Sometime in February, word was given as to an expansion for the game. FINALLY! Something most of us long time players could be excited about as things don't change much, often. The expansion is called Heart of Thorns, and continues on past the story line in Guild Wars 2 of course. I won't go into the story stuff much as that has been posted via Guild Wars and their PAX debut as well as other Beta players who are heavily involved in the lore and story that can explain it much better than I can. I was very fortunate to receive an email from Guild Wars 2 a few days ago giving me Stress Test Beta access for some time on March 24th, 2015. Well today was that day, and I got to dive into the new content to check things out!
Before you read on or watch any of my Beta playthroughs, you may want to know if I have the knowledge or credentials needed for such a task. I've been playing Guild Wars 2 since release, though I never played the first Guild Wars so I cannot give any experience with that. I have logged approximately 3,200 hours into the game now at this point and have played through a lot of content, 12-13 max level fully geared characters, etc. If you know me, which most of you don't, I'm not a PvE person. I play games to PvP. However, Guild Wars 2 was a bit different. Most games I've played, the grind to max level was always a monotonous struggle. Nothing but hours of mindless grinding on mobs doing dumb quests as you walk around a map. Guild Wars 2 was different. The grind here was very tolerable compared to most. There were quests around the map as well, but there was also story line questing. Each race had their own story and sub-quests depending on which path you chose during your character creation at the beginning. It was an intriguing concept that has kept me engaged for a very long time so when the Beta opportunity was presented, I thought the least I could do is share my experience with you.
Upon logging in, we were given the choice of one race (human) either male or female. Let me remind you here, this is NOT a full Beta test, this was just a stress test. They just wanted to focus on their servers being able to handle the load as of right now. I created a Human Female Revenant. I was hoping to also create and explore the new weapon specializations that were announced since other classes were to get new weapon options, but that was not given to us at this time. It was just basically testing the Revenant class in a small portion of the new map.
Going in to the Beta, in all honesty, I had low expectations. The game, as of late, has been getting stale, but when you have more than 3,000 hours invested in it, it's to be expected. After reading about some of the new features as well as the new class, I figured the new class was going to be broken or overpowered in some way. Initially the first 5-10 minutes into the Beta it felt that way. Heavy armor class that had massive ranged attacks, two heals you could time to be back to back, lots of crowd control negating skills, condition clears, permanent stability, and a few other things had me worried. But after playing with it more -- 4 hours total play time on the revenant -- it doesn't seem to be too bad. There are skills and traits that will be needing adjustments, but it's still fairly early stages into Beta testing. I am assuming things were as they were just to help get us through the content as a lot of the mobs/NPC characters were anywhere from level 80-85, and a lot stronger than old game mobs.
Once I was able to get the hang of the skills and the controls of the new class, things seemed to flow really smooth. The skills work well, the animation was great, and I was surprised at the sustainability of the class while still being able to deal decent damage with how basic the gear was that was given to us. The class feels like it's got a little bit of all other classes built into it. It has some CC in the effect of the new taunt feature which forces enemies to attack you, lots of torment and confusion stacking, as well as decent mitigation of conditions that are on yourself. I have to admit, I am pleasantly surprised with the new class and am looking forward to trying it out upon the expansion release.
Now as stated before, I'm not much of a PVE person, but after spending much time in the Beta, for being a tester product, everything looked great! I absolutely love the Wyvern boss appearance and skills. The actual fight, however, not so much. Once I was able to figure out how to fight it, it became very easy and boring. Being just a stress test, there's still work to be done on the game and I'm not going to let things like that cause a negative expectation of the expansion. The animation of the Wyvern boss was surprisingly awesome! It reminded me a lot of the movie Reign of Fire, and I loved that movie. The battle was a nice way to see how well the Revenant class can support allies though as a lot of stability and condition Self-Resistance -- the new boon to negate condition damage while under the effect of resistance -- were passed around, and everyone had plenty of condition damage to supply as well. All in all, the Beta was a great first look for a few of us that got the chance to participate in the closed Beta.
There are tweaks here and there that I've brought up in the Guild Wars 2 forums, as well as other players that I'm sure will be addressed so I won't sit and nitpick at things that most likely won't be staying around as they were very small things, but if you're a fan of MMO's with deep in-depth story lines, solid lore, and some of the best PVP combat styles around, Guild Wars 2 and its Heart of Thorns expansion should be high on your radar. After just a few hours invested in the expansion, I’m excited to see where the adventure will take me and if it will hold me for another 3,000 hours.