Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

Game review by
Franklin Rinaldi, Common Sense Media
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Game Poster Image
Epic fantasy MMO expansion vastly improves gameplay, story.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to set and meet goals, making tough decisions on how and where to progress. Attention to detail in the management of goods and services teaches them to understand market trends and recognize deals, and it promotes a healthy understanding of money management. The deep and rich story provides immersion in the world, developing the imagination and cognitive thinking. Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns has a surprising amount of depth when it comes to economics, critical thinking, and social interaction, all wrapped into a large multiplayer setting.

Positive Messages

Players are heroes in a troubled land, helping people by seeking out, defeating evil besieging world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Story full of heroes whom players follow; are shown how to emulate them, becoming heroes themselves.

Ease of Play

Tutorial eases players into game; actions are quickly learned. But as players advance, game gets deeper, complexity increases.


Gameplay based on combat against fantasy creatures, humanoid enemies through use of magic spells, weapons such as swords, firearms, explosives. Though blood, death throes, sounds of pain can be experienced in some scenes, none of it's graphic, distasteful.


Players can strip characters down to underwear, choose to wear sexy clothing.


Some scenes do use some strong language. This is also an online game; players will be exposed to the language of others, but there's a profanity filter, so it can be bypassed. 


Cosmetic items available in cash shop for purchase. No items are required but are advertised, promoted.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters can enter taverns, buy, consume alcoholic drinks. When they get drunk, the screen will blur. There's also a drinking mini-game, which ends when the first character passes out or his health meter reaches zero.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is the first expansion to Guild Wars 2. It's a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) set in a fantasy world where players use combat to advance the story. As it's an expansion, players will need to own the core game, which is included when purchasing the expansion. The game requires an active connection to the Internet to play and, over time, a significant investment of time and effort to complete the massive amount of story and adventure available to explore. There's no monthly fee, but there's an online store where players can purchase convenience and costume items with real money. The expansion continues the story and adventure past level 80, the cap of players that own the original game. Though there's a profanity filter, there's still the opportunity to share personal information via forums and guild chats.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCeridwen May 4, 2016

GW2 Heart of Thorns & Base Game

Heart of Thorns (HoT) is the first expansion pack released for Guild Wars 2 (GW2). It takes an increased gameplay learning curve from the base game - which was... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old May 10, 2016

What's it about?

GUILD WARS 2: HEART OF THORNS is an expansion pack for the popular Guild Wars 2 massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Elder Dragon Mordremoth has been awoken deep in the Maguuma Jungle, and all are in danger as the Jungle Dragon spreads its tendrils out across Tyria. With new terrain, manufactured minions, and spreading distrust, players will be up against unimaginable odds to defeat Mordremoth and secure Tyria's future. This expansion allow you to design a character for one of the nine professions (including the newly added Revenant), developing skills over time as you level and progress through the rich story. The story is unique to your profession and choices made at character creation, allowing for many views of the overarching world story and how the different races all play their parts. Heart of Thorns brings Elite Specializations that allow for further customization of your character and new weapons that can be added to your chosen profession at level 80, which is where the story of Heart of Thorns begins. 

Is it any good?

This is a feature-rich expansion aimed at adding content for the high-level characters while also providing numerous improvements to gameplay and functionality at all levels. Though having the expansion isn't required to enjoy many of the improvements, for both veteran and new players alike the additions that Heart of Thorns brings is well worth it. If you have never bought Guild Wars 2, buying the expansion does give you the Core Game. The expansion adds new allies, skills, magic, and resources to build on the rich skill-based combat system. A stunning jungle zone has been added and can be traversed on multiple layers with the addition of gliders that allow you to catch the wind to fly for a short time, which is awesome. A new profession has been added to the roster, one that channels and controls the power of the Mists. If you enjoy player-vs,-player (PvP), you will enjoy the new World vs. World zone, Desert Borderlands, and Strongholds. Guildhalls come to the Heart of Maguuma to provide a home for players to gather and progress as a Guild, which is great for the social and organized gameplay.

The additional story is very well done, and you'll be drawn in along your adventures in Tyria. The artwork and animations are phenomenal, and it's worth taking your time to explore the world, listen to the dialogue of the NPCs, or just take in the scenery. Arenanet continues its tradition of epic cut scenes that assist in relating the story and are beautifully orchestrated. The only detraction (which is also a huge plus, depending on your play style) is the sheer amount of activities you can do outside the story line. Information overload is a real possibility, but within the game you have the tools to minimize the impact. If you love immersion, stylized graphics and a huge world to play in, Heart of Thorns is well worth your time.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about personal safety while online. What should you not share online? How can you trust someone you just met online?

  • Talk about online etiquette and behavior. What effect does online anonymity have on people's behavior?

  • Discuss responsible time limits on games. Why is it important to take time for real-world activities instead of sitting at a screen all the time?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love multiplayer games

Themes & Topics

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