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Guild Wars 2 Column: The Norn Invade PAX

By William Murphy on February 28, 2011

Last week our Community Manager Mike Bitton took a stab at guessing just what we’ll be playing of Guild Wars 2 on March 11th, and well… he was spot on in assuming that the Norn would be the flavor of choice at this year’s PAX East in Boston.  The official word came from ArenaNet just a couple of days ago that the naturalistic men and women of the harsh north will be playable at the event, along with the recently announced Guardian as a new playable class.  Suffice it to say, PAX East is going to be a lot of fun for anyone will to take the trip to Boston.  Perhaps while chanting Dropkick songs as they go?  But I digress.  Let’s talk a bit about the Norn, shall we?

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By now I’m sure we all have heard enough about these massive people, but really I’m fairly certain they’re going to be my race of choice when the game launches, so bear with me once more.  This week we were treated to a nice flythrough of the Norn starting area, including their “lodge-like” dwellings and plenty of nature-centric decorum.  We also got a nice solid look at both the men and women of the tribes, as Jeremy Soule’s music thumped loud and clear in the fly-through video

The community Q&A released by ArenaNet went into great detail about the ways in which the Norn differ from other races in the game.  Because of their devotion to nature, Norn will be able to take on the forms of wolf, bear, snow leopard, and even a raven.  They can even summon a pet wurm to fight alongside them if need be. 

In a lot of ways the Norn remind me of Arnold’s portrayal of Conan the Barbarian/Cimmerian/Destroyer.  I don’t mean that in a derogatory way either.  As a people they’re absolutely resolute and tenacious.  They’re stalwart, hearty, and fiercely determined to succeed.  They’re also, and it should prove fun, the loudest and rowdiest of the pub patrons.  They’re born hunters and combatants, and they hold a deep respect for many things, even as they kill them.  The only trouble with this that I can’t see myself playing a Norn Necromancer as I originally planned and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to do as much, but maybe someone here knows better than I.

Aside from getting a chance to play these hulking tribal men and women at PAX (the event kicks off at the Alienware booth with 20 stations running the new Guild Wars 2 demo from ten till noon), the folks at ArenaNet will be showcasing their game throughout the weekend on at least four machines at all times.  And come Saturday night, the NCsoft and ArenaNet peoples will hosting a meet and greet with fans at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be dragging Jon and Garrett and Mike there even if it’s just to score some swag.  Yes, I love swag.  Sue me.  I’m still a fan, at the heart of it all.

In short, while I know you’re all salivating for as much info on Guild Wars 2 as you can handle, rest assured that the silent period of Winter is coming to an end.  PAX is just the beginning of the fun leading up to the beta and eventual release, and we’ll be on hand to play through all the content and bring you plenty of coverage of the ArenaNet panel as well as our own panel in which Colin Johanson will be affronted with many probing questions about the future of the online games industry… and probably a few folks who go off topic and offer their unborn child for first crack at beta spots.  Less than two weeks folks.  I can’t wait to get my hands on a Norn woman… I mean play with a Norn.  I mean… look, I just wanna play the game alright.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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