Choose My Adventure: Into the Heart of Thorns

    
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Hello again friends, and welcome back to Choose My Adventure. November is upon us, and that means two things: It’s time for another round of the annual cries of, “Why are all these stores decorating for Christmas when Thanksgiving isn’t even over yet!?” and perhaps more relevant to our interests, it’s time for a new series of CMA. As the particularly quick-witted among you may have surmised from my cryptic, totally-not-obvious remark at the end of last week’s column, this month’s series will be focusing on Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion, Heart of Thorns.

You all know the drill by now, I imagine, but as is customary for the first installment of a new CMA series, this week is all about creating my character before I jump into the game itself. So with that in mind, I’ll stop dillydallying so we can get right down to business.

As is usually the case in most MMORPGs, the first matter to address is that of my character’s race and gender. Heart of Thorns didn’t introduce any new races to the mix, so readers who have any experience with Guild Wars 2 know exactly what the options are. For those who are new to the game, here’s a rundown of the game’s playable races (it may be worth noting that, while each race does have its own set of racial abilities, I won’t be addressing them here for the sake of space — a list can be found on the Guild Wars 2 wiki page for each race. Race also determines the character’s personal storyline):

Humanity, though once perhaps the most dominant and prosperous race throughout all of Tyria, has been through some hard times following the events of the original Guild Wars. Let me give you the condensed version of the tragic fate that has befallen the once-proud Human race: After the Charr’s march upon Ascalon city drove him to madness, King Adelbern unleashed the devastating power of the sorcerous Foefire, demolishing much of the city and massacring the city’s inhabitants whose restless spirits now wander the ruins. Meanwhile, in Cantha, the tyrannical Emperor Usoku instituted strict isolationist policies, driving all non-human races from the land before contact with the region was cut off entirely by the invasion of Zhaitan’s forces, while Elona suffered a terrible famine. Kryta, under the leadership of Queen Jennah, who rules from the Krytan capital of Divinity’s Reach, stands alone as the last bastion of Humanity.

These diminutive, hyper-intelligent, and technologically advanced tinkerers lived in secret in their underground homes for millennia before being driven to the surface by the creature aptly known as the Great Destroyer. They have proved remarkably adaptable to life above-ground, however, and have quickly established a reputation for being the premier intellectuals of Tyria, largely thanks to their incredible (and often obscenely dangerous) scientific inventions. They are, however, acutely aware of their incredible minds, and tend to be more than a little bit egotistical. But of course, when you’re able to effortlessly blend magic and technology to create marvels the likes of which the world has never seen, I suppose arrogance is only natural.

As previously mentioned, the Charr were long at war with the Humans of Ascalon before it was razed by the Foefire, and though the Charr still wage an unending battle against the spectral remnants of Ascalon, they have brokered a peace, albeit a somewhat tenuous one, with the Humans of Kryta. Charr society is unabashedly warlike and strictly militaristic in structure. The Charr are divided into four High Legions: the Ash Legion, Blood Legion, Flame Legion, and Iron Legion. Following the (admittedly rather pyrrhic) victory of King Adelbern at Ascalon City, the other Legions rebelled against the tyrannical Flame Legion, exiling them from greater Charr society. They now wage war against the other three Legions from their base of operations at the creatively named Citadel of Flame. Each of the other Legions, to which player-controlled Charr presumably belong, has its own specialty: The Ash Legion excels in subterfuge and is known for its spies and assassins, the Blood Legion is best at old-fashioned open-battlefield combat, and the Iron Legion boasts ingenious engineers whose war machines are without equal.

The Norn more or less physically identical to Humans with the exception of the fact that, unlike Humans, the Norn are hulking giants who generally stand close to nine feet tall. The race’s culture draws a great deal of inspiration from the Norse Vikings, and as such, Norn society places a great deal of emphasis on achieving personal, individual glory, whether through battle or otherwise. The Norn are skilled hunters, and all Norn must undergo a rite of passage in which they hunt a great beast to prove themselves. Their tribal, shamanistic culture is centered around the veneration of the Spirits of the Wild, totemic animal spirits that grant those who follow them great powers according to each specific Spirit’s domain. The four primary Spirits of the Wild that player-controlled Norn can choose to follow are the bear, whose domains are strength and fortitude; the raven, master of wisdom and cunning; the snow leopard, who oversees the realm of strategy, subtlety, and self-reliance; and the wolf, who embodies the aspects of ferocity and loyalty.

Born of the magical, sentient tree known as the Pale Tree, the Sylvari resemble humans except for the whole thing where they have bark-like skin and leaves or branches in place of hair, and it is not blood that runs through their veins (xylem?), but golden sap. All Sylvari begin their lives in the Dream of Dreams, another plane of consciousness wherein they share the experiences of Sylvari throughout the ages and form an intrinsic bond with the Pale Tree before emerging fully-grown from the pods of the Pale Tree. Sylvari are, generally speaking, curious and inquisitive, and despite the wisdom imparted upon them by the Pale Tree, they tend to have a difficult time understanding such concepts as emotion and tact, and as such tend to be seen either as honest and forthright or ignorant and naive, depending on who you ask.

CMA: Which race should I play?

  • Human (12%, 35 Votes)
  • Asura (19%, 54 Votes)
  • Charr (16%, 47 Votes)
  • Norn (11%, 31 Votes)
  • Sylvari (41%, 118 Votes)

Total Voters: 285

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CMA: What should my character's gender be?

  • Male (48%, 131 Votes)
  • Female (52%, 143 Votes)

Total Voters: 274

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Next, of course, comes the matter of my character’s class. I’m a bit conflicted about this, to be honest: On the one hand, this CMA series is intended to focus not simply on Guild Wars 2, but on Heart of Thorns in particular. As most of you are probably aware, one of the major selling points of the expansion is the addition of a new class, the Revenant, which is a heavily armored class that is capable of channeling the power of the Mists to invoke the spirits of legendary heroes of times long past. As such, I feel like asking for y’all to vote on my class is more of a formality than anything else, because in situations where newly added classes are involved, they almost always win the vote.

But on the other hand, the title of the column is Choose My Adventure, so I feel like I’m short-changing you by not giving you the opportunity to vote on every detail. Although the expansion also added Elite Specializations for each class, they require level 80 to unlock, and there’s virtually no chance in the deepest pits of hell that I’m going to actually make it that far over the course of the month, so that seems kind of irrelevant. But I think that, in the interest of living up to the column’s name, I’m going to give y’all the option to choose one of the original, non-Revenant classes, no matter how unlikely it may be that you actually end up doing so. So, all of that being said, here are some brief descriptions of the other classes:

First we have the Revenant, which, as previously mentioned, is a new addition to the game as of the release of Heart of Thorns. I already briefly mentioned it above, but for those of you who are more interested in the mechanical details, here they are: The Revenant is part of the trio of heavy-armor-wearing classes, referred to as the “Soldiers.” The class’s unique mechanic is the Legends system, which allows the Revenant to invoke the powers of legendary figures from Tyria’s past. The legends in question, for those who are interested, are the assassin Shiro Tagachi, the centaur Ventari, the demon Mallyx the Unyielding, the Dwarf king Jalis Ironhammer, and, exclusive to the Revenant’s elite specialization (called the Herald), the dragon Glint. The abilities in the Revenant’s last five skill slots — that is, the ones not associated with weapon-determined skills — change depending on the legend currently being invoked.

Revenants can use maces, swords, axes, hammers, and staves on land, and their only aquatic weapon choice is the spear.

The second of the Soldiers is the Guardian. This master of defensive combat and protection magic is capable of withstanding mighty assaults and retaliating with devastating blows. The Guardian is capable of channeling the power of one of the three Virtues — Justice, Resolve, and Courage — each of which provides its own passive and active effects. Justice, for instance, has the passive effect of causing every few of the Guardian’s attacks to light targets ablaze, burning them for extra damage, while activating it causes the next attack of the Guardian (and of any allies in the vicinity) to instantly inflict a slightly more powerful, longer-duration burn. Resolve is more defense-oriented, passively regenerating the Guardian’s health. When activated, it immediately heals both the Guardian and nearby allies. Courage passively grants the Guardian the aegis buff (which blocks the next incoming attack) every few seconds, and activating the ability instantly grants aegis to the Guardian and nearby allies.

Guardians can use greatswords, hammers, staves, maces, scepters, swords, foci, shields, and torches, and for aquatic combat, spears and tridents.

Rounding out the trinity of Soldiers is the Warrior, which can be seen as the more offensively-minded counterpart to the Guardian. The Warrior class has access to a wider variety of weapons than any other class. Its unique mechanic, Adrenaline, causes the each of the Warrior’s attacks to accumulate stacks of the adrenaline buff, which can then be expended on a single devastating “burst attack.” The more adrenaline the Warrior has, the more powerful the burst attack is.

Warriors can wield (deep breath) greatswords, hammers, longbows, rifles, axes, maces, swords, shields, torches, and warhorns, and can choose between harpoon guns and spears for aquatic combat.

The first of the three medium-armor-wearing Adventurer classes is the Engineer. These masters of mechanical mayhem employ a variety of technological weaponry — including grenades, turrets, and other devices — to deal death to their foes. The Engineer class mechanic is the Tool Belt, which adds a number of unique abilities, one corresponding to each of the Engineer’s currently equipped healing, utility, and elite abilities. It’s honestly a rather difficult mechanic to explain sufficiently without taking multiple paragraphs to do it, so here’s a link to the GW2 wiki page for the Tool Belt skill for those who want to know the finer points of the system.

Engineers can wield rifles, pistols, shields, and for aquatic combat, harpoon guns.

Next on the roster is the Ranger, which utilizes keen marksmanship, tracking, and animal companions to survive in the wilderness. The aforementioned animal companions serve as the Ranger’s unique class skill, and a Ranger can have four pets (two for land combat and two for aquatic combat) at any given time, though only one can fight at once. There are a wide variety of pets to choose from; there are nine different families of pets for land combat, four that are amphibious (and can therefore fight both on land and in water), and three that are solely aquatic, and most pet families (which are general categories such as birds, bears, spiders, etc.) include a variety of different species (the bird family, for example, is comprised of eagles, hawks, owls, ravens, and white ravens). Each pet has different abilities based on its family and species.

Rangers can wield greatswords, longbows, short bows, swords, axes, daggers, torches, and warhorns, and can choose between harpoon guns and spears for aquatic combat.

The last of the Adventurer trio is the Thief. You probably don’t need to be told this, but the Thief’s class mechanic is Stealing, which allows the Thief to pilfer items from enemies. These items come in a wide variety of flavors, each of which has its own unique effects. Stealing from a bird, for instance, might grant the Thief a handful of feathers which can be used to vanish into stealth, while stealing from a reptile such as a drake might provide a venomous scale that can be thrown at an enemy to poison it. Thief are also unique in that it is the only class (as far as I’m aware) whose abilities do not have cooldown times; instead, Thieves rely on a resource known as Initiative. They can use any of their abilities at any time as long as they have enough Initiative to do so. Initiative regenerates slowly once depleted, however, so Initiative management is essential to playing the class well.

Thieves can wield short bows, daggers, pistols, and swords, and their aquatic weapon choice are harpoon guns and spears.

The first of the final three classes, which wear light armor and are known collectively as the Scholars, is the Elementalist. Elementalists draw upon the primal energies of the world’s elements in order to unleash devastating flurries of sorcerous power and to provide support for themselves and their allies. The Elementalist can swap between four elemental attunements — fire, water, air, and earth — at will, with each element granting a different set of powers. The abilities associated with fire, for instance, focus on raw damage and engulfing enemies in flame, while the element of water provides abilities that excel at buffing and healing. Since the ability to swap between elemental attunements at will essentially gives the Elementalist access to four different skill sets at any given time, the class does not have access to the weapon-swapping mechanic that all other classes can use.

Elementalists can use staves, daggers, scepters, and foci, and are limited to tridents for aquatic combat.

Secondly, we have the Mesmer. Masters of illusion and trickery, Mesmers are able to use their abilities to create illusory clones and phantasms of themselves, and they have a variety of unique abilities that can be used to destroy all current illusions for a variety of different effects such as damaging, confusing, and dazing any enemies unfortunate enough to be standing near the illusions when they are detonated. Mesmers are particularly adept at debuffing their enemies by inflicting a variety of debilitating status effects.

Mesmers can wield greatswords, staves, scepters, swords, foci, pistols, and torches, and can choose between spears and tridents for aquatic combat.

And finally, we have the Necromancer. The Necromancer accumulates life force each time an enemy dies in its presence. Life force can be expended to enter a state known as the Death Shroud, which grants the Necromancer new, powerful abilities and heals them depending on the amount of life force consumed. And of course, no Necromancer would be complete without the ability to summon a horde of ghastly, ghoulish minions to fight alongside their master.

Necromancers can wield staves, axes, daggers, scepters, foci, and warhorns, and their aquatic options are spears and tridents.

CMA: And finally, which class should I choose?

  • Revenant (44%, 120 Votes)
  • Guardian (5%, 14 Votes)
  • Warrior (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Engineer (8%, 23 Votes)
  • Ranger (5%, 13 Votes)
  • Thief (4%, 12 Votes)
  • Elementalist (6%, 15 Votes)
  • Mesmer (10%, 26 Votes)
  • Necromancer (16%, 44 Votes)

Total Voters: 272

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Phew, OK, we’re almost done, I promise. There’s one final matter to consider, and it’s a bit of a tricky one as far as the voting is concerned. See, during character creation, I’ll be asked a few questions based on my character’s class and race. While some of them are just for flavor, others will determine the course of my character’s personal story. However, it would take up entirely too much space to create a poll that corresponds to each of these questions, so instead, I’m going to do it like this: Here is a link to the GW2 wiki page that lists all of the biographical questions for each class and race. If you actually have a strong opinion on which ones I should choose, make that opinion known in the comments. Once my character’s class and race have been decided, I’ll sift through the comments and tally up the relevant choices. If you just don’t care about my personal story, then don’t worry about it; I’ll just choose whichever one sounds best to me when I make my character.

That about covers all the character creation options that I can think of, so let’s go ahead and end it there so we can get things rolling. Be sure to get your votes in by Friday, November 6th, at 11:59 p.m. EST. And as always, be sure to stop by next week to see the results and vote for the next step in my journey. Until then, friends!

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Matt each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. Be gentle (or not)!
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Radfist
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Radfist

Looks like a female sylvari revenant by a long margin.

arktourosx
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arktourosx

KenAddeh Damn salads am i right?

arktourosx
Guest
arktourosx

MassivelyMacD If he gets to 80 and needs a guide for the 250 points let me know I’ll get them him for him pretty quick so he can report on the Herald :)

MassivelyMacD
Guest
MassivelyMacD

Well, if it was not for the 250 hero points that you don’t have since the char is new, you should go herald. Sylvari female herald. And make a nice glow color contrast anyways, because Sylvari :)

I find myself doing new chars as Sylvari over and over again. They have so much variety in their options.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

Most logical choices would be the Sylvari Revenant as both are very much part of the expansion. Only thing here that’s not really relevant is gender.

Oleg Chebeneev
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Oleg Chebeneev

Holy shit, I hit all 3 most popular choices. Rarely happens to me on MO. Surprised people want to see sylvari, i thought its the least played race along with charr.

annoyedbadger
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annoyedbadger

Zoel I love how people do that, pick the small race, then complain its small :)

annoyedbadger
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annoyedbadger

unfortunately you wont be able to use your elite spec, and they really are much better than teh base specs. Chronomancer for necro, Dragonhunter for Guardian and herald for revenant are so much better than the normal specs, and I cant imagine playing as those classes without the elite specs now, esp the rev, its a shit class until you get herald then it really shines.

Kurogane335
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Kurogane335

Go for male Norn Engineer. So far, I’ve felt that HoT was quite rewarding for Norn players, with small tidbits here and there. Not as much as Sulvari sure, but enough for my liking.

FeveredDreamer
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FeveredDreamer

I couldn’t decide between Charr and Sylvari, ended up going with Charr if only because I think they’re underplayed and have a great story.  That being said I think if you end up with Sylvari it’ll be stellar as well. I’m actually really impressed with the first 1/3 of all the personal stories (except stinky Asura!) though so whatever you end up with should be great.