Guild Wars 2: PAX East 2015 Interview

We caught up with Jon Peters and Kristen Bornemann of ArenaNet to ask some more Heart of Thorns questions.

ArenaNet is at PAX East this weekend showing off the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns demo. For more information about the demo, check out The Scrying Pool for the demo impressions. You can also check out our interviews from PAX South and our recent studio visit.

With a couple interviews already, it only made sense that our own Ann Hosler would track down the ArenaNet developers at PAX East for another interview. Luckily, she had already leveled her tracking abilities and found Jon Peters, Game Design Lead for Heart of Thorns, and Kristen Bornemann, Guild Wars 2 Development Director.

The last time we talked with ArenaNet, they had mentioned that betas would start after showing off a demo at PAX East and EGX Rezzed. Kristen confirmed that they indeed will be coming very soon, no ™ needed. This was only confirmed as the same day ArenaNet released a new blog post stating that the closed beta testing would start shortly after the two conventions. (If you missed it, you can sign up for the Heart of Thorns newsletter to be considered for a closed beta invitation.)

The beta tests for the original Guild Wars 2 started off as weekend events and we were curious if the HoT betas would follow suit. Kristen replied that they wanted the testing to be a little more developer-friendly, so probably not going to ask them to come in only for weekend tests. Weekends are not out of the realm of possibility, as ArenaNet wants to make sure that players can have a great experience with HoT.

Kristen had brought up the single day stress tests that occurred right before GW2's launch, saying that it will probably be something similar; it gives the studio the flexibility to do what's needed to test the game. From there, Jon added, they will probably just start ramping up as they go, before jokingly adding that the first test will be a small one second long test.

The betas will be a place for ArenaNet to get valuable feedback. Jon had no illusions that HoT was going to be perfect for the very first beta, but that getting players' feedback will help them make it an amazing experience for launch. That doesn't mean that everything will be in the betas, however. Jon brought up Guild Halls and how they are this big, giant thing that you build up over a long period of time. They will definitely talk about them, but there isn't a way to simulate how these long-term investments will actually work at release.

Speaking of Guild Halls, when we asked about a city out in the Heart of Maguuma we got a flat no. There are already enough cities in the game, possibly even too many already, they feel, so there won't be a new city in the new region. Guild Halls, however, will be a place for you to hang out with your guild and those will be a part of the Heart of Maguuma.

In the Heart of Maguuma players will have access to new forms of traversal such as hang gliding and jumping mushrooms. We were curious if all of these other means of getting around the map heralded a fewer amount of waypoints in the Heart of Maguuma. They confirmed that the waypoint density is lower. Kristen said that things like hang gliders give a much more interesting traversal. Plus, just the verticality of these new maps make them very different to the original maps.

Moving on to hang gliders, Jon explained that what we experience in the demo is only the beginning as the demo only allows for the basic hang gliding skill. The experience is definitely going to change as you get more masteries and improve your ability to use hang gliders to their fullest, such as the ability to use updrafts to go up and further to reach new places. While increasing speed isn't currently planned, Jon did confirm that swiftness would increase your speed while gliding.

Regarding skills while gliding, Jon commented that we definitely won't be able to use our regular skills. He wouldn't say that they won't ever add glider specific skills, but for now they are just looking at basic hang gliding.

Want to customize the look of your glider? It sounds like you will be in luck. Jon brought up how one of the core, long-term goals within GW2 is in customizing the look of your character, so it would be a bit silly if that didn't also eventually apply to gliding.

Masteries, Story & Misc. -->

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