Choosing A Race In Guild Wars 2

July 24, 2011 at 12:52 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 44 Comments
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The box art, according to the Guild Wars 2 asset kit.

Like all giant nerds, I am planning out what race and profession I will be playing when Guild Wars 2 comes out. I was reminded of just how little we’ve seen of the asura and sylvari when on the Guild Wars 2 panel at Comic Con it was mentioned that the sylvari will be featured in a race week sometime before gamescom where they will be playable.

This is a bit of a surprise because we’d been told the sylvari were undergoing an overhaul, and I expect everyone thought the asura would come first, as I did.

Nevertheless I’m pleased. I haven’t pinned down what race I’m definitely choosing but asura and sylvari top the possibilities.

The white stripes didn't break up, they just want to play Guild Wars 2 really badly.

The charr will always be monsters to those who played Prophecies first. They crushed the innocence of Ascalon in the original game and even though they’ve been somewhat retconned to be more noble or more easily empathized with I think there are still a lot of people out there that hate their filthy hairball guts.

That said their ferocious nature, their cat-like aspects, their sheer alien and unique qualities ought to draw in a large number of people. There are plenty of furries in the world and the charr are for them. I think a lot of people just want to get their frustrations out when they game and playing a powerful, vicious, snarling, creature with fangs really appeals to that mindset.

For me, I’m not really a fur person. I’m in need of a more visually appealing aesthetic. The charr are hunchbacks with spiked shoulder blades, 4 ears, and snaggletoothed maws for mouths. They’re too gruesome and too monsterous for me. Their history is interesting, though little is known of their past before humans arrived in Ascalon. I also like that they’re essentially atheist. I’m an atheist and rarely do you see atheists in (any media really) games.

While some of those aspects are appealing, and ultimately I’ll be playing each race, charr will never be my main, or a favourite.

A human calls on his racial skill, the Hounds of Balthazar.

Humans are another option I’m not really interested in. The only race in the original Guild Wars was human, so I’ve got about 9 humans already, and somehow that just feels like it’s been done. I wouldn’t blame anyone for not agreeing with me but human just feels like the most boring choice. I don’t even think this is unique to Guild Wars 2, playing a human in any game is so played out.

We know what they’ve been through, who they are. We know their attitudes and motivations, because heck, we’re human. In Tyria they’re beset by challenges and have long histories, but we know what it is to be human. Some people may find that easier, or more appealing, or they might feel more comfortable with an avatar that more closely resembles who they are and what they would be about.

I game to do something else. Something different.

Don’t get me wrong, out of all the cities, Divinity’s Reach looks to be the most incredible, followed by Lion’s Arch. Any original Guild Wars player will feel more closely attuned to the story of humans and their struggles than any other race. The feelings of nostalgia in the human areas are bound to be one of the most joyous parts of Guild Wars 2.

But I can’t take playing another human, at least not as a main, and not at first.

Any guess as to which demographic the nordic giant boobed sniper rifle wielding chick will attract?

Which leads me to the race I’ll probably be playing 3rd. The norn. One of my first impression of them was that they were human but taller. That’s a bit of a shortsighted assessment but at the same time all too true.

While aesthetically a taller, more muscular, and wider human isn’t all that interesting to me, I am interested by their culture, attitude, and other aspects. I’ve always loved vikings. There is something incredible about their viciousness tied with their ambition to explore. I’ve still got factoids about Bjarni Herjolfsson and Thorvald Eiriksson tucked away in the back of my brain from my childhood. The norn are all that only more drunk. A sort of land based viking minus the pirate sensibility plus the drunken debauchery and chauvinism.

Their boisterous personalities, especially as displayed by Gullik in the Ghosts of Ascalon novel, is inherently likable, even when in real life, I don’t think I could stand to be around someone that drunkenly out of control.

Their cold habitat, their sense of glory, their idea of self worth. All of that is intriguing even if ‘big human’ isn’t that appealing to me.

Sylvari as they looked before it was decided to redesign them.

Finally the two races I’m most interested in attract me for entirely different reasons.

The sylvari, even though I have yet to see their remodeled look, are bound to be the most visually appealing race. Neither the asura or the charr can be said to be attractive, while the humans and the norn look alike. I think sylvari are meant to be the most aesthetically pleasing race.

While that does appeal to me, I think what I like about the most is that they’re new. Perhaps it’s society’s fascination with anything new and interesting but I’m much more drawn to sylvari because they are so unknown. They didn’t appear in Guild Wars at all while all other races were seen.

They also have a world view that is pretty unique. While I’m no fan of their similarity to some types of elves, in that sylvari and elves seem attuned to nature, their young race being only 25 years old at the time of Guild Wars 2 flies in the face of most elvish lore.

Finally their look will almost certainly be different from nearly every other race in games. A plant based bi-pedal species? Visuals that include “hair” made up of leaves and petals? So intriguing.

We've seen various trailers, screenshots, and even NPCs in demos, but otherwise very little of the asura.

Which leaves me with the asura. A highly intelligent, narcissistic, sarcastic and downright mean at times race with the ability to backup their pompous nonsense. The perfect race to coddle ones ego. Any nerd with any sense of pride in their intelligence should consider the asura their spirit animal.

They also have a very visually unique look although it isn’t as appealing to me. Based in part on some sort of combination between a shark and a mole, they are the smallest race and bound to be worth playing for their look alone.

However I would not condemn anyone for not liking the look of a sharp toothed, big eared, rodent looking, little person.

Having been pushed out of the depths of Tyria by the hordes of dragonspawn, their history should be interesting. We know little of their past in the depths and returning to their ruins, meeting their enemies, find out about them.

So while I’ve made some choices about what race to play, I’m still torn between sylvari and asura, not to mention the problem of eventually wanting to play all the races and see ALL THE THINGS! in the game, or play with friends as their race in their area.

And those are just some of the main points about what race I want to choose. Don’t get me started on choosing a profession.



  1. I would respond but you summed everything I think. Exactly. Well done.

    By that I mean “Good job thinking like I do”. 🙂

    • Ah haaa so you’re also thinking sylvari or asura? Cool.

  2. Nice writeup Hunter. These sorts of articles are always fun.

    From my perspective I want to play a tanky warrior, or as tanky as game mechanics allow. In the event that racial abilities favor some profession over others (I hope they do not) I’ll likely pick whichever I think is more beneficial.

    If all things are equal I’ll play either Sylvari or Norn, a less likely choice would be Charr.

    I’m not interested in playing a Human when I could play a Norn, I played a Barbarian for 6 years in Everquest so I have a sentimental attachment to the race. And I’ve never liked the wee races such as gnomes from EQ and WoW, I really don’t find the Asura interesting at all.

    • It’s funny that you and just about everyone really think of the norn as barbarians, because whenever i hear them described that way I’m always surprised. I mean, I understand how reflective they are of barbarian type races and even agree that they are quite barbarian, but personally I just never think of them that way.

      Anyway, I’m wondering if a guardian will end up being more tanky than warriors. Considered that?

  3. “Any nerd with any sense of pride in their intelligence should consider the asura their spirit animal.” – Hunter
    literally laughed out loud at that one… very nicely done.
    Personally, I’m probably looking at sylvari for my necro and thief… and most likely going with asura for a guardian and engineer. I’m trying to keep my alt-aholicism in check and just sticking with those for as long as possible initially.
    Although the asura and sylvari both appeal to me the most as races, it cannot be understated how much I’m looking forward to experiencing their starting areas as well.
    I’m going to enjoy the tropical jungles, and avoid desolated wasteland, or frozen wasteland, or *cough* farms for at least the beginning of my jouneys.

    • I think a lot of people are thinking smaller races for things like thief, because in a way, it doesn’t really make sense for huge charr to be sneaking in windows, etc. That’s just a mindset of course, and i’m sure many will play charr thief, but I bet the percentages will skew away from it, just like warriors will skew away from the asura race.

      That said an asura warrior intrigues me.

      From the map in the books, there are plenty of wastelands to the north of the grove/rata sum. Probably won’t get to see them, but, maybe some day? Or perhaps little peaks during the opening levels?

  4. Great minds think alike! One part where I differ from you is, is that I’m one of the people who didn’t play a lot of Guild Wars but I can see them as being the vanilla in this batch of race choices. Still I’ll have no problem playing one and really enjoying it. Wonder if I can slap Logan around and pick on him and his ‘queen fetish’

    Even though Norn can be seen as ‘bigger humans’, the culture really fascinates me. Their individualistic ideology mostly catches me such as telling stories of the good and bad guys in equal measures of bravado and worship. Eir is also sort of an enigma where as the standard definition of a Norn being that boastful, proud, lovers of the alcohol. She represents a more mature version of that. Yeah, she’s proud of her accomplishments and has wise personality but her Norn also shows like when she tried to crack Jormag’s tooth and really played up the crowd(Even though she ultimately failed). What I’m trying to say is that their something very alluring about the race.

    For some reason I really want to play a Sylvari Engineer. Even though some may think that wrong for many reasons, I just have this mad scientist character in my head and the awkward social graces a Sylvari provides can add to it.

    • It’s an interesting question, will Arenanet allow us to take our frustrations with logan out on him. Can’t wait to know the answer.

      Kudos to arenanet for making 5 distinct races/cultures even if you’re just looking at them on a surface level. I played rift for months but aside from telling you the differences between defiant and guardian I couldn’t tell you much about the differences between each race.

    • It wasnt really Logans fault you know, he was brain washed.

      • Still a chump in my eyes ;). Still want to poke fun at him brainwashed or not.

  5. I am having the same “which race/class” combo discussion on Google+ (and you are always welcome to join).

    I share a lot of your thoughts, laughed at the Norn chick and agree to your apt description of the Charr as being a monstrous species. The Asura fill the cutesy race niche of the “WoW Gnome”, just with filed teeth and technology. The Sylvari – no idea how they will look in the end. But their affiliation with plants and nature really puts them in the “Elves/treehugger” corner.

    I have played by far too many hot human chicks in Guild Wars 1. Don’t blame me, couldn’t stand my bodybuilder look as human warrior anymore and I really believe the female armors and looks were so much better/hotter.

    I am really afraid the same is the case in Guild Wars 2. As much as I like the art of Kristen Perry, Katy Hargrove and co, their human males seem to be too metrosexual/Beckham for my liking. Are male Norns still walking TONS?

    Sigh… human female/male or female “Jora” norn buxom blonde Valkyrie then?

    P.S.: worried about all he rifles and steampunk/technology. The Charr Engineer in some recent videos was all fine and dandy but it looked a lot like WoW and Tauren Hunter running on four legs to me. Also the one on one nature of combat is very different to the group vs group setup of GW.
    Yeah sorry, I just couldn’t test the game myself and I am worried that what we might get after all these years is only GW by name.

    • I don’t have a google+ invite, which I suppose I should get on top of.

      I guess making humans extremely pretty is a safe bet. You please the young and shallow with visually appeasing aesthetics while at the same time not allowing anyone to feel like their character is ugly. Since human avatars are more an extension of ourselves than other races, it tends to be not only a popular decision but a subtle way to make them feel good about choosing human.

      That didn’t make a whole lot of sense but I think you know what i mean.

      It’s fair to be worried about that I guess, but, to me Guild Wars 2 is a different game. It is a sequel and things change in sequels. Don’t know why anyone would want to play guild wars only with jumping.

    • Agree with your fears. I don’t want GW with jumping either but I also don’t want WOW – Guild Wars. To me the group vs group mechanic is one of the essential features of GW that shouldn’t have been lost. I am hoping that it hasn’t really and that events should make soloing a crappy distant memory that belongs with WOW.

  6. “Don’t get me started on choosing a profession.”
    I feel your pain!

    Humans are my leading contender at the moment, for their attractiveness & their home district in Divinity’s Reach.
    I actually prefer the norn biography questions, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to make an attractive slimline male norn (basically the ‘big human’ archetype ^_^) too… but Hoelbrak is a deal-breaker.
    Having seen it (incompletely) inside & out, it just doesn’t hold a candle to the majestic Divinity’s Reach in my affections – not a main character home district contender, at all.

    Asura I’m discounting purely for their size and unattractiveness; love their character, but strictly playing as an alt – not going to spend months/years laboring over rare armor sets for a character that doesn’t show them off.
    Sylvari are definite contenders, but it is a tall order for them to top human aesthetics AND Divinity’s Reach – will await with great interest.

    • You bring up an interesting point when you mention working for those rare armours on a character that won’t show them off. It isn’t something I had considered much.

      Surely norn and charr will be more visible, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be paying attention to them over an asura or sylvari.

      That’s something I’ll have to think more about.

      • Havnt been impressed by the armour I’ve seen of the char yet. I am with Vorsakan on the human side.

        Id also add the human gods to the positive side for the humans, I like their possibilities here. Another reason to barrack for em. Atheisism doesn’t really do much for story. I’ll get godlike one day, after I save the current lot from the dragons.

  7. I always like playing human characters, especially in worlds filled with fantasy monsters. It just seems more heroic when you do it as a human. I like the Asura and will probably play one as well, and possibly a Charr (I never played guild wars so they don’t have that stigma for me).

    • I definitely understand identifying with humans more than fantasy races, we’re all human after all, but for me in fantasy worlds, I want to get away from the normal, invest in something other-worldly and dive into an entirely different universe. Helps if you’re not human.

  8. I’m hoping the sylvari makeover will make them less elf-like and a bit more alien looking, while still attractive, if that makes any sense. Not sure how willing ArenaNet would be willing to go towards a really unique look, but I guess we’ll soon see. It would also be great if they hire Diane Pershing for some voice work as a sylvari, as she was great on the animated Batman series as Poison Ivy and has game voice credits going back to Baldur’s Gate.

    Right now I’m going with sylvari as main, then asuran, human, charr and norn in last place, subject to change of course.

    • That seems to be the concensus really, that everyone is hoping for something less elf like.

      I remember her voice even without having to go back to listen to it. Very distinct sound. Hopefully we’ll learn more about the voice actors the closer we get to launch. I’d love to see more of felicia day.

  9. By now I know that I’ll be playing either sylvari or, if I don’t like the redesign, norn. I love the idea of a crackpot young sylvari with a flamethrower – but if their redesign goes too “elfy” and not “planty” enough, then I’ll fall back on the norn.

    • I have to doubt at this point they’d go more elfy. That just plain isn’t arenanets style. They’re all about the art and creativity and I find it hard to believe daniel dociu or anyone else would be like “hmmmm this needs to be more broad and done before”.

      I think we can depend on more planty.

  10. I sort of decided my main would be human, just because the whole feel around the race is so typicly medival and screams for knights in shining armor. I am still torn between the profession I will chose, between warrior and guardian.
    Until the first models of Sylvari came out I was sure I will make one, because their concept art reminded me a lot of elve and Sidhe concept art, strong looking, slender but powerful. And then they got out that… that… I don’t find decent word, to me those models that we know, look like green emos.
    I want to make a norn, just to pay homage to Tormund Tall-talker from ASOIAF. Nothing captures entity of Norn better then Tormund.
    I am realy undecided about Asura, I know I will make Charr char just to have one but Asuras strike me as an oddball. To me, they look like gnome and globin form WoW got together and had a child but forgot to teach him about greed.

    So for me, Human, Charr and Norn are positive, Sylvari only if they make them more atlethic and Asure, well Asuras will have a slot but just for the story. Funny thing, in any other game I avoid beeing human, always some kind of Elf or Orc if possible.

    • I never really disliked the models we saw of sylvari, they didn’t seem that bad to me, if a little strange colour wise. Some of the models looked really great to me, perhaps brought down by some of the other models.

      People keep saying asura are like gnomes and goblins in WoW, and while I think the shallow basics are similar, short, smart, and smart-mouthed, I’m not sure yet whether to agree with that line of thought. We might be cutting off what could be a really unique race just by continuously comparing them to WoW.

      We’ll see I guess.

      • We will soon have our oppinions on new Sylvari models. Rumor has it they will already be playable on gamescom.

        About Asura: We might be comparing them too much with goblins and gnomes from WoW, but fact remains that WoW cemented their goblins and gnomes as crazy/inovative little guys who care about only inventions and their use (or goblins in that case, how best to sell this stuff they invent). As much as Anet tries to alienate their Asura from this by adding their mortal enemies Skritt and trying to make their story bit more, we will still see them in light of gnomes&goblins, just like some see Sylvari in light of elves.

  11. I also have some difficulty in deciding on race/profession combos. However, like you, I will also make at least one character of each race. Right now I’m really leaning towards the sylvari. This is despite the fact that we don’t know much about them or even what they’ll end up looking like. But I really like the combo of a nature themed race but with a strong innocence/clueless of the world aspect. I also like that they are enigmas and I hope that the sylvari aren’t fully explained/revealed in game. I want them to retain a little mystery about themselves.

    My next favorite race would probably have to be the humans. I like the charr, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to swallow their giant metal monstrosity of a city constantly. Don’t get me wrong, I think the city fits them and looks great, but I just can’t live with that much monochromatic sensibility. But the humans are aesthetically pleasant, and I love how the armor/clothing looks on them. I’m really hoping they give us a wardrobe in out home cities so I can store my future horde of outfits.

    • Yeah explaining things is all nerds really want but if they knew better they’d never ask for answers because the mystery is more important. I hope we never find out the exact nature of how the sylvari came to be.

      Their metal city will be a nice change once you’ve played through divinity’s reach too many times. I’ve personally been to too many pristine medieval mmo cities to want to spend too much time in another one (even though DR looks amazing) any time soon.

  12. I plan on having at least two of every race across my accounts. My main will probably be a human necromancer. While I like the alien concept of the other races I have enough lore behind the staimoto family to tip the scales in the more mundane direction.

    As for the asura it is important to remember that they are not a rip off of WoW gnomes. The Asura were created by Jeff Grubb who inveted the DnD gnomes. Essentialy Grubb made the race that WoW ripped off so if anything he is taking his species back.

    • Yeah I suppose a lot of people will play human because they feel like they’re continuing the story of their previous characters.

  13. Even though i will go for a human as a main character, i am still having trouble getting over the whole self-hating that seems to be imbedded in human nature. which also seems to be the case in guildwars2. humans are weak, small, fragile, clawless, fangless, nude creatures…why? why can we humans not get a break once in a while and be real badasses. i mean, even after reading the GW novels i still can’t find what makes humanity strong, other than being great decorators. because as far as architecture goes, a charr building will kick a human buildings backdoor anytime.

    But the reason why imma go for a human is aesthetics, its as simple as that.
    I like to walk around seeing medieval maidens flaunting around town in leather, silk and fur. god forbid even a corset. And one can only dream about what the engineer profession will add to that… But thats probably just me being a aesthetics-fueled romantic who prefers a nice view over the length of my nails, teeth, fur, leaves, brains, or bulk.

    • For me it is much less about any kind of self hate, and more about being bored with humans. They’re in every video game and I happen to also be one. Saying its about self hate is just reading too much into it if you ask me, but to each his own.

      • Probably a misunderstanding. I do not mean that it is self hate if you do not play as human. But the fact that when there or multiple choices in race, the humans are always the weak ones. What i meant to say was, that if you read about the humans of GW2, be it in interviews or the GW2 novels, they are depicted as weak with no real talent thats not overshadowed by another race. hence the remark: “humans are weak, small, fragile, clawless, fangless, etc” So i’m kinda fishing for someone to tell me what makes humans stand out from its peers. what makes them survive. if Charr are big and strong and have huge warmachines, and if Asuras are highly intelligent and have advanced technology, and the Norn are like humans on steroids and able to shape-shift… what do humans have?

        • Usually the response would be something about noble qualities, honor, chivalry, and an inner strength. I don’t think humans are depicted as weak so much as attacked on all fronts.

  14. probably still sticking with a norn or sylvari; will probably avoid asura (dont’ like short races) and humans (bland)
    ill try my best not to make a female norn hunter 😉

    • Make a female norn hunter if you like, but for me it makes a bad first impression when I see a dude who has made that character.

      • let the man make what he wants in peace! 😛

  15. It’s kind of sad, as you went down the list, i’m thinking…just switch up charr and human and have sylvari as the favorite and i’m just like him… turns out…we have very similiar ideals…asura will be my second race, just because the ones in the first guild wars made me love them and guess what, i even have a nickname…Bookah, ya like it?

    • Good luck trying to get that nickname in guild wars 2, you’ll have to fight to get it. Glad to hear other people think like me.

      • I could be wrong, but if you used a name in guildwars1, that name is reserved for you in guildwars2. so i had a few slots left in GW1 and already made a character with the name i would like to have in GW2, you could try that to be sure its available when GW2 come out. Or am i now just stating the obvious?

        • basically in gw all names are two words, but that isn’t the case in gw2. so you can reserve two word names but not “Bookah”

  16. Norn all the way. I’ve never played GW1 and i always tend to play the Muscular Races. I’d never Play Humans as a main in a Fantasy game. The idea of Norn Transforming to a wild form has something primal about it. Less High fantasy and more brutal. I will eventually play all classes and races. But I can’t shake my Love for the Conanesque. Char may be my next choice then Silvari. I prefer to see my armor in great detail something which smaller races hide. That being said i’m also a fan of the chainmail bikini types too 😛

    • so you’ve played age of conan then? sounds like its right up your alley if not.

      Personally the big races vs small races showing offf armour thing isn’t something i’m concerned about, but I’m starting to see a lot of people are.

  17. I’m for sure going to be an Asura. An engineer type of class has always been my favorite kind of role to fill, so it seems obvious that I would pick Asuran Engineer. However, this is what EVERYONE is doing. I was actually hoping that an Engineer class didn’t come out, because the Asura are already like that. I was planning on being an Asuran Guardian, simply because I hate the snorty attitude of the Asura and I think it would be cool to be a humble, quiet Asura. What I will end up doing probably is making the Guardian Asura first, then making a Norn Engineer, then after I make all 5 races, I’ll make one more Asura as an Engineer.

    • While I agree that a lot of people will choose asura engineer, I think there is a fair amount of people going charr engineer as well since the lore points to the charr as being more practical with the science they are learning and being the origin of the engineer profession.

      Guardian asura seems cool too.

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