The City Calls To Me
The above photo is my character in his pirate costume standing outside the giant music machine in Divinity’s Reach. It was always my plan to tour the towns a bit more during the next beta, but I managed to get some of my exploring done during the stress test. What I found during my short trip was a city more alive than I seen in most any other game. For this reason, I decided I should do a blog about something that may seem out of the ordinary for me: A Roleplaying Post.
I know Lord of the Rings Online has a good, active RP community and there are reasons for that. I am not a RPer myself, so consider this an outsider’s viewpoint on the chances of Roleplaying within Guild Wars 2, but I am not a complete stranger to this creative element. I did play on a RP-PVP server in WOW for years and do have a few LOTRO characters. These experiences taught me some of the elements a RPer looks for in a game and what sort of things attract them to a game. I also learned that the RP community is friendly, and most importantly, one of the more mature segments of the MMO userbase.
Wanting To Live Here
Imagine the busy lives of the people in Majora’s Mask. Imagine the wandering folk of Skyrim and the conversations you hear in the bars. Think of Stormwind filled with emissaries parading through town. Combine that all into a city bigger than any you may have seen in an MMO before. That’s sort of what you have in Divinity’s Reach.
Divinity’s Reach looks like Minas Tirith from the outside, that high standing and glorious Tolkien city from the Lord of the Rings. Inside, the city is a lively place of political discussion, racial tension, commerce and communities. If you wander around, you’ll find the place is more than a bank deposit and auction house. Go left and you may find yourself near the shrine of Lyssa. Keep moving. Go north. You may find yourself in the audience of the Queen. Maybe backtrack. You may find a Sylvari asking locals where to get some good grub. Hang around. You may find the locals asking the Sylvari if she eats anything but sunshine. She’ll reply in kind that she’s looking for some meat and some good ale. The Norn might butt into the conversion, because he’s nearly sober and that makes him miserable. Yeah, I’m not kidding. There is a procession of wonder to entering the city. The first step is the audacity of scale, the second is the artistic beauty and the third is multitude of NPCs with voiced conversations.
Part of Roleplaying is taking in the world as something more than just a bunch of static programs purposing a game. Within the high walls of Divinity’s Reach, a people live and work, gathering water from wells and talking to each other. The faithful are worried about the queen for they are worried she’s still single, and after the faithful pray, they stop to debate the cynical over the existence of their Gods. The cynics love a queen without a king. They say Balthazar was never there. Around the corner, the classes fall from exquisite to wanting. The poor are begging behind pillars and claiming all donations are tax deductible. The children are pretending to be Charr and chasing each other around. The mothers walk out of their modest homes, draw a bucket of water, and return to their kitchen. A child’s teddy bear shirt hangs on a clothesline behind the mother’s house. The wind blows the drying laundry back and forth. As far as I know, observing these elements are not quests, and they are not achievements. All of these little things are touches of detail to make the city feel alive. Divinity’s Reach is a prayer of devotion towards the pursuit of immersion. I imagine a Roleplayer appreciates such a thing.
But don’t thin that such elements are reserved to one city. The people of Beetletun praise their local patron. They discuss the issues of the carnival. The children hide from their chores, blissfully unaware of the dark realities of war. Meanwhile, the Charr cubs of The Black Citadel go on a school field trip throughout the city. Their teacher tells them of the uprise of the Charr and their technological accomplishments. The children ask why they just don’t eat all the humans. Their teacher says “good point”, but then reminds them of the dragons and the merits of a truce. Charr warriors discuss a Charr lady across from them at a bar. A Charr lady offers to tattoo their faces with an axe. Charr love is hard business.
The world of Tyria is alive and wonderous, if you pardon my awe.
One thing that being a sequel provides a game is the opportunity to build on what the first attempt establishes. For Guild Wars 1 players, the first big change is that the Charr are now friendly instead of the initial enemy. The starting whispers of this change begins with the Eye of the North campaign in the first game, but here the world has truly adopted a multiracial existence. The humans no longer reign supreme. In fact, the Charr and Asura provide all the advancements. This does not mean pure peace, for old grudges die hard and relations between the varied people are still tense and suspicious, and the neutral city of Lion’s Arch is even seen as a bit renegade to the human populace. Plus, the sunken ruins of the old Tyrian city of glory rest in the oceanic depths beyond the sandy beaches of the new, shipwrecked city of cross-racial commerce and Mediterranean flair. Lion’s Arch is a beautiful yet grim reminder of what once was.
For the Charr, the heroes that lead them to this point have statues erected in their glorious honor. The people discuss their own history with pride. The legions fight for supremacy amongst each other.
All of these things add up to a sense of history and lore. Beyond the fact that the world exists, there is the evidence the world has existed. Ruins lay about in the sunken depths of swamps. The Asurans have built over ancient ruins and have begun to research their history. The Dredge have taken up keep in Sorrow’s Furnace. For a roleplayer, there is history to draw from and biases to play off of. Races have distinct personalities, but those traits are not set in absolute stone. One of the great bits of the Guild Wars 2 world are the children that seem to undercut all assumptions of a people. Even the great warriors of the Norn lineage start out with snowball fights.
Looking Good Old Chap.
Armor design in the game is pretty impressive from what’s been seen so far. If you want, you can tour the vendors of Divinity’s reach for a quick look at some available armor sets. The game has no class specific armor, but just three basic armor levels of which any class of that armor level can use. There is also the ability to transmute stats onto a piece of armor and vice versa, allowing you the benefit of upgrades without losing the spiffy look you’ve established for yourself. Beyond this, a costume panel
is open for players to outfit themselves with, but if I had a criticism of RP elements in the game, it would be that the costume panel only works outside of combat. Once you enter combat by any means, your character switches to their basic armor set in appearance. Still, for town wandering and RP meetings, you can dress as a pirate if you so want.One important element of Commerce Shop costumes to note is that there are weapons for these sets and these weapons have their own set of skills. My pirate outfit had five total skills tied to a wooden sword. These skills includes a Yarr emote, summoning a parrot, doing a splash dive, and building a canon. Yes, a canon, but also, a canon that can be fired by anyone. That’s how you party, matey.
Things to do; People to beat.
One thing lacking from the first beta weekend event were the small events that will be available within the city walls. These sort of events include bar fights, shooting galleries and carnivals. You could travel on over to Beetletun and see the carnival folk waiting around and killing time, but the festivities have yet to begin within the game. Hopefully, a future beta will open these events up so that people can partake in some non-combat fun, which I feel is always beneficial to a RP community. It not only breaks up any monotony found in constant combat, but helps build a world that is a functioning, living place. You will find little events out in the world to enjoy as well. The Norn children will have snowball fights and if you think you can walk in, toss a snowball and forget them, be prepared to take a icy fastball to the back of the head. Those little runts will knock you down. The Charr area also features a cow launcher. I cannot comment on this event much, for I haven’t tried it, but there is a Cattlepault. I imagine the Asura have their bits of fun. I hear there will be Golem battles to be had in Rata Sum. Beyond the little events, the city offers the player the ability to just go lurking and leaping around. I found myself rooftop hopping, trying to find a new area or a secret alcove. There’s a giant garden/observatory in the middle of Divinity’s Reach that is absolutely beautiful. The world kind of makes you want to go play a game of hide and seek in it. You skitter between houses, looking at the surrounding paintings, rugs and people. You think to yourself that here might be a good hiding spot. What this means is that you can invent your own fun due to the detail of the world, so little or large RP events have a place to play out.
What doesn’t quite welcome RPers
It’s important to note what the game lacks for RPers, the main missing element being a RP labeled server or a server with strict RP rules. This means there is no server with enforced naming conventions that weed out the
Chuck Norris factor. There will be a Roleplay community in the game, as there are already fansites set up for Roleplaying in Guild Wars 2, but that only means that a server may become the main home of RPers. We’re probably still months away from release, so time will tell if the community decides upon somewhere to gather or not.
Guild Wars is also a fairly fresh intellectual property. The game world and Lore are based upon the first game and its expansions, plus a couple of books. ArenaNet does have a team that works and story and lore, but you can’t instantly create something on the level of Star Wars or the Tolkien world.
What this means is that there will be a certain leap taking with venturing into RP within Guild Wars 2. I would suggest keeping in touch with the forums to see where RP action will be had. I imagine the Roleplay community will build up within the game. While there is less establishes and less well-known lore, the world is so full and alive, I think it overcomes its youth.
Will the Moletariat RP?
No, most likely not. I get along with RPers and will play along if grouped with them, but for some reason I never care about the issues of lore or whatnot. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be out in the city, doing non-combat things and planning my hide and seek game. I may even snoop in on an RP event if I come across one. I am a curious fellow.