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Retconning Heart of Thorns

William Murphy Posted:
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As time’s gone by, the community has made its voice heard, and that voice quite simply said “We like some of Heart of Thorns, but not enough. And we want you to change it.” And that’s just what Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet is focusing the Spring Update on when it launches later today. We sat in on a presentation with the Bellevue, WA based folks and got the lowdown on everything that’s contained in the 16,000 words worth of patch notes.


The three main pillars of this update are about reducing the grind, increasing the rewards, and getting to the fun faster. As you’ll see, that is true for all facets of the game as even World v World is getting some significant reward changes in this patch. First though, max level boosts are coming to Guild Wars 2. Each and every player of the game gets one boost, and you can try it out an unlimited number of times before it’s consumed. How does that work?

Simple. When you first use it on a character, you’re ported to the Silverwastes, made level 80, given level 80 gear, and waypoints, and can play around at the max level as much as you want. If you decide you want to consume the boost on that character, you simply use the item again and it’s done. If you want to try it out on another character, you simply leave the Silverwastes or use the item and choose cancel boost. You can’t buy the level 80 in the store, and you can’t trade it. But you can really test it out with any profession before making the decision final.

Oh, and it’s an item that’s spread across a new special backpack – the shared backpack. Occasionally, you’ll get items from ArenaNet that can be shared across all characters on your account, and this special backpack (which doesn’t take up a bag slot) is where all those items will go. The Level 80 boost is the first such item. 


This update may very well be the biggest sweeping change to the game’s content and how it works since, well, ever. One of the largest complaints rallied against Heart of Thorns’ design was that it took a game that was largely casual and play as you want, and turned that notion entirely on its head with the Maguuma Jungle zones. The Spring 2016 update looks to make Maguuma much more in line with why the level 1-80 game is revered.

The reward structure for the first three maps (Verdant Brink, Auric Basin, and Tangled Depths) have had their map-wide meta events completely retooled. The idea is to make it so that the content in HoT be more rewarding and pay out more often (no need to see an entire day or night cycle through to get rewards). In fact, Day and Night cycles have been separated. During the day, the focus is on the individual events and their individual rewards. There are even new events where players can earn additional experience, map currencies, keys to chests, and more. These pop up only once all events on the day map have been cleared or unlocked.

Meanwhile the night cycle is now the only part of the maps that has the reward coordinator or map-wide event participation. New items have been added as rewards for defeating the map bosses, including ascended crafting materials, currencies for collections, and so forth.

One of the chief complaints levied against the new maps, aside from the herd mentality, was that waypoints were far too often contested or even hard to find. Now, more waypoints are permanently available making it easier to explore maps and get around. There’s also easier travel along the main roads, with less mobs packed along them. Adventures themselves have been made easier to access, complete, and have more XP rewards too to incentivize their completion.  And to make the Maguuma maps even more enticing for players to hang around in at max level, the XP rates have been increased on monster kills by 50% - making masteries even easier to gain.

Oh, and GW2 vets will love this – diminishing returns have been removed from the events and their rewards in Heart of Thorns. Win!


These are just a few of the big changes coming to the main maps of HoT, but the tour wasn’t done yet. The LFG tool is getting more love too – Raids are now officially supported, so people looking for raids can find them, and raids looking for people can find bodies too. There are new categories for Mentors, Achievement Hunters, and Roleplaying too. So if you want to be a mentor to new players, or want to learn something, the LFG tool can help. Same with hunting down rare or obscure achievements or looking for a little RP in your MMORPG.

Speaking of Raids, Lion’s Arch is getting a new open world area to serve as a raid lobby or gathering spot. Vendors, repair stations, and NPCs to train against can all be found here, similar to the Fractals area in LA.

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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.