Points of Interest Review: First Impressions of Heart of Thorns

Like many fans, I was able to watch the first actual gameplay footage of the future expansion, Heart of Thorns, from today’s “Points of Interest” livestream.

The stream guests, Content Designers, Steve Hwang, Anthony Ordon, and Host, Rubi Bayer, covered two major gameplay features in the upcoming content, which were the following: Outpost and Adventures. The gameplay footage started in an area that looked roughly similar to most of the Silverwastes, called the “Dry Step Mesas”,  in a map currently named “Verdant Brink”. Red ridged stone, traversable archways, and lots and lots of Mordrem. From what was shown, the overall story of Verdant Brink is that we, the players, are first responders to the swath of Pact fleet wreckage on the edge of the Maguuma Jungle.

Here, there are pockets of survivors that have started to try to hold up defensible positions throughout the zone. According the developers, the player’s goal is to support and bolster these Outposts’defenses each day before nightfall, when Mordremoth returns in force. Like the Silverwastes, Orr, and the Harathi Hinterlands, they will still require frequent protection, which will have a direct impact on how the player traverses the zone. This will also have an impact on a map-wide objective, which will ultimately push players towards completing a unified goal. However, unlike the various forts in the Silverwastes, these outposts provide a larger variety of experiences, as well as their own unique stories with NPCs that long-time players will recognize from past story content; something I can’t wait to experience for myself.

This was where “Adventures” came in. Adventures were said to be the evolution of the old renown hearts from zones past. From what I witnessed in the stream, one of the devs took part in the “Tendril Torching” adventure in Laranthir’s crashed Pact airship, “The Lethal Vantage”. The event itself played like a renown heart with the addition of a timer, which would allow him to fail and retry the Adventure at his leisure. Like renown hearts, objective items and objects were mostly instanced, preventing objective and resource stealing from other players.

One of the mentioned features of these Adventures is that the player is scored on their performance and that score will be tied into a leaderboard system. This allows players to compete against their friends. In addition to the typical work renown hearts are famous for, other Adventures will consist of other activities such as races and jumping puzzles. Players’ mastery levels will also play a role in how they complete Adventures, though the guest developers refrained from elaborating on that point.

Overall, I think this content is a push in the right direction from the gameplay of the core game. There’s a clear transition between the core content, that’s purpose is to level up your character, and the Heart of Thorns content, which is meant to challenge and push the player to evolve and approach events from many angles.

Do you think Outposts are a step up from the forts in the Silverwastes? Will Adventures bring the variety and challenge that some previous core game content lacked? Who thinks Laranthir has the best airship name ever? Let me know in the comments below!

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