Madeline Ricchiuto writes from E3,
While Guild Wars 2 has had multiple free updates for the game, Heart of Thorns is a massive expansion that could prove to be worth the money. One of the key additions to this expansion will be the Guild Halls system.
At the end of Living World, Tyria no longer has a military to fight with, so while the Elder Dragons storyline will continue with this expansion, Heart of Thorns focuses mainly on Tyria's struggle with the Jungle Dragon Mordremoth.
Your guild hall ( either the Lost Precipice, which is a hidden canyon refuge, or the Gilded Hollow, which is more of a monolithic cavern) will be a long forgotten stronghold that has been taken over by Mordremoth's minions. Your guild has been tasked by the government of Tyria to reclaim this location for strategic purposes as part of the "Guild Initiative" which creates a makeshift army out of the guilds. Both guild hall locations have hidden histories which you can uncover as you explore and customize them.
In terms of gameplay, this story addition will make your guild even more integral to the story of Guild Wars 2. Once you've claimed your guild hall and cleansed it of Mordremoth's influence, you can customize the hall. Part of the customization allows you to unlock a new crafting track and a lot of cool buffs for your guild. These major additions to your hall are things like an armory or a forge, and have fixed locations. Everything else in your guild hall can be totally customized with different decor. You can buy the basic decor and either craft cooler versions of it with materials you find, or you can win special decoration items from completing objectives.
Many of the guild system updates that will go live with this expansion are quality of life improvements. There are changes to the resources system along with support structures to help players balance all five of their guilds. You can talk to all five at once or customize how much of each chat stream you see.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Heart of Thorns is the guild multiplayer combat sandbox, which allows for your guild to run fight simulations against a number of enemies. There are also some real-time changes that can be made by whomever is in control of the sandbox, either to assist their guild or make things a little more challenging.
Essentially, Heart of Thorns is designed to bring guilds more to the forefront of Guild Wars 2. Which sounds somewhat ironic considering the name. It is very much a social-based expansion.
If you really like your guild and love socializing with other players, this sounds fantastic. If you're kind of a loner, the guild halls system doesn't have much to offer you other than some cool buffs and a bit of lore.