Guild Wars 2 Asura preview: Experimental science and our exclusive hands-on impressions

Josh Augustine at

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Guild Wars' pint-size Asura are as crazy as they are smart—and that’s saying a lot, because they're really, really smart. Their homeland may not be on the frontlines of battle in Guild Wars 2, like the Charr and Human starting areas, but there’s more than enough chaos happening in the laboratories and neighborhoods near Rata Sum, their giant capital city. I was recently allowed to be the first person outside ArenaNet to play through these tiny mad scientists' starting area on the games development servers and I had an absolute blast (both figuratively and literally). Here are 11 awesome things I did on my way to level 10 on my Asura Engineer.

1. Make the ugliest and cutest asura I can

My wife complains that the girl on the left (I bet you thought that was a dude, right?) looks like Kreacher (the demented house elf from Harry Potter) with a nose job, but I like her stone-dead demeanor and bad ninja haircut. And those giant puppy dogs eyes on the other can get anything they want from daddy. There were no major surprises in the character customization: the Asura's is just as robust as it is for the other races, with complete control over facial features and appendages like those ginormous floppy ears.

2. Lose to Gavin in golem chess

Okay, I'm not proud of this one. It would’ve been better if I’d won, of course, but the turn-based dueling minigame is still good fun when you're on the losing side. It plays like a Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots game, where you control a mini golem on a 3x3 grid that occasionally spawns random power-ups. Each turn, you can either move or punch in front of you, and the first golem to drop is the loser. After Gavin left, I attempted to regain my dignity by beating up on the AI, which takes over the enemy golem if no players are up for the challenge.

3. Fix a deathmatch between two golems

Fighting fair isn’t the Asura way, so I ditched the tiny golems and got myself a giant one. With a touch of Asura ingenuity—specifically, hunting down fiery harpies and using their embers to super-charge my team's golem right before it went into the cage fight—I was able to ensure victory for the good guys. Take that, Gavin!

4. Accidentally super-size mosquitoes

I didn't mean to. Well, you see, I was trying to use the enlarger beam on the tiny Asuran assistants running around the laboratory floor. They’d accidentally shrunk themselves, I saw the enlarger beam sitting on the table and I figured I could help 'em out. Be a good neighbor and all that. How was I supposed to know that a mosquito would fly in front of me right as I shot the beam? Or that I’d make the same error 10 times until everyone in the laboratory was dead? It was an honest mistake!