Category Archives: Character Design

Guild Wars 2 vs. Rift vs. Trove: Part 3 (Character Creation)

GW2 vs Rift vs Trove logoThis is the third post in the blog post series “Guild Wars 2 vs. Rift vs. Trove”. The title may suggest that at the end of this series, I will tell you which games is the best of the best, … But I will not do that! While the purpose of this series is to compare those games to a certain degree, my goal is to give you a thorough overview to help you figure out which game is the best for what you want from a game. Or maybe just to figure out whether those three games are interesting for you at all, independently of each other.

If you missed the previous postings, you can find them here:
Part 1: Basic information
Part 2: Lore

In this part, we will look at the character creation. I previously already covered it in the “Basic information” post, but I felt it deserves more space than that. I know that some people just hit “randomize” and they are done. If you are one of those, you may want to skip this part. ;) Others, like me, can easily spend hours in the character creation screen.

I will also cover the dreaded “how much does it cost?” question when you want to make changes with your character later on. A topic that I had quickly mentioned in Part 1: Basic information where I covered the payment models of those games. Remember: Trove and Rift are “free to play”, Guild Wars 2 is “buy to play” and all three feature in-game shops which mostly offer cosmetic items. Both Rift and Guild Wars 2 also offer you ways to spend in-game currency in order to get credits/gems (the games’ currencies you usually buy for real money). So, whenever I say that something is only available for “real money”, there are ways to circumvent this, but they usually require quite a lot of in-game currency to do so.

trove-logoTrove’s character creation is both very short and also, 100 % free. So far, there is nothing in the shop at all that would make your basic character look different from others. “Basic” because clothes, weapons, mounts and so on don’t count.

The initial character creation is very simple: You choose a name and off you go. Be careful here: You cannot change your character’s name afterwards! If you are unhappy with it, then you will have to create a new account or live with your choice.

There is no character customization at first, but in the tutorial, you can already find the barbershop. The first one is right behind where you spawn in the tutorial area. My first thought was: Which genius’s idea was that? But then I saw that there is another barbershop right before you exit the tutorial area. And even if you manage to miss both of them, you can easily access them later. In short: You will be able to change the look of your character whenever you want.

Anyway, the character creation is, as I said, rather simple. You can choose to be a lady or a guy, undead, robot, dragon or ghost pirate. When you go with lady or guy, you can choose between a few different skin colour tones. Additionally, there are hair styles, hair colours and eye colours to choose. Changing your appearance does not cost anything, neither in-game currency nor real money.

Once you are out of the tutorial, you can find the barbershop in the main hub (accessed by pressing “H” for a long time) and you can even craft barbershops and put them in your cornerstone and your club world.

Rift_Logo_transparentRift is a traditional MMORPG, so it lets you make a lot more choices than Trove. Character creation in Rift consists of the following steps: Choose a server, a faction, a race and a gender, a calling, a purpose and finally, your look and your name.

Choose a server

Rift_EU shard selection

The EU shards

Yes, unfortunately, Rift is one of those games where your character belongs to one server (called “shard” in Rift). However, good news is that you can play on a friend’s server with just one click and you can even transfer servers for free (yes, seriously!) with only a cooldown period that you’ve got to wait before you can transfer that character again (I think it’s 7 days). US and EU servers are separated. However, in the game’s launcher, you can choose if you want to play on EU or US servers. They are distinct servers (and data centers, I assume), so you cannot transfer a EU character to a US server. But at least, you can play on all servers if you want to! Just go and create a new character on that US server – and don’t forget that you switch between EU and US servers in the launcher (which is also where you can choose the public test realm, by the way, if you want to have a look at the upcoming features of the game)!

On the EU servers, you can choose a German, a French or English PvE servers. There is also one PvP server for EU players, Bloodiron. “Trübkopf” used to be a German PvP server but they were merged with Bloodiron some time ago.

In the US setting, you can choose between PvE servers, one PvE-RP server (Faeblight) and two PvP servers. One of the PvP servers is marked as “Trial Only Server”, no idea what that means… The others are all regular PvE servers with one, Laethys, marked as “Oceanic”.

Choose a faction

Defiant or Guardian - Choose now

Defiant or Guardian – Choose now

The next step is choosing a faction: “Guardians” or “Defiants”. The two factions, Guardians and Defiants, both have their own starting area, but there are no different starting areas between the three different races per faction. I explained a bit about the background story and the two factions in the Lore post. If you want to play a race that does not belong to your favourite faction, here’s good news: You can later change your character’s race (for a fee of 2400 credits) and can thus play any race in either of the factions. Also, on PvE servers, both factions can be in one guild together and play together perfectly. Only the enemy faction’s NPCs react hostile towards you.

Choose a race

On Guardian side, you can choose between three different races: Mathosians, High Elf and dwarf. On Defiant side, you can choose between Eth, Kelari and Bahmi. I will give you a very quick overview over the different races: The Mathosians are humans, as are the Eth. If you like humans, both factions give you that choice. From the Lore post, you may remember King Jostir and his two sons who, while fighting over the throne, caused the Shade War (yes, that’s a very short version of that story). Those were Mathosians. The Eth originally come from the south and are more like nomads nowadays. The Eth and the Mathosians are a bit different in their looks with the Eth giving you some slightly darker skin choices. There are also differences in the hair colours and the hair styles. But honestly, at the end of the day, both races really are just that: humans.

The same can probably be said about the elves. The High Elves are the lighter skinned ones and the Kelari are the… well in this case, the weird ones, I would say. You can’t just choose darker skin colours like you can with the humans on the other faction: The Kelari are actually purple-skinned with mostly pink hair colours. The description of the High Elves sounds like every other fantasy game out there (sorry, just being honest here and “not a fan” of elves as usual): “The oldest of the races of Telara, the High Elves are the protectors of the land. Wise and skilled, their tranquil nature masks a ruthless dedication to the gods.” Then we get the description of the Kelari of which I only quote the first sentence: “The elves of the lost Kelari isles have been tainted by generations of exposure to raw planar magic”. At some point, High Elves and Kelari were one tribe (or whatever you call elves here). That has been long ago and the Kelari split from the High Elves and left. Obviously, because I assume High Elves would never do that. ;) Kelari changed in looks since then, probably because of the planar magic mentioned above.

The two remaining races are nothing alike: Bahmi and Dwarves. Dwarves are just standard dwarves, except that you can give the male ones cool grey and white bushy hair and beards while the female dwarves look much younger, no matter what you choose. The Bahmi are the largest race in the game. If you ask me, the heads of the male Bahmi are a tiny bit too small. They look weird! Just like the Kelari, they mostly have purple skin colours to choose from. Their beards are also much less impressive than those of the dwarves!

So, in short, the Defiants are humans and two purplish races with pointy ears while the Guardians are the typical fantasy races: humans, elves and dwarves.

Choose a class/calling/profession

Rift_Purpose Beastlord

Warrior purpose: Beastlord. The pet changes appearance as it levels up with you.

Next up is choosing a calling (the basic “class” in Rift from which you can still specialize further down). Since I wrote about the available classes in the first part of this blog post series already, I will not get into it again now. However, you do not just choose your calling (just a quick recap: warrior, cleric, mage and rogue are the callings), but you also choose your “purpose”. This is a fancy term to say “the build you will start the game with”. :p For example, as a warrior you get the choices of “Righteous Defender” (a tank build), “Lord of War”, “Overlord” and “Fury” (DPS builds), “Auramancer” (healer build) and “Beastlord” (support build). As you can see, the calling can serve any purpose in the “holy trinity + support”. The same goes for the other four callings. You always get to choose at least one build for every role that is available, e.g., tank. This is a choice to get you started. You will not have to stick with it and you can easily change it later on, so don’t worry about making a “wrong” choice here!

Personalizing the look of your character

The character creation process itself lets you change quite a few things of your character’s look including the standard options of hair style, hair, skin and eye colour, nose, mouth and ear shapes (the latter is especially important for our poiny-eared elvish friends). You cannot change the body type, only the height of your character. You can see the options in the screenshot gallery above.

Then all you need to do is enter a name (one word only, no spaces allowed) and off you go.

How many character slots do I get?

This depends on the “version” of your game. The base game only gives you two character slots per server, but if you want to try out all four callings, you certainly can: Just choose two different servers to do so. The first boxed expansion gave you more character slots. I don’t think they are easily available anymore. But of course, you can also buy more character slots in the game’s shop for 720 credits each (which equals 3,69 € with the smallest credit pack and 2,99 € with the most expensive credit pack you can buy). Each character slot unlocks one extra slot on every available server.

GW2_Logo_kl_transparentCharacter creation in Guild Wars 2 differs a bit, as the game features a “personal story” that accompanies your character from level 1 to 80 (max level in the game). It is basically a quest chain giving you one quest at a time. At certain points up until level 30, the storyline branches depending on which choices you made at the character creation. Altogether, character creation consists of the following steps: You choose a server and a region (US or EU), a race, a gender, a profession, your look, your personal story steps, your starter pet if you chose to play as a ranger (you can get the others  easily later on!) and your name.

Choose a region and a server

In Guild Wars 2, you have to decide for one region in which you will be able to play: EU or US servers. You cannot switch between regions like you can in Rift. You can, of course, buy a second GW2 game and use that to play in the other region, but those two accounts will be independent from each other.

GW2_World Select screenJust like Rift, Guild Wars 2 is separated into servers. A couple of months ago, ArenaNet introduced megaservers (before that, there was the guesting system allowing you to play on another server with your character). This means that when you enter a map (for example, the Asuran city Rata Sum), you will be placed there together with players from all EU servers until the map is full. If more players want to enter Rata Sum, another map will open. When maps have free spaces, different rules apply to determine where you will be placed. For example, the language of your server (in Europe, GW2 has English, French, German and Spanish servers) increases your chances of being put on Rata Sum with others whose home server shares the same language. Guild members are also placed on the same map primarily. There are ways to join your friends on the same map even without having to rely on the automated system.

There is really just one thing where the chosen home server really matters: “world vs. world” (WvW). We will talk about what WvW in the PvP blog post for this series. In short: WvW consists of four maps where players from your home server play against players from two other servers. Megaservers are not in place here! So, if PvP is your thing, choose very wisely (and ask your friends which server they are on if you want to play WvW with them).

Transferring servers is possible, but it costs money. The cost of a server transfer is either 500, 1000 or 1800 gems depending on where the goal server is placed on the WvW ranking. You can also transfer for free if you delete every single character on your account. But we do not want to delete characters, we want to create one!

Choose a race

The next step is choosing a race. There is a much bigger variety here than in Rift, even though there are only five different races to choose from (and 6 in Rift). Also, every race has its own starting zone.

If you prefer humans, then “human” is your top choice (obviously…), followed by Norn who are basically “tall humans” (look-wise). Humans are easy enough to explain: They have the biggest background lore, as back in Guild Wars 1 (the first game ArenaNet made), you could not play any other race but humans. They were put on Tyria by the Gods and consequently fought against the Charr as they were settling on Charr lands. Long and bitter years of war followed. By now, they are at a truce, but it’s not an easy one. The Charr reclaimed their home and are now living in Ascalon again trying to fight against the remaining human ghosts there (longer story…). They’re a “humanoid cat race” that run on all four legs.

Norn are originally from the Shiverpeak Mountains, a snowy and icy region of Tyria. They are about 9 foot tall, very tough and the biggest honor for them is to die in a glorious battle with their legend told about afterwards. The role of the “tiny race” is filled by the Asura (there used to be dwarves in Tyria, but that is also a longer story that you will get to learn about when you play the game). As tiny as they are, as big is their mental brain power and also their ego. They used to live below the ground but were made to flee by one of the Elder Dragon’s champions.

Last but not least, we’ve got the Sylvari: A race that on first glance may fill the “elf role”. Their characters and their culture are nothing like elves, though. In short: Sylvari are born from the “Pale Tree” and are basically this tree’s interpretation of what a human looks like: Sylvari are plants that simply look like humans. The oldest ones have not even reached 30 years of age as they did not bloom from the Pale Tree before that. In other words: They are a very young race that is currently more than ever trying to find out where they belong in this world. I cannot say more about this here as it would contain spoilers. Look for more information on the official wiki if you are curious and don’t mind spoilers before setting foot into the game.

Choose a class/calling/profession

After choosing your race, you get to choose from the professions. Just as the other games, every race and every gender can be every profession. I will not go into the detail of every single profession at this point. There are currently two heavy armor professions (warrior and guardian), three with medium armor (thief, engineer and ranger) and three with light armor (necromancer, mesmer and elementalist). If you’re asking yourself which profession you should choose, I can recommend these posts on Reddit. The author did a great job summarizing the professions!

Personalizing the look of your character

GW2_Nose option

All nose sliders on the left

Just like Rift, you get a lot of different options for choosing hair styles, hair colours, skin colours and so on. Of course, sliders for noses, eyebrows etc. are available as well. You can also change the height of your character – within reason. You cannot make an asura taller than a norn or vice versa. ;) Additionally, you can also choose different body types. Charr can choose different fur patterns as well as different horns. Asura can choose between different skin patterns and different ear shapes (and adjust the size of their ears). Tattoos are available for norn and sylvari get skin patterns and different “glow in the dark” colours. Humans are… humans. They don’t get anything special. You can see a few more options than just the nose slider in the gallery above.

Choose your personal story

Once you are happy with the look of your character, you have to fill in a few “gaps” in statements spoken by your character. I will take the norn guardian as an example.

1. “As a symbol of my dedication, I wear __________” – You can choose between two different kinds of pauldrons or a helmet. These will also unlock the chosen item’s look for your wardrobe for future use, but it has no other effect than that. The items you can choose from are based on which profession you are creating.

2. The second statement is about your character’s personality. You can choose between charm, dignity and ferocity. This is the same for every character you create. Even at launch, this “personality” stat did not mean much and ArenaNet has hidden the display of those stats in one of the last patches. As far as I know, we did not get an explanation on why it was essentially taken out.

3. Now there are three more statements which vary based on the race you have chosen. Your chosen answers will influence the beginning of your personal storyline (until level 30). Don’t worry about what you choose here! Your story will be different from people who chose other answers, but you will not, for example, find out that as a warrior or an elementalist, you should have chosen X over Y to be stronger later on. The personal storyline has no influence on your character’s stats or anything like that. It is purely for entertainment.

Last but not least, you get to choose a character name. Guild Wars 2 lets you add spaces, so you can give your character a surname if you want to. If you want to choose a name that fits to the game’s lore, I can recommend this article for more information.

How many character slots do I get?

After buying the game, you will have five character slots. Since you can only choose one server, there is no switching to different servers to create more characters like you can do in Rift. If you want to play all professions (there are eight), then you need to either delete one of your existing characters and free up that slot or buy another character slot. One character slot costs 800 gems. This is either 10 €/$ or 144 gold (the gem-to-gold ratio is constantly changing, so the price may differ when you’re reading this).

This is it for the basic character creation process in all three games. But sometimes, you change your mind or a game even offers some exclusive looks that were not available during the initial character creation. So, let’s have a look at what you can do here in the three games.

Can I change my character’s look after creating it?

“Yes!” is the answer for all three games here! Trove lets you change your look for free, but it also has the least options to begin with anyway. Since the game’s first “launch” (Alpha, then closed and now open beta), a few new hair styles, skins etc. were introduced, but they are always available in the game’s barbershop for free.

Rift gives you the basic functions (as seen in the paragraph “Personalizing the look of your character” above) for free. Your calling, race, gender, faction and name stay. If you want to change those features, then Rift asks for money. For example, changing your race costs 2400 credits (which is between 10 and 12 € depending on which credit pack you buy). This payment is for one character and one change only. But this is how you can play a race not available for your faction on initial character creation.

You can also pay a one-time fee for features that were not available during initial character creation. There are three bundles with which you unlock the ability to choose every race’s skin colours or hair colours in the game’s barbershop or 4 additional hair styles for every race/gender combination. As those are unlocks, paying for either of those bundles once means you can use that feature as often as you like with every character on your account following the initial purchase.

Guild Wars 2 doesn’t give you any of those functions for free. You need to buy either a self-style hair kit for 250 gems (which is 3,13 € – or 2,50 € per piece if you buy 5 at once) or a total makeover kit  for 350 gems (which is 4,38 € – or 3,50 € per piece if you buy 5 at once). The first one only lets you change the hair colour, the hair style and some extra features for some of the races like the horns for charr and the ears for asura. The total makeover kit lets you change everything that you were able to set during the initial character creation. With both kits, you also get access to exclusive choices like new hair styles, hair colours and eye colours (eye colours only with the total makeover kit). Once you have changed your look, the kit disappears and if you want to change something again, you need to buy another one. ArenaNet also sometimes adds new hair styles, colours and eye colours. Unfortunately, access to those new styles is not available during the initial character creation process. Changing your race is not possible in Guild Wars 2. This is also because of your personal storyline being tied to your race choice which would make a change complicated as those quests would have to be changed as well then.

Conclusion so far

Trove is a class of its own, I think. With the blocky graphics, it is just not possible to have detailed faces and hair styles. But at least, they let you switch the look for free whenever you like.

In case you haven’t been able to tell from my writing, I am not a great fan of parts of the character creation in Rift. Most of all, the races are a bit bland and boring (with the exception of the dwarves, obviously!). Still, it is a solid character creation process with everything necessary available. Guild Wars 2, however, wins when it comes to that part: Several interesting and distinctive races with some solid choices to make and faces that look greatly different from one another.

But as soon as you have created your character and want to make choices later on or access exclusive features, Rift wins again. It lets you make changes for free (or at least, for a one-time fee to unlock the exclusive features) while Guild Wars 2 asks for money every single time. Both the basic and the exclusive options are behind a pay wall, and not a one-time fee either, but a fee you have to pay whenever you want to use one of those features with any of your characters.

If you’re lucky, however, you get the perfect look from the start and then all of this doesn’t matter anyway (or you get a kit out of the RNG boxes with a key that dropped for free – it’s incredibly rare, but it can happen).

Now you probably want to know now what you can actually do in those games with your character, right? We will take a look at the PvE side of the games in the next part of this blog post series.

Trove: Candy Barbarian revelead!

Trion Worlds made a news post revealing the candy barbarian yesterday. Or rather, revealing the skills that new class will have. We already know its name, after all. :)

Trove Preview Candy Barbarian

I’m going to be lazy and copy and paste the skills and their descriptions here:

Gum Drop (Passive): When you hit (or are hit by) enemies, you’ll spill candy on the ground. Scoop it up for sweet boosts to health or speed!

Vanilla Swirlwind: Spin like a cotton candy machine gone berserk, striking all enemies within range.

Sugar Crash: Launch into the air and crashes down on your target with devastating force.

Eis-Crom Cone (Ultimate): Invoke the powers of Eis-Crom, god of all things candy, to waylay your foes with an exploding ice cream cone of terror!

The first skill is passive which means that no matter what happens, this will always be active. Boosts to health or speed sounds a bit RNG. That reminds me of the elixirs that the engineer in Guild Wars 2 has which have that element of surprise as well (or did they change that? I haven’t played my engineer in ages, but I know people always complained about the random nature of some elixirs).

To me, the Vanilla Swirlwind sounds the most fun! Spinning and hitting. Of course, this only makes sense if there is more than one enemy, I assume? You cannot see any numbers in Trove, by the way. There is no combat log and no tool tip showing you that you did x amount of damage.

I wish they had streamed last night, so that we could have seen the candy barbarian in action. They wanted to, but seemed to have technical issues.

Anyway, I am a bit skeptical, actually. I know Trove is a fun game with silly stuff in it, but so far, the classes always still seemed “serious” enough to just put them in any fantasy game. The candy barbarian – not so much. On the other hand, I did write about classes and expectations and it is nice that they’re trying to be creative here with themes and class names etc.

Trove Candy Barbarian fighting

And look at that! The candy barbarian is a dual-wielding class! I love dual-wielding. My favourite classes are usually warrior-like types who dual-wield swords.

The patch that will bring us the candy barbarian will arrive on November 18, by the way. I can’t wait to try it out. If they go with it the way they have released the other classes, then we’ll be able to get it for 5000 cubits (the in-game currency) or alternatively, for 1050 credits*. So, go do your daily dungeons in Trove to earn the cubits needed for this class. :)

* For 18,99 €, you get 3250 credits. So, that class would cost you something like 6 € (plus a few cents). But if I were you (and wanted to support the game and buy credits), I would rather spend the cubits on the class and buy something else for my credits which cannot be paid for with cubits like costumes, some mounts and so on.

 

Hello there, do I know you?

Perfect timing from Blizzard… Just when I feared I would have nothing to write about on the 4th day of NaBloPoMo, they sent me an email reminder that the offer of 7 free days of playtime in World of Warcraft is about to expire. I activated my account this morning, patched it and then went to work.

I think it’s great that they give you free days every year or so. It actually did make me return to WoW before. I even bought an expansion just for that. However, usually after the first month or so, I realize: You either pay or you’re out. And that’s when I usually leave again. I still like the game, but it doesn’t offer me anything that other games can’t give me either. Or, at least, they offer me a similar experience without forcing me to pay. I’m not a “freeloader”, in case you’re worried about that. I do give companies some of my hard-earned money. Especially now that my financial situation allows me to spend money on such luxuries as gaming. I am still very clingy, though, and don’t like to feel forced. It’s all about perception here!

Anyway, this doesn’t change the fact that Blizzard offering me 7 free days here and there has had the intended effect in the past. This time, however, I very much doubt I’ll return. Guild Wars 2 is releasing their new patch today which also comes with a new zone and Rift has just released their expansion which I’m slowly playing through. On top of that, Trove is entering open beta and I’m curious to see how the development of the game is coming along and when they will release the candy barbarian. That’s three fine games right there and not one is asking for any money, just so I can even play it.

WOW_Female human

Left: old. Right: new.

But let’s look at World of Warcraft. I don’t know everything that has changed since I’ve last left the game, but upon loading the game, I got quite a shock. I had seen the redesigns of the character models and always thought: That looks nice! But when I saw my own characters, my heart sank a bit. It’s not that they look completely different, but in a lot of cases, something in their expression changed. While I chose this one human face because it has a mixture of naiveté and curiosity, it now just looks… weird. Yes, weird could be it. Maybe a bit skeptical even. Look at the picture and you will probably see what I mean. My dwarf had this pretty shiny orange hair. I loved her friendly expression. The new face frankly just takes away any personality my dwarf has ever had.

Thankfully, I quickly found out that you can re-enable the old character models. For a moment, I thought everything was gone. All those memories… yes, I know I’m not even playing the game anymore, so that doesn’t matter, right? But in a way, it did. Friendships formed in that game and for several years, it just accompanied me through my life. I know a lot has changed since then (both in my life and in the game), but my characters have always still been there whenever I returned.

I am curious what else I will discover in the next… 6 days. But for now, this blog post has actually been cut short as ArenaNet announced that they’ll be giving us the patch soon. This also saves you a lengthy rant today, I think. ;)

Flummi’s new clothes…

I had originally wanted to show off my mesmer in her new gear yesterday. But it took me a while to figure out what I want. When I had finally decided what gear to get for her (which I’m not going into now, because I do not want to be told that I’m doing it aaaall wrong and should have gone with berserker… :p), I put it on her and Flummi, being the girly girl asura that she is, stomped her foot on the ground and demanded to get something that looks better.

Why is there such a huge distance between her back and her belt in the back of the outfit? It looks weird! I am also not a fan of the front. It’s mostly the belt that doesn’t look good, if you ask me.

Once again I wonder: Why is there no wardrobe/cosmetic outfit system like both Lord of the Rings Online and Rift have them? I don’t think I can ask this question often enough. I want to have outfit slots instead of those silly transmutation crystals! Once again, I had to rely on the good old Hall of Monuments Heritage armor to save the day! The “after” picture shows the WvW armor with HoM chest and pants. Everything else is non-transmuted. I did actually have a look at various other pants, but most of them did not fit with the WvW chest. And when I tried to find a chest and a pants piece that I liked, I figured I should just go the easy HoM route for now.

GW2 Mesmer WvW armor with HoM

Transmuted armor!

She is now waiting for the 6th superior rune of the traveler to arrive. Once it’s here, she can go back outside and explore Tyria. She is just a few percent behind Paerjja when it comes to world exploration… although that still doesn’t say much as both are still in their 60s. ;)

Also, apologies for not having a more interesting topic today. I’ve spent the day in several meetings and my mind is pudding right now. I can’t write anything about the new patch either as our first fractals run is scheduled for Friday. ;)

Hall of Monuments: Armor

As you probably know, playing Guild Wars 1 gives you certain rewards in Guild Wars 2. A few days ago, I remembered that I had them and hopped over to the Hall of Monuments in Guild Wars 2 to claim them.

One of the things that made me fall in love with Guild Wars 1 was being able to look at an armor gallery and just choose a look I’d like. Well, first, I removed all the pictures of the expensive ones (we’re talking in-game currency, of course) and then I chose from one of the basic armors as I’ve never been rich in Guild Wars 1. ;) But the point is that the stats didn’t matter! Nothing mattered but the look itself. For a person that came from World of Warcraft, this was amazing! Finally a game that understood what I wanted. Unfortunately, in that regard, Guild Wars 2 disappoints me. My characters look almost the same from level 1 – 80 and once they are at level 80, I cannot just transfer the look over to an item with the appropriate stats.

Before the game was released, I remember ArenaNet telling us about transmutation stones and how we could use them to transfer the looks of one item over to another item that has the stats we want. I also remember that after initially using it as an example for a gem shop item, they did say that there would be alternative ways of getting those transmutation stones. So far, I’ve received the basic ones (for levels 1 – 79) from opened chests with keys that I got from my personal story. I have never seen a fine transmutation stone (needed to transmute level 80 items). Neither of those are available for karma anymore as they were during beta. On the other hand, I have no idea about “the perfect stats” for my character anyway and so far, I’m happy with the green items I bought. Still, I wished for something a little bit more elegant on Flummi.

Sadly, asura don’t get any fancy dresses. Female asura wear the same armor as male asura. But I remembered the armor I can get in the Hall of Monuments and went to have a look. What I do love is that the armor pieces you get from the Hall of Monuments do not need a transmutation stone at all. You just click on the armor and then add the item whose stats you want and you’re done.

After that I had a look at the heavy and the medium armor sets. They’re all great and, most importantly, do not cost me anything, neither gold nor gems. So my three asura are now running around in their HoM outfits feeling all fancy and pretty.

Of course, you need to earn those Hall of Monuments points, but that’s not too difficult, now is it? ;)

If you have a look at the titles tab of the calculator, you can see that you get 3 points for linking your accounts. This means that when you own all three campaigns (Prophecies, Factions and Nightfall) as well as the add-on “Eye of the North” (which is required for access to the Hall of Monuments) and link them, you’ll get 3 points. This will give you the boots, pants and chest part that you can see in the pictures below!

It’s also important to note that earning points now, well after Guild Wars 2’s release, will still unlock all those rewards in the game! So, if you’re looking at the pictures now and wonder: “Isn’t it too late…?” – then the answer is: “No, it’s not!”

Criticizing Guild Wars 2

DISCLAIMER: If you want to criticize my post, feel free to do so (constructively, of course). However, if you want to do so, please READ it. Especially point 4 and its subject line: I complain about their marketing strategy. I do NOT complain about the skimpy armor. I even say so in the text. Read it, then complain about the actual content and not about what you THINK I wrote. Thank you. :)

First things first, as a regular or even casual reader of our blog, you’re well aware of the fact that I’m a huge fan of the game. But let’s be honest: the game isn’t perfect and I know it never will be a perfect game. Why? Several reasons. For one, no game is ever perfect. They’re too complex to get them bug-free and especially MMORPGs evolve and get content added, mechanics changed, etc. All of that means plenty of risks for adding new bugs. But even when not looking at bugs, there just can’t be a perfect game out there simply because there are too many players who all like and dislike different aspects. Some won’t accept a game without PVP in every region, others need their weekly raid evenings, and so on. That means that we will always have people argue about a game and its (lack of) perfection. And it also means that the probability of a game company developing a game in exactly the way that I want is very slim/non-existing.

Guild Wars 2 is still in beta, so bugs are to be expected. In general, I am always very careful when criticizing games in beta. It is a work in progress, after all, and I wouldn’t want to hurt a game’s – and company’s – reputation by writing something too negative about the game before it’s even been released. On the other hand, if we never speak up and say what we dislike, how are the developers supposed to know what the players think of something? There’s a reason companies have beta tests and ask for feedback.

Having said all that (should my intros be shorter, I wonder…), I’m now going to list a few things about Guild Wars 2 that I know will annoy me – more or less strongly – and that will probably make the game less perfect for me – but not “bad”! That’s a big and important difference.

1) Mystic Chests
Syp over at Massively wrote a good piece about lockboxes in MMOs. To be honest, I was shocked when I saw my first lockbox in Guild Wars 2. I’ve always found it cheap when games had those and it was disappointing to see it appear in this game. While there may not be any “advantage” in there, I still think it’s a terrible way to earn money. What annoys me is the whole gambling part: You never know if spending money on yet another key will result in you getting that special item from the lockbox.

If you ask me, it’s abusing a weakness of us humans when it comes to calculating probabilities. Some spend 50 times 1 dollar trying to get a specific reward and end up empty-handed instead of just buying it for 35 dollars, for example… mostly because there is the probability (albeit a very, very low one) that they might get it on their first try and end up having spent only 1 dollar. And then they spend another dollar, and another and another and at some point, they think that now they have to finally get it, right? And they have already invested so much money that quitting would mean they have simply lost their investment without earning anything.

Bookahnerk has also found an interesting comment about this system on Reddit, where a poster mentioned Lunia and that in this game, you drop keys and need to buy the boxes from the shop. It sounds less tempting this way. After all, you don’t have the “item” wrapped in a box in your inventory already. You only have a key. And if you ever feel like getting a box to use this key, it’s fine. And if not, no harm done because there’s no item rotting in your inventory, just a key. Yes, I’m aware of the fact that it’s technically exactly the same thing. But the perception is a different one. And I’m pretty certain that there’d be less temptation to buy boxes whereas if you have lockboxes drop in your game, your players will probably buy more keys from the shop than they would buy boxes for the dropped keys. We’re curious and can’t calculate probabilities correctly (well, I’m sure a lot of people can but from personal experience, I’d say that this is the minority). In other words: It’s an easy way to earn money. But from where I stand, it’s cheap and dirty.

However, this is me criticizing something I haven’t seen the full scope of so far. We do not yet know enough about what will be in the lockboxes (exclusive items or not), if they will have keys drop in the game, if the lockboxes have a (e.g.) 90% chance of including another key (I think I read somewhere that a player found a key inside together with an item), if we’ll be able to sell the items we find in the lockboxes, etc. I’m just saying I really dislike this general concept, but I am curious how they will handle it specifically.

2) Voice of female norn

Norn are supposed to be really tall. And with that, naturally, comes a deeper voice than we would expect from the average human. If I hear the voice without looking at the screen, it fits and it sounds like a wonderful choice, but once I see the norn’s doll-like face, I’m not so sure anymore. It just doesn’t fit to hear her with such a low voice. But maybe this isn’t a problem with the voice at all but rather with the next point…

3) Idealized female characters

I’ve mentioned it before, to which Kadomi had reacted as well. ArenaNet’s stance can be found in this interview:

Univers-Virtuels: So, at the moment the humans are very young and it’s not possible to make it older as a character, or it will be possible to turn off the make up for woman?
Kristen: I’m not sure, we have some variety in there, but largely we want an idealized beautiful base face, so I think the humans are probably going to remain within a certain spectrum.”

I was happy to see that they have added one face that makes the character look a bit older. Then you can further customize it by changing the look of the nose, mouth, chin, etc. But that is only for the human and it’s only one face. The others still have that certain doll-like look. It’s especially annoying for norn because they’re tough! It seems weird to have them appear with a doll-face. I also don’t like the sound of “idealized beautiful base face”. Yes, this idealization is what we’re seeing in women’s magazines every day. This is what’s called one of the reasons for the rise of eating disorders (in women and men)… I understand that they want to add beautiful faces. I would assume that more people choose those faces than faces that the general public wouldn’t call “pretty”, “beautiful” or something like that. I just do not get why they refuse to add some more regular faces. Especially as the question above was aiming at faces “without that much make-up”. Either way, I will go for the regular face they have added because I find it more believable (ah yes, I know we’re in a fantasy setting, so theoretically everything is possible and thus, believable. But still…). On the other hand, we can see that you can go for some extremes when creating your characters. I’m not sure they would call the nose that you can see in the screenshot “idealized beauty”. But at least, we can reenact Cyrano de Bergerac. ;)

I will most likely play asura and charr as my main characters, so it won’t bother me that much. And I do like having a pretty doll character – but I would really love to have more variety. What is the harm in having an older face (one with wrinkles or just more defined facial features)? After all, they are in the game for the male characters. They have added one face for the female humans, though. So there is still hope we could maybe see something like that for the norn as well. Something that makes them more equal to the choices we have for male characters.

4) Armor and ArenaNet’s marketing strategy

As mentioned above, Kadomi wrote about the faces but in the same entry, she also addresses the “armor issue” which goes hand in hand with the idealized faces (and she says it much better than I will here, so if you’re interested in this topic, go read her blog post about it). Why do they present the female characters in suspenders? A word, by the way, that I only learned now thanks to Guild Wars 2 – that is, the English term for it, of course. What does it tell you about a game that teaches me the English terms of “sexy underwear” (“Reizwäsche” in German, by the way… in case you were wondering). I’m not happy with them presenting this as the typical clothing for some of their classes (mesmer and elementalist most of all) as this is what the characters look like when creating them.

After playing for a bit, I did get to see cloth armor that wasn’t as revealing and they have a system in place that makes it possible for me to merge the better stats of an item onto a piece of clothing that I like. So I’m not annoyed that they have revealing armor in the game. I am annoyed, however, that they presented us only this sexy underwear as armor. And even though there was a large outcry (not just from me, I might add!) in their fanbase, they did not add pictures of different armor in order to show us that when they said we would have choices, they didn’t just mean “a choice between a bra or bikini top”.

5) No scenery screenshots
This is something that makes me grind my teeth and scratch my head. I just don’t get this decision at all. ArenaNet doesn’t want us to take screenshots of the scenery without featuring our own character because they want us to get attached to our character. I love looking at screenshots of the game’s world but I am not interested in looking at some person’s character at the same time. This doesn’t interest me at all. Also, I do get attached to my character and if I want to take a screenshot of “me in Lion’s Arch”, I will do so. But if I want to take a screenshot of “this nice windmill”, then please let me do that without having “me in front of this nice windmill that you can’t see because my dear character is blocking the view”. There is a workaround, by the way. You can either /sleep or /sit and then work with the camera angle to get a screenshot without your character on it. I used /sit for my screenshots and unfortunately, my charr’s horns can be seen in a few of them. Oh well. Most of the time, it works just fine but why do we have to resort to such a workaround in the first place? Guild Wars 1 allowed us to zoom in and I haven’t heard anybody complain about the game and its design because we can do that.

While this workaround is fine for taking screenshots, video makers need to ability to move around without having their own character centered all the time. Machinimas probably won’t work in Guild Wars 2 and that’s just really, really sad if you ask me. There’s a not too old discussion about this on GuildWars2Guru.

And that’s it for today. All in all, it’s not a “list of things gone horribly wrong” or something like that. It’s just some things that bug me and that I wanted to get out of my system. I have to say, however, that the inability of taking screenshots or making videos without having my character in the center is the biggest issue I have here. The other parts probably won’t spoil my general fun in the game (especially the marketing – who cares about that in a year, right?) but taking pretty screenshots is what I really enjoy. I have a ton of screenshots from all sorts of MMOs I’ve ever played or tried out stored on an external hard drive and I’ve taken 640 screenshots in Guild Wars 2 so far and that was after only playing for 4 days! And most of those screenshots are from Lion’s Arch… I can’t wait for doing the same in Hoelbrak, Divinity’s Reach, Black Citadel,… (but next time, I will choose a character without horns! Asura would be perfect… *hint*)

Guild Wars 2 Screenshots – Cloth Armour

I have to admit, I never paid that much attention to the necromancer skill videos. It’s a nice enough class but not high up on my priority list (which, as of right now, looks like this: warrior, ranger, mesmer, guardian/engineer, elementalist/thief/necromancer). But I was trying to look for cloth armour that isn’t as revealing as the scandalous one we’ve seen a few weeks ago. ;) And I found something that I really, really like! So, without further ado, have a look at it – if you haven’t noticed it yet either like me. Otherwise, this is probably boring for you ^^. Yes, I know it shows some cleavage. But I’m not totally prude… or rather, I like having my character’s pants area covered. ;)

What I especially love here is the details! How it’s shiny but really looks 3-dimensional. Not “flat” or anything like that. I already know that I’ll spend hours and hours trying to find the perfect outfits for my characters. Oh dear… (yes, like I do in all games where that is possible). ;)