Personal highlights of Heart of Thorns

Heart of Thorns has been released for several weeks now and the shiny “newness” is wearing off. Instead of writing a full review – which I know I would start and never finish – I will just list a few of my personal highlights of this expansion.

First of all, it managed to suck me back into the game and even got to pull me away from Wildstar for a week. I also switched mains as my mesmer in combination with the chronomancer skills is so much fun again! The engineer finally got a hammer, so my charr advanced to “second main” which was previously covered by my asura warrior. The highlight here is that the elite specializations made some professions more fun for me.

Other than that, the guilds finally got some features that were sorely needed. I can read both my guilds’ chats simultaneously now which means that I can follow my German guild much better. Additionally, the message of the day is broadcast right into your chat tab when you log in which makes notifying your guild members of whatever is happening in the guild so much easier. Last but not least, the guild halls seem to be a great addition to the game as well.

GW2 Gilded Hollow Dragon Season

My favourite map so far is Verdant Brink. This may be because I have spent the most time there as for me, the meta event is much more intuitive than the other maps and their events are. I do not like the confusing levels of the map, though, with just some parts that are further up and some other areas down below that can be accessed with other areas that let your character die because you left the “playable area”. But overall, I enjoy playing on that map. The one thing I love about all the new maps – just as I do with the rest of the game – is once again the way the world looks! If only I could stop and take screenshots more often without being attacked by veterans or even champions. But other than that, it’s simply gorgeous to look at!

A smaller thing I like is the addition of the jumping pads from the bank to the Trading Post in Lion’s Arch. My huge charr looks a bit weird being a furry ball swirling through the air, but the asura are adorable! Asura-ball comes to my mind there. Anyway, it saves a few seconds of having to move your character, so it’s a fun thing that supports being lazy. Perfect. :)

GW2 Charr Furball

Being able to see the crafting professions on the login screen is another small feature that got added, but that makes my life so much easier! No longer do I have to try to memorize which character has which profession. Of course, I will memorize it automatically sooner or later, but eh, I still won’t complain about added convenience (same as with the jumping pads above).

And as the last point, one of the things that I expected to be a highlight but that turned out to be a disappointment, is Rata Novus. Once I heard that we can go there, I got so ridiculously excited and was imagining this great ancient asuran city (in ruins, of course, as I never even for a second imagined it to be filled with living asura) through which I could stroll for hours that may even look a bit like Rata Sum was supposed to look originally before they redesigned it.

You can see a few images of the original Rata Sum in the video.

Now, the way Rata Novus looks makes sense given the lore around it, but that still doesn’t help much. I am not going to write more about Rata Novus at this point, though, as I know there are still people out there who haven’t played that much yet and I don’t want to accidentally spoil anybody here (except for mentioning Rata Novus itself, of course ^^).

GW2 Rata Novus Fighting

This isn’t a complete list and it surely is very subjective. It’s just some of the bigger and smaller things that I have been enjoying in the last few weeks. :)

Excited for “Fall 2015” – Blaugust Day 28

I was just listening to the latest Rift livestream on Twitch and it seems that “Fall 2015” will be a very busy season for me this year. Rift, Wildstar, Cities: Skylines, Van Helsing: Final Cut and maybe/probably Guild Wars 2 will come with new content.

Trion will release another content update for Rift introducing the new calling (= class), the Primalist. This calling has to be bought. There is a rather expensive pack that includes the class for 99 €, but I’m not that rich, unfortunately. Ocho revealed the separate credits price now, which is 5250. If you buy the 50 € credits pack (giving you 11050 credits), this equals about 24 €. Almost the price of a full expansion. So, I don’t think I will get that calling, because I’m not sure I would have the time to even play it. On top of that, those 24 € are only for 6 skill trees. The remaining 4 (all callings have 10 skill trees by now) will have to be bought separately. Still, the patch will come with new content and that part is free as always. So even if I may not even want to get the Primalist, I will at least be able to poke around in the Planetouched Wilds.

Wildstar is changing its business model to “free to play”. This one is what excites me the most currently, as it means I will be able to stop paying a monthly fee without having to say goodbye to my dear Medic (yes, Medic. Who said I would be playing a Spellslinger? Certainly not me. Oh no). Free to play is not the only thing coming. There will be an apparently rather big patch accompanying it. New housing items, bigger housing plots – that’s all I needed to see to get excited. I haven’t gotten far enough into the game yet anyway, so understand exactly what all the upcoming changes mean or how certain things work at the moment (except for the AMP unlocks… I finally understood those, mostly, and I think it’s a good idea to have them all unlocked automatically).

Wildstar Gechi Medic

Cities: Skylines will receive its first expansion “After Dark” at the end of September. The developers announced the release date (September 24) and the price (14.99 €) a few days ago. For such a low price, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist. ;)

Van Helsing: Final Cut is being a bit vague. I couldn’t find anything more specific than “September 2015”. This could be as early as next week (on another note: *squeals like a little girl* – My birthday is coming closer which means our short vacation is coming closer!), but this post from August 24 saying “one month left” suggests that it’ll be later in September. And late September means: “fall”.

GW2 HoT Chronomancer

And then there is XCOM 2 which will release in “November 2015”. Unfortunately, we also do not have a more concrete release date than this. We saw a short video presentation about the game at gamescom and since then, bookahnerk has been quite excited about it. Hopefully, the game will be as great as it seemed and he’ll enjoy playing it. :) I am not sure yet whether I want this game or not, so I’ll wait for his “review”.

Last but not least, there is Guild Wars 2. The game that has gotten its expansion announced in January 2015. We still don’t know a release date other than “this year”. So I hope it’ll be this fall, but there’s no guarantee… although, considering how autumn ends shortly before Christmas and I doubt they’re going to release the expansion on Christmas, it’s quite safe to say it will launch this fall. Either way, when I look at the list here, I don’t think I would mind waiting for “Heart of Thorns” until late this year. There is plenty of stuff coming this fall either way and I’m very excited about it.

 This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

GW2: Which specialization to play? – Blaugust Day 6

GW2 Heart of ThornsThe first beta weekend event is fast approaching and I can’t seem to make up my mind. I know I want to try the new specializations, but I don’t know which one. On my live account, I mainly played my warrior and my thief in PvE and my Mesmer in PvP. However, I am not sure I really want to get into learning the Chronomancer on a weekend. Mesmers are tricky to play and the Chronomancer specialization doesn’t sound any easier. I get quite uncomfortable not knowing 100 % what I am doing, so there is that. Additionally, since I plan on changing back to my Mesmer as my main, I don’t want to “spoil” that moment of playing the specialization with my asura once the expansion has launched (same reason I do not want to play the Revenant during beta). So, I will leave the Chronomancer until HoT’s release and will then take my time learning how to play it properly. But the other revealed specializations aren’t helping much either with my decision.

I have all professions at level 80 by now and I played most of them all the way through to 80. The necromancer and the elementalist got a boost with Tomes of Knowledge, mostly because I didn’t really like playing them much. So did my guardian on my main account, but only because I already have one on my second account at level 80 and I did not enjoy playing her at all. Can you see my issue here? My three least favourite professions have their specializations revealed…

Maybe I could use this beta event to give those three professions – or one of them, at least – another try, now that they have their specialization as that could maybe result in a bit of a different play style. After all, this is what ArenaNet is aiming for, right? That the specializations make the professions feel fresh and “new” without changing everything about them. I always thought that in theory, I should love the guardian. The problem here was that I found the guardian very boring to play. The virtues were mostly left untouched or all activated at once right before activating the elite skill that reset the virtues again. Quite boring. Okay, maybe also not an efficient way to play Guardian, I admit that. ;) Still, I never felt the urge to really get into Guardian builds in the first place. Dragonhunter (let’s ignore the name, shall we?) sounds interesting as they get access to longbows and can finally be played as a ranged profession. And traps sound fun. I loved playing with traps on my hunter in World of Warcraft – but that was in PvP situations and not so much in PvE. Altogether, it still does not sound like changes that will make me fall in love with the Guardian.

The elementalist was actually fun to play, but I never liked the spirit weapons and I only played with the earth and air attunements. This always made me feel as if I was wasting that profession’s potential by limiting myself to only two attunements. As I said above, I don’t like playing when I don’t really know what I’m doing. The Tempest seems to play with the attunements with the “Overload” function. Other than that, there is still attunement-swapping, I assume. It is still more interesting than the Dragonhunter, so I will consider trying that one out… maybe.

GW2 Necromancer Staff Necrotic Grasp

And then there is the Necromancer… my main class in WoW was warlock for quite some time. I like that style… you know, demons and all that – or minions, same thing, right? There certainly was something about the Necromancer when I did play her that I liked. It just never really clicked and I can’t even really put my finger on what it is that I don’t enjoy about playing her for a bit longer. Another problem is that the specialization, the Reaper, gets access to the Greatsword and this is the one weapon that I hardly ever use with any of my characters. But even so, out of all the revealed specializations, this one certainly had the most style! And then there is the “changed Death Shroud”, the “Reaper’s Shroud“, which changes the look of your weapon to a scythe! My inner dervish is very pleased to see that.

So, looking at all of this, it would still be so much better if only we had the thief’s specialization or the engineer’s or the ranger’s. I would love to try those, whatever they will be! But alas, Necromancer it will be this time then and maybe it will finally hit me and I will end up loving that profession! :)

So, am I the only one who has trouble deciding for a specialization to try out?

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

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