Politics and intrigue, oh my!
One of my fondest hopes for Guild Wars 2 is that the actual game lives up to the hype we've seen from a pure lore and story point of view. The Inquest and the Arcane Council fascinate me -- the latter especially because I can't help but wonder if it's a sly poke at real-world government.
I've noticed that each race has its... well, not necessarily evil faction, but its own subset of society with darker views not necessarily accepted by the race as a whole. The Inquest, the Asura race's version of this, really interested me. The members aren't necessarily pure evil, not on the same level as the Krait, for example. They are, however, mind-bogglingly ambitious, and woe betide you if you get in their way. They will create the machine that will destroy the elder dragons, and every Asura will stand before them and revere them. There's not a doubt in their minds.
The Arcane Council is almost the opposite. Described as being made up of Asura who weren't bright enough to get out of the job, they seem like a benevolent, toothless ruling class that sits in a state of mild confusion while things go on around them. The majority of Asura are ambitious creators, running around in a constant desire to be the best, create the best, innovate the most. They're way too busy with their own projects to sit around on some faux board of directors. The fact that the ones who aren't as sharp, aren't as quick, aren't as ambitious are the ones elevated to this ruling position is such fun to me, and I want to know more! Do they realize why they are there? How relevant do they think they are as opposed to how relevant they actually are? What do the other Asura think of them? Do they try to get things done or make changes?
I'd love to see both the Arcane Council and the Inquest fleshed out in game more and more as time goes by rather than be relegated to a relatively insignificant background piece in the greater story. There's a lot of potential here.
Rata Sum, how you have grown
I spent some time in game wandering the current version of Rata Sum after I watched the new video. It looks tiny! Of course, if anyone can accomplish greatness in a 250-year span, it's the Asura, but I didn't really appreciate that until I logged into Guild Wars
for a dose of perspective. It's much, much, much bigger, of course, both outward and upward. The Rata Sum of the present looks like a tiny backwater outpost in comparison.
It's not only the size, though, it's the technological advancement. The details that really stood out to me were the "monitors" that so many Asura were looking at. There's a laundry list of questions contained in that one little place. What's it for? It's out there in public for everyone to see, with quite a few Asura paying attention. Is it news? Schematics and instructions for a Krewe? Bragging rights for a particularly clever or innovative Asura?
Questions aside, those monitor-style devices are everywhere, clearly a common part of modern Asura life. It's fun to see how much they've advanced and what they've managed to accomplish, particularly considering the rough start they had on Tyria's surface.
We don't hate you; we just think you're an idiot
Despite my frantic squeeing when I got a first look at playable Asura, I've never deluded myself that they're as huggable and darling as they look at first glance. Sure, I'd have to physically restrain myself from picking them up and snuggling them, but that's because I know they'd likely have some gadget that would end me if I dared try.
This week's look at their attitude toward the outside world was a very enjoyable lesson. They've got a couple of pretty big obstacles to overcome in the world: both their tiny stature and the fact that they are outside of their natural habitat, driven to the surface by much stronger enemies.
They're so incredibly smart, competitive, and ambitious, though, that it only made them more determined to come out on top. Their attitude (rightly) seems to be that the rest of the world might be getting by temporarily on brute strength or natural magic, but they've got an arsenal of secret weapons that nobody else is smart enough to have or use. They've got brains, tenacity, and the advantage of being a clearly superior race. Look out, world.
It's not that they want us wiped out. We're probably not even important enough to them to bother wiping out, to be honest. It's that they don't really have the time or patience to mess around indulging us as we blunder around the world making a mess. They've got things to do and invent, and we're handy test subjects or grunt laborers at best.
I love it.
With that, I will join the rest of you in turning my eyes to that one mystery still left on the character creation screen: The Eighth Profession. (Yes, it's a big enough deal to fans at this point to warrant a proper name.) I refuse to say the M-word, but I'm just as excited as everyone else for the reveal -- time will tell.
For now, hit the comment button and let me know what you loved or hated about Asura Week. I'll see you next Monday!
Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in
Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's
Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at firstname.lastname@example.org.