What a year! Now that Guild Wars 2’s first expansion, Heart of Thorns is almost three months old, it’s a little hard to remember that just one year ago the Guild Wars 2 community was about to jump on a 10-month long hype train after the expansion was announced at PAX South. 2015 will remain a special year for many of us here at GuildMag and it’s time to reflect on the journey that brought us here while we prepare for the delights the new year might bring.
For me, 2015 was a year of firsts; of course, the first Guild Wars 2 expansion came out – and with it the first look at true end-game content – but it was also much more than that. It was my first full year as sole administrator of GuildMag and, seeing as we’re still here, I’d call that a success. It was also my first time attending gamescom and interviewing the devs (what a great experience!), in addition to my first time getting on an aeroplane since I was a kid to do so. In 2015, GuildMag as a site became an official partner with ArenaNet, and we announced our very first GuildMag Annual that was available for everyone to buy. Overall then, not bad stuff.
Looking at Guild Wars 2 itself, the expansion re-kindled my passion for a game I’ve been playing since the first Beta Weekend Event, and writing, editing or podcasting about since 2010. During its release, between university and GuildMag, I had limited time to actually play, so even now I’m not experiencing the post-expansion lull as much as many others are. I’ve got tonnes of things left to do in Heart of Thorns, including finally levelling up a reaper (my first necromancer since BWE1 – and there’s another first!), and a million other things that are too long to list. I continue to play whenever I get the opportunity to do so, spending most of my time grinding Mastery levels in one of the new maps, and I’m loving it.
As for the future of Guild Wars 2, my answer is still: more end-game. For 2016, it’s no different. I play MMOs for the end-game and the community, and right now Guild Wars 2 has both for me. More raid wings are on their way, and anyone who knows me will know that’s exactly what I want from this game. Living World Season 3 is due to kick off soon (please), which will hopefully be the best one yet if progression between Seasons 1 and 2 are anything to go by, as well as more legendary weapons and the fabled legendary armour. This year, then, it looks like I have a lot to do. What more could I possibly ask for?
Miko Riel, Content Manager
Where to begin? 2015 was such a whirlwind – from shifting my duties here at GuildMag from Writer to Content Manager, to finishing my first legendary weapon (Twilight) – the year was filled with an energy that was fun to be a part of. For me, a lot of the highlights are tied to content we were able to produce for the community, from exploring the elite specializations to streaming Heart of Thorns’ Beta Weekends for the community. I was thrilled to be part of the 24-hour marathon stream we produced of the second BWE, though I was in need of a substantial caffeine infusion after doing 11 of those hours myself! Getting a chance to test the revenant and new elite specs for a live audience was much different than how I’d experienced the original BWEs for core Guild Wars 2. This also marked the start of a more public role for me in the community as I eventually joined our podcast team towards the end of the year.
Heart of Thorns holds so many things left for me to explore and do, from finishing masteries to working on a new legendary. I’m looking forward to finally getting a chance to try raiding this year, and am really looking forward to seeing how ArenaNet shakes up the meta with their promised quarterly balance patches. It’s no secret, though, that I love stories and it’s my great hope that the writers are given a greater canvas on which to expand the story through Living World Season 3. Like many, I want to know what became of Mallyck and the sylvari he belonged to, and hope we’ll also get the chance to learn more about Destiny’s Edge 2.0 and what Rytlock was up to in the Mists. More than anything, I hope ArenaNet makes good on its promise for deeper content across the game and that we’ll end the year perhaps with a new expansion on the horizon.
Tauz, Senior Editor
Wow, wow, wow. Where has this year gone? While 2015 has been a pretty grim year for me personally, I feel as though it has been great for both GuildMag and Guild Wars 2. Unfortunately, I didn’t find as much fun in the game as I’d have liked, but I’ve loved being part of the community and GuildMag for yet another year.
When I came back to Guild Wars 2 for Heart of Thorns after taking a long break from the game, I was mainly interested in one thing: raiding. In every MMO that I’ve played, I’ve always been focused on end-game content, specifically PvE. Having been a raid leader in both World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, I was excited to see what ArenaNet could introduce to the raiding scene that might be seen as “different”. The mechanics that I witnessed in both the Vale Guardian and Gorseval weren’t anything unique, but at least it was better than a boring tank and spank scenario. After clearing the Vale Guardian and wiping on Gorseval countless times at 1% health, I found that my main issue as a raid leader was identifying the weak links. There is no way of recording players’ DPS, damage taken, deaths, downs, or anything similar, which led to me having to endure silly wipes without much improvement. Because of this, I decided to quit raiding and focus on other games instead, since this felt like a waste of time unless you have 9 other competent players to raid with. This result was such a shame considering I had such high hopes for ArenaNet, as the Guild Wars 2 combat style is so different from other MMOs.
Since raiding was the only thing that attracted me to the expansion, I found myself not logging in to complete any single-player content after I quit raiding. I finished the story at a relatively normal pace, without skipping any cutscenes or dialogue, and found that it came to such a sudden conclusion. It really wasn’t what I was expecting considering I’ve always found the Guild Wars 2 story to have a lot of detail held within it. Besides the story, the Mastery grind wasn’t fun at all, in my opinion. It led to me logging in and repeating the same meta events every day and completing daily adventures. Although I spent a lot of time doing adventures, I found that attempting to achieve gold in all of them was near impossible, as I couldn’t get past silver in the Haywire Punch-o-Matic Battle. While I deem the new maps’ meta events to be more interesting than the ones I played in the base game, I still find them somewhat boring, as I’m sure many people do. I feel that a lot of change is needed to bring a player like myself back to the game.
What I really hope ArenaNet introduces for 2016 is some sort of way for raiders to identify problems – whether that be a damage meter or similar. Apart from this, I’ve found the end-game content, besides raiding, to be extremely lack luster and similar to the way that the game was pre-expansion. If I was not a raider, I would have no idea how I’d keep myself attached to this game, apart from the community.
Draxynnic, Senior Writer
To be bluntly honest…
Once the honeymoon for Heart of Thorns wore off, the more I’ve been thinking that it’s indicative of the game going in a direction that I’m not convinced will allow it to continue being the game for me going into the future.
Raids… frankly, I find them to be pretty boring for what is earmarked as “challenging content”. Finding sets of tactics for them seems to be fairly simple – and those tactics are variations on the traditional MMO tank-and-spank in a game engine that does not have the aggro mechanics to make that interesting. Personally, I’ve always thought intelligent opponents should go for the targets a PvP player would go for rather than the tin can whose bark is worse than their bite; but hey, that seems to be what people want. The so-called “challenge” is in having the equipment (ideally ascended, or legendaries if heaven forbid you ever want to swap roles… so much for being a low-grind game!) and in ten people being able to get through eight minutes without making too many errors along the way.
Blecch. Give me the Domain of Anguish any day.
Meanwhile, the new maps feel like they’ve put far too much emphasis on group content. Short of simply traversing the map, pretty much anything you do requires you to rely on other players (meta events, most hero challenges are difficult champion fights generally requiring at least three people). What is more, the further you get into them, the harder it gets to rely on others, and in Dragon’s Stand you can’t even do that unless you have X many players to progress the meta event. While clearly the game is an MMO and group content should not be neglected, from the point of view of a full-time worker in an Australian timezone, I will often be playing at times when there just aren’t that many others around, and replaying the story or collecting map completions of old Tyria only goes so far.
Of course, there are indications that there will be other things coming once the first raid wing is done. As the cliche says, you can’t please everyone all the time, so hopefully following chapters will demonstrate that this is simply what the team has been working on most recently, and not that this is setting the trend the rest of Guild Wars 2‘s development will follow.
Aaron Heath, Writer
2015 was quite possibly Guild Wars 2‘s biggest year since its launch in 2012. The year gave us an exciting finale to Season Two of the Living World, a new look for Lion’s Arch, and, of course, the game’s first expansion pack, Heart of Thorns. However, the one Guild Wars 2 related aspect that really hit home with me in 2015 was the staggering amount of developer interaction from ArenaNet. After announcing Heart of Thorns in January, they worked tirelessly on a weekly basis to keep us up to date and informed of the expansion’s development cycle, going above and beyond what I would consider the industry standard in this regard. Their efforts as a development team and as the center of a community in 2015 were truly commendable.
Although at this point it seems highly unlikely, I’m still holding out for the Living World to set its sights on Lion’s Arch and the Consortium. With the shady organization having swept the ancient capital from the jaws of abject ruin, the Consortium now holds considerable sway over one of the most influential cities in Tyria. The stories that could be woven from the political intrigue that the current state of Lion’s Arch has potentially sewn are positively boundless!
Kent Benson, Writer
I’ll be blunt; it has been a wild year for Guild Wars 2. From watching Queen Jennifer Hale step on to the main stage at PAX South over the internet, to traversing the frigid streets of Boston to play through the first public Heart of Thorns demo at PAX East, the first half of 2015 pointed towards a new and exciting future for the game. The second half of 2015, for me, turned out to be a drastically different experience. Sometime around the end of August and the beginning of September, I became part of the QA team that works with ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2. This meant my relationship with GuildMag would drastically change, but not end, at least, for now. My future work, when I have the time, will be limited to fluff pieces, like my revenant fashion piece for “Thrifty Threads.”
Of course, this means I can’t say much in terms of hopes and predictions. As for reflections, I will say I am glad to see the developers really take a swing at setting some bold new foundations for the game. As for hopes? I will only share my ongoing hope for a deeper lore and richer story experience as it has been the heart of my interest in the Guild Wars series.
I was actually really excited to have new maps to explore and new specializations. Although I haven’t yet experimented with all the possibilities, Heart of Thorns shows how expansions can be successfully incorporated into the Living World and core game. Another much-needed improvement was the crafting of precursors (thank you)! Although the scavenger hunts and collections are legendary themselves, this gives players with less than fabulous luck or shallow pockets the opportunity to earn their own sparkly weapons.
Looking forward, my hope is that ArenaNet will look to incorporate one-off stories into the Living World – similar to Flame and Frost prior to Scarlet Briar’s known involvement or the Southsun story arc – interesting side quests to keep us busy but not so earth-shattering that the world is tipped on its head.
It’s been a big year with the expansion release, but I’ve noticed myself taking more time away from the game than I had since I started playing. I’ve done more logging in to just see what the new content has to offer, then logging out for awhile than I ever have. The new content is enjoyable, but I typically just play for a little at a time.
This year, I’d like to maybe see a smaller guild hall, perhaps something that’s reasonable for the needs of smaller guilds? Definitely a continuation of the HoT story — that’s really been the only thing drawing me back into the game. I’d like to play a new character from creation to end of HoT story just to get a good overview of the story thus far, and how it all pieces together.
How about you, readers? What are your thoughts about this past year of Guild Wars 2 content? What are some of your hopes for the coming year and beyond? Let us know in the comments section.