Category Archives: Expansion

Opinions on Heart of Thorns

There is this draft sitting here in our blog where I listed all the known facts about the upcoming expansion for Guild Wars 2 and where I have already started adding some thoughts. However, I don’t like just shoving something out there only because it’s the one topic everybody talks about right now. I need time to phrase my thoughts – or even actually realize what it is that I am thinking. :p

Since I’ve last worked on that draft, some more information has come out. Additionally, I have read through the transcription of the announcement again and pondered for a bit more. By now, I cannot even tell you what I think of the expansion. I am not hyped. I am not super excited. But I am looking forward to it. How much depends on quite a lot of details.

GW2 Burning Lion's Arch

For one, I am sorry to admit, but I don’t like the combat in Guild Wars 2. Well, some parts of it. I miss being a healer so much! I miss having a clear role in a group (even “support” or “control” would be nice). And I miss actually seeing what the enemy is doing, what I’m doing and what the other players are doing (see the screenshot above ^^). Anyway, what I found is that while I really don’t like combat in Guild Wars 2, I also really love combat in Guild Wars 2! :p It all depends on the context and the setting. I still strongly believe that just with a few small changes, the marionette fight would have been perfect. On the other hand, I really do love playing pvp in Guild Wars 2. There, if you ask me, the combat system makes so much more sense! Especially in sPvP where there are no big zergs. This is where the system shines.

Having said that, I wish for more things to do that do not involve combat in the PvE side of the game. Fishing, archaeology (something from WoW), minions like in Rift (not really a game, but something to click…) or the pet battles in WoW – hey, what about Polymock? Any of these things would make me very happy! Instead, we are going to get the mastery system.

And here is where I need more information.

What we do know about acquiring mastery points is this:

The WvW ability system is a bit of a parallel for what we’re trying to accomplish with masteries, so you can use that as a concept. We want to provide that same concept and evolve it even more with PvE. It’ll complement everything that you’re doing: combat, exploration, lore, building, crafting… all of those components will have elements that are supported by it, with combat being the most important one when you think about true, meaningful progression. (Source)

Exploration and lore have potential, but again “combat being the most important”. So, we’ll see.

The one thing that did get me a bit excited were the guild halls. However, this is also the feature that doesn’t seem to get much coverage at all at the moment. I assume (note: subjective impression here :p) that ArenaNet hasn’t actually implemented much of that feature yet. We do get to see a very short scene of guild halls in the trailer which shows them being built in fast forward mode. I hope that they will be more than our home instances and that they will be meaningul and customizable (again, not like home instances).

I would also be excited about the Revenant, but I have to try out the profession first in order to tell you whether I like it or not. In theory, I should absolutely love the necromancer in Guild Wars 2. I love everything about it – in theory. But once I try to play it, I close the game and walk away from the PC within a few minutes. I don’t know what it is, but I cannot play it.

GW2_Heart of Thorns_Rytlock_Revenant_049

Rytlock using an ability

So there you go. My opinion in a nutshell: It sounds like a solid expansion and has everything that people expect from a “classic expansion” (in Guild Wars 2-style, of course, with no new level cap or new tier of armor), but it has nothing that gets me “over the moon”-excited either – wait, there are two things:

  1.  The soundtrack! The one song we got to hear is amazing!
  2. The world design. The one aspect of Guild Wars 2 where I never ever had anything negative to say. The art team is awesome if you ask me.

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Heart of Thorns: Screenshots

Bilingual entry: English first. Scroll down for the German translation.

I had originally just wanted to take a few screenshots of the announcement video to complement my “opinions” post that I’ve been writing since Saturday. However, that post is still not done, but I ended up with more than 100 screenshots. For your convenience, I already sorted out the boring ones and present to you screenshots of Heart of Thorns showing all the good in-game scenes that we were already allowed to see during the video: Specialisations, the maguuma jungle region, Mursaat, Rytlock as Revenant, the new WvW borderlands map and sPvP area (not sure which one is which, to be honest) and of course, the really short glimpse at the guild halls.

I did not include any pictures of the concept art as I wanted to limit it to in-game pictures which represent a lot better what we are actually going to get. :)

Scroll down below the gallery for the German translation / Scrollt unter die Gallerie für die deutsche Übersetzung.

Deutsche Übersetzung

Guild Wars 2 – Heart of Thorns speculation

I assume most of you have heard about “Heart of Thorns” by now. I will try to keep this mostly spoiler-free, but if you haven’t played the latest story bit, you will at least not want to click on the play button of the video. Other than that, I’m not mentioning the latest story bits in this post.

We will get to hear more – or anything other than the title “Heart of Thorns” – on January 24 (either at PAX or online on Twitch). Until then, there’s not much left for us to do than speculate. I guess in my case, it’s not so much speculation as rather a whole lot of wishful thinking. :p

Who here remembers World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm? In case you have no idea what that was, it is their third expansion. And not just any expansion. In the beginning when the game launched, there were two continents (Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms). With time, new zones, raids, instances etc. were added. Every bit of that also added story and continued the world’s timeline. But the old zones remained mostly static and stayed in its original time. So, if something big happened with the introduction of a new zone, this mostly did not reflect on the old ones. NPCs were still going around their daily routines just as if time stood still. Quests you did there stayed the same and were set “before” whatever happened in a new zone. Cataclysm changed that. Not only did the whole world get changed in appearance, Blizzard also used this opportunity to bring all zones to present time. No more confusing “this zone was here before the other zone, so what happens here is actually taking place 2 years before what happens in that other zone”. For one short moment, it felt like Azeroth was “alive”. It changed and evolved.

With the Living Story in Guild Wars 2, we have already seen something like this. Lion’s Arch got destroyed and is now slowly getting rebuild (look here for several screenshot galleries of the old, intermediate and destroyed Lion’s Arch). At the same time, however, when we do a Personal Story part that takes place in Lion’s Arch, we get to see the present time Lion’s Arch and not the old one anymore (this is due to technical limitations, actually, which doesn’t make it easy for them to have the new LA present as a map and an old LA present for when you enter that zone for your personal story). This makes it quite confusing, but it also shows that ArenaNet is dedicated more to the living story and the world evolving than in keeping the personal story in its own time frame.

Now wouldn’t an expansion (I am certain that this is what “Heart of Thorns” is going to be) be the perfect opportunity for ArenaNet to bring all zones to the current time again? Again, I don’t think personal story – which can’t just be brought to the current time – is a limiting factor for ArenaNet, as can be seen with story bits taking place on the Lion’s Arch map.

Lion’s Arch (and parts of other maps) has been changed already, but other parts of the world haven’t been. NPCs are still concerned about Zhaitan, even though we already killed him. Scarlet came and left. ArenaNet could bring the whole world to a post-Scarlet state including new dynamic events everywhere which would make the whole “old world” much more interesting again for those of us who have seen everything by now anyway. They could change all NPCs accordingly, so the stories, concerns, thoughts reflect what has happened in the last 2,5 years. I think this would definitely make the game world feel much more alive than it currently does.

Other than that, I guess I am hoping for “the usual” that other MMOs offer with their expansions. A new race would be nice, but even though everything seemed to hint at the Tengu in the beginning with them hiding behind their wall near Lion’s Arch, I’m not sure they are still in the focus and I don’t know what other race could become playable. A new profession would be great. I always loved the dervish in Guild Wars (I started with Nightfall, after all) and would love to see something similar in style in Guild Wars 2. But even though I am wishing for a new profession, I do not think we will get one, to be honest. Instead, I think we will rather get new weapons for existing professions. Maybe even only already existing weapons – I have wanted my mesmer to be able to dual-wield pistols from the very beginning. And why can’t my engineer wield a hammer or a spanner? New weapons for the professions or existing ones but new to that specific profession, I don’t really care. I just want more choices! :)

I am also expecting them to deliver guild halls. This is a feature that’s been asked for even before launch. I don’t know what they will include or what we’re going to be able to do there, but there you go. Guild halls! :p I would love to see housing, but to be honest, I don’t think we will ever see it in Guild Wars 2. It just doesn’t really seem to fit the direction they are going with the game.

 More legendary weapons is another thing I would love to see (mostly because I don’t like any of the current ones enough to get into the grind). But again, I am not sure this is their focus now.

In the end, I think the expansion will mostly be about new zones and more living story. I like to keep my expectations low, so that I won’t be easily disappointed. Anyway, we will know more soon! Less than a week from now.

Nightmare Tide CE’s dimension items and Bloop

With the expansion being postponed, my plans to play said expansion during my vacation (it was a coincidence that my 5 day vacation was exactly when the expansion should have been released. I thankfully did not take days off to play that one! ^^) were almost cancelled. That is, until I realized that the expansion is available on the Public Test Server and there is nothing stopping me from checking it out already! I don’t think I’ll play it much, but I do want to have a closer look at what’s to come.

So this morning, I logged on to prepare my warrior. Her macros got deleted when I tried the instant level 60 buff that comes with buying one of the two higher priced collector’s editions. I also had a look at the mailbox and my CE items were waiting for me. To be honest, I had totally forgotten that my CE edition comes with dimension items. As a note, in case you haven’t bought any of the Collector’s Editions yet, those items are not available with the cheapest version, the Typhoon Edition. You need to get either the Infusion Edition (44,99 €) or the Ultimate Nightmare Edition (134,99 €) in order to receive the companion pet and the dimension items.

First of all, there is the companion Bloop. It’s a purplish jellyfish. It has the same animations on land and under water.

To be honest, I’m not fond of anything that lives underwater. I don’t think I’ll have Bloop out very often if at all. Especially not since I’ve gotten my duck, the Ducklar.

But on to the dimension items. I took screenshots of the items in their “natural size” which they have when you first place them. Some of those items are huge!

Let’s start with what you are getting: One Rusted Metal Ship, 5 Draumkent Plaza Lamps, 1 Glass-bellied Mermaid Statue, 2 Massive Petaled Corals, 2 Jellyfish Tanks and one Snowy Whale Skull. All items are soulbound, so unless you pay money for the collector’s edition, you cannot get them.

The Rusted Metal Ship is rather cool if you ask me! The default size was a bit too large, even for my big dimension. But after scaling it a bit down, I really like the look. Too bad the doors don’t open and you can’t get into the interior of the ship.

The next item is the Draumkent Plaza Lamp. I really love its look. I’m not sure the lamps go with the one dimension I’m currently building in, Faen’s Retreat. I’m trying to build a cozy little oasis there. However, I still really love the design of the lamps.

The glass-bellied mermaid statue is tricky. I don’t really know why I would want a pregnant mermaid’s statue in any of my dimensions. Of course, that could be because I do not have any dimensions that are water-themed and I highly doubt I ever will have one. I’m also wondering if it shows a specific mermaid that we’ll maybe meet in the expansion or if it’s just a random one.

Rift_Nightmare Tide Glass-bellied mermaid statue

The Jellyfish Tanks are two more items that I doubt I’ll ever use. As I already said up there, I’m not a fan of any creatures living underwater and jellyfish are definitely not an exception. I put the tank up outside of the water, but I can also imagine it looking nice underwater. The default size is quite large. I almost missed that the tank has a lower half as that was below the ground when I first placed the item.

Now the ship and the tanks have already been rather big. But the next item even has “massive” in its name: The Massive Petaled Coral. You’ll get two of those. Good luck finding enough space for them. ;)

I actually like the look, but again, I’m not sure I’d use them. I’m not even sure they fit into the small puddle of water that Faen’s Retreat has. Other than that, I think it’s pretty. Maybe you can even build one or two houses to live on there. When a ship fits, I’m quite certain a small house fits, too. ;)

The last item is the Snowy Whale Skull. Just a whale. Nothing dramatic, right? If this is the skull, however, I’m dreading to see that animal in its living version…

Altogether, I do not think I would have bought the Collector’s Edition only to get those dimension items, but I also do not regret paying for it and getting those items. It’s not that they are ugly per se, it’s just that I prefer a different look for my dimensions. I do like the ship, though, and will definitely put that one into my Three Springs dimension (that is the one these screenshots were taken in). And maybe I’ll find a use for the lamps.

The excitement of getting an expansion

MMO shelfIf you’re following Rift, you may have noticed that they’re handling their second expansion, Plane of Water, differently than they did the previous one or than what other MMO developers are usually doing: Instead of giving you everything at once, they are giving us the expansion piece by piece. The reason they stated is that they don’t want their players to wait until every last thing is done and release all features together, but instead, they want to give us the features when they’re ready. The first part was a new crafting profession, Dream Weaving, together with new dimensions. The profession mainly makes items for your dimensions and it can also craft the keys for the new dimensions. The second part was the PvP dimensions feature which got released with the last patch.

The next part will be the four new souls (something like “skill trees” for the non-Rift players) which we were told would arrive some time in May (but not late May!). I’m excited about that, because it means my warrior will get a healing soul and bookahnerk’s mage will get a tank soul. So, we can be an unconventional healer/tank duo!

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is really great to get those features as soon as they are done. I am slowly levelling up Dream Weaving and others are creating their first PvP dimensions. It gives us something to do and I have had those short moments of excitement when logging on after a patch knowing there will be something new in the game. But at the same time, I am not sure I really prefer it over the “traditional expansions”.

I still clearly and fondly remember my very first MMO expansion: World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade. Bookahnerk, his cousin, a friend and I drove to a city nearby for a midnight sale that a shop was having. We went out for dinner first, then went to that store. They had us wait in front and at first, I felt a bit silly. World of Warcraft was my first MMO and here we were, in front of a store, at night in cold January 2007, waiting for them to open the doors, so we can buy an expansion and it would be very late until we got back home. The employees of the store actually walked along the line and handed out free hot beverages (coffee at 11pm – smart idea! :p).

While waiting there, we started talking with some people behind us. As is usual, we first checked who played which faction (For the Horde!), then we talked about which servers we played on, which classes were our mains and so on. At some point, I had a look behind us as I had not paid attention to the line and I was shocked: The line that hadn’t looked too long in the beginning had grown huge. I had not been able to see the end of it. All those people were there only for one expansion? After they opened the doors, I think it took us 20 minutes until we finally got to buy our expansions.

After that, we still had about a one hour drive back home. I installed the expansion, downloaded another patch and created my blood elf mage at which point I fell into bed. But to be honest, it had not been about playing in the night. It had been about going there, meeting other players, and doing something with friends. This is something that I miss with the digital expansions only. But while it is a nice memory, this post isn’t about digital or physical expansions. It’s about the lack of an “all at once” expansion (or, in ArenaNet’s case, developers considering not doing an expansion at all).

The next morning, I was ready to get into the expansion. Finally! I did not even know where to start: Blood elf starting area with my mage or should I rather take my main character to the expansion region? Or did I actually want to make a short trip to Alliance side and see what the Draenei were all about? Did I want to check out the new crafting profession? There were so many things I wanted to see and check out! I felt the magic again that I had last experienced when I had first set foot into World of Warcraft. The feeling that I always get when I explore a new MMO for the first time.

And this is the reason why I’m sad that we’re not having this with Rift (and maybe Guild Wars 2 as well). As nice as it is getting expansion content piece by piece and not having to wait, it also takes away this magic moment of feeling like the game is brand new again.

Lotro: Buy your housing chests before Helm’s Deep arrives!

lotro_packedUnfortunately, there aren’t many exciting news about housing changes on the horizon, if at all. The most important change at the moment is that the chests available in your personal house will get more expensive when the expansion hits in a few days on November 18. This only counts for housing chests that haven’t been bought yet!

Let me elaborate. At the moment, when you get a deluxe house, you can unlock two housing chests which can be used for storing items. The first costs 100 silver, the second one costs 500 silver. Each of those chests can hold up to 30 items which means that you get 60 slots for 600 silver.

When Helm’s Deep arrives on November 18, the chests will be changed to “storage slots”. If you already bought your chests, don’t worry, you will keep those 60 slots. If you haven’t bought them yet, you will have to pay 1 gold for the first 15 slots, 5 gold for the next 15 slots, 25 gold for 15 more and 125 gold for the last 15 slots to get to the current 60 slots. This means that instead of 600 silver, you will have to pay 156 gold!

Lotro Kinship HouseIf you were wondering whether to buy a house or not: Now is the time to go buy it! The good news is that they cleaned out the neighbourhoods and evicted inactive players a few weeks ago. There are lots of houses free now! I had abandoned my own one to move into a neighbourhood where bookahnerk has his tiny house, a friend has hers and bookahnerk’s and my private kinship (“Second Breakfast Club” – yeah, we made that kinship mainly because we wanted that name… and the kinship house) is right next to my new home. I was so happy when I saw that this perfect spot was available!

The good news about those changes is that with enough gold (and later, mithril coins) you can now get up to 120 storage slots in your house! It’ll cost you 156 gold (depends on whether you already have the first two chests or not) plus 400 mithril coins. You can buy 500 mithril coins for 4000 Turbine Points (that’d be 2 times 250 mithril coins for 2000 Turbine Points each which is the best value at 8 Turbine Points per mithril coin). Those numbers are all for deluxe houses. I’m not sure if the regular small houses will still keep their current chest limit of 30 slots.

Rift 3.0: Coming in bits and pieces?

Rift DroughtlandsI already wondered when we would hear more about the upcoming expansion for Rift. So far, we know that we will get the standard: increase of the level cap, new zone(s), new souls, among other things. All of which I am looking forward to. But I have not been able to find any time frame when that expansion should come out.

The warrior will get a healing soul. Then I (playing warrior as my main) would be capable of filling every role: tanking, melee damage, ranged damage, healing and support. No need for ever levelling another character…

Who am I kidding? ;) Of course, I want to switch between different playstyles. The warrior tank plays and feels very different to the cleric tank, for example. Same goes for the mage’s and the cleric’s healing. I’ve only experienced all of them at low levels, but I doubt the general feeling and playstyle is suddenly exactly the same at maximum level. ;)

But I digress. I just wanted to say that I want them to take my money now and give me the expansion – or just a date when they’ll release it! By the way, “the expansion” will actually be free but you’ll have to pay to unlock the new souls. I think that’s fair. If you’re not interested, don’t pay, but you’ll get everything else.

Rift_Level 41Trion Worlds released a “State of the Game” report today and I can’t help but think that it sounds a lot like ArenaNet’s philosophy with Guild Wars 2. They will apparently not release everything on one day but give us certain features over the course of the time it takes them to say “now the expansion is complete, you have received everything we have”. ArenaNet goes a bit further and says that they might never make an “expansion” at all and only give us new features, new zones, etc. once every few weeks. This could just be semantics then. Who knows… Either way, both say that they want to give us players new features piece by piece and not everything at once on the same day.

That’s not where the similarities end. Riftnation has a summary of the 2.5 content that’s coming out at the moment and it seems that they’ll give us more every week. It reminded me of ArenaNet’s biweekly releases that usually contain “living story” content. Unfortunately, my character in Rift is still too low level to experience any of the 2.5 content. She hit level 42 a few days ago and the new stuff is on Ember Isle which starts with level 50 or so.

Either way, I am excited and hope we’ll get see the first few new things soon!