Sylvari Redesign Win

August 8, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 35 Comments
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Several months ago Arenanet let slip that they were redesigning the sylvari. It seemed pretty late into development to be doing so and to be honest I didn’t see the point. The old sylvari design seemed well done. The colours were a bit monotone, some of the plant characteristics seemed a bit tacked on, but they looked nice and in some cases, quite cute.

The old sylvari design, notice Caithe on the right.

As you can see there is nothing particularly wrong with the old design. One wouldn’t necessarily instantly recognize that they were plants, but they weren’t instantly abhorrent either. If the sylvari at this stage had faults, it’s that you couldn’t quite say what you liked or disliked about them.

The new design, and in fact the new blog post, help underscore just what was missing. The lush, alive, and organic feeling of being a plant as you play sylvari.

Examples of goatees and mohawks that don't look stupid in an MMO.

Essentially Kristen Perry has redesigned the race to feel as though it has been grown rather than birthed. That they are plants rather than humans with plants growing on them. This new detailed work seems to far outshine the previous design, and as far as races go, it is very impressive.

I really liked one thing in this paragraph.

have more faces planned and there will be more hair designs with branches and flowers. Male and female sylvari will get a full selection of ears, and perhaps some leaf patterns overlaying the skins like tattoos, along with bioluminescent markings.

Bio-luminescent tattoos!? F YEAH.

This just reinforces my choice of going with sylvari for Guild Wars 2. Check out the thought process behind the redesign in the blog post, it’s a fun read for anyone remotely interested in this aspect of game design.

Caithe looks fantastic.



  1. Feel the same really, I thought the old design looked pretty good. But now, they’ve definitely got a unique look to them and I think it looks way better — especially Caithe.

    • Well then I guess we’re on the same page, I definitely didn’t have a problem with them before, but I am impressed by the redesign.

      • Agreed. The “before” shot looks perfectly fine – doesn’t stand out in any huge way, but they were nicely done green elves.

        But the “after” show DOES stand out in a big way, it’s a very fresh and interesting design. It has gone from good to excellent.

  2. I agree, it is much better and big improvement from old design.
    Personaly wasn’t a fan of old design. They looked “too childish”. True they give that feeling even now, but its much better vibe overall.

    With that said, I settled on my main beeing human.

    • There was a certain childish quality but I felt that with the lore since the entire race is no more than 25 years old.

      • I was aiming at their phisical apperance. Most people at 25 years are fully grown, but sylvari (ok, they are not humans, but I can’t help it) strike me with all those pictures we have seen even now as someone with 12-15 years max. Doesn’t have that adult look. They look like they are still grownig up.

        I don’t know, it might be just me, but I imagine, no matter the specie (at least one that is based on humans) that after 25 years a man/woman is fully grown and developed not still in puberty, at least phisicaly.

        • I think its a visual theme they’re going for, young race so they look young.

          • I just came to conclusion that if in character creation will be choice of body type, then my problem is solved since they would most probably show medium solution of body as standard.
            It is speculation, but considering gamescom is coming soon it will be soon either confirmed or not,

  3. Agreed, while I was okay with the original design, the improved version is excellent! Making them more plant-like without turning them into Ents was exactly what I was hoping for and yet ArenaNet (or should I say Kristen Perry?) far surpassed that.

    I had the same thought about the mohawk and goatee! 🙂

    Other things I really like are the eyes (be sure to click on the images and see the eyes at full resolution), the organic armor designs are really good, and the mention of options for ear, leaf and tattoos are just icing on an already rich and delicious cake.

    • The eyes aren’t impressive to me because something that small isn’t going to be looked at by me let alone others. A nice customization but overall not important to me. They do look nice though.

      • In the cutscenes is where I think you will notice the eyes. So it will be nice having them look more alive than the usual dead stares animated eyes give.

        • True, cutscenes will have more visibility. Not sure if that changes my opinion though.

  4. Very satisfied, I agree that before it just felt tacked on, almost place holder(ry), but know it feels normal (you know what I mean).


    • Their skin in particular felt very untouched to me, not that we ever really got a good look before the redesign.

  5. It’s funny when I first saw the Sylvari before the redesign I thought they looked good but there was something that just didn’t sit right with me. For the longest I thought it was the hair being leaves on some, but now I don’t think it was that at all. If anything it was the fact that they didn’t have enough leaves on them. Caithe looks amazing now. Rather than looking like a child as she did before the redesign, she looks mature yet still young as a first born Sylvari should. She did a great job on this.

    • yeah caithe is one of the most impressive redesigns. she was one of my favourite looking characters in edge, and i was surprised that kristen was able to not only change her, but for the better.

  6. I agree with you there. Though I’m probably still going to roll human at first, my very first “main alt” is going to be sylvari without a doubt. A winter female I think, and I’m hoping they touch on the origin of their race in the personal story. 🙂

    • Hopefully the game deals with the origin at some point, I mean we know a bit about it but no real reason why they came to be.

  7. I loved everything about that blog entry by Kristen Perry but, if I had to site just one thing that stood out to me I can sum it up in one word, “bioluminescent.”

    I couldn’t be happier with the redesign of the sylvari, and this confirms absolutely that a sylvari necro and thief will be among the very first characters I create. (necro currently number 1.)

    • Yeah, I’d love to have glowing marks on my character, thats a fun little detail I would enjoy for years.

  8. I liked the old design, but I felt they looked a bit generic…not really like this brand new race they were meant to be. They were small and kinda planty but didn’t look much like an actual plant race.

    This is miles better, and I’m so happy with how they turned out. I mean, I’m Sylvari Fangirl #1, so I’ve been planning on playing one from the very start, I don’t think I could have possibly disliked the redesign no matter what they did (though I would have been disappointed if they went for “generic nature elf”). This, though…pretty much hits everything that I’d been looking for and wanting to see in the new design. So awesome. I’m beyond pleased with the job Kristen did on them ❤

    • Its interesting to note that, few guild wars fans see the sylvari as nature elves, but I’m pretty sure non-guild wars fans would see them as exactly that.

  9. I really couldn’t be happier with the redesign, although I was one of those who didn’t mind the old design at all and was still planning on rolling a sylvari even if that had been the design at release. The exception is Caithe, who I thought was a little “meh,” but I am just loving her to pieces now. I wish I knew what Killeen looked like, now that we have this new point of reference to go from.

    I am still waiting to see how the sylvari starting area and racial conflicts sound before I decide on my main race, but it’s always been neck and neck with the norn and now the decision is heavily weighted in favor of the sylvari.

    This is why ANet’s artists win the big awards, people… wow.

    • I’d love to see a visual depidction of killeen now that you mention it. And don’t forget we do have a few very brief shots of the grove in that one video, although I’m sure things may have changed.

  10. After reading the stories of Killeen in the original Guild Wars novel, Ghosts of Ascalon and then Caithe in the follow-up book, Edge of Destiny, I’ve been planning on creating a female Sylvari Necromancer.

    The only problem was, that the original Sylvari look didn’t quite fit with the appearance that I’d imagined for my necro.

    After seeing the latest iteration I’m as happy as a dog with two bones, as Kristen’s newest visual creation fits perfectly with my imagined merging of the two characters from the books.

    • Sylvari necromancer seems to be a popular choice, but I’ll probably stay away from necro and go with warrior, ranger, engineer, guardian, or thief. wow i’ve really narrowed it down there.

      • Maybe it’s the popular choice in these postings but I bet every cent I have that Ranger will be the most common Sylvari pairing come release.

        I’ve not done a much better job narrowing it down than you Hunter, no worries. I’m at Warrior or Guardian, and I’m thinking the new Mesmer-like class will make my list as well. Oh and I like the look of the Thief also.

        • i’m sure ranger will be popular but anecdotally i just keep hearing necro over and over again. I wouldn’t underestimate the influence of caithe and killeen on the player base to choose thief and necro.

      • I am thinking to play a sylvari now they made this redesign. The old design really was not geting me up.

        For now, I think asura, humans (the underdog race, human lore wins) and sylvari are interesting races.

        And, IMHO, sylvari necromancer will be popular. I am interested to play one…

        • I think more than ever, each race has something to offer, even if I personally don’t want to play human or norn or charr as much as the other two.

  11. The “After” is so much better, if only for the fact the faces look more realistic and the eyes a lot less deadpan and unsettling. I also love the skin effects. But sorry, mohawks no matter what the context still look stupid 😛

    • Yeah there is just plain more detail and more work put in. The skin effects are going to be awesome and you just need more punkrock in your life if you don’t like mohawks.

  12. The redesign looks great.

    It does sadden me that games insist on attractive avatars. I made a fat, ugly Twi’lek Image Designer on SWG and loved him very, very much.

    • True, more variation in body size and uniqueness would be great in most games. Although I admit the majority of people would just go for fit attractive avatars anyway.

  13. […] Hunter’s Insight: Sylvari Redesign Win. “Several months ago Arenanet let slip that they were redesigning the sylvari. It seemed pretty late into development to be doing so and to be honest I didn’t see the point. The old sylvari design seemed well done. The colours were a bit monotone, some of the plant characteristics seemed a bit tacked on, but they looked nice and in some cases, quite cute.” […]

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