Do you skip intro sequences? Do they feel like a pointless interlude standing between you and the game you're trying to play? It really depends on the game, doesn't it. I barely lasted a few minutes when confronted with Max Payne 3's protracted, seemingly endless interludes, but I'll certainly watch the starting sequences for Guild Wars 2. A well delivered intro can provide an exciting prologue to a grand adventure, which is especially important in an MMO, when every scrap of world-building, lore and artwork contributes to that sense of adventure you get strolling into the wilderness for the first time.
In aid of all that, Arenanet have started a round-of intros for each of Guild Wars 2's five races with videos and a bit of background which might help you decide what your first character will be when Guild Wars 2 launches on August 28. Here are the first three for Humans, Norn and Charr.
Once great, abandoned by the gods, fighting for survival
It's nice to see humanity on the back foot for a change. Humans have had a hard time of it recently in Tyria, but they're hardly dwindling. The human starting area centres around Divinity's Reach - a vast city supported by surrounding farmlands under constant threat from the local Centaur menace.
Arenanet say: "The second half of the cinematic is set by a player's choice of social class—is your character a member of the gentry, a hardworking commoner, or do they hail from the streets? The moving imagery in each option is very different, and the writing is designed to convey the mood and give you a distinct feel for each background and setting."
Pride wounded by huge dragon, can turn into bears
One thing that this intro doesn't mention, and which you may not realise until you actually coma across a Norn in-game, is that they are giants. At about nine or ten feet tall, they comically loom over human companions. The ability to shift into were-animal forms only makes them scarier.
Arenanet say: "They are a hearty race of shape-shifting adventurers who have been pushed south by adversity, but fighting every inch of the way. The norn are an incredibly adventurous race who prize the glory of accomplishment above all. We wanted to present images that showed their snowy landscape, their courage, and their deep spirituality."
Race of angry bipedal lions, good at war, bad at dinner parties
Guild Wars' main baddies, the Charr, are now playable in Guild Wars 2, but in design terms they have not mellowed. Expect lots of fire, industry and war machinery as you explore their starting area, the plains of Ashford.
Arenanet say: "The charr are fierce, militant, and uncompromising. But their point of view on history had yet to be told, and it's an important perspective in understanding their story in Guild Wars 2. For the first time, the charr aren't just “the bad guys.” They have a reason to be angry, and have reclaimed much of the land once stolen from them by humanity. The defining aspect of a charr's life is which legion they choose; their training, culture, and lifestyle all stem from the legion in which they were raised. Therefore, the opening cinematic is designed to play up the differences between those legions."