Hearts of the North, the next major content patch for Guild Wars, focuses on the wedding of heroes Gwen and Keiran Thackeray. For the people that are not familiar with their lore, what can you tell us about them?
Sure thing. Gwen is a character that was first introduced in Prophecies, the first Guild Wars campaign where players met her as a little girl. She spent some time off on adventures with them, playing her flute, skipping around, and generally being cheerful. Gwen, as a character, is meant to embody the simple innocence that is the feeling of Pre-Searing Ascalon. When the Searing finally happens, Gwen goes missing and is presumed to be dead- a harsh casualty of war.
Years later, players meet the older and battle-hardened Gwen in Eye of the North. She has grown up on the run, a former captive of the charr who has finally stood to face her fears and fight back. Gwen becomes an important figure in the Ebon Vanguard - the detachment of Ascalonian soldiers fighting in the north - eventually becoming their acting captain.
Gwen as a character is deeply wounded, someone burdened by the scars of a cruel life. Rather than retreat into self pity, she instead chooses to lash out against those she feels are responsible: the charr. She is fearsome in battle, but struggles to interact civilly with others. She has lost everyone important to her, and is afraid to let anyone else in. Which brings us to...
Keiran Thackeray, leader of the Ebon Falcons. He first meets Gwen when his unit is recalled to the Eye of the North. The two seem to be polar opposites at first-Keiran is relentless in his attempts to cheer up Gwen, who he sees as distancing herself, and Gwen is just as relentless in shutting him down. One thing that the two do have in common is their stubborn nature.
Keiran is kind, but in a way that causes him to suffer from being indecisive. Some people only wish to see others happy, and as such, can end up causing hurt by not being honest about what they want. In many ways, the two balance each other out, but their hard-headedness eventually drives them apart. The new content is the story of how Gwen and Keiran finally reconcile their feelings for one another, and how they are reunited.
In Hearts of the North, the players will get to help out in their wedding. Can you tell us about how that will work during the actual ceremony?
Players will have the opportunity to help out beforehand - any good ceremony needs to be suitably prepared for. In the ceremony itself, players will have a chance to speak on behalf of one of the betrothed. The wedding itself will be mostly a scene-I know I've certainly read a lot of speculation on the fan forums as to what would happen, and most scenarios tended to involve the charr crashing the wedding to one degree or another. While I do agree that there's a lot of drama in that, I also wanted to have a story in Guild Wars that could simply be a nice moment, a happy ending.
We invest so much time in wars, machinations of fallen gods, and countless other threats that the world is almost always running on "epic." I feel like there are times when we need to step back from that to have simple moments that show you that the world is still a good place, that all isn't lost, and remind you of why you're fighting so hard in the first place.
Also in Hearts of the North, players will be able to play as Keiran Thackeray himself. Can you give us any details about that?
Certainly. Players will be assuming the role of Keiran, and working with someone that will be a major player in the upcoming Cantha: Winds of Change content. Keiran and his new partner share heavily symbiotic builds - when the two characters work together, they are a deadly combination capable of dealing out even instant-kills. But the two need one another to progress, and you'll need to be keeping an eye on the battlefield to decide how best to employ the tools at your disposal. The builds that the two employ are really meant to play up the fact that Keiran is a resourceful survivor, capable of having his moments of awesome. I hope players enjoy the experience!
The content in Hearts of the North is supposed to have ramifications in Guild Wars 2. In what way? Will it come to affect the player characters in Guild Wars 2 in the same way the Halls of Monument does, for example?
The ramifications that you'll be seeing are lore-related, that you'll experience as the content plays out. Although as an added bonus, some of the rewards from the new content could help players out with their Hall of Monuments progress...
You've now done War in Kryta and will be bringing out Hearts of the North. Can you give us any hints about what will happen in the future? What kind of content can current Guild Wars-players expect?
The next major story arc that will be happening will be taking place in Cantha, for Winds of Change. This is going to be a pretty big tale, that helps set the stage for some of the events to come- important history by the time of Guild Wars 2, which is some 250 years in the future. Additionally, players will also see some new content going into the game for Wintersday, and there'll be our planned feature build that we'll talk about some more as we get closer to its release!
Hearts of the North will be out this fall. The contents of the pack will be available for players that have finished Guild Wars: Eye of the North and the War in Kryta. Big thanks to John for his time!
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