I’m excited to announce our second Beta Weekend Event will be taking place starting at noon Pacific Time (UTC-7) on Friday, September 4, and running until 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time (UTC-7) on Sunday, September 6.
These beta weekend events are your opportunity to help shape the development process and the experience you’ll have when Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ is completed. These are real beta tests, and you have the real opportunity to make our expansion better with your feedback.
As a reminder, we’re not going to show everything in the expansion in beta weekends. We want to keep a strong sense of discovery and not spoil huge parts of the story ahead of time. We’re going to test enough to help us broadly understand how everything works and also apply those lessons to the parts of the game we won’t be showing during beta weekends. For example, we’ll only ever be showing the first story chapter and parts of the first map of the expansion during beta weekends to ensure that an entire world of discovery and excitement awaits you on launch day when you venture deeper into the jungle. After all, Guild Wars 2 is the game where the journey is the goal!
Players who have pre-purchased the expansion will see a new button appear on the character-creation screen that allows them to create and play a fully geared, level 80 beta character of any race for the duration of the weekend. You’ll have access to four beta character slots to use, and if you created characters in our first Beta Weekend Event, your progress—including any Mastery system progress you’ve earned for your account—will be available for you in the second event.
Players who have pre-purchased will be able to use their beta character slots to create our new profession, the revenant, using the full selection of core specializations, weapons (including underwater combat), and legends. You’ll also be able to play with our new elite specialization system that grows your character professions into new elite specializations. You’ll be able to try out the chronomancer, dragonhunter, reaper, and tempest, as well as the newly announced elite specializations: berserker, and herald, as well as the thief specialization we’ll announce later this week.
Beta characters will begin by playing through a brief, shared battle in the Silverwastes that leads into the expansion’s jungle region, followed by the introductory story step of the expansion. From there, they will land in Verdant Brink, the first map of the expansion. For our second beta weekend test, you’ll be landing in a different part of the map than the one we showed in our first beta weekend, and you’ll be able to explore a new area: the jungle-floor biome. The playable content will comprise about 25% of the expansion’s first map. Train your Masteries in the jungle region as you play through the story and event content available in Verdant Brink.
As you explore this area of the map, you’ll find survivors from a ship of nobles that traveled with the Pact Fleet to witness the battle with Mordremoth and got far more than they bargained for, including one particularly famous noble who has gone…wild. The quaggan Baroosh and his village, who potentially joined the Pact in your personal story, were also aboard an airship that went down with the fleet when Mordremoth tore it from the sky. The survivors can also be found working with an ordnance corps to muster together a counterassault on the jungle dragon. Across this area, numerous new enemies are there to face off against, including your first encounters with the aggressive hylek tribes Coztic and Xocotl.
Not only will you be able to take your characters to the jungle, but you can take them into the existing game world as well! Whether you want to play in Player vs. Player, World vs. World, or PvE, feel free to try out the new profession or elite specializations in Central Tyria with all your friends and guildies. To go along with this, we’ll have our map bonus reward system on for beta characters only to help players get a feel for how we’ll be helping keep the core game world relevant and rewarding with the release of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.
We’ll also be turning on our new Stronghold PvP game mode for all players for the duration of the weekend, along with the new Mist Champion selection system. Players who pre-purchase Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will have all the currently revealed Mist Champions automatically unlocked for them to use for the duration of the weekend.
So what kind of feedback are we looking for?
We’d love to get your thoughts on our three brand-new elite specializations! Were they fun to play? Did they change the way you play your profession in a meaningful way? We’ve also made updates—primarily balance changes—to the elite specializations that were playable in BWE1, as well as to the revenant. How have these improvements helped to address your feedback from the first beta weekend?
We were really happy with the feedback for creature difficulty from the first Beta Weekend Event, so we’re mostly looking for your feedback on whether the new creatures you encounter in the second Beta Weekend Event are as fun and exciting as the creatures from the first weekend.
During daytime, we’re showing two new outposts and a big pile of events that go along with them. Are they fun? Do they tell a compelling narrative that helps bring you into the world? Do the events feel meaningful, challenging, and interesting? The nighttime component of Verdant Brink will be relatively similar to BWE1; we look forward to sharing the expanded version of the night experience in future beta events.
We’re continuing to look for feedback on what it’s like to progress and earn Masteries over the course of multiple days of gameplay in the jungle, as well as how it feels to use those Mastery abilities in the area provided. Does the Mastery system feel like a system that works to provide meaningful progression? Does it make you care about experience and Mastery points? Does it provide a framework that you think we could regularly add more to in live updates? Knowing your progress won’t be wiped, does it make you want to learn as many Masteries as possible so you can use them to overcome additional challenges later?
We haven’t made any changes to our map reward system yet based on the feedback from our first beta weekend, so gathering feedback on it isn’t as urgent.
Finally, you’ll also see some new UI in the Stronghold Mist Champion selection panel to help better explain the role of each of the Mist Champions. Let us know what you think of the changes and of Stronghold as a whole!
See You Soon!
Beta weekend events are a large milestone in the development of our expansion, and we can’t wait to play the game with you over the weekend and to continue down the path that brings Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns to release! And while we count down to our second beta weekend, make sure to join us for our massive announcement about Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns live from PAX Prime on Saturday, 29 August, at 5:30 p.m. UTC (10:30 a.m. Pacific Time), broadcast live on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel, or join us in person if you’re attending PAX!
We’ll see you in game.