A time for heroics
You already know there's a rag-tag band of adventurers out there who have split up, and you know it's your job to get them back together, but what you don't know is why that matters. Flannum fills in the gaps: "Those are characters that are very important for us. They are kinda the major NPCs of the world, and we wanted to tell their story through the dungeons. Sometimes one or two of them [accompanies you]. Sometimes one of the characters makes a cameo. The idea is that you learn about them slowly. You learn about each of their individual personalities, and why they don't like each other anymore, and how you can fix that. So you kinda have a real character arc for each of them."
Not enough? Here's a quick description of each hero:
- Caithe: "Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who say they have found it."
It has only been a score of years since the first twelve sylvari awakened from the branches of the Pale Tree; a handful of lives scattered into the world like petals on the wind. These Firstborn were quickly followed by others, more and then more, until the Grove was born in the heart of the Caledon Forest. Caithe was among those first to step upon the earth of Tyria, but where the others turned toward the sun, she sought shadow. While her fellows revel in the beauty and joy the world has to offer, Caithe has never been afraid to gaze into darkness--or to seek truths that others fear.
- Rytlock Brimstone: "Life doesn't stop being funny just because the dead can't laugh."
In his youth, Rytlock wasn't the strongest charr; he wasn't the most inventive or the most skilled. The one thing Rytlock had to his credit was pure, vicious ruthlessness--the dedication of someone who does not know what it means to flinch. His dark sense of humor masks a cunning, careful mind. He has risen quickly through the ranks of the Blood Legion to become a Tribune of great renown. He stands foremost among the soldiers of the Black Citadel, carrying a sword of fire and leading their armies to greatness.
- Logan Thackeray: "Salvation is something you must stand and protect; it doesn't come just because you are looking for it."
Born in Kryta, raised in Divinity's Reach, Captain Logan Thackeray is a commander in the Seraph guard. They stand guard over their people, defending the last human kingdom; a kingdom that looks to their heroic young Captain for inspiration and hope. Logan has never failed his people, or his Queen Jennah, the last of the Krytan royal line. He fights for her, his loyalty and stalwart courage providing a shield between Kryta and her enemies. Where danger threatens, Logan does not turn away, but faces it with the determination of a man who knows that he is the only thing standing between the thing he loves… and its utter destruction.
- Eir Stegalkin: "Everyone bleeds. Even stone has a heart, and it can be found if you know how to cut deeply."
One of the most famous heroes among the lodges of the Norn, Eir is an artist and a tactician. She understands the mind of her enemy, how to provoke it, how to encourage it--and how to take advantage of its weakness. With her companion wolf, Garm, she roams the Shiverpeak mountains, searching for meaning within the snow's silence. Eir is a visionary, guided by the Spirits of the Wild to shape beauty and wisdom from rough-hewn stone. She can be found where the winds blow frost over the highest peaks, and the norn tell tales of ancient lore around a fire's glow.
- Zojja: "Shut your talk-hole, bookah. Every time you open it, you drip stupid all over my floor."
The foremost apprentice of the venerable inventor Snaff, Zojja seeks to live up to her mentor's legacy. Her work with the College of Synergetics has been outstanding, and her intellect is unrivaled even by members of the Arcane Council of Rata Sum, and her ability to multitask across a spectrum of disciplines inspires awe and jealousy among her fellow asura. Too stubborn to turn away from an unbeatable opponent, too tenacious to give up even when failure seems assured, Zojja remains single-minded, driven, and determined. Other asura pity those who stand in her way.
Working with robots
So, about those heroes, do we actually have to work with them? "It's more them moving along with you" says Flannum. "They'll ask you to lead the way sometimes, and you'll head down a path and they'll come along with you. You don't directly control them like heros in Guild Wars 1. They're more free moving, they'll actively engage in combat without you having to tell them to do so, things like that, but they do pause at certain points. In the Explorable Mode they'll stop and ask "Which way shall we go?" and you can pick which way you want to go and decide which paths you want to take, but you're not directly controlling the actions that they take."
Although NPCs may often accompany you and your group, the maximum player character number remains five, which means my "friends" will have to come up with another excuse as to why "the group is full tonight." Flannum says, "We don't have any plans to have any sort of henchmen or anything like that in the game, and so it's true that for the dungeons you're going to need to gather a group together, whether that's a group of people who know each other, or whether it's a pick up group of some kind." What's more, the heroes that do tag along will be slightly weaker than you. Although their stats should be the same as a typical players, their weakness is due mostly to the fact that while a human player will be adaptable in their tactics, while the heroes will more rigidly adhere to their profession norms.
Well, that's all I've got on the game, which, let's be honest, is quite a lot. GW2 is aiming to nail the hardcore MMO feel while supporting an in-built flexibility and forgiveness one might liken, at times, to more casual ventures--it's an eclectic mix that's sure to generate some interesting results. Flannum says "we look to a lot of other games, not just MMOs. You know, our down mechanic is a good example of a mechanic that clearly we gain inspiration from team based shooters like Left 4 Dead, and Borderlands, and things like that. We're constantly looking at other games. We're really big game players. We're all always looking at 'Hey, what other cool stuff are other games in other genres doing?' not only MMOs. We certainly look at other MMOs. It's really about gaining inspiration, and not just ripping that off straight, but seeing how it actually fits in your game with what you're trying to accomplish."
Don't forget to enter our Guild Wars 2 loot contest , and be sure to check back tomorrow for a massive art dump of every shiny image we have from the game that didn't make it into these posts so far, and one final big reveal of Guild Wars' 2 plans for dungeons--and the game as a whole.