ArenaNet is putting the finishing touches on Guild Wars 2's first expansion, Heart of Thorns. And while the developer is planning to show off a playable demo at next week's Gamescom event in Germany, Guild Wars 2 fans are getting a major announcement right now. As Gamescom kicks off, Guild Wars 2 players that have pre-ordered the expansion will have their first crack at Heart of Thorns' public beta.
For those players with existing pre-orders, the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns beta will kick off at 12PM PT on Friday, August 7. The beta will run for 72 hours, ending at 12PM PT on Monday, August 10. The expansion's opening story instances, as well as the new Heart of Maguuma Jungle area, will be open for exploration. Players will also get to create a fully-stocked level-80 character for use during this beta. This gives them the chance to try out the new Revenant class, which picks elements from the legends of Guild Wars lore. The Masteries system will also be on full display, demonstrating the new endgame progression system that goes beyond the game's linear level cap. PvP enthusiasts will get a chance to try out the new 5v5 Stronghold mode, as well.
Any progress made over the course of this Heart of Thorns beta can be saved and carried over to future betas. ArenaNet is hopeful that players will want to take part in those betas, so they'll be looking for any and all feedback to help make the expansion better. Those that are unable to make it into the beta will have a chance to check out a full weekend's worth of Guild Wars 2 footage, panels, interviews, and reveals when the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel goes on live from Gamescom next week.
Those looking to get in on this beta can pre-order Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns directly from the game's website.