With beta access just beginning, ArenaNet has shown how confident they are in their development efforts by announcing the August 28, 2015 release date for the Heart of Thorns expansion along with a number of details regarding what we can expect when it ships. However, have no fear. ArenaNet has stated once again that they feel they will have ample time to implement any final adjustments gleaned from beta access, which begins today for the lucky “first phase” invitees, before the game ships.
Savvy lorehounds may find that this date sounds familiar and with good reason: on this date in 2007, the Eye of the North expansion was released in North America, marking the first sighting of the destroyers, minions of the Elder Dragon Primordus. It is only fitting that we continue our battle against Mordremoth on the anniversary of this first Elder Dragon incursion. Knowing that the summer wait will be almost unbearable, ArenaNet has devised a series of vignettes to fill the time, similar in structure to the Guild Wars Bonus Mission Pack. The first of these tales, Taimi’s Trial, will allow players to take control of Taimi’s golem Scruffy and, a la Metal Gear Solid, break the prodigy out of her dormitory. As has been mentioned, ArenaNet feels that the peripheral stories relating to each of the B-iconics will provide newer players with an opportunity to connect with these characters without having to play through the entire previous living story chapters.Take control of Scruffy for a stealth mission.
Heart of Thorns will see other improvements to basic features of the game. In our recent interview with the ever-smiling Colin Johanson, he elaborated on the new Abaddon fractal. As players of Guild Wars may recall, Abaddon has a particular dislike of dancing. “In the new fractal,” Colin said, “we see the source of Abaddon’s hatred of dancing as he is sealed into the Realm of Torment by the funky dance moves of the other gods. Embodying the Five, players must coordinate their moves with one another and outperform the Lord of the Depths, Knowledge, and Dancing, in order to drive him into his prison.”
This new direction with fractals, away from traditional team battles and toward other gaming modes, should allow more casual players a chance to earn the fractal relics necessary to craft a legendary without onerous grinding. Although details are still forthcoming, we are all looking forward to the Maguuma-related fractals “Whack-a-Vine” – just like it sounds, Colin assured us in the interview – and “Hang-Gliderz,” a slalom race across the top of the jungle canopy.
Additional details have also been revealed related to the most recent revenant stance, the Skritt Burglar. Rumors have it that ArenaNet is “caving” to pressure from those who have not played the original game and have given up on limiting the stances to heroes of Guild Wars. While channeling the Legendary Burglar, revenants will be able to toss tonics that turn their foes into various “ambient” creatures – rabbits, siamoths, chickens – making them easy prey. This same forced change can be seen in the mesmer skill, Polymorph Moa, and can be quite devastating. Colin promised that more details regarding the Revered Terebinth Stance would be released in the very near future.Legendary Tree Stance
Once the game releases in August, players will have several editions to choose from. The standard digital edition will give players just the basic game and one new character slot, which most will, no doubt, use for a new revenant. For just a few dollars more, the deluxe digital edition will provide players with a Black Lion Introductory Kit, 2000 gems, and two exclusive rewards: one of four, randomly-chosen, element-themed outfits that will be exclusive to the new borderlands map, and an account-bound dance, patterned after Psy’s once-popular Gangnam Style.
At the high-end of the pricing structure is the Special Collector’s Edition. This physical copy of the game will come with a frameable map of Tyria, a book of concept art, and a dragon plushie – complete with choking vines. ArenaNet has stated that players purchasing the Special Collector’s Edition should be aware of any rights they waive, in the event that the vines actually do cause bodily harm.
Regardless of which edition is ordered, all pre-orders will come with a special in-game statue, Natsumi the Imperial Guard, for the player’s guild hall. The use of the hero, Natsumi, who first appeared in the Winds of Change content, might be seen by some as a nod toward the Canthan content the community truly longs for. No doubt others will see it as an odd choice, given the primacy of place afforded Rytlock in all previous advertisements.
The wait from April to August will certainly be a long one. How will you spend it? And if you haven’t already, you might want to check the publication date of this post!