Guild Wars 2's new player housing will add a hang-out for your alts, a stable for your mounts, and comes with a massive overhaul to the decorations system

Guild Wars 2 Homestead
(Image credit: ArenaNet)

Guild Wars 2's next expansion, Janthir Wilds, is releasing on August 20, and with it one of the biggest requests on the community's wishlist. Homesteads are a new player housing system, giving you a chance to own a piece of the expansion's new territory, and decorate and customise it to your liking.

You'll gain access to your Homestead during the expansion's campaign, as part of your early interactions with the new faction of Lowland Kodans—a tribe of bear folk with a fondness for cosy log cabins. It's an instanced space—there's no lottery here to claim a plot in a larger district, and there's no upkeep costs or chance of eviction. Once you've got it, it's yours—a patch of land to decorate however you wish.

If you've tried to decorate one of Guild Wars 2's guild halls, you'll know the current method of placing items is pretty basic. Luckily, Homesteads is bringing a major overhaul to the system. ArenaNet gave me exclusive access to a preview build of the expansion and its new Homestead toolset, and it's a big upgrade over what we currently have. New options let you move, rotate and scale each decoration. You can float items into the air or clip them through the ground. You can even move items into each other, using them as smaller pieces of a larger build.

I was given access to a Homestead that one of the developers had already started decorating. Its most prominent feature was a lighthouse they had constructed out of individual floor tiles, columns, arches and ramps. It's an impressive structure—far beyond anything that's currently possible in the game.

Once an item has been placed, a new modification menu lets you pick it back up and fine-tune it, using the same options as during initial placement. There are even a couple of more advanced skills, like setting the placement arrows to point in the direction of the map's global X and Y axis, or locally based on how the item itself is facing. It's a little overwhelming at first, but it wasn't long before I was utilising the full suite of tools to fine-tune some of my own creations.

A dragon statue with a rainbow bridge coming out of its mouth

(Image credit: ArenaNet)

ArenaNet plans to port this expanded toolset over to the guild hall system too—but otherwise the two parts of the game will remain separate. You'll craft Homestead decorations not through the guild hall's scribing, but through a new crafting profession that's unlocked and upgraded through Janthir Wilds' masteries. The benefit here is the resource cost is much lower. From what I've seen, recipes generally require a few low-level materials, as well as a new Homestead resource earned by converting wood, metals and plants.

Over 300 decorations are planned when Janthir Wilds launches, some of which will be familiar from the current guild hall collection. Across the next year, new decorations will arrive during festivals and quarterly updates—ArenaNet says by the end of the expansion's year-long cycle, around 800 decorations will be available. For the most part, the recipes will be earned in game, with a few that are exclusive to the Black Lion gem store. Here ArenaNet stresses that any decorations bought either for real-money or by converting your in-game gold will come with multiple copies straight to your storage, and a recipe that lets you craft as many as you'd like in the future.

If you're not the kind of player who's going to spend hours going all Animal Crossing on a piece of land, Homestead does have a couple of neat features to woo you. It acts as a showcase for your in-game collection of skins and cosmetics. Any alts that you leave in your Homestead—they'll get bonuses for resting in it, including for WvW and sPvP—will still be chilling there when you log in with another character. There's also a stable for your mounts to hang out—great news for anyone who's got a fancy Jackal skin that they rarely have an excuse to see. Even your skiff is docked in a little pier, with some fishing spots available along the river.

Mount petting.

(Image credit: ArenaNet)

A couple of new decorations also help show off your achievements. With an armour stand, you can make a statue of their character that inherits your current fit—dyes and all. And the weapon stand will let you display any weapon that you've earned. So if you've spent countless hours crafting legendary equipment, you can give it pride of place in your new home. Fashion is, after all, the real end game.

Your Homestead also acts as a progression of the game's current home instances—located in each character's starter city. Any resource nodes that you've bought will be carried across to your new home, available for the daily gathering. And while it won't be available at the launch of Janthir Wilds, a new auto-collect feature is planned for one of the quarterly updates that will instantly gather every node attached to your Homestead's mine, logging camp or farm.

It's these extra touches that make Homesteads an exciting new addition for me. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the grand builds that players can make with the overhauled decorating system, but it's not something that I'm going to spend hundreds of hours doing myself. But between the mounts in my stable, the alts around my home and the chance to show off some in-game trophies, it feels like a much better personal space than what we've had before—a way to reflect on and celebrate the many, many things I've done in the game over the last decade and change.

Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.