Path of Thorns

The new expansion for Guild Wars 2 was recently announced as Path of Fire. Clocking in at $30 out of the gate, it is significantly cheaper than the prior expansion, Heart of Thorns. This is good news.

What is less good is the fact that Path of Fire does NOT come with Heart of Thorns.

Q: Is Heart of Thorns included for free when I buy Path of Fire?

A: No. As we said when we announced Heart of Thorns, we always want to give you the option to purchase both expansions for a single price. With the purchase of any edition of Path of Fire, you can add in Heart of Thorns during checkout and purchase both expansions together for less than the combined prices of the expansions. If you already own Heart of Thorns or only want to play Path of Fire, you can purchase Path of Fire separately. (source)

This is an especially brow-raising turn of events considering ArenaNet’s official stance two years ago (emphasis added):

Business Model Clarification

We want to be clear about our business model for future expansions now that we are approaching our first paid expansion for Guild Wars 2. We believe that to keep the game dynamic and vibrant with a constantly growing community, it should be as easy as possible for new players to get into Guild Wars 2. For Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, we didn’t want the core game’s price to be a factor in a new player’s decision to begin playing Guild Wars 2. In the future, if we release further Guild Wars 2 expansions, we plan to offer all of the prior expansions, the core game, and the latest expansion for one single purchase price. (source)

Business models change, and there has been plenty of turnover in the ArenaNet side of things since 2015. But this explanation of things reeks of sleaze. “Core game + all expansions for a single purchase price” does not parse out into “add another $20 to get HoT and the total $50 amount counts as a single purchase price,” but that is what the Community Managers are spinning it into.

As if things were not bizarre enough, ArenaNet is also making it clear that you don’t actually have to buy HoT to play the new expansion. There is a whole list of things that will work and not work:

Q: Do I need to own Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ in order to play Path of Fire?

Owning Heart of Thorns isn’t required to access Path of Fire content. However, some content is exclusive to Heart of Thorns.

  • You must purchase Heart of Thorns to unlock and use the gliding mastery, as well as all other masteries introduced in and exclusive to that expansion. You will be able to complete all of the content in Path of Fire without the use of any Heart of Thorns-exclusive masteries.
  • You must purchase Heart of Thorns to unlock and use the 9 elite specializations introduced with that expansion.
  • Path of Fire includes access to the revenant profession, but not the Herald elite specialization. If you only own Path of Fire, you will be able to create a revenant character and unlock the Renegade elite specialization.
  • You must purchase Heart of Thorns to claim the new guild hall released in Path of Fire, and access the Scribe crafting discipline to fully upgrade your guild hall.

So, basically, if you want gliding or to access one of the 9 elite specs, fork over $20. Well, and I suppose all of the HoT maps (etc) are worth something.

This entire scenario puts me in a mental bind. Up to this point, I had been holding off on buying HoT because I was under the impression that it would be included with the new expansion. I had not been playing GW2 in general very much lately, mostly due to the fact that it was made clear that the Elite specializations that had been released were strictly better than the majority of your other options (as is often the case with new “classes”). GW2 basically only has a fashion endgame so it shouldn’t really matter, but it is hard to get excited about playing a game in which you are limited to objectively worse options. And nevermind that actually purchasing HoT would not give me access to the Living Story episodes I missed, so there is objectively less content available to me anyway.

With Path of Flame releasing in 1.5 months though, I anticipate the new Elite specs to be more powerful than the older Elite specs – designers are simply too incentivised to make shit OP at first. Lack of Gliding will suck, but I never actually had it to begin with, and the designers are promising that it won’t be required for anything in the new expansion anyway. And, hey, some of those mounts seem to be gliding already. So… what’s left? The maps, of course. Masteries that are being promised won’t be required for anything. And… that’s it?

For the people actually playing GW2 on a routine basis, this structure is nothing but upside: they get a new expansion for $30 instead of $50. For new players, it is also probably good, considering they get the base game plus expansion for $30 as well, and won’t really know what they missed in HoT. For anyone else like me, stuck inbetween, there really isn’t anything good about the situation. And while I could easily afford to just throw down for both expansions for “the single purchase price,” the principle of the matter is just odious enough to make me want to delay any decision.

Posted on August 3, 2017, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I actually think this decision just mimics what they did with GW1, where skills available in prophecies, factions and nightfall all were only available if you purchased that specific expansion. However each box was a fully playable game in it’s own right, allowing you to buy any one of them and start playing the game, then later purchase previous content if you wanted to.


  2. Ok I am in he same boat expansion-wise. I probably would buy just this new expansion but don’t understand why they would not include all the skills available to a particular class. That is the bullshit part to me. I understand not having access to the HoT gliding, masteries, storylines, zones – but cutting out part of a class spec? That is a no sale of what other would have been a definite expac only purchase from me. And having already purchased the game at launch – if HoT were maybe a $10 add on I would have gone for that – but not $20 more.


    • It’s bizarre all around. As far as I know, you can only select one Elite spec at a time, so if the newer ones are more OP than the ones from HoT (which is likely), there wouldn’t be a reason to exclude them anyway. And if they aren’t more powerful, then it’d be pretty disappointing if you were that class. I’m thinking they just tossed Elite specs into the barrel to make it look like a better deal.


  3. I’m on the fence at the moment on this. I was waiting on this expansion to get access to HoT for free with a view to use that content (just the expansion story as I too missed a chunk of LS3) to see if the current game was more to my liking than the LS2 game was.

    But now I have two choices. Buy just Path of Fire and play that at launch ignoring HoT completely. Or I could get both at a discount (Brits are trained from an early age to obsess about ‘bargains’) and maybe try and get the majority of HoT done before the expansion launches.

    I wasn’t that excited about the elite specs from HoT, one among several reasons why I ignored the expansion. But I am much happier about the sound of several in PoF – principally Mesmer and Necro – so that is a factor drawing me back in potentially at least in September.


    • The Elite spec situation is one I’m struggling with. Like you, I wasn’t that excited about the ones from HoT, at least on paper. Not excited… but also cognizant about the fact they were almost always better than vanilla specs. I anticipate the newer Elite specs to replace the older ones in power-level, so technically I shouldn’t even be using them in my internal calculus.

      That said, I still don’t know for sure which class I’d want to play in the first place. It’s possible that the old Elites are just as good/better than the new ones, or that they fill a necessary/fun niche in gameplay.

      What I will probably end up doing is seeing if I can muster up the interest in getting back into playing vanilla GW2 for any length of time. If I can, it might not be a stretch to find a deal on HoT and going from there. Alternatively, perhaps I just wait out the clock and see how the September launch goes, beyond which I expect to see HoT drop below $20 by end of year.


  4. HoT was close to day 1 buy for me – i think i went with it once they announced playable beta weekends for those pre-ordering. PoF was day 1 buy this time with cheaper price. GW2 seems to be MMO i just love to come back to much more then any other.

    Btw, this time they said they are going to have beta weekends available to everyone, preorder or not; good way to check if it is or isn’t going to click with you.

    Design with elite specs seems to be moving them toward few well-defined niches rather then having “one trait for every playstyle”; in one of most obvious examples current meta HoT condi-reaper gets nerfed and turned toward power version as originally envisioned by nerfing key condi traits (1 bleed instead of 3 on freeze and so on). New necro elite will become condi-spec instead with some support alternatives.

    So there is that too. You aren’t necessarily losing “most op spec” if you don’t get PoF+HoT; you’re losing playstyle/play mode options which you might like more or less then the new ones – raid/fractal supports, healer, pvp, pve, WvW.

    For example, Engi-Scrapper despite being HoT spec is pretty much PvP only, and will likely stay this way.

    HoT Mesmer Chronomancer is current meta tank/support and will likely stay this way; new PoF Mirage is most likely going to be raid-viable condi-dps alternative (and i very much look forward to it).


  5. They have clearly decided to go back to the “Campaign” style of expansions they used for GW1, which fits entirely with their decision to retrofit and repurpose GW2 primarily as sequel aimed at GW1 veterans and move away from the “Mold-breaking” new direction they originally wanted. My take on that is that they discovered MMO players claim to want innovation but actually pay for “more of the same” and after a few years of fighting that painful reality they’ve given up and gone where the money is.

    As for HoT, it’s a first-class expansion with incredible replayability. I thoroughly recommend it on its own merits. What I wouldn’t recommend, though, is trying to play through it before PoF. Two Xpacks back to back with the first taken at a gallop in order to get it out of the way is a good way to end up burned out and bitter.

    Since the expansions are standalones, I’d buy PoF and play that while it’s the new hotness and then come back to HoT some time later, when it will inevitably be on offer at some point between now and the 3rd expansion in 2019 or whenever we get it.

    Gliding, though, is the business!

    As for the controversy over whether HoT was going to be rolled into succeeding expansions for free, yes i thought that too. Knowing ANet, however, it’s entirely possible they always meant what they say they meant but expressed it hideously badly. They do that ALL THE FRICKIN’ TIME!


  6. It’s really simple. Do you have your heart set on playing any of the HoT class variants (aka elite specs) through the Path of Fire zones or -need- gliding functionality with a vengeance? Then buy HoT with PoF.

    If you can live without either, playing either a vanilla GW2 class or a PoF class variant/elite spec through the Path of Fire zones and using the movement skills of the new mounts to get to places (while risking falling to your death here and there), then just get PoF for the time being.

    Getting Heart of Thorns will only become important if you plan on playing high level group content and following whatever the new meta shakes out into, e.g. Mesmer-chronos and Ranger-druids are probably still going to be welcome in most groups, etc. Or if you want to check out a HoT raid instance, or a HoT map meta for HoT specific currency for HoT specific legendaries and things like that. I’m sure at some point in the future they will slash the price down to $20 or less, which is the same as what is bundled together now, or maybe even make it available for gems.


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