Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Reasons to be Human: Part 4

Human Armour (presumably medium armour for an adventurer)

The first two days of "Human Week" have revealed a great deal about where ANet are trying to go with the race in Guild Wars 2. I believe one of the great challenges that ANet will face when building GW2 will be making the Human race as appealing as the more innovative races out in the game. When faced with the choice between playing as a Human or a 10ft tall Bear-Norn, its tempting to say there is little contest. I believe the way that ANet are approaching this problem is rather innovative. They've recognised that, visually, it is difficult to make the Humans stand out against the Charr or the Asura; and neither can they make the other races any less striking so as to emphasise the Human's over them. What ANet have done is to emphasise the lore aspect of the Human race; they are seeking to appeal to us as Humans; as people who have played Human's in the first game and who might want to band together and help the downtrodden race of Humanity through the dark age that is Guild Wars 2.

It might be a good idea to give a quick rundown of what has happened to Humanity in the intervening years between the end of the first game and the start of the second: *WARNING - the following probably contains spoilers to both Ghosts of Ascalon and Edge of Destiny*

Since the destruction of the great Destroyer at the end of GW: Eye of the North, a number of changes have occurred both physically and socially throughout Tyria. Gwen and Keiran Thackery have established Ebonhawke - a fortress in Ascalon. A number of Elder Dragons have awoken and wrecked their way through the lands, shifting boundaries and forcing races into uncomfortably close quarters (driving the Asura onto the surface, forcing the Norn down from the Northern Shiverpeaks etc).

The interior of Ascalon City following the foefire.
The Charr have all but wiped humanity out of the kingdom of Ascalon. With Charr at his gates, as a last stand, the Human king Adelbern invoked the "foefire" - a terrible magic which killed every living thing for miles around - both Charr and Human. Whilst it wiped out the invading forces, the foefire brought the inflicted Humans back to the mortal plane as ghosts to stand guard over their kingdom for eternity. Until the events of Ghosts of Ascalon, the city of Ascalon had lain deserted save for the army of phantoms which haunted its halls.

The fortress of Ebonhawke now stands as the last living Human settlement in Ascalon, in the intervening years between GW1 and GW2 it stood under seige from Charr forces. It was never broke. That is, until the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik woke in the Charr homelands, and flew North. His flight burned the Dragonbrand onto the land in its wake; tranforming land and creature into monstrous crystal reflections of their former selves. Tranformed by the Elder Dragon's magic, a clan of Ogres (already pissed off as Logan Thackery had killed one of their family), decimated the seiging Charr and stormed the fortress themselves. They broke the walls and their crystalised hyena pets tore through the Human ranks. Thackery, called to the aid of the fortress by Queen Jenna, used his influence with the Charr Blood Legion to invoke the help of the Charr prisoners in the dungeons of Ebonhawke. With the aid of the Charr prisoners, the Humans were able to repel the Ogres and retake the fortress. On the back of this victory, Queen Jenna was able to broker a peace between Humanity and Charr.

The Elder Dragon Zhaitan rising from Orr.
With the rise of the Elder Dragon Zhaitan (the main antagonist of GW2) the lost kingdom of Orr rose from the sea; along with an army of undead pirates and sea creatures. The result was the flooding and subsequent evacuation of the city of Lion's Arch (formerly the main Human settlement in GW1). It is only now that people have begun to trickle back into the city. Lion's Arch is now a haven for pirates of all races, governed under its own kind of martial law.

The final great Human settlement is Divinity's Reach in Kryta. It lies on the Divinity Coast in the province of Shaemoor. Following the decimation of Ascalon and the flooding of Lion's Arch, Divinity's Reach is now the main hub for both displaced Ascalonians and Krytans; as well as a meeting place for those who were able to get out of Cantha before it shut itself off, and those who were stuck on the Tyria side of the Elder Dragon who now cuts off Elona from the rest of the world. The lands surrounding Divinity's Reach is besieged by Centaurs and other opponents, and so is guarded by the elite guard - The Seraph - lead by Logan Thackery. Divinity's Reach is where most of the Human side of the story will be played out in Guild Wars 2, from what we've seen in the videos; it is completely stunning.
Divinity's Reach
With all this crazy-shizzno going down on the Human front, I think ANet are trying to encourage players to coralle together and defend their homelands. They've certainly tried to develop some strong characters and histories to take over from GW1 and GW:B (including the two current novels) to the new game. Interestingly, in most forum polls, the Humans don't come last in the race people are planning to play (that particular accolade tends to go the the Asura). So, it appears that ANets tactics are working. It will be interesting to see what threads the final novel in the GoA - EoD series weaves into the lore of Guild Wars 2.

Phew, thats a lot. In fact, that might be enough for today! I will give a run down of the implications of ANet's Human Week on Saturday when we've got all the info. For now, its all looking gravy-baby. I can't wait to see the new video tour of the Human lands this evening, particularly as it's all penned by Jeff Grubb.

ps. The title of this post is inspired by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. There are no Parts 1 through 3, don't go looking for them.

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