Guild Wars 2 Norn week continues with new video and developer interview

In what might well be the highlight of Norn week, ArenaNet has released a wealth of information to Guild Wars 2 fans this morning. A new video, screenshots and art, and an interview with the developers combine to tell players all about what they can expect if they choose to play a Norn character.

Where and how will you live? What are your surroundings like? Jeff Grubb, Ree Soesbee, Eric Flannum, and Bobby Stein gathered to deliver some insight on the Norn and gave us some exciting new details in the bargain. For example, the Norn trait of being in sympathy with nature isn't limited to the animal forms we're familiar with so far. For example, Eric Flannum explained that Norn players can use that affinity to call upon the wurm spirit and summon a temporary wurm pet to assist in battle. While we're not sure you'd want one sticking around and following you home, they make for handy companions to call on in a pinch.

The new video, set to Jeremy Soule's instantly recognizable background score, offers sweeping views of some of the Norn home areas. The video, which is a combination of familiar and new footage, deserves at least two viewings to allow you to take it all in -- thanks both to the sheer size of it all and the intricate detail. From the shields mounted high above to the weapons on the fences below, there's more to see than can be parsed in one viewing.

The screenshots are a combination of new and old too, but even the familiar ones have new bits of information here and there. The Norn female we saw way back when is now clearly identified as a Ranger in the image title, for example.

Follow along after the jump for the video, a gallery of the new images, and the developer interview!

Massively: Why should a Guild Wars 2 player pick a Norn character? In game terms, what distinguishes the Norn from Humans and other playable races in the game?

Eric Flannum: A player should pick a Norn if they want to play a larger-than-life character. Norn do everything to extremes, and they live life to its fullest. To a Norn, the journey is more important than the destination, and one should always live in the moment. In game terms, Norn players will have access to skills that draw upon their reverence for the spirits of the wild. This means that Norn will be able to call upon the spirits and take bear, raven, snow leopard, and wolf form. Beyond taking animal form, the Norn can use their affinity with nature in smaller ways as well. For example, a Norn can call upon the wurm spirit to summon a temporary pet wurm.

Jeff Grubb: The Norn are probably the most outgoing race in Guild Wars 2 -- they take each day as a challenge, as an opportunity for greatness. If you want to wrap yourself in tales of personal glory and achievement, the Norn are for you.

Ree Soesbee: There is no race in Tyria as tenacious, as stalwart, as the Norn. We are building a world of heroes who fight against impossible odds and overcome through courage and determination; who fits that description better than the Norn?

Bobby Stein: If you've ever wanted to be the biggest, baddest, loudest guy in the pub, then you'll love playing a Norn.

The Norn hold certain animals in high esteem and can shapeshift into animal form. What role do these animals play in Norn society?

Ree Soesbee: The Spirits of the Wild are the manifest essence of the natural world. They teach the Norn lessons about survival, glory and battle, as well as home, hearth, and family. Shapeshifting is an integral part of the Norn culture and mentality. It shows clearly that each Norn is a part of the natural cycle of predator and prey, that they are at peace with the more primitive instincts of their soul. The ability to shapeshift comes in part from Norn's spirituality, in part from their culture, and in part from their physical nature.

Jeff Grubb: The Norn see themselves as part of the natural and spiritual world around them. They hunt, but they respect that which they hunt. They see the wild beasts of the field as sustenance, challenges, and companions. They venerate the Spirits of the Wild, and in their great halls and shrines, they keep sacred versions of these animals, who live peaceably with the Norn populace. That is not to say they are pacifists. They may venerate the Spirit of the Wild they call Wolf, but have no problem fighting wolves. Indeed, they feel that such a battle is a test provided by Wolf. They offer thanks to the creatures they kill, take only what they need, and keep the balance.

Bobby Stein: The Spirits of the Wild represent virtues that the Norn take very seriously, but they are not worshipped the way some humans might treat a god. If Bear does not help someone overcome an obstacle, a lesson in self-reliance is learned. Norn often align their behavior with the Spirit that most embodies their attitude, and not the other way around.

What are some of the initial challenges and experiences a norn player can expect in Guild Wars 2?

Bobby Stein: Norn get famous or they die trying. We crafted many story elements and dynamic events to support that feel, so rather than have the player fend off bandit raids or centaur invasions we put them in the harsh wilderness to confront all manner of wild prey and enemy threats. You'll explore caves and summit mountains in search of adventure and bounty. Once you've had your fill, you might unwind with a casual keg toss or friendly brawl at the local moot or listen to a story from a skaald.

Ree Soesbee: The Norn character seeks to make their name, earn glory, and be a hero. The initial Norn story is one of meeting challenges and earning the respect of their peers. They may choose to approach the world from a position where they use physical tenacity to overcome obstacles, or one where they look to their spirituality and instinct to guide them, but in all cases, it will be true to the spirit of the Norn.

This article was originally published on Massively.