Elementalist 101 – History and Systems

Guild Wars 2 Elementalist Guide

Severe Weather Warning!!!

Good ol’ Master Bronk taught me the benefits of superior firepower. He liked to say, “When it comes to besting the enemy, there’s no such thing as overkill.” – Asura Biography

Elementalist Profession Series Part 1

So…you are considering making an elementalist in GW2? You wanna control the weather, eh? Make things go *BOOM* *ZAP* *SPLASH* and *CRUNCH*? This article series can help with that decision. In this first installment, I plan to talk briefly about the history of the profession from GW1, race-specific skills that complement the profession, attunements, and weapon skills; all of which are important to consider from levels 1-30 or so (the history lesson is a bonus).

What this article series is: This series is meant to be a quick and dirty guide and advice column about the elementalist profession. I hope to promote discussion and encourage people to play this fun and versatile profession. This is primarily written for PvE gameplay.

What this article series is not: This is NOT a comprehensive strategy guide on how to play the elementalist profession. It does not include a list of all of the skills/traits with commentary. It does not discuss PvP strategy.

I can be long winded in my articles, but I’m also a big fan of tl;dr, so I’ll include that at the end of each section.

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The Power of Choice

Guild Wars 2 Thief

I choose YOU!

Choice is incredibly important in all facets of life. Ranging from simple choices, like what to eat for lunch, to complex and life-changing decisions, like getting a new job or buying a house, our lives are dominated by choice. Many computer games (notably recent RPGs such as the Mass Effect series or The Witcher series) give players important choices to make, each of which can affect the outcome of the game. I am a big fan of having choice in games. The power to choose where you want to go, what you want to do, and how you go about doing it. Freedom of choice, I believe, is vital for a game to thrive, especially an MMORPG. Luckily, Guild Wars 2 has choices in abundance. Follow along after the break for a brief breakdown of choice in Guild Wars 2Continue reading

The World of Tyria; Meet your Guild Wars 2 Lore Heroes.

As an avid explorer (no, my name’s not Dora, I’m talking Guild Wars 2, here), I find it captivating to walk around Tyria and discover places I recognize from the Lore – ruins from Guild Wars 1, villages rebuilt, cities still standing. I think it’s worth mentioning how far ArenaNet has gone to really make us fanboys and fangirls squee with happiness when we see one single character we used to know in Guild Wars 1 or even some we’ve read about in Ghosts of Ascalon and Edge of Destiny. During the last beta weekend, I managed to get one of those moments for myself to keep and immortalize into a screenshot that is now my desktop background.

Dougal Keane

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Dougal Keane, Ghosts of Ascalon’s main character. I’m not going to explain in depth who he is and what he did, because I’m sure there are people out there who do not want any spoilers, but I will tell you this; he’s a major character in the book and is hired to retrieve the Claw of Khan-Ur from Ascalon City. With one of each race (Riona Grady a human, Gullik Oddsson the norn, Killeen the sylvari, Ember Doomforge the charr and Kranxx the asura), he travels across Tyria to the city of Ascalon, now ran by ghosts ever since the Foefire. I was going around Lion’s Arch with my asura and when I saw his name, I instantly “eeek”ed and immediately told my guildies through a Ventrilo conversation which typically went like this; “OH. MY. GOD. GUYS. EEEEEK!”. Major fangirlism? Check. Needless to say, I took several screenshots, one of which is displayed on the left. Compared to an asura, he is pretty tall! But then again, who isn’t, when compared to the asura. Continue reading

Sylvari – The Elves of Guild Wars 2!

The sylvari, together with the asura, are the races we haven’t yet gotten to play either in the closed beta or during the first beta weekend event. They both were playable during some gaming conventions (like GamesCom 2011), so we know they exist in a playable state, at least! But of course, not having been able to play them myself, I am very curious about them. I know I will love asura. There’s just no doubt about that. But what about the sylvari?

For me, they come close to what elves represent in other fantasy games. Think of your standard fantasy settings and now think of how many games include some kind of elves: Lord of the Rings Online, World of Warcraft, Everquest, Rift,… the list goes on. Elves are usually the fragile, elegant, gracious, wise and oooooold race. The sylvari are all of that with one exception; They are a very young race with the oldest sylvari being 25 years old. I’d assume that sylvari will most likely be the race to play when you’re usually an elf-lover because of their looks. But from their personality and their background, they’re rather unique.

They are a tree’s interpretation of humans. (Kristen Perry in Talk Tyria’s lore interview)

Let’s take a look at the sylvari: They can have elf-like ears (pointed, that is, in case you didn’t know). You can find a video showing the early sylvari character customization here (it starts at around 3:30). Their ears are pointed because they’re leaf-shaped. Which, oddly enough, is what Tolkien had in mind for his elves (see Wiki entry above). But it’s not that easy. Sylvari aren’t simply “the elves”. You have to look a bit closer to see the differences between elves (or humans) and sylvari. They are, in fact, plants that were built after humans because the Pale Tree, out of which they were “born”, knows what humans look like and modelled the sylvari after them. ArenaNet had published a blog post about Kristen Perry’s redesign of the sylvari (they did actually look very much like regular elves before). Continue reading

Valentine’s in Dragon-Blasted Times

Even in times such as these, the good people of Tyria need a little frivolity to take their minds off the centaur attacks, the threat of the Elder Dragons and the almost constant smell of swamp water emanating from the local Hylek mercenaries. You are all; I’m sure, well-versed in how to woo a human, but here’s how to romance the other races of Tyria:

Asura

Not prone to sentiment, the way to an asuran’s heart is through their brain. Rather than love poems, they prefer complicated schematics or a nice long equation. Flowers are great, but gadgets and gizmos are better – give your asuran sweetheart a bouquet of new work-tools (sonic astral-mallets, seismic screwdrivers or a set of allen keys made from pure obsidian are particularly romantic). Nothing says “I love you” like an 18ft bright pink golem which shoots chocolate love hearts from a shoulder-mounted blunderbuss. As the day wears on, the true meaning of the festival is overtaken by the need to out-do the other suitors – often, the end of Valentine’s day is accompanied by fantastic magic-filled explosions as exuberant asuran Lotharios push their mechanical romantic creations a little too far.

 

Charr

The charr value loyalty above all else, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a festival celebrating the strength of relationships should be so popular. Charr relationships are often bristly affairs; with both sexes being just as fierce in their compunction to display their affection whilst simultaneously not wanting to seem to have conceded ground to their partner. So, displays of affection are often understated and gifts are balanced out between practical and sentimental – flowers are accompanied by a new revolving-barrel pistol, a new looking-glass and a new great-sword, candies and claw-guards.

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The Curious Case of Race in Guild Wars 2

The typical demographic divisions are an oft-examined subject in gaming. Gender and sexuality are the most regularly explored (usually fuelled by the ubiquitous scantily clad portrayal of the female form in MMOs and fantasy RPGs in general). Race, however, is an altogether more difficult concept to grasp in games. The stereotyping isn’t quite so “in your face” – for example, games which dictate that all female armour must look like there was a dramatic shortage of leather and plate are a dime-a-dozen, but I don’t think there are many games which say that if you’re white you have to wear one armour and if you’re black you must wear another. It’s certainly a strange dichotomy – why should your gender dictate your armour style, but your race shouldn’t? Or, more succinctly: why should either? The upshot is that race is usually expressed in character creation processes through choosing “skin colour” or “facial structure”.

In the original game the three campaigns were very blatantly culturally split – Prophecies (for the most part) seems to be European/Western, the Canthan domain in Factions is obviously of Asian influence and Elona from Nightfall is more African/Arabian. These influences are expressed through the architecture, enemies faced (often influenced by the RL mythology of the culture), NPC style and dialogue as well as the character creation options you receive when you create a character in that particular expansion. It was a relatively brave move; when you start to build an in-game culture which has influences in certain real-world racial areas you have to be careful to dodge stereotypes and for the most part ANet managed to do this perfectly – I don’t think you could ever claim that the game even edges towards being “racist”.

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Of Ronan, Ventari, and the Pale Tree: The Sylvari

Written in the voice of Belzan Furu

I once knew the great centaur Ventari. We oft debated the human-centaur war over a campfire in Maguuma or the Tarnished Coast. He was wise and I learned a great deal from his teachings, even though our time together was short. He saw the conflicts between our races as wasteful and unnecessary considering the long history of peace our two races enjoyed. I was more concerned with the White Mantle and dodging roving packs of undead at the time. The centaurs were more of a nuisance to me than anything else.

Ventari and me under the Pale Tree sprout, circa 1078 AE (in game GW footage)

His words changed my opinion of conflicts in general. We had a common enemy in the White Mantle, yet we continued to battle each other. Ventari argued that the centaur were too proud to back down, while I rebutted that the humans were survivors. Neither of us could easily determine the reason for one race’s enmity for the other. Sadly, over a century after Ventari’s passing, the human-centaur conflict hasn’t changed.

What has changed, however, is the Pale Tree. Long after Ronan planted his seed; long after Ventari cared for it and laid his marble tablet at its base; the tree began to sprout…uh…children. These children are called “sylvari” and they have begun to make a name for themselves. I took some time this week to talk with as many sylvari as would sit with me over a cup of toadstool tea about their race, Ventari’s teachings, and their thoughts on Tyria and the Elder Dragons.

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