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Playing Heart of Thorns is Like Coming Home

William Murphy Posted:
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It’s no secret I’m a fan of ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2. But, like many of you, I’ve been dying for something meatier to chew on than the Living World for some time now. There seem to be so many features and additions we’ve all be waiting for ages to see added. With Heart of Thorns, the first full expansion to Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet seems poised to offer us all those things and more.

By now we know the bulk of the features we can expect in Heart of Thorns: Masteries, Specializations, the Revenant, Maguuma as a region, Guild Halls, Stronghold PVP, and a new WvW Borderland. During an invite only hands-on demo last week we got our mitts on the Revenant, got a taste of the Masteries system, saw a tiny glimpse of Maguuma, and played the hell out of the new Stronghold PVP map.

For those wanting lots of info on Guild Halls, the new WvW additions, Specializations, and deeper looks at Maguuma and the Masteries, you’re going to have to wait a bit more. ANet wasn’t quite ready to pull back the curtains on everything yet (though you can get some hints from Jon Peters in the interview embedded here).  For instance, you can pretty much bet there’s going to be a Hammer-wielding Engineer of some sort, but they’re not confirming anything yet.

Our exclusive interview with Jon Peters.

For now, let’s go over what we did play, one by one.

The Revenant

As one of the biggest features of the expansion, the Rev has a lot riding on his shoulders. Thankfully, the new profession is an absolute blast to play and a beast on the battlefield. Though my capture card crapped out and you won’t see me own face with my mustachioed human Revenant, the footage in the demo and the PVP gameplay are enough to highlight the versatility of the Rev.

I started the demo wielding the Hammer, which is pretty unique as it’s more of a ranged weapon on the Revenant than a melee bruiser. As you see in the video, having the Hammer as an option on the Wyvern boss is absolutely essential as the thing’s fire is pretty gnarly. As highlighted back in our skills reveal a couple weeks back, Drop the Hammer is an absolutely vital skill to use when you want to knock down a whole gaggle of enemies. I can’t tell you how fun it was to use in Stronghold PVP too.

Switching between Legends, where you basically equip the spirits of legendary characters from Tyrian lore, is a lot like changing kits on the Engineer or elements on the Elementalist. You can’t swap weapons in combat, instead your Legends determine what role or skills you have available. Jalis Ironhammer is more tanky with a lot of control options while Mallyx deals insane amounts of conditions and has some serious anti-condition and support skills as well. The elite on Mallyx we got to play with basically spread any conditions you had on yourself to all nearby opponents, effectively turning the tables against everyone around you. It worked wonders when the opposing forces in PVP tried to snare us too, as it works on that status effect as well.

Temportal Rift, baby!

Overall the Revenant felt a little strong in PVP, but that’s only because the other Professions didn’t have their skills and abilities updated in our demo build to have proper counters to the Rev’s unique brand of combat.  In PVE, he really felt like he had a role to play in the Maguuma content, as the control abilities worked wonders to keep the Wyvern grounded and the conditions of Mallyx were a godsend against the Mordrem invading the open world.

The Mace and Axe combo was something altogether different. While Jalis and Mallyx directly affect the 6-10 skills you have access to, the weapons you’re using change your playstyle just as much. While with the Hammer I could do a lot of ranged attacks, the Mace and Axe are more about bringing enemies into a line and then cutting through them. It felt really good, especially in PVP, to use Temportal Rift to bring a mass of players together and then use Frigid Blitz to cut through them all and wind up behind them while they’re all slowed.

It’s early to tell how they’ll play out in the long run, but from a sheer uniqueness standpoint, the Revenant definitely holds his own.

Read on for info on Masteries and Stronghold PVP!

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William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.