Guild Wars 2: The 1st MMO to Get Avatar Individuality Right
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world fashion
I'm incredibly excited about Guild Wars 2, which has its first beta event for players who've pre-ordered the game this weekend. This is also the first beta event being run that doesn't have a non-disclosure agreement hovering over it, so I can finally gush about why I'm so madly in love with this MMO. It boils down to one thing that Guild Wars 2 does better than any other MMORPG: It makes you and your avatar feel like an individual, even in a crowd, right from your very first level.
That's thanks to these three innovative features:
Character Customization Extends Beyond your Appearance
The days of choosing between five avatar presets seem to be almost behind us, so it's unsurprising that GW2 allows for a fair amount of customization of your avatar's face and body. What did take me by surprise is how character customization extends to your character's background and personality. Each race has a set of questions that come immediately after the more familiar part of character customization.
These questions affect you in some obvious ways (for example, this is how rangers select their companions and how other classes select class specific masks and accessories), but they also help define your character's attitude and past. The area quests may be the same for everyone nearby, but your answers to these questions can make your story quest differ wildly from your friends', even if they're the same class and race.
Custom Colour Palettes Make Even Newbie Gear Distinct
The original Guild Wars had a bit of this as well, but Guild Wars 2 seems to have expanded on it somewhat. Each peice of equipment has one to four colour slots which you can fill with the colours of your choice to make even the most basic and common outfit look distinct.
Something that makes this feature stand out even more is comparing it to one of the latest additions to another recent MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. They recently added a feature that they'd been bragging about since before the game's December launch, the ability to match all your pieces of armour with your chest piece. As cool as this sounds, most of the armour in SWTOR is black, brown, or beige, which means that colour matching is not exactly life-changing. The colour palette in SWTOR is so drab it drives me crazy, so I'll take GW2's customizable palettes any day.
Weapon Skills Let you Play your Way, no Matter What Class you Are
This may get a bit technical, so bear with me. In Guild Wars 2, most of your fighting skills aren't restricted by level. Every class has access to a half dozen weapons and offhands, each which come with their own skills that are unique to that class. If you don't quite follow what I mean, take a minute to watch this overview of the Thief weapon skills:
The skills are unlocked by killing enemies with your weapon instead of just levelling (unlike almost every other MMORPG), so right from the beginning a thief using a bow will play quite differently than a thief using daggers... and there's nothing to stop you from switching between them, either!
Many classes offer weapons skills that are so diverse that you can decide to play the same class as a tank, a damage-dealer or even a support character. There is far less of a need to pick a class based on your skills or play style because the classes are so flexible in terms of all these classic, pre-defined roles. Why is this so important to making a unique character? Ultimately, what makes your character the most unique isn't how you look or what you wear, it's how you play (though looking great still helps!)
If I've piqued your curiosity, be sure to check out the Guild Wars 2 site. The game has no subscription, so it will definitely be my guilt-free pleasure this summer!Tweet
Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.