Possible Disappointment in Guild Wars 2 Racial Details
July 13, 2012 | ~4 mins read time.

Norn Ranger
Norn Ranger.

I'm getting ready to play Guild Wars 2, and I may be a little disappointed with how the developers chose to deal with the quirks of each race in terms of game play. Obviously, they've gone to great lengths to make characters look amazing. That's one of the things that attracted me to Guild Wars when it was first recommended to me by a friend (who I hope will agree to write a few Guild Wars 2 posts). I loved the level of detail in the character customization menus during creation. Apparently they are just as detailed in Guild Wars 2.

However, the level of customization when it comes to picking a race seems to be mostly superficial. I had hoped that, when I found out that we were going to have the ability to choose a race and profession, that the race choices would be more detailed during the game play. The racial choices appear to be dependent upon a few skills for each race. The list of skills by race can be found at here at the Guild Wars 2 Wiki.

I'm going to use the Norn as an example because they're one of the races that interests me the most in the Guild Wars world. They have shape-shifting abilities and I expected that these would be integrated in the form of regular skills or elite skills. The Norn regular skills are Call Owl and Call Wurm. The former brings forth an owl that will attack foes and causes bleeding. The wurm will show up and attack.

Norn Animal Spirits
Norn Animal Spirits

The Elite Norn Skills:

  • Become the Bear
  • Become the Raven
  • Become the Snow Leopard
  • Become the Wolf

When any one of these elite shape-shifting skills are used, the last five slots on your main skill bar will be replaced with the skills inherent to the elite skill. For instance, when Become the Raven is activated, the skill bar is replaced with:

  • Swipe/Crippling Swipe
  • Wind Blast
  • Swoop
  • Shriek
  • Rending Talons

Now, being able to take advantage of the shape shifting will be fun. However, it would have been nice if certain racial properties were simply wired into each character as well. For instance, in the case of the Norn, they are one of the tallest of the races and they are one of the physically strongest.

The Asura, who are an extremely short but intelligent race of mechanical geniuses, would do well to have an advantage in certain areas of crafting or building. Their skills list is currently horrible. Yes, an Elite skill for the Asura is the ability to summon a G.O.L.E.M.-inspired battle suit. The Asura character can use it or another character, regardless of race, could hop into it.

The races' skills are certainly in keeping with the traits and abilities of each race, but I really did want to see something more detailed and fluid in the game. The Norn and the Charr are large and physically powerful - why don't they have an advantage in terms of the heavier classes, like Guardians and Warriors? Why don't they have disadvantages as thieves?

Conversely, why don't the Asura have distinct advantages as Engineers or the Sylvari as thieves or elementalists? Then again, that could be something that would be almost impossible to implement properly into the world. It makes sense in my head, but that doesn't mean it's possible to even do just yet. It would also probably cut out some of the diversity of the customization choices Guild Wars 2 will give players. What do you think?

**Edit: I'd forgotten that each race is also set apart by the starting areas. That's one of the very cool ways that they are set apart from each other, despite the lack of my wish for more realism when it comes to the physical traits. One day ... one day such things will be possible and still retain balance in-game.

**The images used in this post aren't mine. They are used with permission via the media kit provided by ArenaNet at GuildWars2.com. Copyright as follows: © 2011 ArenaNet, Inc. All rights reserved. NCsoft, the interlocking NC logo, ArenaNet, Arena.net, Guild Wars,Guild Wars FactionsFactionsGuild Wars NightfallNightfallGuild Wars: Eye of the NorthGuild Wars Eye of the NorthEye of the NorthGuild Wars 2, and all associated logos and designs are trademarks or registered trademarks of NCsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.