ArenaNet has revealed the first expansion pack for its popular MMO Guild Wars 2, titled Crown of Thorns. The expansion will introduce a number of features to the already content-bursting game, including the long-awaited Guild Halls.
Taking to the stage at a PAX South panel this weekend, co-founder Mike O'Brien and game direction Colin Johanson revealed the Maguuma Jungle will be the setting of the new content, promising some of the deepest and most detailed content we've seen.
Unusually for an expansion pack, the developer has revealed it will not be raising the level cap in order to make sure all gear and old content is still relevant. The team has never wanted to focus on the so-called "gear treadmill", but promised endgame character progression will change through the new Masteries system.
Put simply, the Masteries system will enable you to survive in the jungle and facing its new foes. These skills and abilities will then be used in new group challenges. New profession specialisations will also be available. In essence, the expansion serves as a new vision for endgame progression in the title.
The new area coming to the game is called The Heart of Maguuma. It's made up of three key biomes, from the very depths of the roots all the way to the treetops. Along the way, you'll encounter a secret the last good dragon, Glint, left to try and give us a chance at the very end of Guild Wars 1.
The Masteries system is an account-based PvE progression system. Completing elements of the story you'll get Mastery points, as you complete exploring maps, hitting challenge spots, killing tough creatures and the like, then you can buy abilities for every character on your account. This is part of the game's no-grind philosophy. Some of the skills offered include the ability to hang glide, with more points enabling you to ride gusts of wind to climb and master exploration. You'll also be able to learn lore, understanding the local languages and getting access to secret areas as a result. You'll also be able to master collecting and crafting, so you'll be able to get legendary weapon precursors more easily.
The specialisations feature enables you to develop your character, almost giving you a secondary profession as in the original title. Rangers, for example, will be able to learn the abilities of the Druid, and will be able to use the Staff weapon, use a new heal skill, new utility skills and new profession mechanics that fundamentally change the way the profession plays. It was also teased that the Necromancer profession will get a specialisation focused on the Greatsword.
A new profession, the Revenant, will also be added. Rytlock will be returning as the first of his profession, and will be bringing with him the ability to channel and control the powers of the Mists. The heavy-armoured profession is able to use the Mists to channel the power of great legends to power the skills it has available, such as the ability to channel the powers of ancient dwarven kings, demons and more.
The WvW mode is getting a new Borderland map to be added to the game's rotation. Boasted as the most diverse map in the game, each keep has its own distinct theme with each objective applying buffs to your team. Controlling the Earth Shrine means the ground will raise up and attack foes. The Fire Shrine enables you to traverse the map more quickly thanks to lava pools opening up.
Competitive PvP is getting boosted with a new Stronghold Game Mode. You fight for control of supply, then spend these to hire troops and assault the enemy base. Your mission is to kill the enemy guild lord, with heroes also available for recruiting on the map. You'll also be able to form Guild teams and work your way up global leaderboards, to prove which is the best in the world.
Guild Halls are also on the way, though no info on what exactly that will entail yet.
While there's no release date as yet, Guild Wars 2 is currently available for $10 to celebrate the expansion announcement so, if this expansion has piqued your interest, it's probably a good time to grab it now.