Review: Some Quality Time With GW2: Heart of Thorns
Intro and Gameplay
Ahhhh... MMOs. The killers of productivity, the bane of wives everywhere, and the cash cow for many companies *cough* Blizzard *cough* around the gaming world. Clear back in the Spring of 2005, I was still knee deep in my WoW addiction when a quirky but extremely attractive title named Guild Wars launched. While the graphics and presentation were gorgeous, the gameplay was not the WoW I was looking for. I digress, as Guild Wars 2 launched several years later and now the wizards of ArenaNet have launched the first official expansion to the extremely popular game. The good news? The base game of Guild Wars 2 is free. W00t! The bad news? Heart of Thorns is going to cost you. Ok, ok you cheapskates! Get over it!
So, didn't play Guild Wars 2? You can probably just skip this whole article and get started on your free download and account. For those that dug the original game like myself, you can stick around. In fact, I'll start with a summary: If you didn't like the base game, you won't like the expansion. In fact, I would say that Heart of Thorns is the least n00b friendly expansion in the MMO world. There is no hand holding and you get thrown right into a detailed but overwhelming world. In fact, I almost wish I could spend more time exploring instead of getting ganked by a tough beast at every turn. Seriously, this is very unforgiving and all the content although reeking of quality, feels a bit cluttered and confusing. I repeat, this expansion is for die hard GW2 fans only! Take that for what it's worth. Yep, there's new raids, bosses, jungles to explore and masteries to... master but it all feels a little too familiar to be honest. The missed opportunities to create something to pull new players in is a bit lacking overall.
Graphics and Sound
Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 were no slouches, in fact, they are probably some of the constantly gorgeous MMOs out there. Heart of Thorns is no different but it also is starting to feel a bit dated and why does everything look like it has a coat of Vasoline over it? It's 2015, time to sharpen that shizzle up a bit. Am I being too harsh? Maybe but it's been three years and I expect some sort of improvement but it all is a bit too bland. Yes, there are some amazing moments but they don't seem to be as exciting as launch. The art and loading screens continue to be a shining example of how to do it right though. Props to ArenaNet for that!
Music and sound effects are spot on with the original release and not much to report on here besides the highlight of some lush music tracks and some familiar voices in the case. A solid effort but nothing to really jump up and down about.
Value and Fun
As you can tell from my previous comments, if you found the original Guild Wars 2 to be an absolute gem, Heart of Thorns does not disappoint. Just get ready to spend months gathering up event points to level your masteries and get anywhere in the game. For me, I think the game is a great value and is chock full of quality content but the fun factor is definitely lacking. I wanted to be sucked back into the beautiful world and have my wife hate me again. Alas, I spent some quality time in the game but it just didn't grasp me as the original games did. YMMV.
Guild Wars 2 was and still is a fantastic game. Heart of Thorns is more of the same stuff but it seems a lot more tedious and less user friendly. Still, the diehards are going to love all the new content, battles, and areas. Lush and gorgeous, the presentation is fantastic but the fun factor is lacking a bit.