Guild Wars 2 arrival on Steam next week means you can finally just buy the whole thing upfront

The dragon Aurene sits in her crystal den.
(Image credit: ArenaNet)

Guild Wars 2 is coming to Steam. We've known this for a while—originally ArenaNet had planned to launch on Steam back in late-2020, before putting the release on hold. Now, though, the Steam release date has been revealed. It's out next week on August 23, meaning it coincides with the MMO's tenth anniversary celebrations.

In addition to the base game, which is free and has no subscription cost, ArenaNet is also introducing a Complete Collection bundle through Steam for $100/£87. Unlike previous Guild Wars 2 bundles—such as the expansion collection available on the game's website right now—this actually unlocks everything, including the five Living World seasons that bridge each expansion story with new maps and features.

I've seen plenty of players complaining on the subreddit and forums about the additional, hidden cost of the Living World story episodes—currently only available through in-game microtransactions. Frequently the maps they add are some of the most replayable, with Season 4's Dragonfall and Icebrood Saga's Drizzlewood Coast being two of the best farming spots in the game thanks to their lengthy meta event chains. They're also required for two of the best mounts—the roller beetle and Skyscale—and offer the easiest access to ascended trinkets, which offer the best stats. For regular players, they're basically essential purchases, so it's good to see an easier, more upfront method of purchase. Sure, it's $100, but that's 10 years of stuff—all of it still relevant thanks to the game's horizontal progression system.

ArenaNet has clearly spent the last few months making preparations for the Steam release, through a bunch of tests and changes that improve the new player experience. The biggest of these is a tweak to the mount system. Where previously players could only unlock their first mount when they started the Path of Fire or End of Dragons expansion stories, now you'll be handed one while levelling. Any player who owns one of the expansions will be given a raptor for their account at level 10. And players who don't own the expansions will still get a raptor—but only for a 10-hour trial.

This is a pretty good change. While the core maps were designed before mounts were introduced, they're still regularly visited by veteran players looking to kill world bosses or get their daily mystic coin from the ley-line event. And so while you don't need a raptor to traverse the game's original zones, it sure is good to have one to keep up with other players.

A human stands on a skiff.

(Image credit: ArenaNet)

Also on August 23, a new balance patch is due that aims to improve damage for core class weapons. While this is part of a larger series of balance changes, many designed to restore viability for power builds (as opposed to condition builds, which apply damage over time and are the current meta for most instanced PvE bosses), it should have the added effect of making the levelling process smoother for newer players who haven't yet unlocked elite specialisations of their classes.

This Steam launch comes at a pretty good time for the game at large. While there is some griping about balance among the community right now—specifically around just how dominant the engineer's Mechanist specialisation is—the game at large is still coming down from the highs of this year's End of Dragons expansion. Recently ArenaNet has also been reintroducing Season 1 of the Living World story, reformatting it into the more instanced, mission-based approach of later seasons. After that, we're expecting new Living World updates—with a new map set in End of Dragons' Canthan region.

It's a good time to jump in, basically, not least because a fourth expansion has already been confirmed—ensuring there's plenty of life in the old MMO yet.

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.