Evolution is not a force but a process.

It was the point at which I’d decided upon name, class, race, face and hair style options for my character in Guild Wars 2 when it dawned on me, that despite my better judgement and efforts to the contrary, I’d succumbed and let ArenaNet’s hype seep surreptitiously into my subconscious, like a constrictor snake slowly sliding sub rosa around its prey –which slumbers beneath that thorny shelter in the false supposition of safety– before squeezing, and then devouring it wholly.

It’s a tempered excitement, however, when compared to the hair-tearing bipolar frenzies I exhibited in the lead up to World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online. My current enthusiasm is a mellow yellow, Guild Wars 2 being the electrical banana that I believe ‘is gonna be a sudden craze’. I think this more reserved enthusiasm is, in part, due to the fact that I know that it is baseless: I have no more proof of Guild Wars 2’s qualifications for sustained entertainment than I did with Warhammer Online, and I know that the curriculum vitae presented by the game could be a carefully exaggerated construction in order for it to get its foot in the door of my attentions – mission accomplished, by the way. These days I’m well aware that I need to interview candidates thoroughly before making any commitment, Warhammer Online taught me this lesson well.

Primarily then, the game has me excited because the facts presented thus far appeal to my taste in fantasy fashions. The races are attractive and varied, even though Asura seem set to take over the Irritating Midget crown from World of Warcraft’s Gnome race, what with their short stature, cute faces, afro hairstyle option, and a racial name that invokes materialistic power-seeking Hindu deities.

(QI aside: The Wikipedia entry claims that “[Asura] is also cognate with Old Norse “Æsir”, which implies a common Proto-Indo-European origin for the Asura and the Æsir.” Which leads to interesting potential connections, considering that the Norn in Guild Wars 2 are clearly built on a foundation of Old Norse mythology.)

There certainly seems to be a little something for everyone in the spread of races, with the Charr appealing to furries and the Sylvari catering to the elf/fae/naturalist(and possibly naturist) types.

It’s harder to get excited about the classes without actually having played them, but based on the evidence thus far, I’ve found a couple that I think will interest me. From a purely aesthetic point of view then, it will be the steampunk gunplay that makes or breaks the appeal of many of the classes for me. I don’t mind steampunk, but I’ve expressed before that it’s one of those genre elements that many games fail to treat with any reverence, instead using it as an excuse to attach cogs and watches to clothing, and foist guns and comically inappropriate technology into a fantasy setting. It’s not the technology itself, but the fact that most game worlds don’t reflect the impact of such technology; it seems that no consideration is given to the effect of the technology, and so the juxtaposition of a world where people have access to guns, but many still run around wielding swords, is a jarring one. The famous scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indiana Jones waits patiently for a mercenary to finish his intricate attempt at an intimidating sword dance, before pulling out his revolver and shooting the mercenary dead, should serve as a basic reminder of the rapid change in natural order that such technology portends.

Then again, consideration rarely seems to be given to the evolution of these worlds in which magic exists either, where the only response to magicians pitching balls of fire seems to be for non-magic users to develop a lack of nerve endings and flame retardant hair, so that they can be set on fire with alarming regularity and continue fighting while also maintaining a perfectly styled coiffeur.

6 thoughts on “Evolution is not a force but a process.

  1. darkeye

    All the options look so good, having a hard time deciding on race. I didn’t think I’d like the asura but their animations are great, they heft greatswords over one shoulder and run lopsided, and have a ROFL animation.


    Picking a class will probably prove twice as hard, classes I thought were uninteresting have started looking solid and fun. An elementalist has jumped to the top of the list, because they look so mobile. They also have an elite that summons a fiery greatsword from the sky that impacts like a meteor that can be picked up, have the image of a skinny guy in robes swinging a big flaming sword to lay down some hurt.

    The difference for me between the anticipation between WAR and GW2 is that I’ve seen so much of the game in videos of people playing and it already looks fun and polished. Anyways I suspect there’ll be less information coming out in the foreseeable future seeing as they should be in crunch mode, while it’s nice to see all the little details, it can be too much digest sometimes.

  2. FraidOfTheLight

    Regarding evolution, three other striking evolutionary traits that appear in MMOs:

    1) Disposing of bodily waste through sweating or some other method, as evidenced by the lack of toilets in many games.

    2) In LotRO, being able to survive a great fall with only a broken leg, which forces you to limp, but then conveniently heals without treatment.

    3) Dying not being permanent.

    That last one would be great for the survival of the species…and is probably just as well, given that I have yet to experience an MMO which allows characters to procreate.

  3. Melmoth Post author

    @darkeye: I thought I would definitely be a Charr, but they’ve really nailed the Norn (as it were), and so I’ll probably pick Charr for one of my many inevitable alts.

    Class choice will be tricky because it’s hard to know how they play without trying them, seeing as Guild Wars 2 takes a different approach to combat than the standard stationary formation we currently have in many MMOs. Plus we’re missing the final class, although it’ll be quite the shocker if it isn’t the Mesmer. Still, even if it is the Mesmer, there’s a good chance that they’ve re-imagined it as they have done with many of the other original Guild Wars classes.

    @FraidOfTheLight: I, for one, welcome our non-pooping indestructible immortal celibate MMO overlords.

  4. Attic Lion


    Celibate? I suppose you’ve never played on an RP server before. I assure you that there is a lot of screwing going around.

  5. Melmoth Post author

    Years of counselling had allowed me to forget and begin to lead a normal life again. And now… now… NOW… now… well, they can’t, I mean it’s broad daylight, and one of them is a bear. A BEAR! Bare. Bear. AHaHAhahAHA. And they’re, well, no that can’t be right. No. No no no. It’s impossible. And there’s poetry while they do it. Why poetry? How poetry?! WHAT POETRY IS THIS? I CAN’T THEY CAN’T CAN THEY EVEN? HELP ME MOTHERRRRRRrrrrrr

  6. Attic Lion

    Well now you’ve reminded me of all the horrible furry ERP I’ll no doubt encounter in GW2 due to norn shape changing shenanigans. Wonderful.

    I must find some way to combat this.

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