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

Josh Augustine at

5. Save children from other rampaging monsters

Now, this one really wasn’t my fault, I swear! It's those crazy developers at ArenaNet and their awesome dynamic event system, which kept the kiddie scientists’ lab in seemingly constant peril from enraged fire elementals, giant yaks and the like. Every time I ran by the laboratory, the kids were running outside, fleeing some new horrible disaster they’d created—and no matter how times I helped, they always found some horrible new way to endanger their lives. It was, frankly, quite exciting to see what they'd cook up next and I kept poking my head in to sadistically spy on their unfortunate circumstances. The nastiest brought this angry broodmother to their doorstep.

6. Solve the energy crisis

The energy source at the nearby Opticarium had revolted, so I battled the rogue sparks floating around like a pack of electrically-charged lazy bums. My strategy: let them zap me repeatedly. Once I'd worn 'em down with a few gun shots, they passed out and I could toss ‘em back in the building’s power cells. Of course, seeing the place back online, the devious renegade scientists of The Inquest (a rival pack of unscrupulous Asuran scientists that tried to sabotage me at every turn while leveling up and appear to be the main antagonists for new Asura characters) overran the place with a huge army and slaughtered all of us. Time to regroup and throw them out.

7. Fight frogger

The local tribe of frog-people were supposedly nice guys most of the time, but something’d driven them crazy by the time I showed up. That meant it was time for me to shoot their little gizzards out the back of their slimey bodies. Oh, uh… for science!

8. Light myself on fire

My big takeaway from the first 10 levels: life is anything but safe as an asura. The polite and seemingly friendly golem who offered me a weather-control staff forgot to mention that it has a very high likelihood of backfiring in humorously ridiculous ways. Equipping it replaced all of my skills with new ones related to weather effects. Create an shockwave, summon a lightning storm, rain down healing water on your enemies, it promised! Instead, I ended up puking my guts out and turning my corpse into a barbecue pit. But as the Asura say, “If it’s not broken, you’re not innovating.”

9. Quell a golem revolt

I’m starting to really hate these Inquest jerks. First they tried to beat me in golem boxing, then they stole my lab supplies, overran the electricity plant, and now they hijacked all the golems in my friend’s lab and ordered them to kill us. It was a fun sort of last-stand mode with waves of golems rushing in while myself and a few NPCs held the line to protect our tech. Sorry, iron giant, there’s only one way this is gonna end.

10. Marvel at the sights

The Asura capital city of Rata Sum is an engineering miracle. Intricately cut into a mountain-sized cube, its geometrically shaped decorations float impossibly in the sky, dispersing vegetation, water, and technology around the place. It's an incredibly gorgeous city and fits the Asura personality perfectly. Also, I don’t mean to brag, but I have a pretty sweet lab on the outskirts of town (where a lot of the personal storyline takes place).

11. Make a stand… for science!

Most of the storylines in the Asura starting area revolve around using technology to defend against threats presented by the Inquest, or that your well-intentioned neighbors had inadvertently created. The legendary Asura, Zojja, accompanied me on and off in the personal story areas, and helped discover new ways to innovate on current golem technology, without having to resort to trapping the souls of Asura inside them, like the Inquest were doing. I'd eagerly anticipating playing as an Asura in Guild Wars 2 because of their potential to be a light-hearted and fun break from some of the overly serious characters and storylines the other races deal with on the frontlines of battle. From my first few hours as a mad scientist, it looks like ArenaNet's tapped into that potential and brought it to life wonderfully. I can't wait to explore more of the world with my tiny genius.

For more on Guild Wars 2, be sure to check out our dungeon video and preview, our chat to lead designer Colin Johanson about post-launch content, our look at World vs. World PvP, and ArenaNet president Mike O'Brien's take on the risks of going subscription-free.