Last week at Comic Con it was announced that the Sylvari redesign would be revealed in the form of a race week before Gamescon/PAX Prime and that they would be playable in those demos. It seems like a perfect time to talk about the races that have had race weeks so far and lead into the Sylvari week when it comes. I can think of no better place to start than with the original player race from Guild Wars, the Humans!
Stay awhile and listen
Humans have been in the world of Tyria for quite awhile before GW2 begins. I don’t know that we have any information on most of the races, but I believe Humans were one of the last races to arrive on Tyria. Spreading like wild-fire, the Human race colonized much of the continent without regard to its previous occupants, namely the Charr. During this period, the Gods lived in the city of Arah and had regular interactions with the Humans. Eventually the Gods granted the power of magic to all sentient races as a means to ease their lives and their daily suffering. Unfortunately it was almost immediately used for the purposes of war.
The Human King Doric plead with the Gods to stop the wars caused by the magic. The Gods sealed the magic into 5 stones, the Bloodstones, so that no one person could use all of the magic they had previously granted without cooperation. Soon after the creation of the Bloodstones the Gods left the world forever, communicating only through shrines and avatars.
Having expanded through such great territory, the Human lands became divided into 3 major empires: Orr, Ascalon and Kryta. As time passed, powerful Guilds rose within each nation and eventually those Guilds lusted after the power of the combined Bloodstones. This lust for power lead to constant escalating conflicts between these Guilds. Thus the Guild Wars raged on for decades as the Guilds had grown even more powerful than the armies of their respective nations.
As I mentioned earlier, the Human proliferation had displaced the inhabitants of the land before them. Eventually, the Charr rallied enough forces to wage an all-out war on the Human kingdoms. This threat was so large that it caused an end to the Guild Wars so that they Humans could defend themselves. As the war with the Charr raged on, the Humans of Ascalon stood as the front force against them. Eventually using powerful magic, the shamans of the Charr managed to call down massive burning crystals to smash through the Human walls of Ascalon. This event was known as The Searing.
With their first line of defense down, Orr was the next city to be assaulted. Under the influence of Vizier Khilbron, the leader of Orr read from powerful forbidden scrolls in Arah. The result was a colossal explosion that killed virtually every resident of the nation and sunk the entire portion of the continent.
Kryta turned to worship of the Mursaat, a powerful race of spellcasters. Eventually their rule was disrupted by the heroes of GW1, the Flameseekers. Ascalon eventually was completely destroyed when its king used powerful dark magic to kill everyone in the nation and turn them into ever-vengeful spirits to guard the land. With Orr resting at the bottom of the sea and Ascalon a city of ghosts, Kryta was the final remaining Human nation.
Humans are down but not out
After unseating the White Mantle in GW1, Queen Salma retook the throne. Her lineage has ruled in the 250 intervening years over the rest of Kryta and the vast majority of Humans. During this rule, the city of Divinity’s Reach was built as a monument to the Human race and it serves as the Human starting city. Divinity’s Reach is one of the final bulwarks remaining to protect the Humans of Tyria and it is the center of both politics and military. After the rise of the Dragons, the other continents of Cantha and Elona were cut off from Tyria. Members of those cultures have found refuge in DR as well, each taking up a district in the city.
The only other truly powerful stronghold in Tyria is that of Ebonhawke. In the region of old Ascalon, Ebonhawke was founded by Gwen and Keiran Thackeray. Unlike Divinity’s Reach, Ebonhawke bears strong animosity towards the Charr and still wars with them constantly. While a truce has been drawn up now between Queen Jennah and the Charr, I’m unsure whether Ebonhawke is abiding by this new peace.
The Charr have Ebonhawke under siege. The Centaurs press in on the settlements near Divinity’s Reach. The Dragons are an ever-present threat. The once powerful race of Humans has been reduced to a mere shadow of its former self, but they do not give up hope. I believe this to be the primary defining characteristic of Humans in GW2- the will to band together and withstand any punishment while still keeping hope for a better future.
Although Humanity is up against the ropes, it doesn’t mean that everyone is all smiles and kisses. The government of DR is composed of two primary bodies: the queen and the ministers. The ministers are representatives of various political and social factions, much like the U.S. House and Senate. They are responsible for creating the legislation, the queen has the power to either sign off or veto any law. Unlike our system, it seems that the queen has absolute authority in this matter, at least legally speaking. Within the city are 3 powerful military factions: the Seraph, the Ministry Guard and the Shining Blade. The Shining Blade and Ministry Guard are the elite protectors of the queen and the ministers respectively. The Seraph are the more general law enforcement of the area.
Although many approve of Queen Jennah, many in the upper echelons of society have constant political infighting and frequently disagree with her rulings. Much of the controversy in the ministry ties in with Minister Caudecus, a man who many see as a peer and occasional rival to the queen. Whether this tension will amount to much of anything remains to be seen, but there is potential for Personal Story events to revolve around these politics.
Personal feelings about the race as a whole
I kind of have mixed feelings about playing as a Human in GW2. On the plus side, I love their aesthetic. Obviously it is easier to relate to Human characters in general and visually, but even beyond that I love the look of Divinity’s Reach and of their homelands in the Shaemoor. Having played a ton of GW1, I also have a lot more sentimental attachment to their history as well as to my own characters’ interactions in Tyria. Being able to reserve some names in the Hall of Monuments is especially fitting for human characters to think of them as ancestors/descendants.
The down side is that… well I don’t really relate to any of the Humans we have met in the books or that we have heard much about. I didn’t particularly like Logan as a character, I was confused by his relationship with Jennah and whether it was real or a Mesmer spell that had enthralled him. I can’t quite put my finger on why they bother me in general; perhaps it is that I don’t feel like many of them are very independent. They are very community-based, and while that isn’t a bad thing, they kind of sound dependent on their Gods, their military, their queen, etc.
In the end, I know I’m probably going to be making either 2 or 3 characters that are Human, so I guess my misgivings about their story don’t amount to much. It’s probably because the aesthetic still wins so many bonus points. I mean look at this armor:
I just can’t imagine any other race pulling that off quite so well. Also, in general I find the running animations for bigger races (like the Norn) to feel off. That’s because they move at the same speed on the ground but being bigger means their body’s relative motion is slower. They always look like they are in slow-motion to me. Just a small pet peeve for the only other race that would wear this same armor well.