Going Beyond: Comparing TLC Speculation against PAX Reality

So it’s official: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is an expansion. But in the spirit of good fun, I’m going to go over my original speculation post about “Beyond the Point of No Return” on January 12th (which I will remind was before Point of No Return went live).

As a TL;DR, I’m going to highlight my original TL;DR of Breaking the Paradigm in green (right) and red (wrong):

ArenaNet has been working on an expansion, and will release it in bulk chunks over the next year for free to owners of the original game.

The expansion will go into the takedown of Mordremoth, with Season 2 being a lengthy introduction. It will include tons of large QoL improvements and new features, though those will also be staggered to story-type releases to give additional QA/bug-fixing time.

Breaking my original post down…

For the rest of this post, I’m going to excerpt what I stated, and compare it to what was announced or happened at PAX.

going Beyond the Point of No Return has to deal with the actual war with Mordremoth, because the exact point is the war’s beginning.

Yep. Heart of the Maguuma and taking the fight to him. Was actually confirmed by Point of No Return.

…the president who by past example alone is going to define the direction of the company with what he says…

Nailed it.

Colin Johanson is much more active, but he also has a particular role: overviews and forecasts…

…the game director in charge of implementing that direction across every team.

Nailed it.

But there’s no way that we’re confronting anything more than a lieutenant of Mordremoth in the Point of No Return release.

The Vinewrath is a fun boss…but definitely not any more important than a lieutenant.

Fast-forward to the most recent [CDIs]:

  • Guilds: Logistics and QoL
  • Raiding
  • Guild Halls

Guild improvements announced, guild halls are a straight-up trailer feature, and Colin said during the presentation “challenging group content that requires masteries to complete.” Raids by any other name.

More specifically, people always mention these features that were to be released by the end of 2013:

  • New legendary weapons and types of legendary gear
  • New skills and traits (healing skills did make it in during 2013, but new traits were April 2014, and no further skills have been added)

Also swirling in the maelstrom of lost features is the precursor scavenger hunt (an artifact of 2012, no less).

All three features confirmed, though new legendary gear was unmentioned.

How I Know It’ll Be Free: The Living Story, Population, and “Different”

Well, uh…I totally got this wrong. Like, completely. Quoted from the Heart of Thorns FAQ:

Q: Is the expansion “buy to play”?

A: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is a paid expansion to Guild Wars 2, but once you buy it, there are no subscription fees. This means that you can continue playing and access future updates for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns with no subscription fee.

Yep. My most out-there speculation was straight wrong.

How I Know It’ll Be Done in Chunks: Books and Bugs

Yeah…also wrong. Another quote from the FAQ:

Q: What is the expansion bringing to the base game?

A: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is an expansive new MMO experience introducing unique features such as our re-envisioned character progression system. You can visit our website at http://heartofthorns.guildwars2.com for a full rundown of features, and be sure to check back regularly as we will continually reveal new details.

Maybe they do story in chunks, but features? Definitely dropped all at once. Traditional expansion in that aspect.

So How is it Different?

The number one thing I’ve taken away from the PAX presentation (aside from being giddy about being 100% correct until I read the FAQ, dang you fine print) is the underlying philosophy of them: set new expectations for expansions.

Of everything that ArenaNet announced,  only some are “typical expansion content”:

  1. New region
  2. New class [profession]
  3. Guild Halls
  4. New WvW map and mechanics (shout-out to my Edge of the Mists post)
  5. New PvP mode

Compare this against the list of what isn’t typical:

  1. Zero level cap change/gear tier change
  2. Brand new account-based progression system (totally analyzing Masteries later)
  3. Expansion to existing professions without making their original skillsets obsolete
  4. Tripling the new region’s effective size by splitting it into top/middle/bottom
  5. Actively reducing the difficulty of achieving the capstone achievement of an account (precursor scavenger hunt / legendaries)
  6. Fixing the reward paradigm of WvW at last (defending will matter!)

50/50 split, but I believe we can put the torches and pitchforks away until we have further details. ArenaNet has been listening, because the feature list reads like a large feature wishlist of the player base for the past two years. What remains is if the actual implementation is up to the challenge. We shall see.

(Also, as a future teaser, I plan on analyzing a lot of the features above and what they mean for the existing GW2)

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