We’re just a week or so into the launch of our very first expansion for Guild Wars 2—what an exciting week it’s been! We’ve seen tremendous growth this year, from the announcement of our expansion, to the core Guild Wars 2 experience becoming free to download and play, and now with the launch of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™. We’re seeing massive player numbers in the game; the world of Tyria is filled to the brim, and it’s great to see many old faces returning to join us alongside all the new faces who’ve joined the Guild Wars 2 experience this year—and of course, our veterans who have been here the entire time!
Though we have all kinds of exciting new content and features to explore in the game with the release of the new expansion, I’m sure some of you are wondering what else you’re going to see in 2015. I wanted to take some time to talk over what to expect over the next few months for Guild Wars 2.
General Bug Fixing, Polish, Balance, Performance, Etc.
As we continue to monitor Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ on live, we’ll keep pushing out bug fixes and polish and performance updates. We’ve reached a point where these will come bundled together in larger, less frequent updates as we prepare for the activation of additional expansion features. We’ll also be releasing limited balance updates to fix really key game-breaking issues. Once every quarter, we’ll release a new, major balance update to shake up the meta for the next quarter.
Legendaries, Raids, and Squad UI—Oh My!
In a few short weeks, in mid-November, we’ll be activating the additional endgame PvE features for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. The first raid wing, Spirit Vale, will become available for parties of ten to band together and face down the most challenging encounters yet in the history of Guild Wars 2—and your journey toward building one of our three new legendary armor sets (one per armor class) can begin as well! Along with the addition of our first raid wing, you’ll also get your hands on our new enhanced squad UI, which allows you to organize, command, and lead a squad of up to 50 players. With the enhanced squad UI, you can participate in truly epic, large-scale encounters in World vs. World, against open-world bosses, and more. You’ll also be able to use the new ten-player raid squad even if you aren’t currently a commander, giving you the ability to help organize and lead a raid squad to face off (and face plant) against our raid encounters.
The legendary journeys for our three new legendary weapons—Astralaria, HOPE, and Nevermore—will also become available for players to begin building, from the initial step of producing a weapon prototype, up to your new precursor, and all the way through to the brand-new legendary weapon itself.
ESL Guild Wars 2 Pro League Open Qualifier
We’re about to kick off our first-ever professional competitive Guild Wars 2 league—and though four teams from each region have already qualified based on their performances in previous World Tournament Series events and ESL Go4GuildWars2 Cups, there are eight total spots still up for grabs by literally any team that plays Guild Wars 2! Want to become a professional Guild Wars 2 PvP player and get paid cold hard cash? You can! Form your team and enter the Pro League Open Qualifier, which takes place November 14–15, 2015. Once we’re down to the top eight teams in each region on November 16, we’ll broadcast the qualifier live for everyone to enjoy on our official Twitch channel. Over the course of the qualifier, we’ll also give out prizes live in the chat room for folks who come to watch the excitement and root on their favorite teams.
More information on the ESL Guild Wars 2 Pro League, Open Qualifiers sign-ups, and the broadcast will be announced tomorrow on the official Guild Wars 2 site.
PvP Leagues, PvP Guild Challenger League, and PvP Pro League Kick Off
On December 1, once we’ve finalized all the teams that qualify for the ESL Guild Wars 2 Pro League and we have a chance to let balance settle from the launch of our expansion, we’ll activate our inaugural in-game Player vs. Player league season! This is your chance to work your way up the ranks of the PvP league for sweet rewards, including materials to start building your very own legendary backpack. You’ll also start seeing badges next to character names, displaying the rank they’ve achieved during the current active PvP league season.
For teams, this is your chance to enter into the Guild Challenger League and fight your way to the top for guild bragging rights, guild prizes, and a chance to enter the second season of the ESL Guild Wars 2 Pro League through the Challenger Cup.
And finally, for the first time ever, you’ll be able to watch the intense competition of our ESL Guild Wars 2 Pro League live on Twitch starting on November 23 and recurring every Monday, with eight teams in each region constantly vying for the top ranking in the seven-week season. Which four teams will survive the gauntlet of this top-tier competitive play to reach the finals and play for the biggest chunk of $200,000 USD in prizes in the season-one championship? You’ll need to tune in and watch on our Twitch channel to find out!
It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot like Wintersday
On December 15, we’re excited to welcome back a truly festive Guild Wars 2 tradition—the return of one of our favorite classic holidays, Wintersday! New rewards, outfits, skins, snowball fights, festive decorations for your guild halls, Ho-Ho-Trons, and more await you as we celebrate the holiday season Guild Wars 2 style!
Combat Visibility, Spectating, and Messaging
As we double down on exciting and challenging content like raids, PvP leagues, and fractal dungeons, the need for us to push forward on solving some of the issues of visibility in combat become even more important for the future of Guild Wars 2. This also helps us tremendously in areas like WvW and open-world PvE, where visibility is currently the most challenging. The same goes for the need to help better support spectating content so that players who aren’t at the highest tier of competition in those areas can watch and learn from players whose builds and strategies can help them become successful.
We’ve already done some work to improve combat visibility with the ship of the expansion, but over the course of the next few months, we’ll continue to make a number of updates to allow the action-based combat of Guild Wars 2 to shine.
Looking Ahead to 2016
As you can see, we have a full schedule of events planned out for 2015 already! But 2016 is right around the corner. When we return from the holiday break, I’ll be back with another state-of-the-game update to walk through our plans for the early part of next year—including details about what you can expect from the regular live cadence for Guild Wars 2 in 2016.