You certainly wouldn't think so from the official announcement: "Join us in person at the show or watch the livestream for a sneak peek at what’s next for the game." Not exactly giving it the hard sell, are they? That could be nothing more than a puff piece for the next Living Story arc and notification of a few tweaks to systems and processes, like the upcoming balance changes.
Nah, that wouldn't get its own Twitch stream, would it? Although, having watched a few of the Landmark and EQNext streams, it's surprising just how much fuss some MMO companies can make over not very much at all. Or, indeed, anything.
This one, though, is going to be very special. It says so right there on the promo page - "a very special Guild Wars 2 PAX South presentation". And there's the whole trademark and trailer thing going on with Heart of Thorns. Surely no game company pays for trademarks and makes trailers without a product launch coming along behind?
|Forget the dragons. Let's get back to the important stuff.|
In just five days we'll all know, which leaves a very small window of opportunity for wild speculation; everyone and their dolyak is getting in on the act already. Wooden Potatoes has three-quarters of an hour's worth of close textual analysis. Deany Kong is more succinct. I tend to go with Deany.
An expansion, then, or something so close to an expansion as to be indistinguishable, even though it may go under some less controversial name. But what's going to be in it? Oh, dragons, jungles, fighting and all like that. And will we have to pay for it? Yes, and with proper money, too, none of your gold or Gems.
There; those are my predictions. Beyond that I don't care to speculate. I will, however, expand a little on what I'd like to find inside Heart of Thorns. It's a much more interesting topic anyway and one you might have expected to garner more than 111 responses on the official forums by now, given the three million plus boxes sold. Maybe everyone's on Reddit.
Here's what I'd like in my expansion:
- At least one new playable race. My first choice would be Skritt, with Dredge as runners-up, but I'd take any of the existing races, so long as it doesn't have feathers. A new race altogether might be even better.
- At least one new class. Profession. Whatever. The elder Guild Wars has ten professions, only half of which made it into GW2, so there's plenty left in the tank. I'd go for Monk. Let's not have the one that uses a scythe, though; I never thought that was a good look.
|More World Bosses. People like World Bosses. Or is it loot? One of the two.|
- Plenty of brand new Overland maps, all of comparable size to those that we got at launch. Mini-maps like Dry Top and Silverwastes won't cut it. Not all jungle either. Let's have some variety. An underwater map would be nice - GW2 has the best underwater mechanics of any MMO I've played - might as well show them off. How many maps? As many as you've got! Anything less than half a dozen would be a severe let-down. It'd be nice to get at least ten.
- And speaking of ten - ten more levels! Yes, I like leveling. No expansion feels entirely "real" to me if it doesn't come with a new level cap. We'll have another 100 tradeskill points, too, please.
- While we're on the subject, let's go for a full revamp of crafting. It's really all over the place now. Messy, unintuitive, grindy and quite dull. Sort that out if you'd be so kind.
|Remind me, which century are we in, again?|
- Another tranche of the content around which GW2 was built: "dynamic" events, Hearts, vistas, even jumping puzzles, even though those aren't my personal thing. And I mean proper events, too: short, self-contained mini-stories in which we help ordinary Tyrians do ordinary things, not endless chains of ever-repeating Terribly Important Mega Events
- Lots and lots of new stuff: weapons, armor, pets, minis, you name it, I want it. I like stuff. And I don't mean in the Gem Store, either, although some purchase-worthy items there would be a welcome innovation, now I come to think about it.
- At least half a dozen new World Bosses. I love doing WBs. Let's put some more carriages on that train.
- New combat mechanics. Not the full trinity but something that gives more agency to the player and allows for more specific roles. Swiss army knives are great but you wouldn't want to prepare and eat an entire meal with one every day.
- A complete and full revision of WvW. New maps, much more reactive and responsive matchmaking, better-defined objectives across a wider variety of timescales. Not - repeat not - anything remotely like the disastrous Edge of the Mists experiment.
And I didn't even mention housing. I'd trade all ten of those bullet points for the kind of housing option the game deserves.
|Who would live in a house like this? Me! I bloody would! Me! Let me have it!|
Will we get all of the above? Like heck we will. Be lucky to get half. Very lucky. Honestly, if 2015 ticks three of those ten boxes I'll call it a good year. Whatever's in the Heart of Thorns box (and wouldn't it be great if there really was a box?) it needs to be at least as much. That's a bare minimum. Anything less wouldn't qualify as an expansion in my book. A good expansion should add three to six months content for the averagely-committed player. If it launches in September the bubble shouldn't float to the top before Christmas.
Enough speculation. Roll on Saturday. I'm not working so I'll be watching the Twitch stream. I just hope they do actually have some hard facts to announce. Even if it's not what I want to hear I'd rather hear something of substance than come out the far side wondering what all the fuss was about.