The Heart of Thorns expansion for Guild Wars 2 has been a long time coming. While the team at ArenaNet has certainly kept GW2 players highly engaged over the past few years, we were reaching that point where a sizable chunk of content in the form of an expansion made sense. Sure, much of what Heart of Thorns has to offer could have just as easily been released through a combination of Living World seasons and Feature Packs, but doing so would have been far less impactful in the long run.

Through the first live weekend for HoT I split my time between unlocking the Reaper skills and talents on my necromancer, and getting a better feel for the Revenant. On the latter, between the Experience Scrolls and Tomes of Knowledge I had previously banked I was only a few levels short of instantly hitting level 80, and knocking out the rest was a fairly quick process.

In both cases, my main focus has been sorting out which weapon sets make the most sense based on my personal playstyle and the inherent strengths of the profession.

With the Reaper, one thing to note is that I’ll still need to earn another 145 training points to fully unlock the spec, though at 63.8% unlocked I’m deep enough in to make use of it in most PvE situations. So far I would argue that the greatsword skills form one of the most cohesive and purposeful weapon options in the necromancer’s arsenal, especially when paired with Reaper’s Shroud. My main challenge at present is attempting to sort out which weapons will compliment it best in the various parts of the game.

The ability to keep Chill and Vulnerability up on targets at all times helps set a baseline for the build that provides plenty of room for augmenting in various directions, so I’ll be focusing quite a bit on sorting all of that out heading into this week.

In the meantime, I’d also offer up a quick tip for any other fellow necromancer fans out there that have multiple necros on the same account. When you first unlock the Reaper you will earn the Adept Reaper achievement which also rewards you with a Reaper’s Greatsword so that you can jump right in and enjoy the new spec. Keep in mind that this will only be unlocked once on your account – if you spec into Reaper on a second necro on the same account you’ll need to acquire a greatsword through other means.

While not a huge issue by any means, I felt it was worth a quick mention as I discovered this immediately upon unlocking the Reaper on a second level 80 necro over the weekend. In case you’re wondering why I’d play 2 necros right at the start of the expansion, one of them is Sylvari so I’m also able to experience the impact of playable character race on the main story for Heart of Thorns given the current attitude towards sylvari by many NPCs.

Tales from Maguuma Wastes #1

As part of the evolving Lifetap format, moving forward I’ll be directly discussing various experiences based on the MMOs I’m currently playing. To kick things off, I wanted to take a brief moment to bask in the glory of Heart of Thorns some more. In particular, I’m loving the fact that there are challenges sprinkled throughout the new maps that bring back fond memories of the challenges in Guild Wars: Factions and Guild Wars: Nightfall.

While a bit less complex and requiring a much shorter time commitment to complete (at least those I’ve discovered so far) these activities are still a pleasant diversion and in some cases will also help you hone your newly acquired movement-based skills via the Masteries system.

When you discover the location of a new activity like Tendril Torchers (shown below), take a few minutes to survey your surroundings before getting started. In the case of Tendril Torchers you’ll note that there are a number of bouncing mushrooms in the immediate vicinity that will help you traverse the landscape surrounding the nearby wreckage.

If you haven’t yet unlocked that particular Mastery yet, make a mental note to come back once you have. While you’ll still do well without it, being able to bounce between platforms quickly will save you tons of time and help you lock in the Gold tier. As you can see below, my average without the use of mushrooms was just over the Silver tier mark. While certainly decent, you’ll want to aim for the Gold tier on these whenever possible.

Of course, Hero Challenges will be a much higher priority depending on how much time you’re able to commit to playing during any given week. These represent a hefty upgrade from many of the original Skill Challenges in the core GW2 maps, and will most often require groups of players to complete. While it’s possible to solo them in a pinch depending on your profession and build, the champion spawns can still be a bit much to juggle on your own.

Completion will earn you a chunk of training points at once which is incredibly helpful for unlocking your elite specialization and its related skills and talents. For more on unlocking elite specializations, be sure to check out the excellent guide that Lewis recently whipped up: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns – How to Unlock Elite Specializations.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars 2 Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2016

About The Author

Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.