Let's get this out of the way: by the time you're reading this, Heart of Thorns will have just gone on sale, so get yourself to the Guild Wars 2 website (or really, ANYWHERE) and pick yourself up a preorder.
In addition to that surprise announcement, we learned a good amount about Guild Halls today in our meeting with ArenaNet. Guild Halls, which are one of the hotly anticipated features from the upcoming expansion, epitomize the Guild Wars 2 ethos in the way that they will seamlessly fit in with the game world while encouraging player collaboration. Rather than simply ticking a series of boxes for what guild housing should look like, Heart of Thorns will be taking guild participation to a whole new level, both mechanically and thematically.
In Heart of Thorns, your guild will be able to follow in the footsteps of Destiny's Edge and other groups that have sought to fight the threat posed by the Elder Dragons. Tyria's Guild Initiative will solicit your help to oppose the Dragons' influence, which will lead you on the path towards establishing your own Guild Hall. Essentially, you'll be required to take the fight to the Elder Dragons and create your own stronghold, which you'll be able to build and tweak to your heart's content.
Your Guild Hall, though thematically aligned with the other environments and locations in Guild Wars 2, will allow you to experience a myriad of new guild-based features that are being introduced with Heart of Thorns. These features include new structures like a private arena for you to invite other guilds to duke it out with, and the ability to tackle two new maps that put the battle with the forces of the Elder Dragons on center stage. The devs mentioned that the activities related to Guild Halls comprise a love letter to cliff diving and hang gliding, which could be a spectacular addition to Guild Wars 2's gameplay. Additionally, in Heart of Thorns, you'll also be able to use new skills, like the ability to call in airship raids or to turn yourself into a charr motor tank thing. Side note: I've suggested that ArenaNet calls this skill Charrmageddon. Let's see what they name it!
In all, Guild Halls look to be a fantastic new feature for Guild Wars 2's upcoming expansion, and I'm now convinced that I need to find a guild. Any takers?!
Be sure to keep your eyes on the site for more of our coverage of E3 2015!