Guild Wars 2 Expansions: New Professions vs New Races vs New Content

This is a pretty hot-topic that’s been coming out again and again over the past few months and got a little buzz recently due to some confusion over a “no stand-alone compaign” comment.

We’ve known ANet plans on adding expansions in one form or another for Guild Wars 2. Those sorts of things come naturally with most in this genre of gaming. But with their plans on bending MMO conventions, it’s fun to think about what exactly would an expansion entail. What sort of shiny, new gifts under the tree can we expect, or dare we desire, for future content? And how, exactly, should they be released?

Ignoring the stand-alone component, traditionally new expansions  come with new explorable areas and quests, a new class or two, a brand new story, a few tweaks and upgrades to the world, graphics and mechanics, and something novel to the game.

When Factions came out, we were given scores of new skills, alliances, alliance battles, co-op PvPvE missions, as well as the assassin and ritualist. In an attempt to curb players being ran through the game which was common in Prophecies, Anet also changed the open-world explorable aspect and started a trend of locking areas until you had naturally progressed, a system which garnered a considerable amount of heat from many players.

Nightfall’s release brought with it the hero system, the ability to flag and control your h/h team, the short lived hero battles, a new god, and the dervish and paragon professions. With the Sunspear command post, we  got our first real feel for an area directly effected by our progress; perhaps a precursor to our instanced home in GW2. It was also the first time the game required title ranks on top of progression to be able to move through the game.

Lastly, we got Eye of the North, the first and only true expansion to the game requiring a previous campaign. The expansion offered new heroes, skills, the hall of monuments to display our achievements, and high level dungeons.

The live team is also still hard at work getting content updates like War in Kryta on top of major overhauls to keep players engaged during the progress of the sequel.

Now with Guild Wars 2 being a new, persistent animal, there’s been a lot of talk and back-and-forth about what expansions for the game would include.

Full Expansions vs Content Patch:
Traditionally there are two ways that MMO content is released; expansions and content patches. The former are usually full-blown releases in their own right, available for purchase from game stores and come with all the bells and whistles you expect from a game release. Expansions carry the big guns. All the software updates and major new content usually comes with them. Generally it’s a brand new story. But the often ignored lesser release comes in the form of content patches, something Warcraft has done for a while now. Patches normally are much smaller in scale; you  may get big balancing changes, one new major content (like a dungeon), and some advancement to a story.  For example, RIFT does this: they recently released a new boss, for instance, and invited all the players to participate. Eve is another game that does wide-scale events; sometimes they are temporary, others they become a permanent part of the world. I feel GW2 lends itself to be the perfect setting for world events. They are hard to program, of course, and tough to execute when you’re placing a time limit so they would have to be sporadic at best. But with the nature of dynamic questing and scaling, such things would be amazing to see in Tyria. The civil war with the charr, political opposition in Kryta, the curious nature of the sylvari; all offer perfect settings for event-triggered grown and changes.

Cantha and Elona, Revisted
It’s already been confirmed that we would be seeing these areas again. They are probably are biggest candidates for full-blown expansions, and I think it would be nice to see an echo of Guild Wars’ current system of Tyria > Cantha > Elona (why not, after all?).

Cantha has cut itself off from the rest of the world after being unified under Emperor Usoku. We don’t know much other than the Luxons and Kurzicks being defeated and forced to be absorbed, as well as the purging of opposition to the mainland Canthan government.  There’s been a lot of arguing over whether or not the unification and subsequent isolation was a good or bad thing; there’s no indication that the people there are suppressed and miserable outside of the feuding southern tribes.
Elona, on the other hand, we know is in a dire state. After barely recovering from the Nightfall, Palawa Joko, the undead king of the desolation, has pretty much taken over. He’s ruled over most of Elona since, having decimated the Sunspears and converted many to his bidding, either alive or dead.  Although, cut off after the dragons’ awakening, the Order of Whispers has somehow remained in contact with the people there. I’m definitely looking forward to exploring and finding out what I can.
I think it may make more sense to re-visit Elona before Cantha this time around; the former is technically attached to Tyria and we have contact with them, albeit limited.
After that, there’s still plenty to explore; Tyria is a huge world and there is undoubtedly plenty more to discover.

New Races
This has popped up after the big reveal of the Kodan a little while back, and the new playable races vs professions debate has been ongoing since long before. Tyria is a world rich in story and has tons of possibilities for new playable races. The Kodan, for one, being an obvious contender. I also imagine the Tengu (if we get that above mentioned Canthan expansion). We’ve had a long history with them, and after being exiled from Cantha, I’d love to see what’s happened to these guys. The centaur would also be an interesting choice, although somewhat unlikely given the state of affairs between them and  humans. The last possible playable race would be the dwarves. Although from a lore-perspective this is also unlikely due to their being a dying race, it could be interesting (choosing between flesh and stone! How epic would that be?).

New Professions
The issue of new professions is one of balance; with every addition comes the process of figuring out where they fit in the game and how they will play out and synergy with the rest. New professions are always exciting, though, and Anet has done a pretty good job of introducing them to Guild Wars. If this continues in Guild Wars 2 (and I’m on the side of hoping for new profs!) I can imagine they’ll continue to follow this trend.
As far as WHAT exactly would be making a comeback or come out brand spanking new? Really hard to say. We’ve got a lot of new mechanics and weapons (guns being introduced, for instance) that could lend themselves for some exciting new professions.
I for one would love to see the legacy of the Ritualist and Dervish come back, in some shape or form. I imagine the former might be rehashed into a shaman-type profession but the concept of summoning spirits is unique, and I could see an updated mechanic being pretty awesome. The dervish may fall a little short, especially with the state of the gods on Tyria  putting a damper on their main mechanic (in the avatars) for Guild Wars one. The use of scythes, however, and the AoE melee is something that I would love to see come back.

I suppose this is the part where I ask you guys what you think!

To the readers: What sort of content would you like to see in expansions? Would you rather see brand new things or revisit some lost older areas? Do you think new professions would be a good or bad idea? Any other race ideas? Etc.

 

Further reading:

  • Tigerfeet

    “We still don’t know our last two currently included ones.”

    Did you miss the Engineer?

  • Tigerfeet

    “We still don’t know our last two currently included ones.”

    Did you miss the engineer? We’ve only got one profession left 😉

    I myself am hoping more for new races.  The professions themselves are based on archetypes, I don’t feel like there’s a lot of room for very many more.

    (sorry for double-posting, I wasn’t finished with my first comment)

    • Anonymous

      Haha, NP I deleted your old one.
      And no, I didn’t! I wrote this in March, though, and I missed that part @_@!! Thanks for the catch, fixing it now. 😀

  • http://twitter.com/DaPhoolz Rapee Maleesatarn

    I think Arenanet maybe trying to get the new expansion way that nobody would thought of. (actually I hope!) Thinking about what we’ll not meet at the launch of GW2 : the 3 other elder dragons, Cantha and Elona(?) and maybe Additional Personal stories.

    Well i think GW2 would go on for a year or two, before release the expansion and that’s quite a long time so i’d expect the exciting unexpected. 😀

  • Passerby

    I would love to see a giant event chain that would take the majority of a server a day or two to complete that would see the players pushing through the minions of Kralkatorrik in the Crystal Desert into Elona and establishing a permanent beachhead, that would be pretty cool.

  • Ibajiah

    Content patches wouldn’t work with Arenanet’s business model, since it’s B2P. Rift and Warcraft have subs, so they can offer large content patches easily, but expansions are a key source of revenue for Arenanet. They would most likely include optional mission packs, but they can’t include major things such as new game mechanics, types, races, and professions as a free patch. Most likely, they would lose money in the process as they must invest time developing these things, so really, full expansions with small optional downloads peppered in between is the only way for Arenanet to go.

  • Istaro

    As a dervish player in GW1, one would think I’d be one of the people hoping for the dervish to come back to GW2 in a future expansion . . . but I’m more worried about the danger of losing the sharp distinctions between class archetypes.  Having mutually-distinct class archetypes is one of key ingredients for a fun MMO, to me, because not only does it prove replayability, it results in people identifying strongly with their chosen class, building strong class communities, etc.  And the dervish . . . the avatars are hardly the main mechanic, they’re just one set of choices for the elite, that a) provide a cosmetic effect and b) augment the actual main mechanic, i.e. feeders/teardowns.  GW2 isn’t really suited to feeders/teardowns with the decreased skill bar customizability, not to mention the lack of enchantments.  And the other thing that defines the dervish, melee AoE, is taken care of by greatsword (and hammer?) warriors.

    So I wouldn’t mind not seeing dervishes again.  I’d rather ANet wrack their brains, when it comes time for an expansion, for a new class or two orthogonal to all of the original eight.  And if they can’t think of any, even with community feedback, I’d rather they give up on new classes and focus on other stuff instead.

  • Draxynnic

    Heh, I know about writing a post that doesn’t get published until months later myself… although March to now probably beats mine.

    Personally, my expectation is new content and possibly new races – it’s fairly obvious we’re going to go back to Elona and Cantha eventually, although it may be interspersed with completely new content. Race-wise, centaurs have been vetoed at least for the moment due to underwater animations.

    Profession-wise, I agree with Istaro. ANet appears to have covered the general concepts of the removed professions (apart from healbotting) in the new. In the new profession/weapon structure, new weapons are less of an incentive for new professions than a means of expanding existing ones and possibly fill in the gap – adding a scythe to the guardian and hooded and cloaked heavy armour options would probably pretty much give you a dervish, for instance (with the necromancer being an obvious second beneficiary of the new weapon). In some cases, one profession could expand to include another even without a new weapon – spirits unshackled from their fixed position would make effective necromancer minions, for instance.

  • Luetkemd

    New professions means new starter areas which I think Anet is shying away from. Isn’t there an area to the south- Orr or something that is not playable upon release? My guess is the first expansion will tak us there.

  • http://belzan.wordpress.com/ Belzan

    I will be happy once we get the initial release. I’m less concerned about expansions and future campaigns at the moment. That said, there are plenty of opportunities down the road for adding races, continents, Elder Dragon mischief, and professions. I personally feel better about expanding current professions over adding whole new ones, but I would appreciate a profession that is culturally specific like we had with the Cantha/Elona expansions back in the day. New weapons would be nice and would add flavor to the current professions.

    Still, I’ll spend more time theorizing on how GW2 can get cooler once I’ve spent some time exploring how cool it already is :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000480304422 Kristian Maney

    One of the great things about being one of the first to explore an entirely new game is that you’re never left behind when expansions roll in and patches are implemented. Tyria is such a huge place though I hope there isn’t an expansion for a while, just so I can get to know everything there is to know about it before then!

  • Lensor

    I dont think there will be new professions in expansions. However, since so much of a build is decided by the weapon choice, I can certainly imagine there being new weapon types introduced to offer that fresh experience. Like the scythe, spear, or why not two-handed daggers (i.e. dagger pairs that take up all weapon slots). Races are also very likely imho since they do not affect balance that much (although if there are races you should be able to create them already at level 80).

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  • Koreanstown

    frankly, i think the release contents in itself will be playable for quite sometime…at least until the expansions are out.. i hope they dont rush the expansions and release them when they feel its ready, given its areanet..i trust they will as they did with the original guildwars

  • Timothy Alchemy Freeman

    I would like them to do a better job with Cantha… I felt that the asian theme seemed to Americanized and not 100% true to Asia… They should seriously get some game designer from Japan to add the fantasy Asian feel in Cantha. It just lacked the magical and mystical appeal of asia. But yes, I would love to see Elona and an improved Cantha to come back as sequels. As for new classes I m hoping that they add the Buddhist monks to the Cantha expansion. Monks that are very asian in appearance how are masters with unarmed combat and utilize Chi as their source of power. The kind of moves that they would do would be tiger, dragon, crane, mantis, etc. The way they fight would be very much like you would see in the movies maybe. Masters of martial arts and at the same time spiritual transcending the body with powers of levitation maybe… I do not know exactly how they would work but an unarmed martial artist with Chi abilities sounds unique and awesome. One of their ultimate armors could look like the typical Buddhist Monk outfits we all know and love and any other martial arts outfit people have seen in the movies and loved. Also the warrior classes wold get samurai armor while the theif class could get Ninja armor. I post some images off looks that I like including faces cus the faces of the original Cantha sucked… Most of them looked half asian or not asian at all…

    • Timothy Alchemy Freeman

      Fantasy European (Tyria), Asian (Cantha), African/Middle East (Elona)… It is awesome to be able to travel the world. 

  • Timothy Alchemy Freeman

    They need to add a new aquatic city and a playable aquatic race. 

    • Timothy Alchemy Freeman

      This is original and I think has never been done before.

      • Bobo

        Perfect World, the Tideborn.

        • Timothy Alchemy Freeman

          haha cool. I checked it out and the mermaids were cool. I hope they incorporate something like this in GW2. I guess it would be safe to say not many games have done this… Would be perfect with GW2s advanced underwater play. 

  • Timothy Alchemy Freeman

    haha sorry my minds racing with ideas… maybe they could make an underwater/underdark expansion where you can travel through two new worlds with new cities not located on the surface but located underground and underwater. With new races that live in these new places. 

  • HoshigumaDoji

    I honestly REALLY want a martial artist class. These have always been my favorite types to play in any game, and if they add a martial artist with a Cantha expansion, I will love arenanet forever and GW2 is suddenly the best MMO I’ve ever played. They should at least be able to use some weapons though, like 1h sword, mace, maybe shortbow. God it would be amazing.
    Maybe warriors in cantha will play more like samurai? That’d be some neat stuff, too.

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  • Kreshendough

    Make an expansion that is outside the world of Tyria!!!

    Introduce what happened to the Gods, and how the world of Tyria came to be… There’s so much more that can be said on the ancient ANCIENT history of the Gods and the Dragons… The Gods themselves in the game are very mysterious, it would be insane if they became NPC’s of some sort while visiting other worlds among the mists…

    Hell, if you really want to take a jump, we can even boot this game to try and attempt another jump forward in time and introduce a sci-fi element to the game while exploring other worlds two more centuries into the future… of course that’s for GW3 😛

  • jihad

    How about outside the box… What if before or after expansionpacks on Cantha or Elona they introduce a whole othe continent. An undiscovered one with its own lore, problems, races, etc. A continent somehow disconnected from the rest of the world until now. It could even be a continent hidden in the mists, unlikely tho.
    It would be very interesting and would be very refreshing to long time GW fans.

  • jared

    I totally think that before they throw an expansion out there the should come out with better moves/attacks for current prof. I think they need to expand on animals for the ranger, personally I want like an owl-griffin or eagle griffin, they have a good selection but i think they could expand on the ability more for animal companions, next i would think you should be able to choose what attacks you want to use witch means they would have to expand the slot skill’s and weapon skills i think in original GW where you could pick you attack and what order they went in was something they lost along the way… but instead they locked you and limited you to 5 main attacks this bites i think it needs to be more versatile…sticking to the main expansions would be awesome but then throwing in new profs. a plus but they need to keep dervish i also think we should be able to Dual class again!!!!!!!