Everything We Officially Know About Heart of Thorns (Updated 10/20/15)

As more information gets revealed about the upcoming expansion to Guild Wars 2 some of the information has started to get lost and forgotten, which has lead to some rather depressing debates on various forums. I have put together the following list (and sources) to help everyone keep track of the information better and help the general discourse be a bit better informed. All of the information I am including here is information Arenanet has either released themselves or has confirmed as being true. As a result some information we only know from datamining is not listed.

Aside from questions about what we do know for sure a big sticking point for many people has been “what content will everyone get and what content will only be available if you buy the expansion?” To help with this I have come up with the following color coding system:

Things you can only access if you personally have the expansion

Things you can experience if you play with someone who has the expansion or can have limited access to without buying the expansion

Things I think will be locked to the expansion but Arenanet hasn’t confirmed yet

I’ve done my best to gather all the official information I could find, if  I missed anything please let me know (and ideally give me some way to find the official source). I haven’t had time to go back through the PoIs and Ready Ups so anything revealed on those isn’t currently included.

Launch date October 23, 2015! (source)

The Heart of Maguuma Region (source)

  • Four new maps, all with increased virticality (source)
  • Jungle made up of 3 biomes (source)
    • Roots, Floor, Canopy
  • Find Glint’s Legacy (source)
  • New types of content and new challenging content (source)
  • The Verdant Brink is the map where the expansion will start (source)
  • The first map (source)
    • Handles what happened to the Pact Fleet
    • Build defenses during the day
    • Mordrem will come out at night and it will be a fight for survival
  • Each map will be focused on 3D play space and provide high replay value (source)
  • Outposts (source)
    • Events will be tied to what is happening at a specific site
    • Results of localized events will be shown through what happens at the outposts
    • The night phase challenge in the first area are wyverns
    • Make as much progress as possible during the day to have a chance during night time
    • Some out posts will have multiple upgrades which will make them stronger and offer new rewards
  • Adventures (source)
    • Repeatable on-demand bits of content
    • Will require practice, mastery, and skill to master (source)
    • Will unlock as progress is made at an outpost
    • Have their own UI and offer some amount of active challenge
    • Progress through an adventure will be tracked and scored; players will be able to see the scores of friends and guildmates
    • Will be displayed on the world map
    • If an adventure isn’t currently open, there will be an explanation of how to open it in game
    • Other players will have no impact on success or failure, ie won’t have to compete for resources or objectives (source)
    • Will be reliant on patterns and systems players can figure out to improve their play (source)
    • Players will be able to quickly quit and restart with minimal downtime (source)
    • Each adventure has its own distinct separate leaderboard (source)
      • Each leaderboard has daily participation rewards
      • Leaderboards will be divided into three tiers and the first time a player moves into one of those tiers they will receive a bonus reward
      • Higher tiers have higher rewards
  • Story instances will be replayable and players will be able to make different choices when they replay (source)
    • These will also have difficult to obtain achievements (similar to Living Story Season 2) and they will yield Mastery Points
  • Player character will be speaking in the open world as well as in story instances (source)
    • Lines will also vary depending on race of the player character
  • Two new armor sets to work on in the open world content, 5 new weapon sets, 60 additional unique skins, miniatures, and more (source)
  • New map rewards (source)
  • If you own the expansion you’ll be able to gain access to upcoming new living story (source)

Raids (source)

  • First raid will have three wings, the first of which will open up a few weeks after HoT launches
    • The delay gives time for balance passes to be done on professions and the new elite specs
    • Also players will have time to earn some of the mastery abilities they’ll need to beat the bosses
  • The remaining two wings will be opened in sequence after, depending on how quickly players are moving through the first wing
  • The first wing will have three bosses
  • First wing will require players to have unlocked gliding and a few different ways to interact with mushrooms (source)
  • 10 Player instanced content
  • Uses the event system which allows for greater variety of mechanics and tactics to be used
  • Players will need to be highly coordinated to beat these bosses
  • There won’t be a traditional raid frames set-up, players will have to communicate and pay attention each other to make sure they can down bosses
  • There will be new Mastery Tracks and Abilities which will be tightly tied to boss mechanics
  • Will be how players get Legendary Armor (source)
  • Old raids won’t become a wasteland of irrelevance
  • In addition to boss fights there will be event styled things for the group to accomplish IE holdouts, assaults, captures, defends, etc (source)
  • Encounters are designed to push players to use a variety of builds, weapons, and armor types (source)
  • Groups will use the squad system (source)
  • Can earn unique rewards once a week (source)
  • Some types of rewards exclusive to raids are special minis, weapon skin, titles, and a special trophy for your guild hall (source)

Mastery System General (source)

  • Account bound PvE progression system
  • Reinforces the idea the journey is the main goal (source)
  • Gain Mastery Points as you complete content (source)
    • Completing elements of the Story
    • Reaching hard to find & hard to reach locations
    • Defeating “incredible” challenges and “incredible” group challenges
    • Map completion
    • Challenging achievements “across the jungle and beyond”
    • Each point can be obtained once per account (source)
    • Players will be able to earn Mastery Points before lvl 80, but won’t be able to spend them until after (source)
    • Points gained in an area can only be used to unlock Masteries in the same area (source)
    • A good number of points earned before HoT will be awarded to players with the release of the expansion (source) (more info)
  • Experience bar will change to the Mastery Training bar at lvl 80 when in PvE zones (source)
    • To train a Mastery you will have to first unlock it by spending a Mastery Point
    • Each unlock will have multiple tiers with more powerful abilities in each subsequent tier
    • Select the Mastery to be slotted on the Mastery Bar and then any experience gained will be put towards increasing the mastery level
    • Players will set their active Mastery by region and the bar will automatically switch when the player changes regions
  • Exploration Mastery (source)
    • Hang gliding
      • Higher tiers allow for longer flights, ride wind currents, jump higher, and launch into the air with greater force (source)
    • Ability to use mushrooms to move around The Heart of Maguuma faster (source)
  • Lore Mastery (source)
    • Learn to understand the languages of civilizations deep in the jungle
    • Gain access to hidden locations only people who understand the language will be able to access
  • Combat Mastery (source)
    • Will allow players to learn new abilities which will help them overcome challenges
    • Master abilities to defeat champions (source)
    • Become more deadly to the new creatures in the jungle (source)
  • Legend Mastery (source)
    • Learn to craft current precursors (source)
    • Learn to craft new precursor for the new legendary weapons
    • Current precursors (source)
      • Three tiers
      • Visit Mastery vendor to pick which to start
      • First tier focuses on one theme of the Legendary
      • Completing the first collection will unlock the ability to craft a “distressed” version of the precursor and won’t be tradable
      • The second collection will focus on doing research about the legendary, which will unlock another exotic non-tradable version of the precursor
      • The third collection will focus on the secondary theme of the legendary weapon and will yield the recipe for the final version of the precursor
      • Will be tradeable
      • Skins will be updated to look like “lesser” versions of the legendary weapon they create
      • Having any version/step of a legendary will automatically unlock all previous skins attached to it
      • Will only be able to craft one of each precursor per account this way
      • All current methods of obtaining a precursor will remain intact
    • New Legendary Weapons and their precursors will not be tradable (source)
    • New precursers will not drop anywhere in game (source)
    • New Legendaries which will be available to make shortly after HoT launches along with raids (source)
    • The first three will be Astralaria (Axe), H.O.P.E. (Pistol),and Nevermore (Staff) (source)
    • Recipies to craft the new legendaries will be the specific precursor, a Gift of Maguuma Mastery, a Mystic Tribute, and a unique gift associated with each legendary (source)
  • Fractal Mastery (source)
    • New depths in the Fractals
    • Gain new abilities for use in the Fractals
    • Get better rewards
    • Unlock more powerful infusions

Specific Mastery Lines

  • Gliding (source)
    • Glider Basics
    • Updraft Use
    • Lean Techniques
    • Stealth Gliding
    • Advanced Gliding
    • Ley Line Gliding
  • Itzel Lore (source)
    • Bouncing Mushrooms
    • Itzel Language
    • Blazing Speed Mushrooms
    • Itzel Poison Lore
    • Itzel Leadership
    • Adrenal Mushrooms
  • Exalted Lore (source)
    • Exalted Markings
    • Exalted Acceptance
    • Exalted Assistance
    • Exalted Purification
    • Exalted Gathering
    • Exalted Honing
  • Nuhoch Lore (source)
    • Nuhoch Hunting
    • Nuhoch Language
    • Nuhoch Wallows
    • Nuhoch Stealth Detection
    • Nuhoch Proving
    • Nuhoch Alchemy
  • Legendary Precursor Crafting Mastery (source)
    • Revered Antiquarian
    • Magister of Legends
    • Historian of the Armaments
    • Scholar of Maguuma’s Secrets
  • Tiers in Fractal Mastery (source)
    • Follows Advice
    • Agony Channeler
    • Mistlock Singularities
    • Recursive Resourcing
    • Essential Singularities
    • Hyperactive Singularities
  • Pact Commander (source)
    • Pact Mentor
    • Productive Downtime
    • Supply Line Management
    • Noblesse Oblige
    • Advanced Logistics

Elite Specializations (source)

  • Every profession will get an Elite Specialization/Secondary Profession
  • General Elite Specialization info (source)
    • Will always introduce a single new weapon type for a character
    • To use the new weapon or skills, players will have to both unlock and equip the Elite Specialization
    • Almost every Elite Spec will get a new heal, utility skills, and elite skill
    • Will make core changes to how a profession is played
    • Has a full set of new traits
    • When HoT hits each profession will get one Elite Spec
    • Only one Elite Spec will be allowed to be equiped
    • Unlocking an Elite spec will also grant new runes and sigils, a fancy weapon skin for your new weapon type, and an armor skin for a single matching piece of armor (usually headgear or shoulders)
    • Elite Specs will automatically be unlocked in PvP
    • Will need to have core lines completly unlocked before being able to unlock any of the Elite Spec (source)
    • It will take 400 points to unlock an Elite Spec fully (source)
    • Hero Challenges in the Jungle award 10 points instead of one (source)
  • Ranger’s elite specialization will be Druid (source)
    • Allows use of Staff
    • A new heal skill
    • A new elite skill
    • A new set of utility skills
    • New resource called astral force which is used to enter the new Celestial Avatar form (source)
    • Celestial Avatar substantially boosts the healing abilities of the Druid (source)
  • Necromancer will get Reaper (source)
    • Allows use of Greatsword (source)
    • Grants a completely new set of abilities in death shroud and creates a shadowy scythe when entering death shroud
    • Death’s Charge replaces Dark Path and causes the Reaper to dash forward dealing damage as you go and releases a poison cloud at the end
    • Shivers of Dread inflicts chill whenever fear is used
    • Cold Shoulder increases the duration of chill and reduces the amount of damage chilled enemies do to you
    • Most attacks will be slower, but will also hit much harder than you might otherwise expect
    • Gravedigger is a slow skill which delivers a devastating blow to all enemies nearby
    • Reaper will also get a full set of shouts focused on harming foes
    • Rise is a shout which will hit all enemies in the radius for a small amount of damage and will summon a jagged horror for each foe struck
  • Mesmers will get Chronomancer (source)
    • Will gain use of Alacrity which will speed up skill recharge times
    • New weapon is off-hand Shield
    • Tides of Time – destroys projectiles, stuns enemies, and granting quickness to allies
    • Gain access to time themed wells
    • Well of Precognition – causes the attacks of allies to become unblockable and when it ends allies can evade all incoming attacks
    • Continuum Split/Continuum Shift is a new Shatter mechanic which allows the Mesmer to revert time and undo everything which happened to them during that time
  • Guardian will get Dragonhunter (source)
    • Focuses on ranged combat and back line support
    • Allows the use of Longbows
    • Spear of Justice – Virtue of Justice becomes a thrown spear which will tether enemies as long as they remain in range
    • Wings of Resolve – Virtue of Resolve will become wings of light which will allow the player to leap to an area and heal allies and can be traited to also deal damage
    • Shield of Courage – will allow attacks to be blocked for allies
    • Abilities will retain passive properties conferred by traits
    • Will have trap skills
    • Heal trap will heal allies while simultaneously heal allies when the Guardian triggers it
  • Elementalists get Tempest (source)
    • Allows use of Warhorn
    • Adds full set of 6 shouts
      • Wash the Pain Away – heals allies and cleanses conditions
      • Feel the Burn – Causes flames to erupt from a specific location
      • Eye of the storm – calls down a storm which breaks stuns and grants superspeed
      • Aftershock – creates a force around the Tempest which will cripple enemies and after a delay it will immobilize them
      • Freeze – freezes air around enemies damaging and chilling them
      • Rebound (elite) – causes all allies around the Tempest to have a 25% reduced recharge on their next ability used
    • Adds Overload mechanic to attunements
      • Overload Fire creates an infernal tornado which continuously damages and burns enemies while giving allies might
      • Overload Water creates a bubble which will grant regeneration and cleanse conditions from the Tempest and allies, when it end the bubble will burst and provide a large heal to allies in the area
      • Overload Air creates a nimbus cloud which strikes enemies repeatedly, at the end of the ability it will leave behind a lightening field
      • Overload Earth rends the earth and grants protection to allies and cripples enemies, at the end of the ability it’ll deliver a large blast of damage
    • Overloads will cause a longer than normal lockout of an attunement
  • Revenants get Herald (source)
    • Allows shield as an off-hand weapon
      • Envoy of Exuberance – Glint’s energy shoots out healing allies and grants protection on the way back
      • Crystal Hibernation – Channel a shield that renders the player immune to damage and gives a heal
    • Legendary Dragon Stance (Glint) – Support via boons, utility, and personal defense
    • Facets of Glint Utility Skills (all are upkeep skills)
      • Facet of Elements – Grants a pulsing swiftness buff
      • Elemental Blast – Ground targeted skill which consumes Facet of Elements and applies conditions to foes
      • Facet of Chaos – grants nearby allies protection every few seconds
      • Chaotic Release – consumes Facet of Chaos and grants super speed to allies while also damaging and knocking back foes
      • Facet of Nature – Pulses every few seconds and increases the outgoing boon duration for allies
      • One with Nature – Consumes Facet of Nature and applies boons all the other facets would apply to allies
  • Warrior gets Berzerker (source)
    • New weapon is torch
      • Blaze Breaker – send a cascade of rock and flame which travels to your target, crippling and burning any foe in the way.
      • Flames of war – Light yourself on fire burning off any conditions and creating a fire field that follows you. When the effect ends it explodes a applies more burning to foes around you.
    • At max adrenaline the bar will change to a single bar with only 10 adrenaline (instead of the normal three tiered bar with 30 adrenaline)
      • Give new weapon burst skills which can be used more often
      • Scorched Earth (longbow) – leaves a trail of fire on the ground in a straight line, is an aimed skill
      • Skull Grinder (mace) – short disrupt and applies multiple conditions to your target
    • Primal bursts are considering tier 3 bursts for traits
    • Feel the Rage – new type of utility skills called rage skills
  • Thief gets Daredevil (source)
    • Gains the use of Staff
    • Highly mobile fighter who is capable of taking on multiple enemies at once
    • Will have an extra endurance bar
    • Grandmaster trait line enhances dodge options
      • Lotus Training – each dodge throws daggers which cause bleed, torment, and cripple to foes and additionally functions as a whirl finisher
      • Bounding Dodger – gives the ability to leap in a specific direction and deal crushing damage where you land, additionally it functions as a leap finisher
      • Unhindered Combatant – Dodge becomes a dash which increases the distance you dodge and removes cripple and chill effects from you
    • Channeled Vigor – pulses heal and endurance regen, also heals for an additional amount if endurance is full

Revenant (source)

  • Ability to channel and control the Mists (source)
  • Heavy Armor
  • Uses energy as a resource (source)
  • Will use Hammer as a ranged weapon (source)
  • Can us Mace in the main hand (source)
  • Can use Axe as off-hand (source)
  • Can use Staff as a melee weapon (source)
  • Will be able to use Sword in main hand and off hand (source)
  • Will have weapon swapping (source)
  • On swap sigils activate when switching Legends (source)
  • Will use Spear underwater (source)
  • Use of Great Legends of Tyria
    • King Jalis – Tanky, Brawly Playstyle
    • Malyx – Conditions
    • Ventari – Support and Healing
    • Shiro – physical mobile dps

New WvW Borderlands Map (source)

  • Each Keep has a separate theme
    • Earth keep will raise up to defend itself against attackers
  • Fire Keep (source)
    • Located entirely underground
    • Has lava pools surrounding it
    • Fire imps and charred fleshreavers guard it
  • Air Keep (source)
    • Cut into the walls of the cavern
    • Has Tengu guarding its heights
  • Earth Keep (source)
    • Corrupted asuran complex
    • Has rock formations and boulders floating in the air
    • Golems are the guardians
  • Holding a keep will give buffs to the world which has it
  • There will also be changes to core WvW
    • Holding objectives should be a bigger component of victory
  • Will have 3 Keeps, 4 towers, and 6 supply camps (source)
  • The towers are an ogre outpost, a charr military depot, an academy of magic, and a necromantic spire (source)
    • Towers will actually create choke points and be of strategic importance
  • The gates of towers and keeps will be more lethal to attack head on (source)
  • Shrines (source)
    • Outside each keep
    • Three shrines of matching elements to the keep they are near
    • Can be capped by a single player
    • Capping the shrines will give buffs and bonuses which will make taking and keeping their keep easier
  • Oasis (source)
    • Located in the middle of the map
    • Multilayered and full of all kinds of hazards (including dinosaurs)
    • Players will collect cores to charge up the giant cannon
    • When the cannon fires it will start to fire blasts of energy at all enemy towers and keeps, gradually obliterating their gates
  • Dolyaks will gain significant buffs if a friendly player is near them (source)
  • Sentries will be guarding tiny outposts and will have a cripple skill to hamper enemy dolyaks (source)
  • Players will also be able to pick-up medkits at their outposts and use them to heal dolyaks, gain some health, or grant swiftness (source)

Changes to all WvW maps (source)

  • Upgrades will have no gold or supply cost
  • Less supply will be held and transported
  • There will be upgrade tiers instead of tiers
  • Upgrades happen automatically over time
  • Camps will have 2 tiers and all other objectives will have 3 tiers
  • Higher tiers take longer to upgrade than lower tiers.
  • Dolyak shipments will reduce the remaining upgrade time
  • Total time needed should be about the same as before the changes
  • Changes to WvW Abilities (source)
    • Guard Killer and Defense Against Guards will only have 5 ranks instead of 10
    • Applied Fortitude and Applied Strength will be removed
    • Ability lines which increased percentages from 1% to 5% will increase percentages from 2% to 10%
    • Siege weapon lines and the Supply Capacity line will have a reduced cost
    • All lines which have 5 ranks will cost 35 points per line
    • All lines which have 4 ranks will cost 15 points per line
    • The main player XP bar will change to track WXP when the player zones into WvW
  • Players will be able to buy Notarized Scrolls of Heroics and Notarized Scrolls of Maguuma Heroics which will allow players to unlock Hero Challenges through WvW play alone (source)
  • Changes are being made to prevent players from stocking up liquid world experience for launch day of HoT (source)

Strongholds (source)

  • Fight for Supply
  • Spend Supply to help your team
  • Players will be able to choose is they prefer Conquest, Stronghold, or Both and will be able to queue for the type they prefer (source)
  • Join with heroes to help in the fight
  • Kill the Guild Lord
  • More Mist Champions will be added through new reward tracks in the future (source)
  • Unlocking a Mist Champion reward champion track will also allow players to unlock a second track which will reward that champion’s mini (source)

New sPvP Ranks (source)

  • Everyone who owns the expansion will start at Jungle Rabbit rank
  • As a rank reward track is unlocked the next one will open up until you reach your current rank, all the way up to Dragon
  • Jungle Dragon rank has a new finisher which is Heart of Thorns themed

sPvP Leagues (source)

  • There will be six divisions – Lowest level is called the Amber Division and the Highest is the Legendary Division
  • Players will be matched up with other players in the same divisions
  • Players will earn pips from winning, and when enough are earned they will move up to the next division
  • If players are matched against a team outside their skill bracket they will have to reach a certain score threshold to get awarded their pip
  • Crossing into a new tier or new division will earn bigger and more prestigious rewards (the first time in a season this is done will give the biggest rewards)
  • The Amber Division will only award pips, it won’t take them away for losing
  • In divisions two and three players can lose pips but they won’t lose tiers
  • Starting in division four players can lose both pips and tiers
  • During a season players will never fall back to a previous division
  • The sixth division (Legendary) is a repeatable division which plays can fill out for repeatable rewards
  • Different divisions will have different badges for player nameplates
  • Badges are earned for each current season; as soon as a new season starts all badges are reset and must be earned again
  • Anyone who makes it into the Legendary Division will earn a permanent title
  • League Tokens are a reward for crossing into higher divisions and can be used to buy the first level of the “Wings of Glory” back item and can be used to upgrade it
  • New items will be added in the future and the newest items will always be at a discount
  • League play will also unlock the ability for players to craft a precursor and eventually craft that item into a legendary back item
  • Dishonor system will be returning
  • Guild Teams in sPvP (source)
    • A guild team is a named five player group who compete in sPvP together
    • Each team will have their own rating and place on the new guild leaderboard
    • A single guild can have multiple teams but each must have a unique name
    • Each team will have one captain
    • Must have 3 members of a team queuing together in order for a match to be counted as a team match
    • Matchmaking will use the team rating instead of personal rating when playing as a team
    • Guilds can unlock perks, for example the guild anthem can play at the end of a match the team wins
    • Will be active during all league seasons (source)
    • Ratings will decay with time (source)
    • Rewards will be given at the end of season based on where teams end and will also be used to determine who will be invited to higher-tier tournaments (source)

Guild Halls (source)

  • Home base to build & grow
  • Core hub for a guild
  • Guilds will choose between Lost Precipice and Gilded Hallow (source)
  • Claiming your Guild Hall (source)
    • Guilds will register themselves with the Guild Initiative
    • Guild Initiative Headquarters is an instance shared by guild members (sort of like a mini hall)
    • After clearing out the Modrem a Guild Leader will interact with a crystal to claim the Hall
  • Building the Hall (source)
    • To upgrade Halls guilds will use a combination of specific crafting materials, favor, and aetherium
    • Aetherium is generated automatically over time from the guild mine
    • Buildings form instantly when you pay for them
    • Six main buildings Tavern, Mine, Workshop, War Room, Market, Arena
  • Consumable upgrades which have been purchased should be used before Heart of Thorns goes live (source)
  • Once the Guild Initiative Headquarters opens Guilds will be able to trade a limited amount of Influence for Favor everyday (source)
  • Influence will also be used to purchase a small increase to aetherium production, once a day (source)
  • Guilds will also be able to convert as much influence to resonance as they like (source)
  • Merits will be retired (source)
  • Heart of Thorns will introduce the ability to view and talk in any guild chat of which you are a member even if you aren’t currently representing (source)
  • Guild Mission changes (source)
    • Will be how guilds earn favor
    • Missions will be free to run as often as wanted, but rewards will still be once a week
    • Guilds will start with a few missions available, and as the guild levels up more missions will open up
    • Guild Challenges and Guild Puzzles will be instanced
    • Only one mission of a given type can be active at a time
    • A guild portal in the guild hall can be built and will transport guild members to the start point for each guild mission available
  • Guild Crafting (source)
    • Guild Items will have a build time requirement
    • This time can be shortened by using resonance
    • Resonating shards will drop while playing grouped with guildies and is the main source of resonance
    • Scribes can create guild consumables, improvements and tactics for claiming in WvW, and guild hall decorations
  • War Room (source)
    • The ability to claim objectives is unlocked through the war room
    • The guild with the most members present when an objective is taken will have first priority in claiming
    • If three guilds pass then anyone can claim
    • Guilds can only have one objective per map claimed (source)
    • Objectives can be claimed by clicking on the objective in the map (source)
    • Claimed objectives will be marked by a shield on the map (source)
    • Upgrades are upgrades to an objective that give it better defenses and new functionality
      • These improvements last for as long as your guild has the objective claimed
      • Tier I unlocks after guild has objective for 10 minutes, Tier II at 30 minutes, and Tier III at 60 minutes (source)
      • Each tier offers options for the upgrades and it will take 3 minutes for the upgrade to be built (source)
    • Tactics are objective-based abilities that players can activate to temporarily boost or defend an objective

Changes to Fractals (source)

  • Each fractal run will consist of one fractal from a static list instead of three random fractals with a random boss at the end
  • The static list will be dependent on the scale of the fractal (source)
  • Lower scales will be adjusted to help new players learn the mechanics
  • Maximum fractal scale will be raised from 50 to 100
  • Past 50 the difficulty curve will not only adjust health and damage of creature but will also adjust other stats (ex toughness and precision)
  • Existing mistlock instabilities will either be updated or replaced
  • In the higher scales there will also be multiple mistlock instabilities active at the same time
  • Dessa will also have new consumables for fractals available which will stack with other existing consumables
  • Fractals will have their own achievement tab and will have special rewards for completing them
  • Daily fractal achievements will be divided into three level ranges 1–20, 21–50, and 51 and above
  • The final chest in every fractal will be a tradeable lockbox called a fractal encryption which has the chance to contain the following (in addition to other things):
    • Mini Professor Mew
    • new ascended aquatic-breather recipes
    • high-level crafting materials
  • Mini Professor Mew can be combined with a fractal ingredient to create the full set of cat golem mintures
  • Changes to fractal weapon skins
    • Addition of a collection for obtaining all the skins and a new reward
    • After completing fractal scale 50 golem BUY-2046 will sell a fractal weapon crate for pristine fractal relics and players will be able to pick which skin they want
    • New skins will be added but will only be obtainable at the 50+ scales
    • Will be able to take any of the new fractal skins and convert it, in the mystic forge, to a new fractal weapon skin of the player’s choice
  • BUY-2046 will also start selling Ascended Salvage kits
    • Salvaging any ascended item will have the chance to yield a ball of dark energy which is needed for crafting new legendary items
    • Salvaging rings will yield stabilizing matrices, useful for legendary crafting or can be traded in for fractal encryption keys

Legendary Backpacks (source)

  • Will be account bound
  • A guide in Mistlock Observatory will help point players in the direction of new types of challenges, timed boss encounters, and collections of items to obtain both inside and outside of the fractals
  • Those achievements along with armorsmith, leatherworker, or tailor profession will enable players to build their precursor back item
  • The last step to making it a legendary item is called Ad Infinitum

Other sources:

About Guild Hall availability: https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/hot/Guilds-and-Guild-Halls/first#post5195339

About needing HoT to make a Revenant: https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/hot/Have-to-buy-HoT-to-create-a-Revenant/first#post4867494

The ability to train Masteries is unlocked at level 80 for all players that own Heart of Thorns”: https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/reimagining-progression-the-mastery-system/

“While elite specializations will be available to everyone who purchases the expansion, the upcoming core specialization changes will affect the base game.” : https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/ready-up-core-specializations-summary/

About Leagues being tied to HoT, I talked to John Corpening about it at the GW2 Pax party, I’ll update with a link when his new post about Leagues gets posted.

Rebuilding Lion’s Arch Should Have Been Interactive

We now know the new improved Lion’s Arch will be in the next content update for Guild Wars 2. After just shy of a year and a half (about a year in game time) after the city was attacked and ruined, it will finally be rebuilt. Unfortunately Arenanet missed a golden opportunity to give their players a way to be personally involved in the rebuilding effort.

You might be thinking to yourself “hey we got a poll and got to pick names of some locations” and yes we did get to do that. However, how important is a name really? As much as I really dislike the name Phoenix Roost, at the end of the day it is just a name. It’s intangible. We got to actually help people evacuate and helped defend the city; why don’t we get the chance to actually help rebuild as well?

gw281I know we aren’t going to get anymore Living Story before Heart of Thorns launches, we’ve known this for quite a while. What we are getting are various events to fill the time between the end of Living Story 2 and HoT and although the rebuilding could have happened as part of the Living Story, nothing says it has to be a Living Story update.

Imagine instead of logging in one day to a completely rebuilt Lion’s Arch there’s a month long event which progresses in stages over the course of the month. Each week could be a new set of events for players to participate in to help with rebuilding. Some events could be as simple as donating various supplies to the cause, others could be more complex.

Maybe there’s a group out there who don’t want Lion’s Arch to be rebuilt? Maybe they feel like having a city which symbolizes the great things the different races can accomplish when they work together is a bad thing because they don’t want peace between the races? There could be events where players need to protect the workers or caravans arriving with supplies. Or maybe even search out these groups and deal with them directly.

There could also be events where the players could more directly help with rebuilding. Maybe help to clear out the harbor rubble or laying boards and bricks to build the different structures. These events could even be sequential where if the goal for one is met, there will be a break and at a predetermined time the next leg could pick-up where the last left off. If the goal wasn’t met the event would repeat until it was.

At the end of all of this we’d finally get to log in and see what our efforts built. Players would get the feeling of being a real part in the rebuilding and feel like they did something which actually made a difference. We could point to a memorial and say “I helped build that” or a building or road or harbor. There would be real attachment there.

gw284The downside of this is it would be nonpermanent content and some players really don’t like the possibility of missing something. This criticism was a big part of Areanet’s choice to make the Living Story content replayable; which was a great choice on their part. However, nonpermanent content still could play a valuable role in Guild Wars 2. As it is once Lion’s Arch is repaired players won’t be able to go back and experience the different stages it has gone through anyway. So it is already nonpermanent content some people will never see.

It’s also worth mentioning this is likely not the last time Lion’s Arch will be at least partially destroyed, and it would be surprising (and a bit sad) if no other major city is ever destroyed. Even though players couldn’t experience a specific rebuilding event again, they likely would have the chance to participate in others based on the same concept.

At the end of the day I’m glad I got to be a part of protecting Lion’s Arch. I’m glad it stayed in ruins for a substantial period of time. I’m glad it is being rebuilt in stages, and it isn’t being rebuilt to be exactly as it was before. I just wish I could have had a hand in the actual reconstruction.

Let’s Talk About Guild Wars 2′s Living Story Season 2

Originally posted on Gamebreaker May 7th, 2014.

The first season of the Guild Wars 2 Living Story wrapped up back in the middle of March and the “Big Features” patch is done, so now seems like a good time to start thinking about what I’d like to see happen in the next season.

Mordremoth and the Sylvari

In the very last story instance to wrap up everything from Season 1 Taimi talked about how Scarlet has awoken Mordremoth. She sets the stage for what will likely be the first act of the next Living Story Season, Mordremoth awakening and becoming active.

We know he is starting to stir because of the tyriaquakes which have been happening ever since Scarlet set off her device. However, he’s clearly not fully awake since nothing catastrophic has happened just yet. When he does wake we should see some zone altering changes and an outpouring of plant minions.

On that note the fact this Elder Dragon will be obviously of a plant type, there should be some interesting implications for the Sylvari. I wouldn’t be surprised to be meet another group of Sylvari who represent what they would have become if the Pale Tree’s seed hadn’t been stolen. If no one else does the Priory should be able to connect the dots on it. Assuming the truth of the Sylvari isn’t just said outright, there might be some people questioning if any Sylvari can truly be trusted. Additionally it will be interesting to see how the Nightmare Court reacts to all of this. I’d expect the Sylvari to also have a lot of soul searching to do. If any of them suspect they are creations of Mordremoth’s then there would be a whole interesting moral dilemma for them to deal with. What matters more? Who created them and why or what happened to them which made them different than what they were intended to be?

seperator2Rebuilding Lion’s Arch

Currently Lion’s Arch is just a mere shadow of it’s former self, which it should be. Rebuilding this city should absolutely take a lot of time and we definitely should not get LA back to exactly how it had been before. Rebuilding too quickly or making it exactly the same again would just undermine the importance of it being destroyed.

At the same time it shouldn’t just be an NPC only rebuilding process. Instead of having the rebuilding be a small event which happens during this season Arenanet could make it longer one which spans the whole season or more. For example one part could be a collection of wood and metal to help the rebuilding. Every person who contributed could help the process along and once a certain number of materials were collected that stage would be done.

With the implementation of the megaserver Arenanet could even set to goals for the entire population of GW2 to work on together. And it doesn’t need to just be collecting materials, there’s all sorts of events which could be utilized to help players feel like they really had an important part to play in the rebuilding.

New Boss Fight

Currently in the new universal Boss Timers there is a spot for an TBD boss. Now first thing first, it is unlikely this fight will be Mordremoth himself. I’m not sure how Arenanet intends to implement Elder Dragon fights in the future but making them a reoccurring fight seems unlikely. The only way I could that working out is if we fought him until he was forced to retreat, and then after he was beaten a certain number of times the final fight would be triggered (which would probably be a different fight). After that the time slot would go back to being a held time-slot for when the other Elder Dragons are faced.

While all that is possible, I don’t think it is likely. All the other dragon fights on the timers are champions of other dragons so it probably makes sense for Arenanet to stick with this pattern. The only real issue with making the new boss fight be the Champion of Mordremoth’s is we might find ourself in a similar situation as we are with Teq. If the plan with Living Story content is truly to tell stories which have a real and tangible affect on Tyria, fighting the same bosses forever will need to be addressed at some point. The current issue of still having to fight Teq after Zaihtan has been defeated for people who have finished the Personal Story.

Pacing

I’m not too worried about this next season of the Living Story starting of as slow as the last one. Near the end Arenanet really seemed to get a handle on how to present the story in an engaging way and when to reveal important info.

What I am concerned about is better story progression overall. My biggest annoyance with Scarlet was how we were always trailing behind her and never actually prevented her from doing anything. Every time we faced her it was on her terms and while we might have accomplished little things (like destroying the nightmare tower) it was only after she had accomplished her goal for that particular endeavor.

We a absolutely should face technical failures when facing very formidable beings. But never having any real success is extremely discouraging. I’m not saying we should be given some simple tasks to get our successes and make us feel good, but we should be able to at least occasionally actually accomplish something.

guild wars 2 mmorpg features 2     Lets Talk About Guild Wars 2s Living Story Season 2The new icons

One big loose end still out there is Rox needs to go face Rytlock and wrap up the whole part about how she was supposed to help kill Scarlet to get into his warband. I was really disappointed to see there was no real personal growth and self awareness from her at the end of the last season. Braham could use some personal growth and self awareness as well.

Mr. E… Yea we still don’t know that is or really anything aside from whoever it is was trying to help Marjory. I really hope that side story is developed more.

Taimi and Zojja could really use some “on screen” time together. All of their interactions so far have happened somewhere else and the we just get a recounting of what happened from Taimi, which is just disappointing. I’d really like to see how those two affect each other over time.

All that boils down to…

A catastrophic awakening of Mordremoth, some interesting consequences for the Sylvari, a new dragon fight, new icon character development, and an engaging rebuilding of Lion’s Arch. For everything I am expecting to happen (and I am sure there will be other things I haven’t thought of) I would guess the next season will last either an entire year or maybe a bit more. What are you looking forward/hoping to see?

Wintersday, Guild Wars 2′s 2014 Update Schedule, And What It All Means

Originally posted on Gamebreaker January 18th, 2014.

After the many changes to this year’s Halloween event, I was a little anxious about what Wintersday would be like. Happily Wintersday arrived and it was nearly exactly the same as last year.

The Wintersday jumping puzzle received a similar makeover to the one Clocktower received. It’s now considered a PvP area, though players have no skills and cannot attack each other. However, unlike the new Clocktower, players were not transformed into wisps during the puzzle. Probably, the best change was the ability to pick which path you started from, whereas last year it was random and there was no way to change paths. Allowing us to pick a path was helpful because it allowed players to focus on learning one path which aids the jumping challenged among us.

Another positive change is, at the point where all three paths converged there is a fire to rest and regain health. Additionally players can talk to Tixx here and he’ll offer three options for finishing the puzzle. The first option is to take a gift he gives you and open it there and forgo the bonus gift at the end of the puzzle. The second option is to take the gift and deliver it to the children at the end for a greater reward. Lastly, players can forgo the extra gift completely and instead have a checkpoint at Tixx set-up so if the player falls before reaching the end they wouldn’t have to go all the way back to the beginning. As anyone who has watched the Wednesday night Gamebreaker Nation streams knows, I am jumping challenged and as such I found the option of having the checkpoint a huge help.

The only real downside to this year’s version of the puzzle was not being able to do it with friends. It never fails to amaze me when MMOs put in awesome content that players can’t tackle with friends if they choose too. At least last year players could group up to enter together. We wouldn’t always start at the same spot but when a player fell they would be able to see their friend going on and that was at least something. This year getting into the same one with a friend was a sad matter of RNG. I don’t think content should necessarily require grouping to complete, but the option to group up to do things shouldn’t be taken away.

The Bell Choir and Toypocalypse were essentially unchanged this year. One thing I wish Arenanet had added to Bell a Choir was some sort of reward for obtaining the highest score in an entire game of the Bell Choir. Players are rewarded for doing well by getting presents at the end of each round if they manage to not kill themselves, but aside from that there’s no real incentive to do well. Over the last few days some fought hotly for the top spot. It would be nice to have some recognition for that.

buildingDespite the good things about most events in Wintersday being the same there is a downside. We’ve now had the Wintersday patch for over a month, and I have recently realized this pause in the content patches has taught me something new about how I play MMOs; I really need the short content cycles to maintain my attention.

When Arenanet first announced they were entering into a 2 week content cycle I was a bit nervous. On the one hand my main issue with many MMOs has always been doing the same content for far too long. I have never been the sort of person who really enjoyed doing the same content over and over even if there was something cool and shiny in it for me. I want to see new things, maybe do them a few times, and then move on pretty quickly. On the other hand I do have limited amount of time I can play games each day so I was concerned with not being able to fully explore each patch and falling behind in terms of amount of content I had done.

Arenanet quickly fell into a pattern of each month the first patch was pretty big and would continue on after the second patch of the month hit which I enjoyed immensely. This pattern allows even people with sort of limited playtime to have a lot of opportunities to finish all the content added for that month. This cycle kept up the feeling of needing to get things done, but never made it feel really overwhelming.

Now I understand the stopping of the updates over the holidays, and I understand that they are trying to make sure each update is as polished as possible. However, I must confess that when they announced a bit of a break from the two week patch cycle I immediately felt less of an urge to play and was distracted by other games…so much so that I randomly realized last week I needed to get cracking to finish the meta achievements. Knowing I always had another patch right around the bend managed to help keep me focused.

This concerns me a bit because Colin Johanson recently indicated these breaks might be more common place this year than they were last year. In an interview with EuroGamer he said, “When [Living World Season One] ends [on 4th March], we’re going to take a break for a little bit and then we’re going to do one really big feature patch that is more akin to what people see from some of our [MMO] competitors, where they bundle a lot of features together into a really big patch every now and then.” While I am definitely looking forward to this large “features only” patch I am concerned about how long the break will be and how stagnant Guild Wars 2 might feel during it.

Let’s just say they’ll take a month break after the March 4th patch. That means the features patch won’t come until April 1st. I wonder if that means no there will be no new Super Adventure Box? Also if these four patches are just story content and the WvW changes are going to be part of the features patch that would mean the earliest we’d see Season 2 of WvW starting would be May 2nd. That’s a huge lag for people who mostly want to do WvW and for the people who mostly just play Living Story content… well we’d be looking at a potential two months of doing whatever the finale of Scarlet’s storyline is.

As itchy as I am for new content after just one month… a two month lull seems almost unbearable to me. It’s amazing how just a few months of constant content updates can really change a person’s perspective.

Guild Wars 2 “Large Features Only” Patch Predictions

Originally posted on Gamebreaker January 2nd, 2014.

What new features can we look forward to in the “feature only” patch coming up?

In a recent blog post Colin Johanson reviewed some of the changes Guild Wars 2 has gone through this past year and gave us a brief preview of what we have to look forward to. Obviously the first big thing is the conclusion of the Living Story Arc which really started a year ago with the first Flame and Frost patch. This conclusion will unfold over four patches, and after the end of this story arc we’ll get a big patch which a bunch of features without any story. If the four patches happen every two weeks we won’t see the features patch until  March 18th at the earliest. But three months away doesn’t mean it’s too soon to speculate!

Features Left Over From 2013

Back in July, Colin Johanson gave us a preview of features that were planned for GW2 in the second half of 2013. Arenanet was able to implement most of the things mentioned in that post, but there are a few things they weren’t able to implement and it wouldn’t be surprising to see those in the big features only patch.

The most notable feature that didn’t make it in in 2013 is the Precursor update. Currently I find getting the Precursor to be the most frustrating part of crafting a Legendary. On the one hand pretty much every precursor is always on the Trading Post so currently players can just buy them. On the other, it comes down to pure RNG luck. Both extremes are rather lacking when it comes to what crafting of a Legendary should be. With the ability to craft Ascended Weapons and Gear currently live and the addition of all the Ascended crafting materials, all the foundation for building precursors in in game now. However, there is a second component which really hasn’t been discussed very much. The plan wasn’t ever to have precursors be fully craftable, that would make obtaining them way too easy. In addition to the crafting step Johanson also mentioned it would also require “a combination of other items earned for completing more specific content in the game”.

We don’t really know exactly what game content they have in mind. One thing I would really like to see is a scavenger hunt similar to the one we had for the first Mad King event. I know anything they do like this will have walkthroughs posted pretty quickly so people wouldn’t have to figure anything out, but it should be a pretty long scavenger hunt and probably should only allow you to do a certain about in a particular time period. For example if it had three stages they could limit it to only being able to do one stage in a 24 hour period. Another option would be adding an item to the daily drops for killing dragons/world bosses and require a certain number for one of the steps. Having some skill challenges would also be interesting, hopefully there will also be some objectives friends can accomplish together.

Related to the Precursor discussion Johanson also mentioned “you’ll also see new legendary weapons and new types of legendary gear in 2013″. Personally I am slightly less interested in what new Legendary weapons we might see than I am interested in seeing new types of Legendary Gear. The easiest type of Legendary Gear to add would be back pieces (yes I can hear all the groans of “not another back piece”) but hear me out on this. If they were to add Legendary Armor, it wouldn’t make sense to do just a helm or shoulders or anything like that. One of the huge aspects which makes Legendaries attractive is the particular look each one has. For armor they would have to design an entire set for each armor type to work together and accomplish a particular look, which is possible down the road but I wouldn’t count on getting it soon. Back pieces are the only other type of gear which is visible and not currently available as a Legendary so it makes sense to that route first.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Guild Wars 2 Large Features Only Patch PredictionsOther Potential Features

Last year we did see Arenanet start the addition of new skills when they added a new healing ability across all professions (Antitoxin Spray) and each profession also got a new individualized healing ability. I am expecting this to continue in the next big features patch but with a dps/cc type ability for each profession. Maybe professions which tend to be very condition focused could get a new direct damage ability and profession which tend to rely on direct damage more could get a new condition ability. Though in the second case due to how conditions work it would be less useful for those professions.

One thing Arenanet did mention last year but didn’t plan on implementing in 2013 was the change to WXP being across the account, which is an awesome change I am really looking forward to. This will completely solve the problem of playing alts in WvW feeling like a waste of time. I am pretty sure this definitely will be part of the big features only patch, it would just be sort of weird if it wasn’t in. I’m on the fence about if we are likely to see Edge Of The Mists then as well. I would guess it will probably be held until a later patch so they could really feature it. Although I hope we don’t have to wait too long before we see it because I doubt another WvW season will start before it is implemented.

Depending on how “big” this features only patch is we might also see some of the remaining changes to PvP go into effect. The next step in PvP changes will probably be the removal of the different distinctions of PvE and PvP gear. I am guessing this change will probably coincide with the removal of Glory from the game.

In the PvP Roadmap blog post John Corpening, PvP Team Lead, mentioned this about the upcoming removal of Glory “We will give advance warning when this is coming so you can spend all of your existing glory before that happens”. The implication there seems to be there won’t be any reason to hold onto excess Glory like there would be if say Arenanet was planning on converting your Glory totals to Gold you would have earned from those matches instead. If they are planning on doing a conversion I would certainly hope they would give us a bunch of notice of that as well. Either way I’ll definitely be looking for these two changes to happen with the first major features patch.

There is another change hanging out there which was briefly mentioned a long time ago, but I haven’t heard anything from Arenanet about it recently. I am referring to the idea of every profession being able to use every weapon. Granted we haven’t heard anything more about this since back in July, so it might be unlikely for the big features patch but it would be really cool to get it. One thing I have heard people express interest in is seeing weapons which are currently off-hand only being added for main hand as well and I would caution people not to get their hopes up for that. Johanson only mentioned the ability to use every weapon, not being able to use every weapon in every possible way.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Guild Wars 2 Large Features Only Patch PredictionsThe Take Away

Clearly if all of the features I mention were implemented in one patch it would truly be a massive features patch, so it’s probably unlikely we will see all of them. However, with the current break in patches and the fact the next four patches will be story only the possibility of a huge features patch is definitely out there. The concept of such an expansive patch is sort of scary because as every MMO veteran knows sometimes even the most innocuous change can break things in really unexpected ways, but hopefully that won’t be an issue here.

Are there any specific features you’d like to see added?

Did Guild Wars 2 WvW Season 1 Accomplish What It Was Supposed To?

Originally posted on Gamebreaker December 17th, 2013.

Arenanet has never specifically said what they intend to accomplish by adding Seasons to World vs World. But it seems they are trying to increase the overall competitiveness of matches and to make each week’s match matter more. The clearest evidence of this was in the announcement regarding the postponement of the start of the season “to have more competitive matches over the course of the season”.

More Competition?

It might seem silly to wonder if there was more competition during the new season system. In both regions the top 3-4 servers in every league were pretty close in points with each other. Additionally all those servers in the silver and bronze leagues would have never had a shot at winning anything. So the conclusion that the league system did make WvW more competitive and did give more servers a chance to win seems like the logical observation. However, those servers never really had a shot of winning.

Think about this for a second: every server that won a bracket was undefeated the entire season. Now, you might be thinking “well there probably were some really fun and intense matches during the season and those servers probably just scraped by a few times”. Unfortunately you’d be wrong on that one. Using mos.millenium.org to go over the matches every week shows only two matches during the seven weeks in the season had any sort of close final score when any of the winning servers were involved. Out of six winning teams only two had really close matches. And honestly only the Blackgate match is truly close with a point differential of only 10,138 points.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Did Guild Wars 2 WvW Season 1 Accomplish What It Was Supposed To? mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Did Guild Wars 2 WvW Season 1 Accomplish What It Was Supposed To?

Now I know there were a few matches which didn’t involve the top ranking servers that were really close, and I am not disregarding the fact those matches were tons of fun for the people involved. However, only the top ranking server in each bracket was considered the winner. So while those individual matches were probably very awesome to win, from the perspective of looking at the whole season those fights didn’t make much of a difference. There is also something disconcerting about the fact both those matches took place during the first week of Season 1.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Did Guild Wars 2 WvW Season 1 Accomplish What It Was Supposed To?

Looking Ahead To Season 2

Arenanet has already confirmed we won’t be seeing Season 2 start until after the new year. My hunch is we’ll get account wide WXP and the new map before Season 2 starts. Both of those are really good things and will bring some good changes to WvW. But Arenanet also needs to make some changes to how points are scored if they want to make WvW be really competitive.

I know, I hear all of you saying it has to do with population imbalances and that certainly does play a part. However, the larger issue right now is that it’s just way too easy to keep capture points once a server takes them. This can cause huge scoring discrepancies by allowing some servers the ability to rack up points and pull way past the point of anyone catching up. Even if the whole rankings were scrambled more than they are with the current scoring system the results will still be pretty lopsided. I am still hoping for some sort of decay system to be put into place. Definitely not one as quick as the ruins, but maybe where if there isn’t anyone at a keep for an hour it switches over to being neutral. This would certainly help make things more interesting and equitable.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Did Guild Wars 2 WvW Season 1 Accomplish What It Was Supposed To?

There are two other issues which need to be addressed but I am not sure how they can both be addressed. Both are sort of cheating issues. Well, the first one probably isn’t technically cheating but purposefully losing matches to end-up in a lower bracket is pretty underhanded and definitely goes against the spirit of competition. The problem is, I don’t know how Arenanet would even go about proving servers are doing it. One way of possibly deterring this behavior is if going into next season instead of basing the leagues on the current rankings, put everyone in order of their point total at the end of Season 1.

The other issue that needs to be addressed and would probably be easier to deal with is that some servers were purposefully trying to sabotage other servers. Some people with at least one extra account will create characters on a server their main server is fighting. Then they will proceed to drain resources from the wrong places and build things where they are absolutely useless, just to waste their resources and to make it harder for the other server to win. I’ve even seen some people call out false scouting reports to throw off a match. Yes people who are new to WvW do often do similar things (except for the false scouting reports) because they don’t know better, but there are distinct differences between someone trying to cause problems on purpose and someone just trying out new things. There needs to be merciless banning for such activity.

Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to the next season, I had a lot of fun and it did feel like each week’s matches did matter more than previously. However, looking back at everything I think that some tweaks need to be made to really make the fights for first place truly interesting and engaging.

Building The Better Guild Wars 2 Elder Dragon Fight | Opinion

Originally posted on Gamebreaker November 22nd, 2013.

After covering the differences between the Elder Dragons and the Dragon Champion, Let’s talk about what could be done for the next Guild Wars 2 Elder Dragon fight.

It would be really nice to see a significant part of next year’s content to be devoted to taking down at least one of the remaining elder dragons. I don’t really mind that the living story seems to have gone in different direction. There are more things in the world aside from the dragons, but they are there and never dealing with them will make the world feel stagnant despite anything else that happens during the Living story updates. However, the one elder dragon fight we have had so far was a bit disappointing.

Fighting Zhaitan

At the end of the personal story player characters group up to fight off Zhaitan. This fight is often criticized by players for being a bit of a letdown on a few different levels. I feel pretty confidant the reason we haven’t faced another so far is due at least in part to the criticism Arenanet received from this fight. The biggest issue with fighting Zhaitan was the fight was just boring. I tend to not like “vehicle” fights very much because it always makes me feel like what profession I am and what skills I use doesn’t matter. It’s just underwhelming after working on a character so long only to make it to the big fight and have my character feel like it didn’t matter… was very disappointing.

I was also annoyed we either never saw him up close. Either that, or he was WAY too small to be an elder dragon. Elder dragons are supposed to be huge beasts of raw power and magic. In Arah he seemed no bigger than Tequatl, which is just incredibly disappointing. Additionally he didn’t seem to fight back much. Everything built up to taking him down. That build up felt epic and really got me excited about what was coming only to have me participate in a fight was relatively boring. Zhaitan never directly attacks the ship players are on. Rather, he sends in his minions electing to sit on a tower as we pummel him until he “dies”.

Another point I would like to make is that the death of an elder dragon should radically change a zone. Considering how they affect things when they rise, everything should change when they fall. Unfortunately if this is done in a dungeon everyone doesn’t have to do, suddenly changing the entire zone would be disconcerting for other players. This is sort of the problem Arenanet got themselves into with Zhaitan. The couldn’t just go and randomly make Orr all better for anyone who finished Arah because that would permanently split the community. However, killing him and nothing changing makes it all feel incredibly pointless.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Building The Better Guild Wars 2 Elder Dragon Fight | Opinion

Living Story is an opportunity to do it better

Using the Living Story could be a good way to handle all of these shortcomings. We have already seen permanent changes applied to a zone through the Living Story so it’s not a completely out there idea. Any fight against an elder dragon will need to have a fair amount of “getting ready to fight” stuff to make it feel “real”. No one just wakes up one day and goes “oh I’m going to go kill an elder dragon today”… well no one smart at least. We could have a few Living Story updates dealing with the preparation to fight. Doing standard things like gathering supplies, building weapons and fortifications, finding a lure.

A lure? Yep a lure a is important. Why would a elder dragon come fight us? We are like ants to them, and not the cool scary army ants but puny little black ants no one even notices. There’s no real reason one would feel the need to personally engage with us unless we were doing something which required the elder dragon’s personal attention. And any of the current active dragons will be much more vulnerable on the ground and should avoid landing at all costs, so we would need to find a way to get him on the ground or else we’ll be stuck with another gunship battle. We could possibly shoot an elder dragon out of the air… but finding something he would want seems much more feasible than doing that.

In addition to being able to prepare for an epic battle through living story they could also deliver an epically long battle lasting at least two weeks. I know… I can hear you thinking that having a battle last that long is just unrealistic. Yes, most battles last hours/days. However, there have been a number of battles throughout history which have lasted a long time. In fact, a battle during WWI lasted 10 months. Having the fight with an Elder Dragon last weeks would also give as many people as possible a chance to participate in the fight and see it without making a reoccurring event.

I’d also really like to see the next elder dragon fight be a huge world event. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone participate together on one server. That would be awful. Instead I would like to see something like a world progress bar of how the fight is going to really make the fight feel huge and epic. It would also be pretty neat if they could do something where the elder dragon’s appearance changes over the course of the fight to reflect different steps to beating him being accomplished. It could really be fun and exciting. The last step could also be permanent change in the zone where the fight occurs, which when fighting an elder dragon only makes sense and would really make it feel like something big was accomplished.

That’s what I want to see out of the next fight with an elder dragon, what would you like to see happen?