Why I’m Hoping For A Guild Wars 2 Expansion

HeartOfThorns
All aboard, the Hype Train is now departing from the Rumor Mill bound for Speculation City. The above logo appeared in a teaser at the end of the latest Living World quest, which released yesterday. I won’t spoil anything for anyone, but man, this is the first time Guild Wars 2 has left me with an epic plot twist that left me wanting more. Strangely enough, though, the trailer didn’t specify what exactly Heart of Thorns was, leaving us with only a teaser to keep an eye on PAX later this month to find out more. This ambiguity has, of course, has lead to wild speculation by the players. Is it simply another chapter of the Living World story, or could it be the coveted expansion many players have been begging for? Many have pointed out that there hasn’t been a major influx of talent normally associated with expansion development, and ArenaNet has stated on multiple occasions that they’re not looking to release an expansion any time soon, claiming that Living World provides the necessary diet of new content necessary to keep players coming back. Nevertheless, I’m hoping against hope that this is a full blown expansion for several reasons.

The Living World has been mediocre at best
I’m sorry to say it, but, as cool an idea as the Living World is, it just isn’t really panning out. It feels more like work than anything. I feel bad for missing the content, but at the same time I’m not that interested in it. On more than one occasion I’ve had to scramble to get the latest chapter of the story done the night before the new release. It’s a little better with season two, since, if you miss a chapter, you can at least pay 200 gems a pop to unlock chapters you’ve missed, but you’re also paying roughly $2 for maybe an hour of questing that you could have gotten for free if you had been a little more timely. Also a lot of the stories have felt like the writers are stalling; like they haven’t decided what to do next yet so they just threw together a fluff side story and a boss so they could meet their two week deadline. And don’t even get my started on the rollercoaster difficulty. I’m sure the good people of ArenaNet are doing the best they can, but maybe there’s a reason every MMO since time immemorial has released updates monthly, not bi-monthly.

An expansion means a bunch of fresh content
It wouldn’t be an expansion without a level cap increase and a few shiny new zones to go with it, right? As uninterested as I am in getting that 100% map completion achievement, I’m always excited to explore new zones. We got two zones this season, which, honestly, isn’t that exciting. Also both of them were boring desert zones. I’d like to see a whole new area of the map open up. Also, dare I dream of a new class? Maybe even one with a healing focus? (Not likely, but I can dream) A new race wouldn’t go amiss either. And I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to some bigger dungeons. Not hardcore WoW 40 mans or anything, just something more than 5 mans. Something that scales to your group size a la LotRO’s Skirmishes would be amazing as well.

It will (hopefully) mean more personal story
Regardless of how you feel about Traherne and the fact that he suddenly shows up and steals the spotlight of your “personal” story, I think we can all agree that the personal story ended on a rather weak note. Granted I felt that, depending on your choices when creating your character, the rest of the story ranged anywhere from boring to, at best, only mildly interesting, but maybe I’m just spoiled by games like SWTOR. A new chapter of the personal story could hopefully turn a weak story ending into just a weak intermission. Yes, the point of Living World was to pick up where your personal story left off, but the fact that new and currently sub-80 players won’t get to experience it (without essentially paying for an expansion, something I can’t say I could recommend to a new player given its quality) makes it seem more like a sidequest to your personal story than a new chapter. Especially if, as it appears from the logo, the expansion focuses on killing another Elder Dragon.

It’s a chance for ArenaNet to start over
From mediocre storytelling to frustrating changes to traits and dailies, Guild Wars 2 has seen its share of bad decisions. An expansion is a perfect time to make big changes to unpopular systems. Sure, you could do this anytime, but you don’t want to send the message that you gave in to whining masses. That will just encourage vocal minorities to complain all the more in hopes that their demands will be met. Making these changes in an expansion makes it seem like you were planning on doing this anyway.

A full blown expansion may or may not be on the horizon for Guild Wars 2, but I think it would go a long way toward pleasing current players and bringing in new ones. What are your thoughts on mystery of Heart of Thorns? Let me know in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Why I’m Hoping For A Guild Wars 2 Expansion

  1. What we’ll end up getting is an expansion in everything but name. Whether they call it a “feature pack” or use some other cover term is relatively uninteresting; the team that they’ve had working on this stuff in the background probably includes the consultant they hired to work on AI in April of last year. It may be that we’ll be participating in structured raids or facing more intelligent NPC foes such as those found in the original Guild Wars which would use the same abilities as players and would synergize with each other quite well. This would be a step up from engaging with the various mechanics listed under NPCs’ nameplates and interacting with their observed behaviors as it would require a higher level of pre-planning in one’s own ability selection and execution of strategy. That in and of itself would be a fairly compelling content upgrade as far as I’m concerned.

    A level cap increase would be antithetical to ArenaNet’s design philosophy which calls for, on the whole, horizontal progression at the top level and emphasizes a desire to not fragment the playerbase. I would wager that the majority of players are not unhappy with the current leveling cap (but not necessarily the revamped leveling *system*, mind you) after two years and change; while fixing things that aren’t broken seems to have been ANet’s modus operandi for the past six months, I just don’t see it happening unless there’s been a major shift in philosophy behind the scenes that’s going to be dropped on us some time within the next six months which, in the absence of an unannounced change in management, just doesn’t sound plausible. But this is ArenaNet, so who knows?

    Some of the other things you mention are, however, quite reasonable possibilities, namely: zones and professions. Dungeons haven’t been getting much TLC lately and I don’t see Tengu / Quaggans / Ewoks strapping on their swords and shields to join the fray. We may see new weapons for existing and potentially new professions (such as the spear Faolain is seen to be wielding); if there *has* been any movement on the dungeon/fractal front it would yield a presumably pleasant if unexpected surprise.

    The Personal Story has room for improvement and I get the impression that that’s what they’ll be doing with this “Heart of Thorns” business. Perhaps all of what’s been going has simply been an exercise in generating metrics in order to determine what works, what doesn’t, what keeps players around, and what keeps players spending money. It may not be an expansion of the Personal, Living, World, or Story variety – if the current hype-speculation is to be believed we may see the existing world repurposed in one fashion or another. Elder Dragon(s), Searing, Ascension, Sylvari: pick two of those as plot vehicles and tear the world asunder with a third of your choosing.

    At this point I’ve hyped myself out and will wait for the PAX South presentation.

  2. What we’ll end up getting is an expansion in everything but name. Whether they call it a “feature pack” or use some other cover term is relatively uninteresting; the team that they’ve had working on this stuff in the background probably includes the consultant they hired to work on AI in April of last year. It may be that we’ll be participating in structured raids or facing more intelligent NPC foes such as those found in the original Guild Wars which would use the same abilities as players and would synergize with each other quite well. This would be a step up from engaging with the various mechanics listed under NPCs’ nameplates and interacting with their observed behaviors as it would require a higher level of pre-planning in one’s own ability selection and execution of strategy. That in and of itself would be a fairly compelling content upgrade as far as I’m concerned.

    A level cap increase would be antithetical to ArenaNet’s design philosophy which calls for, on the whole, horizontal progression at the top level and emphasizes a desire to not fragment the playerbase. I would wager that the majority of players are not unhappy with the current leveling cap (but not necessarily the revamped leveling *system*, mind you) after two years and change; while fixing things that aren’t broken seems to have been ANet’s modus operandi for the past six months, I just don’t see it happening unless there’s been a major shift in philosophy behind the scenes that’s going to be dropped on us some time within the next six months which, in the absence of an unannounced change in management, just doesn’t sound plausible. But this is ArenaNet, so who knows?

    Some of the other things you mention are, however, quite reasonable possibilities, namely: zones and professions. Dungeons haven’t been getting much TLC lately and I don’t see Tengu / Quaggans / Ewoks strapping on their swords and shields to join the fray. We may see new weapons for existing and potentially new professions (such as the spear Faolain is seen to be wielding); if there *has* been any movement on the dungeon/fractal front it would yield a presumably pleasant if unexpected surprise.

    The Personal Story has room for improvement and I get the impression that’s what they’ll be doing with this “Heart of Thorns” business. Perhaps all of what’s been going has simply been an exercise in generating metrics in order to determine what works, what doesn’t, what keeps players around, and what keeps players spending money. It may not be an expansion of the Personal, Living, World, or Story variety – if the current hype-speculation is to be believed we may see the existing world repurposed in one fashion or another. Elder Dragon(s), Searing, Ascension, Sylvari: pick two of those as plot vehicles and tear the world asunder with a third of your choosing.

    At this point I’ve hyped myself out and will wait for the PAX South presentation.

  3. great thoughts, kinda makes me a little excited to see what they come up with. Going by the name I think exploration into the Nightmare court is likely

  4. Pingback: Link Dead Radio: Demographics and Design | Healing the masses
  5. I’m quite new to the world of Guild Wars 2, so I’m not feeling the need of an expansion as much as others do (yet). However, it makes everyone around me very excited, which is nice because I like playing with people who are positive about a game. 🙂

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