As we know, Heart of Thorns is set to take place in the Maguuma Jungle, but what exactly does that mean? The jungle is known to be dark and full of terrors (see what I did there), and now the Guild Wars 2 community is alight with speculation about what Heart of Thorns might bring us. While ArenaNet has remained fairly tight lipped about specifics, the PAX announcement did give us a broad sense of where we’re going in the expansion and what might be there.
As of right now, the only confirmed PvE area that will be opened up with the expansion is the Maguuma Jungle. While that could include the much larger Maguuma Wastes area as well (and/or the small remaining section of the Tarnished Coast), we’ll stick to the jungle for now, as the wastes to the north have not been confirmed to be a part of the expansion. Several hints at potential content can be seen in the newest Heart of Thorns trailer, and the possibilities are endless.
Looking at the trailer from PAX South, one of the more obvious additions to the game will be the new types of enemies. There are a number of theories circulating through the community about what the monsters on screen will turn out to be, so let’s explore a few possibilities. Throughout the trailer, there are several different kinds of reptilian creatures, similar to the raptors we see present in the game already. It is possible that these creatures are dinosaurs as well. This would be a welcome expansion to that family of enemies, of which the only in-game examples are raptors. In Guild Wars: Eye of the North, there were several different types of dinosaurs that lived along the Tarnished Coast, including the Tyrannus, the Angorodon, and the raptor we encounter today. If we take into account that these dinosaurs thrived in that area during a time when the Tarnished Coast was relatively devoid of civilization, it could follow that the influx of advanced cultures drove them into the nearby Maguuma Jungle, where we could see them return in the expansion.The creature depicted here could very possibly be a dinosaur of some sort.
The Maguuma region was also notorious in Guild Wars Prophecies for the various bugs and arachnids that inhabited it. These mobs were nothing short of insufferable to players, often spawning in groups of six or more. In the newest trailer, we can see what appears to be a large group of insectoid entities assaulting a player character, and it can only be assumed from this that ArenaNet is planning on bringing these icky little creatures back for an encore. One can only hope that they don’t prove as hopelessly annoying as their original incarnations.
If it wasn’t glaringly obvious in the trailer, here there be dragons. Well, according to the trailer, anyway. The trailer footage shows us a veritable ensemble of different dragons. While some of these creatures in the trailer bear the telltale signs of Mordremoth’s corruption, there are also dragons that appear to be breathing fire, which is a power not attributed to Mordremoth or his minions. Though there is nothing confirming or denying the allegiance of these fire breathing dragons, there is reasonable grounds to doubt their allegiance to Mordremoth, and their place in the plot could be more important than we might imagine. Primordus, anyone?
Another key aspect of the jungle’s indigenous population in Guild Wars Prophecies was the large Root Behemoths that sprung out of the ground at various locations, similar to the mordem vines in Guild Wars 2. Near the end of the PAX trailer, Rytlock Brimstone can be seen fighting a rather phantasmagorical looking creature that vaguely resembles the Root Behemoths seen in Guild Wars Prophecies. These creatures were only found in the Maguuma Jungle (a ghostly one can be found in Aurora’s Remains in GW2), although other wurm-like creatures with similar models could be found in the Crystal Desert. Root Behemoths were a bit of a poster child for the Maguuma Jungle (remember farming Totem Axes?), and it would make sense for ArenaNet to bring them back with a few aesthetic updates.
When players explored the Maguuma Jungle for the first time in Guild Wars Prophecies, they would often wonder what civilization left behind the abandoned pueblo-like ruins that could be seen built into the cliffs in certain areas in that region. This is a question that remains unanswered to this day, but is also one that Heart of Thorns might hold the answer to. During the expansion announcement, Colin Johanson noted that the new mastery system would feature the ability to learn the languages of the ancient civilizations of the jungle. After learning these languages, it appears that we will then be able to use our new found knowledge to learn the secrets of these civilizations. Well, apart from the ruins seen in Guild Wars Prophecies and the sparse information we have on the druids, we have little knowledge of any civilizations that may have called Maguuma “home.” It is likely that at least one of the civilizations Colin was referring to will turn out to be the ones who left those ruins, whether it ends up being the druids or some other unknown faction.
Which brings us to the druids. Shortly before the time period in which Guild Wars Prophecies takes place, there was a faction of Krytan humans known as the druids. These druids left Kryta to live in the Maguuma Jungle and bond with nature, and they made their home in a place known as Aurora Glade (Aurora’s Remains in GW2). The druids disappeared mysteriously sometime later, and there is no definitive information on what happened to them. In Guild Wars Prophecies, players could interact with druid spirits in the Maguuma Jungle, but it is unsubstantiated as to whether or not these entities were spirits of the druids themselves, or simply beings created by the druids. During the panel at PAX, it was revealed that rangers will be able to specialize (they will be able to unlock a sort of sub profession) as druids, granting them several new skills and traits as well as the ability to wield a staff. This is a clear reference to the druids of Maguuma, and it is likely that we will not only encounter them in Heart of Thorns, but that some of their secrets might be revealed.An example of a druid spirit in Guild Wars Prophecies. (The creature depicted is actually a Melandru’s Watcher, which shares the same model as the druid spirits.)
Finally, and possibly most importantly, it is very likely that the Mursaat, who are an ancient race of spellcasters that predate humanity by an unknown number of years, will have a part to play in the expansion content. For a more in depth description of why, be sure to read my previous article on the subject as well as Draxynnic’s speculation on the possibility. For now, suffice it to say that the floating, ethereal looking, masked entities we see in the PAX trailer bear a striking resemblance to the Mursaat. Furthermore, the White Mantle are thought to be hiding out in and around the Maguuma Jungle, as evidenced by their discarded refuse in the Silverwastes. If we consider that the White Mantle worship the Mursaat, and that the two factions were closely linked throughout Guild Wars Prophecies and Guild Wars Beyond, we can assume that they will most likely have a role to play in Heart of Thorns.
The Maguuma Jungle was a dangerous place 250 years ago, and it is unlikely that the region’s hospitality has improved with time, especially in light of this whole Mordremoth thing. Come Heart of Thorns, be sure to keep an eye out for the various creatures and mysteries mentioned here, and for the love of Grenth, be careful!