Category Archives: GW2 Races

Looking Forward to the Sylvari and Asura

Only a few more days until we can finally get our hands on the sylvari and the asura! Last year, they have been playable at gaming conventions like GamesCom. Have a look at our sPvP videos from GamesCom 2011 to see sylvari and asura in action. However, they were not playable in their respective starter areas and we haven’t been able to play them during any of the beta weekend events.

If you’re wondering what to do until next weekend, here’s a selection of links that will give you plenty to read and listen to. I wrote two posts at Talk Tyria about the sylvari and the asura. I had looked at the asura from a more roleplaying point-of-view: Are they cute and cuddly or heartless and selfish? How much will we be able to identify with our asura characters? And then we have the sylvari. I have a friend who always makes an elf character when that race exists. Will players like him be happy with the sylvari? How much “elf” is in a sylvari? Okay, I am mostly focusing on their looks and not their character. But you’ll see that if you read the entry.

The reason I even remembered those postings in the first place and thought about putting them here was that AJ Wolf on The Tyrian Order recently wrote about sylvari and asura as well. They’re much broader than my postings as she gives a general overview of the races, their history, important characters (careful: those parts contain spoilers for the novels if you haven’t read them yet and don’t want to know what happens), and so on. She also lists her sources (as did I on Talk Tyria), so there’s plenty of further reading if you can’t get enough of those two races.

If you don’t feel like reading, you can listen to the two TowerTalk interviews for the sylvari and the asura instead: The one about asura is a bit older by now, but the lore shouldn’t have changed that much in the meantime. Don’t let the German website scare you. The interviews are in English! “Englische Transkription” is – probably easy to guess – the English transcription of the interview. The sylvari interview was released not too long ago. Both are really great interviews with lots of information and insight about the two races.

Last but not least, as you know, I have taken lots of screenshots so far and while I do not have any from the sylvari and asura cities yet (you will get to see those galleries here after next BWE, of course), I did take a couple that show those two races and I thought it’s the perfect way to end this short article.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (June 30, 2012)

Welcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to gaming (will most likely include at least one piece about Guild Wars 2 ^^).

The infamous June 28 came and went, but it finally brought us a release date. Do I need to even repeat it? I’m just going to link to the official announcement (and add: August 28, 2012! Just in case you’ve been offline for too long and actually did miss it). It’s so much earlier than I thought! I was counting on October or November. Now, with some luck, I may even get some time off work because it’s also a few days before my birthday and I could just enjoy the game and my birthday without having to worry about work-related stuff.

There is another Lore Tower Talk on the German fansite Wartower.de. Fortunately for you, English-speaking readers, it’s all in English! And it’s about the Sylvari this time. I haven’t had the time yet to listen to it, but I definitely will do it because all of those Tower Talks have been great so far. If you don’t feel like listening, there is already an English transcript available – and a translation into German if you prefer that.

Yesterday, I finally got around to redesigning our former “Blogroll”. It used to be just a list but that looked boring. Head over to the Recommended Reading page and have a look yourself! There are lots of great blogs and fansites, all about Guild Wars 2 and/or other MMOs. If you want to be listed there, contact us. And if you find that we didn’t include your logo – or caught the wrong one – contact us as well, so we can change that.

We have also had our first guest post yesterday by Joshua about mobile MMOs. If you want to read more from him, head over to his blog.

Last but not least, Werit has been working on Dev Spy which is an aggregator for different games’ developer posts. It currently features games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, etc. He is still improving the website, so leave your feedback there if you have some.

Guild Wars 2: A FAQ for new players

You may already know the first version of this FAQ. I decided to rewrite it, update it and put newer screenshots in. So here is the new version. A very special thank you goes to Tasha Darke for reading through it all. I was hoping for a few bits of corrected grammar but she gave me very valuable feedback on top of that!

This FAQ is mostly for those who have just recently heard of Guild Wars 2 and now want to know more. If you have been following the game for years or even just months, if you have pre-purchased the game and if you have already played it, you are welcome to read it as well, but you will find a lot of information that you already know.

Since the game is still in development a lot of things are subject to change (yes, believe it or not, ArenaNet is handling the Beta Weekend Events like a real beta and is still changing things around). Also, new information comes out every now and then which might outdate what you can read here. If you notice any of that – or just errors that I’ve made – please comment (with sources if possible).

I am going to use the same categories that I have used for my “Rift vs. Lotro vs. WoW” posting already.

If you only want a very short overview, the following will hopefully be enough. There are lots of links leading you further down my posting if you want more information!

Before we start, we need to get two questions out of the way (as suggested by Pyzlnar on Reddit):
“Yes, you can jump!” – and no, this game is not an Asian-grinder and it is not made by an Asian company. It’s made by ArenaNet who is located in Seattle, Washington, USA (though they do belong to NCSoft but they only work as a publisher here while ArenaNet is the developer and thus, actually makes the game). Guild Wars 2 will also feature an open world and will not be heavily instanced like Guild Wars 1 is. Again, thank you, Pyzlnar, for these suggestions. You were right, they’re clearly missing and should be the first two points in any GW2 FAQ. ;)

OMG! When’s the beta? How do I get in?
If you have pre-purchased the game, you are automatically invited to all beta weekend events planned to take place roughly once a month until release. Do not confuse it with a preorder, though. Pre-purchasing means you pay the game in full! Beta keys are also available through giveaways and competitions from a variety of fan and gaming websites.
Wait, what?

How much does the game cost? Which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
You will have to buy the game itself but there will be no monthly fees. Without monthly fees, the follow-up costs are basically voluntary as there will be a real money shop (called “gem store”), but stuff you buy there will not give you more power and thus, won’t be required for the gameplay. Gems, the shop’s currency, can be bought in the game’s auction house (here called the Trading Post) for in game gold. Nothing is known yet about security like authenticators. There will very likely be system for account restorations in case you were hacked.
More on costs and security

What can I play and how do I play? – Races, professions and combat mechanics
You will be able to choose from 5 races: Norn, human, asura, charr and sylvari. Each race can be each of the 8 professions (often also called “classes”) in the game: Engineer, Thief, Guardian, Warrior, Elementalist, Necromancer, Ranger and Mesmer.

There is no holy trinity anymore! “Holy trinity” refers to characters that tank (the foes focus on the tank and leave the other players alone), characters that heal and characters that deal damage. In Guild Wars 2, every profession is self-sufficient up to a certain point and you will be able to play with any combination of professions without having to wait for “another healer” or “a tank”. Professions can interact with each other through their skills and support others.
More about races and professions

What does the game look like?
In short: Gorgeous, artsy, picturesque if you ask me. As with all games’ graphics, this is very subjective. Have a look at the various screenshots you can find online and decide for yourself if you like it.
Pictures and videos outsourced to below in order to keep the part up here short.

What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
First things first, there will be no regular raids in this game as you may know them from WoW or SWTOR! Instead, dynamic events in the open world that scale for up to 100 players. There will be several dungeons to play which will each have a story mode and the more difficult explorable mode. There will be no standard quests for playing either. The closest you will get to regular quests will be your personal storyline.
More about PvE

Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
There are 2 modes of PvP – Structured and World vs World.
Structured PvP, also known as Conquest, is somewhat similar to battlegrounds (WoW) or warzones (SWTOR) except everybody will be max level and have all weaponry and armor available to them straight out of character creation. So no gear advantages. 2 Teams (hot join or premade) fight it out on different maps for Glory, a currency which can be spent on better looking equipment and other (as yet unannounced) rewards.
World vs. world vs. world (frequently abbreviated to WvW) is the second mode. Three worlds (servers) will fight against each other for guild recognition and bonuses which affect the entire world. Players cannot fight players from the same server,as there are no factions, and while characters are buffed to have the basic stats as a level 80 character, gear and traits are not levelled (but you do earn experience in WvW which means that you can level your character in WvW). Servers will rotate every two weeks.
More about PvP

Grouping and socialization
In Guild Wars 2, you will be able to join more than one guild with one single character (I assume you will be able to create more than one character. So don’t misunderstand this sentence ^^). If you want to read our opinion about it, go here. If you don’t, well that’s just as well. ;)
Grouping will be in the game but it will not be forced on you like it is in other games. For example, you can attack a mob that another player is currently fighting. As you both contribute to the kill, you will both get the same amount of experience points and loot that you would have gotten if you had fought the mob on your own! In other words: Kill-stealing will not be possible!
More about Grouping and Socialization

I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
The first thing that comes to my mind is the personal storyline. When creating your character, you get asked a few questions and can choose between different answers. That determines the starting point of your personal story. Other choices later on will further determine how your story evolves. You can bring a friend along to your storyline. But it will essentially be your story.

Guild Wars 2 will also have achievements. So that’s something you can do. You can also roam the world on your own or play a lone wolf in WvW – though I’m not sure how viable the latter is, apart from escorting the odd caravan. ;)
More about stuff to do solo

Crafting
There are 8 crafting skills to choose from and you can have two at a time: Weaponsmith, Huntsman, Artificer, Armorsmith, Leatherworker, Tailor, Jeweler and Cook.
Every character can gather all resources provided you have the correct gathering tool equipped which can be bought from merchants for gold or karma. A resource node can be used by several players, so it is not possible to steal such a node from under another player’s nose.
More about crafting

Fluff
There will be mini-pets just as in Guild Wars 1. Activities have also been announced but there haven’t been any recent details on them. “Bar brawl” was one of the activities mentioned, for example.

You will also have a home instance which is an entire district in the capital city of your character’s race. The home instance automatically changes with your personal story but you can’t change anything yourself (like putting furniture in).

Also, you will be able to change the way your armor looks. And there will be 400 different dyes in the game. Each piece of armor has 1 to 3 areas that can be dyed.
More about fluff

That was the short version. Its bigger brother will follow now, which also includes links for further reading. Most of the information can be found on ArenaNet’s blog or in the official wiki for Guild Wars 2.

Click here to see the full entry

Crosspost from TT: Sylvari – The Elves of Guild Wars 2!

This is another crosspost from Talk Tyria. If you want to add a comment, please add it there. Thank you. :)

The sylvari, together with the asura, are the races we haven’t yet gotten to play either in the closed beta or during the first beta weekend event. They both were playable during some gaming conventions (like GamesCom 2011), so we know they exist in a playable state, at least! But of course, not having been able to play them myself, I am very curious about them. I know I will love asura. There’s just no doubt about that. But what about the sylvari?

For me, they come close to what elves represent in other fantasy games. Think of your standard fantasy settings and now think of how many games include some kind of elves: Lord of the Rings Online, World of Warcraft, Everquest, Rift,… the list goes on. Elves are usually the fragile, elegant, gracious, wise and oooooold race. The sylvari are all of that with one exception; They are a very young race with the oldest sylvari being 25 years old. I’d assume that sylvari will most likely be the race to play when you’re usually an elf-lover because of their looks. But from their personality and their background, they’re rather unique.

They are a tree’s interpretation of humans. (Kristen Perry in Talk Tyria’s lore interview)

Let’s take a look at the sylvari: They can have elf-like ears (pointed, that is, in case you didn’t know). You can find a video showing the early sylvari character customization here (it starts at around 3:30). Their ears are pointed because they’re leaf-shaped. Which, oddly enough, is what Tolkien had in mind for his elves (see Wiki entry above). But it’s not that easy. Sylvari aren’t simply “the elves”. You have to look a bit closer to see the differences between elves (or humans) and sylvari. They are, in fact, plants that were built after humans because the Pale Tree, out of which they were “born”, knows what humans look like and modelled the sylvari after them. ArenaNet had published a blog post about Kristen Perry’s redesign of the sylvari (they did actually look very much like regular elves before). Continue reading

My gameplay experience at the EUFanDay

It turns out, we’re actually allowed to write about our game experience now! Three cheers to ArenaNet for allowing us to share our experiences with you! And there’s no need for them to worry either because except for two tiny things, I enjoyed myself immensely in the game and all in all, I can’t wait to get my hands on the real game. So, in case you’re curious about my gameplay experience, I’m going to try to memorize what I did and thought about the game. ;) The short of it is: I played a norn through their starter area, I played structured PvP, I played through a dungeon and I experienced the downscaling in the open world. The classes I tried were mesmer and warrior.

Before we started playing, we told each other which race/class we want to play once the game releases. Nobody mentioned the poor norn (you can probably guess which race I am going to play first… ^^). Ironically, the first thing we did was play the norn starter area. ;) This race is too big for me. The characters and the starter area are well-done. The norn themselves just aren’t what I like playing myself. So, as soon as I had the chance, I switched to playing a female charr. Much better! I tried both the mesmer (melee-style!) and the warrior. I can say that I have no idea which of those two classes will be my “main character” in the end. But I guess that’s what “alts” are for. ;)

I played the norn mesmer with a sword and a pistol. It was nice being right at the mob in melee combat. I never had the feeling that I was squishy. All in all, the mesmer has some nice tricks up her sleeve. I had called an illusion (who looks exactly like my character) and then got kicked away from the mob. After calling this illusion, you have a few seconds to click on this same spell again and switch positions with the illusion. So, if your illusion is still close to the mob and you get kicked away, activate this skill and you switch positions with it and can continue meleeing the mob. Or, well, player if that happens in PvP. ;)

Anyway, as I said, I switched from norn as soon as I had the chance. So once we started playing structured PvP (no WvW because we were only 25 people and that would’ve been a bit boring), I played a female charr warrior. I did mention to Stéphane how the female charr’s breathing sounds reminded me of Darth Vader. Weird noises, really. But I guess I’ll either get used to it (and my headphones did have a strange sound to them… tinny, in a way) or maybe they’ll change it if more people think so. ^^ I liked everything else about the female kitteh. She’s cute, cuddly, furry,… ;) The warrior class was lots of fun as well. During the PvP, I ran around with a gun. I had a hard time remembering all skills, so I refrained from switching to my melee weapons. Of course, that meant I didn’t play as effectively as I could have. ;) Still, I had lots of fun, even though I always need lots of time until I can find my way around on the different maps. We played Battle of Kyhlo (for gameplay videos, you can have a look at our youtube-channel where we uploaded several videos from last year’s GamesCom about people playing on this map. We do not have any current videos because we weren’t allowed to film it) and Forest of Niflhel.

The next day, we played the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon. Once again, I missed something. I thought I couldn’t switch my weapon sets and only had one: Sword and shield for my warrior. For my traits, I had chosen some that gave me more defense and hitpoints. I wanted to make sure I don’t die immediately, so that it gave me more time to react. We played the story-mode and it was… easy. Again, fun. But easy! We hadn’t been in there for long when our 5th group member had to go (it was the second day, so I assume he had to go in order to catch his flight). We continued with just four players and still, it was easy! Of course, “easy” doesn’t mean we went through there without dying. We all died a few times (that is, we were in downed state several times and a few times, we also died). We also had a wipe at one of the bosses.

What I like is how you can play through the story-mode with a PuG (and we were kind of like a PuG, after all. With us sitting further away from each other, there wasn’t much discussing a tactic, etc.) and don’t need to worry about wiping countless times before giving up completely frustrated. As we were only four people, we didn’t even try the explorable mode. Stéphane said that if we did try this one out, we would endure pain. Lots and lots of pain. When glancing over to my right, I saw Tasha Darke and her group die countless times in the explorable version. They tried their best but eventually, gave up. So there is certainly a huge difference between playing the story-mode and the explorable mode. And that’s the way it should be, if you ask me. If you just want to go through the dungeon to experience the story and be able to say that you’ve done and seen it, then the story-mode is perfect for you. If you want and need the challenge, then continue with the explorable mode! And since you get downscaled to the appropriate level if you’re higher level, there is no way to go back to a low level dungeon and just run through it without paying attention. If you’re above level 30, you will get scaled down to 30 when you enter this dungeon.

Speaking of downscaling: I took my level 30 warrior to the charr starter area and was downscaled to level 13. I was alone for a while and did one of the events there. Then a group event started. I figured I should try it. Yes, I was downscaled to level 13 but surely, being a level 30 in reality should give me an advantage? And I had a shield and had taken a trait to not receive as much damage! Bravely, my kitteh jumped into the fight. When the mob was at around 50% (ok, probably closer to 60 or even 70 ^^), I died. While running back from the waypoint where I got resurrected, I saw that another player had arrived. Together, we killed the mob. I was pleased about that. The downscaling (at least from 30 to 13) worked very well! And if there is something like a stat-cap, then I highly doubt that being a level 80 downscaled to 13 would have given me any advantage. I then inspected the area further and saw a skill point challenge on the map. After arriving, I found myself surrounded by level 17 – 18 mobs. I looked at the lower left corner: Yep, still level 13 effectively. I looked back up at the mobs: Nope, not a chance. None at all. I died, again.

My kitteh licked her wounds and strolled over to the lake to test out the underwater combat instead. This one feels just like the normal combat. Except that you use different weapons and thus, have different skills on the left side of your skill bar (the right side wasn’t affected, I think). Sometimes, it’s a bit difficult to see where the mob is exactly that you’re attacking (you can move up and down which just makes it a bit harder to spot the mobs). But other than that, it was as much fun as the combat was outside of the water.

What I’ve seen seemed like a solid game whose gameplay was fun for me. Apart from the weird female charr breathing sounds, I found one other “not-so-great” thing: When playing with lots of other players, there was a lot going on on the screen. Lots and lots of graphic effects from spells/abilities from all around you. If they could tone this a bit down, I’d be very happy. Other than that, I didn’t have anything to complain about. There’s only one thing that’s even worse now than it was before: I don’t really feel like playing any other MMO at the moment. I’d much rather continue exploring the world of Guild Wars 2 right now (preferably with asura… *insert dramatic sigh*). Then again, I do still have single-player games left to play through. So there’s plenty to do while waiting!

If you have any questions about my gameplay experience, feel free to ask!

Crosspost from Talk Tyria. Asura: Cute and cuddly or heartless and selfish?

Disclaimer: This is a crosspost from my posting over at Talk Tyria. I’m crossposting it here so those following the blog can see it (and so I have all my postings in one central place ^^). If you want to comment/share your thoughts, please head over to Talk Tyria. That’s also the reason I disabled comments to this posting here. It’s a Talk Tyria posting, so comments should go over there. :)

Asura are the smallest of the playable races in Guild Wars 2. They’re the cute* race. Fuzzy, cuddly… wait – are those pointy teeth? And what’s with this maniac grin? Is… is that a golem running towards me? In other words: They are everything but cuddly and cute, that is for sure. I wonder what it will be like playing an asura…

“You give a new meaning to the term “counter-intelligence.”
(Vekk in Guild Wars)

They know that they are very intelligent and they will inform you about this fact whenever possible. Be prepared to be called ‘bookah’ on more than one occasion. They are also very ambitious with their inventions and experiments. So the real question I’m asking myself is: How far do they go? Are they a heartless and selfish race always looking for gaining an advantage, furthering their career and succeeding with their experiments?

“You care more for that walking statue than you do for the rest of us,” said Gyda.
“Untrue,” said the asura. “I just have less invested in you than in it.”
(Ghosts of Ascalon, p. 7)

Asura often organize in “krewes” where they work together on a certain project. Once the project is done, they may split up again and do something else or they may start their next project. They try to excel and outdo every other asura (they do, by nature, outbrain every other sentient race anyway, so other asura are the only real competition they have). This goes so far that some asura have a hard time finding asuran assistants because too many have found their untimely death while working in their labs before. Fortunately for them, they can always find a human or two who apparently need the money and help them out in their labs.

“They find – I’m gonna put the Inquest aside – that directly harming sentient beings is generally considered a bad thing. However they have much more an attitude toward putting others at risk be they Skritt or Humans or lab assistants than risking their own mighty brains.”
(Jeff Grub in the wartower.de interview with Al’Ellisande)

You can see their ambition in every project they do, they ‘sacrifice’ their lab assistants for their work, and in the worst case, some of them – known as the Inquest – even went so far and abused and experimented on Sylvari only because they wanted to know who this race was. The asura that belong to the Inquest apparently do not share the same morals, as your common asura finds such treatment horribly cruel. The Inquest will not be playable for us, though, which is probably for the best.

Speaking of morals, ArenaNet once said that asura want to eradicate the skritt. Wanting to extinguish a whole race simply because it’s annoying to you (although we do not know the exact details of what kind of damage the skritt do to the asura), sounds extreme. And ArenaNet agrees, as you can see in Wartower.de’s interview about the asura.

“That is extreme. I think we may have gone too far at that point. I think the idea that they are a danger to the Asura and the Asura are very concerned about them is definitely there. Eradicate? Maybe too tough.”
(Jeff Grub in the wartower.de interview with Al’Ellisande)

So while trying to extinguish a whole race and torturing sentient races go too far for most of the asura (thankfully! ;) ), they do dangerous research and experiments which has led to countless deaths. Are they rational and without emotions like Vulcans from Star Trek? I doubt it: There is at least one asura that we know of who is very likely to have cried after thinking he was responsible for the death of somebody with whom he had gone through quite a bit adventure-wise. I can’t say where I got this bit from because it could be a spoiler otherwise. ;)

What’s it going to be like playing an asura then? Will you be an asura that leads a krewe with an important research project? Will you try to build the biggest golem you can? Or will you be a tiny little lab assistant trying to get through till the end of the day without having anything explode close to you? And how ambitious will you be?

I could imagine that those questions aren’t that important for us non-roleplayers (I like roleplaying in general but I’m not roleplaying in MMOs) but I can already see that the roleplayers among us will have to make some very important decisions about their asuran characters before they set foot into the game. Where does your character stand morally? How many lab assistants has your character seen come and go so far?

Or, in other words: What’s your story? ;)


*They haven’t always been this cute. Check out this ArenaNet blog posting about previous designs.

Sources (if you want to know all about asura):
Asura in Guild Wars 1
Asura in Guild Wars 2
Angel McCoy on writing asura
Wartower.de interview with Jeff Grubb about the asura
Matt Barrett talks asura environment art
Matt Barrett on asura design
Ree Soesbee on the asura

Information about the skritt

And last but not least, if you want to have a look at Asura in action, I can recommend following these two Twitter accounts (if you know of any others, feel free to leave a comment): Asura Action News and Bamff.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (November 18, 2011)

Welcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to gaming (will most likely include at least one piece about Guild Wars 2 ^^).

The big news first: No more NDA for Star Wars: The Old Republic! Have fun talking about your beta experiences! I haven’t been part of the beta despite having signed up as soon as it was available. Alas, I’m a European player, so I never had a chance to even be considered until a few weeks ago or so. Pffft. ;)

Runic Games also came with an update today. Unfortunately, this isn’t such good news. The game will be postponed until 2012. If this is good or bad for them is still up for debate, I guess. The good thing is definitely that they want – and apparently need – more time to finish their game and polish it as much as possible. I think too many games have been released too early, so even though I’m looking forward to certain games (*cough*Guild Wars 2*cough*), I always applaud them for taking their time instead of giving in to the temptation to release NOW and pull another Warhammer Online. ;) Also, I think Torchlight 2 will be able to “compete” with Diablo 3 either way. They’re the same genre and attract the same customers, but Torchlight 2 will be cheaper (20€ in Germany, for example), has LAN multiplayer, offline modus and will include user-made mods. So it does offer different things than Diablo 3. And neither of them requires a monthly fee. So why not get both sooner or later? ;)

Last but not least, last week I was added by somebody on Twitter and I first thought: Weird name for a bot! Turns out, it’s not a bot, after all. ;) Big Eared Girls shows off pictures of well-known pictures/ladies as Asuras. Brilliant, if you ask me! Which is why I need to feature it in today’s Geekwatch! Head over to Big Eared Girls Deviantart Page to see all the glorious pictures (including baby charrs! How cute is that! *g*). :o)