Surviving in the harsh jungles of Maguuma in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
It's a battle for survival in the jungle.
The world of Tyria in Guild Wars 2 is in constant flux, there are major changes made with each living world update -- each addition to the world has lead us to the Heart of Thorns expansion. ArenaNet gave me one hour to roam the opening area of Heart of Thorns, but first they wanted to be clear with what their intentions were with Heart of Thorns.
The developers did not want to invalidate all of the work that players put into their characters, instead they wanted to grow the game and challenge the core conventions of typical MMOs. This is where the Mastery system comes into play, it offers progression for your characters while maintaining the character you created and built. In essence, it is a representation of contextual progression. Mastery will allow you to learn new skills, like gliding.
One hour is not enough to explore all of the skills that Mastery will offer, but gliding was definitely a main part of the demo.
The beginning of the demo had us selecting our characters (I chose to play as the Revenant) and had every player alone in a story instance, the first thing that I noticed was that the gameplay had changed since I last played - a token to the ever evolving world. Even though the gameplay had been altered and I was playing an unfamiliar profession, I did not fail at my task...I only died when I phased in with the rest of the people demoing the game.
It was a death on command though, a developer had me experiment with gliding off of a ledge -- I couldn’t get back to the demo content so, I had to fall to my death.
Once I restarted the area phased in with everyone again, I swiveled my camera around to take in a good look at the scenery. I stood on the edge of a jungle, there were crashed zeppelins all around me, and vines that were attacking my compatriots. I glided down to aid them, the task was to destroy fallen helicopters, retrieve bombs and plant them at the base of the vines. If you are new to Guild Wars 2 or have not played in a while, you might be at a loss. The tasks were not entirely intuitive - you knew what to do in concept because the objectives were listed, but there was so much action and so many things going on that it was entirely too easy to get off track.
The limitless options of what to do might come from ArenaNet’s quest for full open-world gameplay. While this is a great concept, it leaves new players at a loss because it challenges the ways most games/MMOs are built. Which, as stated before, is the goal with Guild Wars 2. Dailies do a very good job at streamlining the overwhelming nature of a truly open-world. I digress.
Continuing the demo lead me to the Wyvern fight, the very fight that is referenced when future dungeons and world bosses in Heart of Thorns are brought into question.
The battle with the Wyvern shows off how active a world boss can be as well as the new Defiance bar and mechanics that will be echoed throughout the rest of the game. The Defiance bar is supposed to create an environment where players work together and coordinate amongst themselves. The reimagined bar, paired with the mechanics definitely creates that environment. In the Wyvern battle crowd control, communication, alertness to the playing field (don’t stand in fire) and a watchful eye on the Defiance bar are extremely necessary. If you don’t CC at the right time, the Wyvern will begin to take away combat space with trails of ever burning fire. There was a certain persistence in the battle, a need to constantly keep moving and a need to do everything I could to survive.
The demo of Heart of Thorns assuaged my concerns about the lack of the holy trinity (healer, tank, dps). At times Guild Wars 2 felt like a DPS race, but this battle did not allow that. The Wyvern doesn’t have time for your shenanigans, you need to dodge, cc, get other players off of death’s doorstep and get damage in all at once.
I can’t wait to see what Heart of Thorns will offer, I feel like I only got a glimpse of the game... I want more.
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