ArenaNet Unveils First Expansion of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns


ArenaNet™, publisher and developer of the acclaimed Guild Wars franchise, today announced Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ as the first expansion to Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet president and co-founder Mike O’Brien and game director Colin Johanson surprised thousands of fans packed into the PAX South Main Theater and many more tuning into the Twitch livestream from around the world with the announcement, unveiling a debut trailer and giving a presentation covering each of the core features the expansion would bring to Guild Wars 2.


ArenaNet laid bare the vision and philosophy behind Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.  Many of the new features the expansion brings to Guild Wars 2 represent a re-envisioning of progression in an MMO. That includes the introduction of a new Mastery system that lets players unlock and explore new abilities for characters beyond level 80, and a brand new Specializations system that gives them access to traits, skills and unique mechanics that transform their profession into something entirely new.


“With Guild Wars 2, we set out to redefine the MMO genre by letting players experience the world in such a way that the journey itself became the goal, and give them a place where they are constantly able to enrich each other’s experience,”  said Mike O’Brien, ArenaNet president and co-founder.  “Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is taking that philosophy to the next level with our reimagined endgame systems that turn tired tropes like level and gear grind into an expandable framework for progression.”

In making the surprise announcement at PAX South, ArenaNet also confirmed that the mysterious video players had discovered in Guild Wars 2 last week was in fact their first glimpse of an expansion, and that Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns would continue the storyline that has the game world of Tyria facing off against the Elder Dragon Mordremoth. As the storyline unfolded through the game’s Living World updates, players had speculated about one possible casualty in the war with Mordremoth. In one cliffhanger, Tyria’s iconic hero Rytlock disappeared into a mysterious void as he chased the weapon to end the curse of the Foefire and drive the ghosts of Ascalon away for good.


In Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, Rytlock not only makes a triumphant return from the mysterious Mists, he comes back with an all-new set of abilities. His return sets the stage for one of the expansion’s most exciting additions, the introduction of an all-new profession called the Revenant that channels powers from some of the Guild Wars universe’s most legendary heroes.


In addition to these features, ArenaNet showcased every key new feature the expansion brings to the core game, covering additions to both PvE and competitive PvP and World vs. World modes.  The studio premiered the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns announcement trailer to showcase each feature set, and set the stage for an ongoing series of updates now through launch that would delve much deeper into what each will bring to the expansion.


“We know many fans have been waiting for this moment, for us to say this one single phrase – an expansion is coming for Guild Wars 2,” said Colin Johanson, game director on Guild Wars 2.  “We wanted to go well beyond just announcing that an expansion is coming and then let our fans guess as to what it would bring, and so we waited until we could tell them every single feature that we think sets it apart. We only wanted to unveil Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns once we felt we could showcase everything that makes it an expansion worthy of Guild Wars 2, and that’s what we did today.”


What follows are key features unveiled by ArenaNet as part of the unveiling of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns at PAX South.  To check out videos, learn more about the game and sign up for the latest updates, please visit


Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns features

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is the first expansion for Guild Wars 2. Founded on the idea that the journey is the goal, the Heart of Thorns expansion continues the Guild Wars 2 tradition of challenging the conventions of MMOs to fulfill the promise of what online worlds should be.


  • The Heart of Maguuma

New adventures await you in the heart of the Maguuma Jungle. Confront the growing hordes of Mordremoth’s minions, discover allies from ancient civilizations, and battle new enemies.

o   Tackle challenging group content.

o   Explore new open world jungle maps.

o   Experience new events and storylines.

o   Test your mettle in new boss battles.


  • The Mastery System

We’re reimagining progression with our new Mastery system. Explore new training opportunities for your character beyond level 80 and master abilities like hang gliding in the jungle, tearing the bark off of heavily armored Mordrem, or building new collections that earn precursors to a legendary weapon.


  • New Profession: Revenant

Channel legendary powers to slaughter foes and unleash chaos on the battlefield with our brand new profession: the revenant. Enter the field of battle heavily armored and equipped with the otherworldly powers of the Mists.


  • Specializations

Evolve your gameplay. With profession specializations, you’ll unlock access to a weapon previously unavailable to your profession as well as new traits, skills, and unique mechanics – all of which will transform your profession into something new.


  • PvP: New Stronghold Game Mode

Gather supply to hire soldiers. Battle for control of heroes. Man the trebuchet to defend your stronghold, and storm the enemy gates to defeat the guild lord! Use our new guild team feature to team up and battle to the top of the leaderboards. Stronghold offers an entirely new way to play competitive PvP in Guild Wars 2!


  • WvW: New Borderland

Experience epic battlefield combat like never before in World vs. World’s latest core addition, the new Borderlands map. Navigate treacherous heights with traps that blow your foes to the depths below and ferocious defenders to help keep the enemy at bay. Map objectives will be more important than ever before, as they’ll unlock new strategies, tactics, and play mechanics that you’ll want to use to your world’s advantage!


  • Guild Halls

Your guild has roamed the world together. Now, it’s time to claim a piece of it. Work with fellow guild members to claim and grow your own guild hall in the heart of Maguuma.

Author: Ben

Ben is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PCGR. He writes much of the content, manages the site, and does other editorial things that would bore you to tears.