Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To Be A Charr : GW2

In a comment over at KIASA, Spinks said "GW2 is fun but (dare I say) not very compelling". That hasn't been my experience, not exactly, but I have found that my first compulsion hasn't so much been to play the game as to document it. I've taken hundreds of screenshots, made copious notes, taken videos and written blogs.There was a point when I was beginning to wonder whether I was playing a game or doing a research project.

Thankfully, that moment has passed. This weekend, for the first time since beta, I felt that I wanted to play the game more than I wanted to write about it and even as I type this I'm aware that I would rather be playing. That's a good thing.

Finding His Voice
The tipping point has been the coalescing of the character of my Charr ranger. I loved the Charr as a race from the moment I first created one in beta and 99% of my entire time in GW2 has been spent as a cat but it's taken a while for that general adoration to refine into a specific affection for the singular Charr that represents my viewpoint out onto Tyria.

No MMO really falls into place for me until I reach an affinity with character. The world can be beautiful, the gameplay fluid and thrilling, the storyline fascinating; none of that will hold me for long if a character I'm playing fails to take on a life of his or her own. I don't roleplay but I do character-play and developing an innate understanding of what the character I'm directing would want and, especially, how he would express himself, is the paramount factor in whether I find myself immersed in a virtual world or just playing a game.

Name one.
Since I'm not a gamer and not much interested in games or gaming, playing a game won't hold my attention for long. Longevity in an MMO requires that at least one character finds a voice. That's just now beginning to happen in GW2 and I have the feeling it will happen again and again, because the world of Tyria offers an exceptionally strong platform on which characters can be built.

Just as the eight classes appear even at a quick glance to be very different from each other, so do the five races. Playing an Asura will not feel like playing a short human any more than playing a Charr feels like playing a Norn in a fur coat. Will it even feel the same to grow up Charr as Ash or Iron? I don't know but I want to find out. From such different and fully-realised starts in life each new addition to the team that can never meet must stand the finest of chances to make that elusive transition from notional to natural.

Skritt are in Whispers. Just sayin'.
And then, beyond lie such possibilities. It's far too soon to be thinking about expansions but already I am. In all the time I've played MMOs I have never wanted to be a frog. The one and only time I ever played one was at the launch of Everquest's Legacy of Ykesha expansion and that character is long gone, never to be missed. Now, though, I would play a Hylek in a heartbeat. Or a Quaggan. It will come as no surprise, naturally, to know that before either of those I would play a Skritt.

One day. One day. For now, to be a Charr is enough.


  1. I have to agree that the pve and maybe even the whole thing doesn't feel that compelling but I don't believe that is such a bad thing. I haven't had any nagging feelings to race to lvl cap or run the same instance dozens of times, I am merely following my moods and simply playing to enjoy.

    I think most of my time in Tyria so far as involved the mists but for no other reason then pure enjoyment. I don't feel compelled to take a few keeps or get all competive in Kyhlo, I like doing it and that is all that really matters

    On another note I also need to feel attached to my character in order to be invested in an mmo. Nothing as trite as the new Anet add and assuming their role but more creating a distinguished personality I can relate too and that suits the setting.

  2. I can not disagree on the Charr. Their story is fascinating to me. The race that was low on the totem pole, rose up, reconquered there lands, survived civil war and push forward some of the most significant technological advances in Tyria and they have BBQ! What is not to love about such a fantasy race. It is quit the juxtaposition from GW1 and I'm loving it.

    I get into my characters stories and situations. I connect with the asura and charr mostly.

  3. The thing that still amazes me is that I played the original Guild Wars campaign back at launch, plowed through countless Charr for weeks and never even realized they were felines. I thought they were some kind of chitinous insect! Must have been the armor.

  4. How is it even remotely possible that I've never found your blog? (Not so) temporary insanity is the only possible answer.

    Now, however, there is no escape.


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