As Heart of Thorns evolves Guild Wars 2, the open world will be evolving along with it. In the Heart of Maguuma, where the open-world content and story of the expansion will take place, we’ll build on the foundation of the core principles of Guild Wars 2: the power of our dynamic event system, the belief that playing with others makes for a better experience, the impact of environment on stories, and the joy of exploration and discovery. We’re taking all of these principles to the next level in the Heart of Maguuma.
Maps with a Purpose
The Living World set the stage for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ in more ways than one. While the story that played out over the course of seasons 1 and 2 set up the awakening of Mordremoth and the story the expansion will tell, the types of maps we added and the stories we told within them have also brought us to where we are with the Heart of Maguuma and the kind of experience the deep jungle will deliver.
The lava-encased remains of the ancient karka are a literal monument to the sheer scale of Guild Wars 2. The Lost Shores event was an epic writing of Guild Wars 2 history, a massive invasion where players and developers simultaneously forged a new play space. We’re not without regret, however, that we can’t storm those shores again.
The ever-looming threat of the sandstorm in Dry Top is more representative of the dynamic, shifting nature of Guild Wars 2—not only for its destruction, but also for its progress. During the sandstorm, the whole of the map enters a secondary phase. This phase affects the map in ways that make it unique from all other maps.
In the deep jungles of Maguuma, you’ll run into similar stories of an even larger scale that occur in secondary phases. For example, the first map you’ll enter in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will tell the story of some of the survivors of the catastrophic Pact Fleet expedition into the jungle. Through the course of each day, the beleaguered Pact members will try to build up defenses and secure their positions so they have a chance of surviving the night—the deadly second phase of this map, when the Mordrem come out in overwhelming numbers.
In the Heart of Maguuma, there are even bigger threats and more epic battles waiting for you. You’ll find maps with a greater replay value and depth of content than anything we’ve put into Guild Wars 2 before, maps that provide a unique experience and multiple layers of gameplay. Rather than a more traditional strategy of rapidly expanding land mass with limited content to fill it, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will focus less on total land mass in the expansion and will instead focus on depth of content within that gameplay space. Each map will be rich in content, rich in 3-D play space, and very deep in replay value to ultimately provide more gameplay value to our players and not leave an empty wasteland of rarely played content behind.
One of the new ways we’re enhancing replay value is through our new outpost system, which changes how we structure events in the world. Nearly all the dynamic events throughout Guild Wars 2 are tied to at least a small portion of local characters and lore. As you complete one dynamic event, you will find yourself facing other dynamic events that continue the story of the area you’re in. You’ll see enemies driven back, defeated foes summoning stronger champions to challenge you, and allies you previously rescued now going on the offensive. There are many possible interactions on a number of scales. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, though, it can be easy to miss these stories playing out across each map.
When you first venture into the jungle, you’ll find that events in the area are tied to what’s happening at a specific site. These locations are our new content outposts, which we’re using to bring individual events together into a larger, more comprehensive experience.
Outposts are content structures that broadly explain and contextualize the consequences of localized groups of dynamic events. If you’ve been to the Silverwastes, you’ve seen a forerunner of this concept at each tower. In the Silverwastes, each tower helps the Pact prepare for its assault, and your successes and failures at each tower affect the sort of events you’ll see around you. In the Heart of Maguuma, you’ll have a similar experience with outposts, which are always vital to preparing for the secondary phase of each map. They may even continue to play an important role during that time.