That Heart of Thorns would be an expansion pack seemed assured—especially for those who have been following Guild Wars 2's Living World. Today, ArenaNet announced that that inevitability was, in fact, inevitable. Heart of Thorns is Guild Wars 2's first expansion, and will take players to a brand new area: the Maguuma Jungle.
Here's the trailer that premiered on the PAX South stage:
ArenaNet calls it the most "detailed and dynamic environment" they've ever created. Expect the expansion to draw on their last few years of updates to populate the new areas with difficult and collaborative events.
Unusually, for an MMO expansion, Heart of Thorns won't raise the level cap, or add a new tier of gear. Instead, they're introducing a system called Masteries. By completing story, world events and exploration, players will earn Mastery points that can be spent unlocking ways to tame the jungle. Hang-gliders, for instance, will let players glide through the zone, and, at higher levels of Mastery, ride gusts of wind to unlock new areas.
Players will also be able to customise their characters through Specializations. On stage, game director Colin Johanson gave the example of Rangers becoming Druids—able to wield staff weapons for the first time in order to gain new healing, utility and elite skills.
Also announced: a new class. The Revenant is a new heavy armour class that will channel the "Mists"—Guild Wars's weird, mystical ether—to call on the spirits of ancient historical legends, using their power to utilise different abilities.
In addition, the expansion will introduce a new World vs World borderland (with distinct elemental keeps that reward the World that holds them), a new Structured PvP game mode, and Guild Halls. The latter is a place for your guild to own and build up—utilising it as a base of operations from which to hang out and plan missions and adventures.
As for the expansion's story, it follows on from the finale of Living Story: Season 2. You can see how that played out in the story trailer below.
This weekend, to celebrate the announcement, Guild Wars 2 is discounted to £8.75/$10. In addition, a double-XP event is running in game.