Heart of Thorns
In recent years I have made it my policy not to participate in beta testing of major new MMOs, nor to immerse myself in their marketing leading up to release. I don’t want to risk getting burnt out or build up too many unrealistic or erroneous expectations. Overall I want there to be an element of surprise when I finally around to playing a new product. Naturally I applied this philosophy to the Guild Wars 2 expansion Heart of Thorns and have made it my business to ignore a lot of the press, live streams and hype over the last quarter. So when I finally logged in today I didn’t really know what to expect. On mature reflection this was a mistake.
The first thing that struck me about Heart of Thorns was how non-specific the quest tracker was in telling me where to go to access the expansion’s prologue. I needed to visit an area called The Silverwastes and had no idea where to go. I mistakenly assumed it was via the region of Dry Top which was added to the game with The Living Story Season 2. It took an hour to discover my mistake. I finally tabbed out of the game and did a Google search only to discover there was a portal in Fort Vandal. I always feel that having to leave a game to find necessary information is a major design flaw.
On arriving in The Silverwastes I happened upon a zerg that was going to the area I required. I was so busy trying to keep up that I failed to pay as much attention to the world around me as I should have. So it wasn’t until I reached the Verdant Brink region that I realised that Heart of Thorns is based heavily around a vertical gaming environment. This means that there is frequently no direct path to locations on the map. Furthermore many features essential to the game such as hero points are placed in elevated areas. Thus the game once again makes use of jumping mechanics as well as the newly introduced gliding skill.
I loathe jumping as a gaming mechanic. I lack the manual dexterity required to undertake it as well as the patience to persevere when I fail. Simply put if I had known in advance that this was a major part of Heart of Thorns I wouldn’t have purchased it. I play games for fun and this does not constitute as such by my yardstick. This is the exact same reason why I never finished any of the second season of The Living Story. That also had a dependency upon power ups to conduct jumps, slides and rolls to access specific areas. It is the reason why two outstanding hero points remain beyond my reach to this day.
Needless to say my interest in Heart of Thorns waned massively after discovering the nature of the expansion. I managed to unlock the gliding skill but wasn’t very impressed by that either. Until further upgrades are unlocked it remains nothing more than a glorified drogue shoot. As for the actual plot of Heart of Thorns I have never been a Guild wars 2 lore aficionado. I therefore have no clue as to what is going on and little investment in the characters that I interact with. Therefore I doubt if I Guild Wars 2 will still be on my PC by Christmas. However I have no one but myself to blame for this situation, having fallen victim of my own gaming practises.