet, but what is available so far is pretty interesting.

Story and Feature Updates

The storyline for Heart of Thorns picks up the very next day after the last episode of Living Story Season 2 ends. This of course means between now and when Heart of Thorns launches there won’t be living story updates. For people who really enjoy the story and seeing the world progress this is a bit of a disappointment because we will have awhile to wait before the story continues.

This, however, does not mean GW2 will be stagnant until then. The recently announced camera changes will be live in the game in a couple of weeks, and they have more unannounced feature changes planned as well. In addition there will be other events similar to the Lunar New Year festival. So while we are all anxiously waiting to see where the story goes next, we won’t be left with nothing new in game in the meantime.

Surveying WreckageGuilds are a main focus in Heart of Thorns

One of the main things I was hoping to learn more about is what they have planned for guilds in the expansion. So far the only thing which has really been announced is the Guild Hall, which although interesting and exciting seems a little light for an expansion. Guild Halls on its own seems like the sort of thing which could be implemented as a major feature patch if there was nothing else to go with it.

Unfortunately they weren’t prepared to reveal anything new for guilds today. However, Johanson did emphasize guilds are a main pillar for HoT. They really want to make having a guild and being in a guild matter in a larger way in the game as a whole. For example making it easier for guilds to work together to accomplish tasks in a collaborative way is something they are interested in.

They couldn’t get into specifics of course, but something which seems likely is improvements to how guild missions work when multiple guilds are trying to do them. For example, rushes currently work really well with multiple guilds, but puzzles are often problematic. Expanding out guild missions as a whole seems a likely possibility as well as giving us new types of content to do as a guild. Also there was mention of more support for guilds doing “non-standard” types of events.

Revenant_1Revenant

The playable demo had a level 80 Revenant available to play with the Hammer skill set and the two Legends they have announced already Mallyx the Unyielding and Jalis Ironhammer.

As previously revealed which Legend the player currently has active will determine what skills are filled in the 6-0 slots. Currently, the functionality is there so the player can switch which ability is in which slot. So instead of having the chain skill in the 8 slot the player could change it to the 9 slot. There is the potential for there to be more skills available than can be slotted (similar to how skills in other professions work) but they haven’t really decided on it yet and they expect it’s one area where the beta will help fill in what is needed in terms of customization.

Hammer as a ranged weapon actually works fairly well mechanically. It is sort of similar to how a Mesmer uses a Greatsword where there are various effects which come out from the Hammer. It’ll be interesting to see how everything functions and works when everyone is playing a variety of professions and specializations instead of everyone playing a Revenant. Though the chaos which ensued might be a good indication of what the first few weeks after launch will be like.

There have been some people out there wondering if perhaps the Revenant will start off at some level higher than level 1 to give players an easier time catching up and to be able to play the new content quicker. However, Johanson did confirm they will start at level 1. So everyone planning to roll a Revenant right away should stock up on those tomes of experience.

Pale ReaversRelease Date and Beta

They’ve just opened up sign-ups for beta here at PAX East and on the GW2 website by signing up for the Guild Wars 2 Newsletter. There won’t be an NDA for the closed beta which makes life a bit easier for everyone. invites will be staggered to slowly ramp up and test their systems. Content testing will also likely be staggered.

One thing Colin was pretty emphatic about is they don’t really have a set release date for the expansion. Heart of Thorns is going to set the foundation for how Guild Wars 2 will grow and expand over the lifetime of the game, so they really want to make sure they have it set properly before release. He expects a lot of changes will happen during beta and they really want to make sure they have the flexibility to adapt to those changes.

Next Week at EGX Rezzed

A lot of the focus here at PAX East has been on getting players into the demo and experiencing the first taste of the new areas and mechanics. Next week at Rezzed the focus will shift a bit to be more on the new Boarderlands map and WvW as a whole. Johanson indicated they have a lot of changes planned for WvW, so next week should be interesting.

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