Thoughts on the HoT Expansion

Many of us can look back to the day at PAX, whether we were there in person or on Twitch, and remember that rush of excitement when Heart of Thorns was released. I mean, we could easily see it coming with how they ended off the Living Story. Still, it was a moment that I’ll probably never forget. Then came that release trailer and the explanation of all the amazing things we’ll get to discover! Mastery system, specializations, a brand new class called the Revenant… all of these things built so much hype and excitement and then…

Well, it’s gone.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m not a hyper-critical person. I generally don’t use my blog to vent frustration, and this blog post isn’t intended to be that at all. What I do want to spend a few moments highlighting is the reality of where we are today, and what I believe many players are feeling.

You see, it was all excitement and energy–the hype was real–until those words were spoken: “When it’s ready.”

Although that didn’t phase me much at first, I look back to that announcement and noticed a severe lack of direction. I honestly have taken the approach as “let’s show them lots of great stuff, build it up to be astounding, and then hope that rides us to when we can finally release it.” Frankly, I don’t think that’s a good approach at all. Guild Wars 2 is my favourite game, and I’m actually rather disappointed that ArenaNet has taken this route. No release date? Not even a release goal? No explanation as to what’s going to happen until then? Sure, we got a few minor festivals, but that hasn’t really done anything when they set the precedent of Living Story (which we know is done until Heart of Thorns).

On top of that, I notice the slow roll-out of purchasable things in the gem store to keep them going. I’m not against this at all, but for me it puts a bad taste in my mouth. I think this all could have been done better.

“Well, you’re complaining, so give some ideas on how it should have been better!” you might say. Well, I sort of have some.

You see, the reality is that I don’t work for ArenaNet and therefore, can’t really understand their situation. I also have never worked in the gaming industry. Heck, having a family member in the gaming industry has really opened my eyes as to what it looks like–nothing like I imagined. We often approach it from a sense of entitlement saying: “I’m the consumer! I deserve [insert thing here]” but sometimes it’s not that simple. Wait, actually, it’s almost never that simple. So yes, I understand that I don’t have the full picture. I’m just thinking…

  1. Expansions should never be announced without a projected release quarter.
    • Sure, this gives the challenge of being seen as having a “broken promise,” but people are going to have unrealistic expectations. Such is consumerism. Anytime you’re going to release something that’s game-changing, you need to at least have a projection for people to work with. Otherwise you end up with your players being disillusioned. Judging from many people I’ve encountered in-game, that’s growing at a rapid rate. At least, that’s been my experience.
  2. Be clear about your game plan.
    • This has been one of ArenaNet’s biggest challenges. When they tried to be clear, they felt they got bit, so they pulled back completely. I don’t think this was a smart move at all. I think they need to be clear about where they’re going from here. Even if they don’t give out a projected release date, they should at least say what they’re doing in-between. The problem is if they say “nothing,” then people will leave until the expansion. There’s due diligence that needs to be done on their part. At the moment, I’m left wondering if they even have a game plan until then, or if we’re just abandoned. The time between Living Story updates were painful enough, but we at least knew what would happen–we knew the game plan.
  3. Do small things to bring about a “freshness” in the game instead of “stagnancy.”
    • They’ve played around with quite a few things that used to be in the game as small updates. For instance, SAB was a huge hit among many (I’m highlighting that, in spite of the fact that I didn’t like it at all, most people did). Bring it back. Who cares if there’s nothing new? There’s an expansion coming. Is it possible to reactivate it? Well, I don’t work for ArenaNet but I would assume there is.
    • Perhaps starting another WvW Tournament would be an effective thing to keep things going for a bit?
    • Maybe even a few more basic “Festival” things that they’ve done before could work? I’m not sure how, as Dragon Bash had too much LS storyline in it to my understanding (I was absent during that time), and the Zephyrites are now grounded (no Labyrinthine Cliffs). Still, small things need to be done to keep people engaged when that was the premise of your game since near the beginning.

Now please hear me out. I’m not *complaining* per se. I’m simply pointing out that there are elements that I’m not pleased with, and I’m using this as a medium to hopefully open up some dialogue as to what people think could improve. I’m still committed to Guild Wars 2 and adore it. I’ve put lots of real cash into the game to support ArenaNet as I love what they’ve been doing. What I will say is that I don’t even look forward to logging in very often anymore, and that has a lot to do with the current approach–pure silence.

“When it’s ready.” <– That line right there? It needs to die. It feels rather insulting, to be honest. “Let’s give you lots of great stuff to look forward to, but you don’t know when you’ll ever get it.

Honestly, I was excited on that day for Heart of Thorns. Now? I honestly don’t feel like I care about it because I feel like it’ll never happen. I’m being shown snippets of stuff but none of it really feels complete. Yes, we got the Stronghold Beta (and I’m not a huge PvP guy, I’ll admit), and I think that was a very wise move on their part. Still, I think that things could have been done better.

The bottom line is that I hope ArenaNet starts communicating more openly and giving us something solid to work with. Why? Because I love Guild Wars 2, and I wholeheartedly want it to be even better than it already is!

What’re your thoughts on how the expansion has been handled so far? Post in the comments below and please, keep it respectful of others!


11 thoughts on “Thoughts on the HoT Expansion

  1. The larger problem was that ArenaNet went from 2-week cycle, wheee!! To keeping our heads down while we work on HoT. Bilzzard, in comparison, does an xpac followed by “feature packs” so the player base is used to doing their own thing.

    I thought that with the very small Lunar New Year festival that we would be getting little bits like that tide us over… sadly it seems we are not.

    However, I think it’s fine to take a break. I’ve noticed quite a few players dipping in to FF14 or GTA5. Perfectly fine to take a break. I feel given the gist of your post, that it would be the best response. 🙂

    • I appreciate that response! I was definitely struggling with writing it because I’m not against people dipping into other games (I’ve been dabbling in DDO). It’s probably because I have so much invested.

      I *do* think you’re right that going from a 2-week cycle to shifting to work on the expansion was a major sensation of frustration among people.

      I would’ve hoped to get more tiny festivals, or small activities. I’m finding now it’s just feeling like any other game. Maybe I should go back and do the Living Story on another toon or something.

      Ultimately, I probably have too high of expectation, but I feel like that was instilled in me. Hopefully though with HoT, we can get some consistency and maybe even more clarity of direction from them.

      Thanks so much for commenting Ravious! It’s an honour to have you post here. 🙂

  2. I never thought the game needed an expansion, as long as the Living Story and feature updates stayed at the pace from LS season 2. However I do see that the expansion was wanted by many players and it would be a good source of income for ANet. So once they announced it and said there would be betas soon thereafter Rezzed I was hoping for a release on the games anniversary in late August. However those hopes seem to be pipe dreams now.

    So far we have had press reveals, convention reveals, and a closed stress test in one very small area of 1 PvE map. We also got 1 PvP map to play for 24 hours. Also the official information about any part of the expansion in blog posts and videos has been minimal at best. We have probably got as much and more detailed information from data miners and video non-official analysis.

    All that being said I still enjoy logging in and running around in game daily. I will try to be patient for any official information they choose to give us. I will be buying the expansion when it goes on sale and playing as much beta as they let me.

    In summary I agree with your post completely. They really botched the timing on the expansion announcement.

  3. I agree with that. All the hype and then …..*crickets chirping* I am like a lot of others really excited for the expansion. But I think the “hype” thing has become common with not just this game. I was just reading about Tera releasing a gunner class, and one of the comments was just how we feel right now..”so we will see it a year later” because they too have lived through the hype of something new. They were quick to respond and actually give information that the release will be in May. So… we are…loving the game, but like little puppies with sad eyes are sitting waggin our tails waiting to be let in. I hope certain people take note of your suggestions and give the consumer a clearer answer of when the expansion will be released and a price. I’m saving my pennies…=) Happy Gaming!

  4. How long have you been playing Guild Wars traveller? ANet have been doing “when it’s done” since the beta of the original Guild Wars. Through all their expansion packs for that game, and then Guild Wars 2. Same thing.

    It is frustrating, but the reduced number of bugs and amount of polish on their releases is usually better than average. The only time I’ve seen them with a “release date” is about 2 weeks out. And usually then it’s “in two weeks.”

    It is what it is. I haven’t played any of the living story, season 1 or 2. I haven’t even completed the original story that shipped with the game. Other than getting three characters into the three orders to fill out my banners on the log in page, and unlocking armour. So the frustration isn’t there for me at all. Heck I still only really been in Silverwastes to do the Jumping Puzzle.

    So to answer your original question: How they’re handling the release expectation is entirely dependent upon how much your enjoyment of the game depends on that type of content.

    • Been playing Guild Wars since Factions was released. In my mind, “when it’s ready” isn’t a good answer for any company. Of course, I’m at the point with all 80’s in exotics or higher, and I’ve got two full map completions already. I have a legendary, my main has full ascended armour. It’s at the point that I’m longing for new content, so when they got me hyped, it quickly dropped when I realized they don’t really have a “plan” other than “keep working until something makes us know we’re ready.”

  5. This severally saddens me. I played GW2 religiously for almost 2 years before I got to the point where I needed a break. I was really hoping that with this expansion pack they were turning it around and giving the game direction and content that it needed to both keep a dedicated player base and keep it growing. “When it’s ready”… that is unacceptable for an expansion.

    • Now on the bright side, they’re slowly releasing more about the specializations (since yesterday) and there’s lots available on them already.

      Now, it will regain dedicated players and bring new growth with the expansion, but current stagnancy in-game is definitely something that they need to address!

      Thanks for your comment, Onya!

      • However the changes they talked about in the 2 specialization blogs and yesterday’s Ready Up are not a part of the HoT expansion, but will be introduced in a feature pack before HoT. Even not taking that into consideration there seemed to be a lot of work-in-progress even on these pre-HoT items, so I still have to wonder how far away HoT is.

        So the HoT news at this moment has been light and lackluster at best. However they did say starting next week they would be doing blogs weekly on each of the elite specializations, so that will be a welcome change.

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