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General Articles: Essential Tips and Advice for Heart of Thorns’ Launch

By William Murphy on October 23, 2015

Essential Tips and Advice for Heart of Thorns’ Launch

We’ve only had a couple hours so far with Guild Wars 2’s first expansion, Heart of Thorns. So while our review and first impressions will be forthcoming, we wanted to start off your long weekend of playing with a few helpful tips we’ve learned from our first few moments in the jungle. Be sure to add your own too!

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YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY EQUIP YOUR ELITE SPEC!

This may seem like a no brainer, but I can’t count how many people asked or answered about this one. One of the primary new features in HoT is the idea of a new way to play your favorite profession with the Elite spec. It allows you to use a new weapon with each profession, and gain all new skills over the course of the expansion. However, you won’t be able to wield that Engineer Hammer unless you actually go into your Traits and make one of the three trait lines your newly unlocked Elite Specialization.

The more you know!

YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING RIGHT AWAY

ArenaNet is trying something I haven’t really seen done in an MMO before. They’re trying to make the new Maguuma regions play like a Zelda game. It’s highly likely you’ll come across a slew of areas that look like you can get to them, commune with them, or whatever… but you’ll find yourself impeded because you haven’t progressed in your masteries far enough.  When you run across these, don’t get frustrated. Just make a mental note, and come back later when you unlock that mushroom or glider skill that suddenly makes the frustration and confusion all too clear.

DON’T IGNORE THE OLD WORLD!

It may be tempting to just focus on the new Maguuma zones, but don’t forget the old world, especially if you don’t have 100% map completion. Hero Points are the only way to get all those new skills for your Elite Specs, and while there are some awesome 10-point challenges in Maguuma, a lot of them you simply won’t be able to do or reach until you up your masteries.  However, Hero Points replaced the old Skill Point challenges across Tyria a while back, so all of them now give Hero Points too. On top of that, the game’s old world bosses have been reworked to be more interesting and to have better rewards. Spread the love!  The downside is that old world HP trials are only one point, but they’re still easy to do!

FIND A GROUP, RUN WITH THE HERD

I can’t state this enough: Verdant Brink, and most of the open world content in Heart of Thorns is meant for groups. Some players might find this off-putting, and in the future as people move on from these zones there will likely need to be some fine-tuning done by ANet, but for now I think it’s pretty great. The old world is calmer, quainter, and the 1-80 experience allows you to solo almost everything. But the events running in Day and Night cycles in Maguuma are hard. The Hero Point challenges are hard (mostly), and pretty much everything begs you to reach out in chat and find out where the groups are running. You don’t have to party up, but finding a Commander tag or working with a guild or friends is highly recommended.

The story is solo-able, but most everything else requires you to have at least one other person. It’s end-game content, after all. With GW2’s open grouping, there’s no reason to be shy.

TRY THE ACTION CAMERA

Under settings, Control Options, and towards the bottom under Camera, you can set a hotkey to enable and disable the new Action Camera. I use \ and it’s perfect for me, but YMMV. What this camera mode does is bring GW2 a step closer to games like WildStar, ESO and TERA and allow a sort of mouse reticle targeting while still maintaining a tab-target model as well. For players who always find themselves holding the right mouse button to move the camera, you’ll probably benefit most. Plus it automatically makes your number 1 weapon skill a “hold-to-attack” button, like other ARPGs and MMOs with “Action Cameras” (I like that term).

SPEND YOUR MASTERY POINTS AS YOU CAN!

The Mastery system could use some more explanation, being as unique as it is to GW2. But the one thing you must do? When you rank up your current Mastery Training level, spend a point and pick the next rank of whatever Mastery Path you want to follow. Once you hit the top of a Mastery level, it doesn’t automatically roll over to a new one. You have to go into the Mastery UI pick a new path or the next rank. Don’t forget!

What about you? What little bits of advice do you have to offer players of Heart of Thorns? Share! I want help… sue me.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.