With ArenaNet ready to launch Guild Wars 2's upcoming Heart of Thorns expansion in October, that will leave plenty for new players to catch up with before then. Fortunately, it now appears that newcomers will have less of an entry barrier to worry about, since the developer has announced that the base game will now be free to all users, starting today.
The formal announcement came during ArenaNet's panel at PAX Prime. To this point, Guild Wars was a free game for anyone that purchased the base software for roughly $40-50. However, since the base game is coming packaged with Heart of Thorns, it now appears that such an entry fee for the original adventure is no longer necessary.
There will be a few restrictions, though. Free players will not have as many character or inventory slots. There will also be chat and economic restrictions that will be put into place to prevent abuse of the real money trade system. World vs. World will also open up to free players only at Level 60, as opposed to paid players getting access out of the box.
The other big reveal at the panel was 10-player Raids. This will be instanced content that groups can jump into using new Mastery system abilities. Groups will be put to the test, as Raids will require quick weapon changes, combos, and dodge rolls to succeed. While enemy hordes and platforming will be a major aspect of the Raids, so will massive boss encounters, designed specifically to take on 10-person teams. The first of these raids will come in three parts, set to release shortly after the release of Heart of Thorns.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will hit PC and Mac on October 23.