HoT Thoughts – Part 1: The Story

It’s been two months since Heart of Thorns was released for Guild Wars 2, and I’ve found myself with mixed feelings. I’ve decided to write three posts, giving my thoughts on HoT and what I’ve experienced.

DISCLAIMER: These three posts will contain spoilers. If you have not finished the Heart of Thorns Story and do not wish for spoilers, I suggest reading these posts after you’ve completed them.

Of the three posts, this one will be the longer, and I will focus specifically with the critical side of Heart of Thorns’ story.

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The Story

I have to admit that the story of Heart of Thorns felt absolutely amazing to me. I was completely built up from the Living Story since Scarlet attacked Lion’s Arch in her Breachmaker, and woke up Mordremoth. I was actually completely sold to the storyline and all that was happening. I patiently waited since February to see what was going to happen with our dreaded Jungle Dragon.

When Heart of Thorns launched, I quickly rolled my Revenant (thoughts to come in Part 2), went through the main story, and moved on to the HoT story. It consisted of 16 parts, most of which were quite quick.

Prologue: Rally to Maguuma – In Their Footsteps

The first few chapters are focused on the Pact being torn apart from Mordremoth’s retaliation. Sylvari are being corrupted, Destiny’s Edge is scattered, and everything in the jungle is unknown. Your character, along with Destiny’s Edge 2.0, begin their search in the jungle.

I love the first few chapters because it really pulls you in. You get captivated in all that’s going on, feel the sense of the struggle that Sylvari are facing with Mordremoth’s call, and see how torn apart everything really is. The atmosphere for the Verdant Brink section as a whole is absolutely amazing. I think they did a top-notch job on it, and it’s a great experience.

Prisoners of the Dragon

The only thing I have to say about this story step (remember, I warned you about incoming SPOILERS), is that the death in this story is… uhh… random? Forced? I mean, Faolain is selfish and a little crazy, and I understand that she would throw anyone under in order to save herself, but she didn’t feel like Faolain at all. Perhaps Mordremoth’s voice was getting to her? If that’s the case, it should have been better explained. Yay. She stabs Eir so she can get away. It just felt like they wanted to kill someone to make the player “feel.”

Although I was shocked, I felt like it was a copout.

Of course, I definitely did feel with Braham’s reaction. Would’ve been a great time for him to become a Dragonhunter and tie in some lore to the profession.

Prized Possessions – The Way In

From here, the team moves into Auric Basin. I adored the city, the map, and the exalted (although I still think they should have brought in a bit more lore by making some tie-in with the Mursaat, but it seems that they don’t want to tie into old lore from Guild Wars 1. It’s been pretty obvious that they want to make new lore, and any references seem to be just throwing us Guild Wars 1-lovers a bone.

Side Note: What the heck is with your character hating on Caithe? Instead of asking what’s going on, your character immediately villainizes her. It’s uncharacteristic with the experiences from the story dungeons and the Personal Story. What in the world? Even in the end, you act like she’s a worse creature than Mordremoth…

The trials were pretty exciting and fun to do. I enjoy how the chase with Faolain, and the trials were all unique mechanics instead of just straight up “spam 1” type stuff. Highly enjoyable!

The story is pretty straight-forward until you reach Rata Novus. You’re looking for your team and friends while trying to survive. The Exalted are activated from the egg being nearby and will protect it while you follow Taimi into Rata Novus.

I’m not spending a lot of time on this section of the story, as it was enjoyable and straight-forward. My wife and I were pretty happy while we did this section of the story.

The Way In – Bitter Harvest

Here’s where things get… weird. So you’re in Rata Novus after your journey through Tangled Depths (which I actually enjoyed as well–Tizlak 4 Prez), and discover that apparently, they were researching dragons and found stuff. Dragons have a weakness.

Voila, magic, suddenly we know we can defeat Mordremoth, so let’s go in guns-a-blazin’ and attack. Out of nowhere, we have no clue what the weaknesses are but clearly they all have one, so uhh.. yeah. Hoorah. Go team.

I adore Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet, and the people that work there, but I have to admit that this is the biggest plothole I’ve ever seen in the game. “They have a weakness” is not a valid enough reason to charge forward and start attacking a freaking dragon. There has to be something more given than that. It’s like there were supposed to be a few more chapters but they got cut because of time constraints. “Our job is to find out how they can be killed.” Onward, ho!

After we leave Rata Novus, we find pods and such where Logan and Zojja are being held, and we rescue them both.

We find Trahearn, kill Faolain-Vinetooth-thing that was protecting him, and I had hoped it would have been a more engaging battle. Still, glad she was gone. That was just… weird.

Mordremoth rips Trahearne out of our grasp and we follow into… THE HEART OF THORNS!!! *Ominous-yet-epic music*

Hearts and Minds

We encounter Trahearne who’s kinda… half-absorbed… and we have to figure out (after understanding that Mordremoth isn’t just a dragon, but he’s the jungle itself) how we’re going to kill him.

“Ummm… he does jedi mind tricks on the sylvari so uhh… hey. Let’s ummm… go inside his mind and kill him there!”

Wait… wut? It kind of comes out of nowhere. Like your character has some magical epiphany. Allow me to have a small rant, if you will.

I hate when people scream: “Ewww it’s a trope!” as if they’re a critic. Tropes are not a bad thing. So before you scream “trope! bad writing!”, stop and ask if it was used well. Things can be stereotypically classic and still be a wonderful story. How tropes are used is what makes them good or bad. That being said, this deus ex machina they pulled was probably the worst thing I’ve seen in Guild Wars 2. It’s honestly like they were going to work up to it and ran out of time.

This moment is what left a terribly bitter taste in my mouth for the story. It fell flat. On the flip-side, the mechanics of the fight were amazing.

I loved how Mordremoth’s envisioning of himself was shown. He’s a freaking Draconian. For those of you who complain that he was some potato lump, methinks you need to raise your graphic settings, because he looked awesome (just my opinion, but I was pleased). The mechanics of the battle, having to glide around, and having to use the rifts to gain control, were all absolutely amazing. Playing that whole instance was epic. It was a lot of fun, and definitely showed what they’re capable of in terms of mechanics. So in spite of the story falling flat, the fight with Mordremoth was amazing.

My Big Fat Issue(s)

Mordremoth is… dead? Like, that’s it? All this build up and there’s no epic fight (yes, I get the Dragon’s Stand battle with the Mouth of Mordremoth… which is the best thing in Guild Wars 2 right now). I expected a story struggle, and massive revelations about story things like:

  • Where’s Magdaer? Well, Eir’s dead, so whatever.
  • Mursaat? People have been asking. Some kind of tie-in would’ve been good.
  • Revenant! We’d love to know what happened with Rytlock? Oh wait. I bet he doesn’t even know.
  • Mordremoth is dead. Seriously. Did they think it was dragged out enough? We woke an elder dragon and then “Poof!” Just like that, he’s dead. So now what? We’ll have to wait until Living Story 3, I guess?
  • Rata Novus had so much potential, but we barely spend any time there.
  • The Caithe-hating doesn’t mesh with the entire story up until now.
  • Wait, where’s that big vine creature from the trailer? It was made up for nothing, and then not included? Would’ve been way more epic if that had been Mordremoth.
  • Sylvari being corrupted really seems to fade into the background after Verdant Brink. It doesn’t affect anything.
  • The random solution to kill Mordremoth was way too cheesy and unfounded.
  • The story felt way too quick for something called an “Expansion.” It was more like a Living Story set than what I’d consider Expansion-worthy.

Conclusion

In spite of that criticism, I actually really did enjoy the story as a whole and will do it again as a Sylvari, just for a different view on things. Hopefully it adds even more to the story than what I saw. Now that Part 1 is done, be sure to look for Parts 2 and 3, which will become progressively more positive as they go on. I intentionally wanted to get my biggest issues out of the way so I could end with what I love about the expansion!

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6 thoughts on “HoT Thoughts – Part 1: The Story

  1. “…The Way In – Bitter Harvest…”
    “…you’re in Rata Novus…”
    “…After we leave Rata Sum, we find pods and such where Logan and Zojja are being held, and we rescue them both….”
    Just something you might want to edit along with text to help you pinpoint where it is in the blog – I think it should be Rata Novus in the last sentence above.

    Other than that I find this a well written and justified criticism.

  2. I pretty much agree with every point presented. It probably didn’t help that I had the death spoiled for me a few days prior to actually seeing it.

    Hopefully we’ll see more of Rata Novus and the Forgotten-Mursaat connection in the 3rd Living season.

    • There’s a LOT of potential, for sure. The thing is, I’m actually playing through the story again, so it’s not *that bad*. Actually, it’s quite good. There are just things that are off-putting.

      I’m hoping they start working to tie up a whole lot of loose ends. There’s so much that can be done here!

      • I do think that the ultimate low point for me in the story was the bunny-trial, more for gameplay than story. End boss fights were great, but Mordy fight was too long. Looking forward to hopefully seeing these mechanics used for some proper group content.

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