Out of all the races Guild Wars 2 offers, none are quite an interesting prospect for play as the Asura. The smallest of the playable races, they offer a combination of fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk feels that provoke a feeling of wonder at every turn. While they may be small, they more than make up for their size with technological prowess, intelligence, and – well, ego.
From the start, choosing an Asura is a bundle of interesting options. Character creation is fairly in-depth, allowing facial changes, radical hairstyles and perhaps the most amount of sliders for ‘ears’ ever seen. Creating some hybrid monstrosity that looks like the love child of Dobby the house-elf and a Gremlin is extremely possible, and you will get to admire that handiwork up close in several of the game’s cut scenes.
There is a sense of history about the Asura that many of the other races don’t quite get to enjoy. It permeates into everything about them – speech, architecture, attitude, creating a race that seems very much alive, and moreso perhaps than the other races we’ve seen so far in ArenaNet’s MMO. But what is it like to play as one?
Perhaps this video we’ve captured will give you an idea.
My first day was pretty hectic. Rogue golems had been turned loose near the city, and so I helped dispatch a number of them while heading off to apprehend the culprit. When cornered, they let loose a giant cubis golem that was quite frankly amazing to behold, and set the stage for some of the larger fights to be had later on.
With that done, I travelled to show my latest invention in front of the council. On the way I helped repair broken golems, completed analysis of energy signatures, thwarted a raid on a science base, participated in golem chess and taught some younger Asura some elemental knowledge. My invention was a success, naturally – although there was a small hiccup that might have almost hurt the counsellor. Still, progress was made!
The Asura story is a rich one, filled with technical parlance at every turn, and absolutely oozing with culture and history. At every point, I was travelling to a science base, helping with experiments or controlling those that had gone awry. Quests and events never really felt out of place or contrived. It all flowed together to create a single unified experience, an experience that felt like it meant something. The main female voice actor was unfortunately the only real let-down, as she wasn’t quite as emotive or engaging to listen to as the male.
While this richness was present in the other races I had played, it wasn’t really until I got a chance to sit down with the Asura that the feeling of being part of something really hit home. The regular NPC chatter in the background, the architecture, the thematic quest and story structure, everything is set in such a way to make you feel you are the race you’re playing. In short, it’s the most immersive experience I’ve ever had in an MMO yet. I loved it.