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Starting the Game as a Charr - A Look at Creating Starting Areas in Guild Wars 2

Posted Tue, Apr 19, 2011 by Xerin

When you enter Guild Wars 2 for the first time you’ll make an impression in your mind that will last you for the rest of your life. The first few hours of any games are some of the most memorable and impressionable moments you’ll have playing and it’s important to make them some of the best. ArenaNet is working diligently to create an interesting and memorable experience for each starting zone and the Charr are no exception. This week, Devon Carver has shared with us some inside insight on crafting the Charr starting area of the Village of Smokestead.

Crafting Virtual Worlds

A lot wasn’t shared about the actual zone but we did learn a lot about GW2’s iteration process. ArenaNet worked for months creating the Village of Smokestead, building assets, putting NPCs in, creating events and much more. Then, through all of their testing, they found the zone to be a bit lackluster. Trainers and crafters were in the wrong areas, the layout was confusing, and it just wasn’t as good as it should be. So instead of patching it up they started at square one rebuilding the zone into something better.

GW2 Charr Metal Barn

Even the barns are made of metal when it comes to the Charr.

It lacked a lot of metal, since the Charr love metal and metalworking, so they added a ton of metal into it. They redid the layout, moved the trainers, and streamlined the entire zone. That way when you play it now you’ll be immersed into not only a really amazing fun zone but also one that is distinctly Charr. This is important for immersion, because it’d be kind of silly to walk around open fields full of ponies and bunny rabbits as a murderous crazed warmongering Charr.

A rural Charr forge.

Of course, we can’t play the game yet (or demo the Charr starting area) so we don’t know the result of their work, but once more it sounds like they have all of their eggs in the right baskets when it comes to quality control. Not to mention a few eggs in the “something neat” basket with their addition of some quests that draws you away from the overarching theme and shows you something slightly different. That attention to detail will mean a lot to new and old players alike.

Starting Areas 

Of course, iteration and quality control are important, but not as important as results to us players. We’ve already gotten a jab at the Human starting area, which isn’t nearly complete, but demonstrates  what ArenaNet is aiming for. When you start in Queensdale you’re given a quest called “Defending Shaemoor” which has you send villagers to safety, a pretty simple task. Then it has you charge into a garrison that’s under attack by centaurs. This is a really epic event because you’re fighting alongside Logan Thackeray, one of the heroes in the game.

As you defend the garrison something happens… a Modniir High Sage summons a Greater Earth Elemental which you and your allies destroy before its fully summoned. All of a sudden you’re just questing like normal and then BAM a huge elemental appears and an epic boss fight kicks off your epic quest right away. After the quest you’re sent to your home instance (the part of the city that grows with you) to be introduced to your personal story.

GW2 Human Starting Area

The polish on the starting areas that we've seen already are amazing, not to mention that this is just a small taste of what awaits later in the game.

Put together it’s an amazing adventure right out of the gates. There is no doubt that the other starting areas will follow suit, especially the Charr which is known for action, fighting, and metal. If the Humans are capable of fighting giant elementals and throwing parties then the Charr will likely be capable of much, much more.

The starting area sets the tone for the rest of the game and is designed to get players accustomed to how the game works out. In other games you start off fighting Orcs, rats, bats, and other foul creatures only to work your way up to bigger Orcs, walking rats, vampire bats, and other reiterations of the same enemies until you’re at max level. GW2 is designed to be awesome from start to finish and that has to be reflected in the starting zone.

Of course, that's why it's important to make sure the starting area is just an introduction to the game and not the game. Some games have failed by polishing their starting areas way too much and forgeting the endgame. From what we've seen of the level 40+ content we know that isn't the case, since fighting the hands of a giant elemental can't compare to fighting a huge dragon with guns and everything else firing it at it, but it does give us a sample of what's ahead on our journey.

Time will tell how it’ll work out, but for now count me excited to give the Charr a try. I was somewhat on the fence, but the thought of metal and destruction makes my blood long for battle as one of these feral felines. What do you think? Leave your comments below with your thoughts on the Charr and how Charr week is progressing.

Remember to keep your browser here to Ten Ton Hammer as we cover Charr Week and Guild Wars 2.

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