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Columns: Why Looking Good Matters

By David North on September 29, 2014

Why Looking Good Matters

Some players worry about how good combat is in a game. Others look for a compelling storyline. Yet one of the strongest concerns players can have, is how good can they make their character look. Forget using PvP skills to brag, some players dominate, and cause pure envy with just their looks. Watch out, because, these players exist in every MMO, including Guild Wars 2.

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I know it sounds like a weird thing to obsess over, but how your character looks in a game is actually pretty important.  Your character is a representation of yourself in a virtual world, and you want to impress or show who you are to others with your look, just as you would in real life.  This trend is growing, not just with players, but with game developers, as the character creation process becomes more detailed.  Guild Wars 2 has a more traditional character creation process.  It still works really well, but there are boundaries to the look you can create that some new games are breaking through.  So how does an already released game keep up with new competition?

The Gem Store is a very powerful tool for ArenaNet.  It lets them give players more cosmetic options for a price, and these updates can be added at any time.  We see new weapon and armor skins pop into the store all the time, and they're usually pretty good.  There are already a lot of item skins, but the Gem Store allows the developers to release skins that use unique theme.  Just look at the Zodiac armor skins.  While I wouldn’t wear the skin myself, it’s insanely ambitious to give players a choice to look like an elemental, and it’s paying off.  Even months after its release, I’m seeing players rock this look nearly every day.


I never would thought a skin like this would ever be released. I want to see more!

Weapon and Armor skins aren’t the only way the Gem Store can help a player expand their cosmetic possibilities.  Makeover kits and style packs have been released, letting players go back into the character creation process to try out brand new visual features that they normally wouldn’t have access to.  This is actually both good and bad.  On one hand, you can give players more ways to make their actual character look different, giving a sense of more freedom to the creation process.  On the other hand, some of these options shouldn’t be charged for, as the basic options for some races in the game are very limited.  It would be great to see ArenaNet add some more character options for free to fill in the gaps.

Already it seems that Guild Wars 2 has nothing to worry about.  All you have to do is look around, and you’ll see some of the best looking characters you’ll ever see in an MMO.  But the game isn’t without its faults!  If you play an Asura, Charr, or even a husky Norn, finding a way to look awesome can be very difficult.  For larger Norn and Charr, clipping has been and seemingly always will be a huge issue.  You also have to worry about textures  stretching over your character, making them look like a poorly stuffed sausage link. 


Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in different skins.

These types of issues are huge for me, as I play a Charr Necro.  Light armor doesn’t look very flattering on Charr, mostly due to textures stretching out, and often looking more like spandex.  I look around in Tyria, and I see all the Humans and Sylvari, and just wish I had even half as many options as they did.  I know most people play humans, but if you’re going to offer a playable race, then make sure they have just as many good options as everyone else.  And I think we just touched on why the Hive Leader's want of having more meaningful races is easier said than done from an art point of view.

I’m constantly blown away by some of the new character creators that literally let a player create whatever they want.  After first seeing some of these videos I started to worry that Guild Wars 2 would lose its visual appeal, but after sitting down and thinking about it, ArenaNet has a way to constantly evolve their creation process.  They can even add in new outfits, and weapons skins through the Gem Store at any time.  We’ve also seen new weapon and back item skins offered in the game for free, as long as you don't mind grinding.  When you throw all these options into the pool of possibilities, Guild Wars 2 is still looking good. But if we ever see a new race, here's hoping they're not as slovenly looking in some armors as the Charr.


Read more of David’s thoughts about Guild Wars 2:

David North / All my life I've been a gamer, from side scrolling adventures to shooters, it was only a mater of time before the RPG genre would grab a hold of me. My love for games grew so much that I started to make them. It grew even more, and now I also write about them.