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The Quest for Looking Good

David North Posted:
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The health bar now showed zero HP; we knew we had defeated the boss.  We went to tell the tale of our great battle so that we might receive gifts of powerful items and praise.  I received a great set of armor.  It was both great in power, and had the look that would strike fear into my enemies.  After putting the armor on, I began to strut around the capital city to show off my prize.  But my spirits dropped, as everyone around me also had the same armor that I was wearing.  I suddenly lost a huge connection with my character. 

I would like to take the time to go over something that is important to me as a player of MMORPGs, and that is the importance of your character’s “look”.  Why is this important?  To me, playing the game is like a watching an epic tale unfold before me.  I like to think that  the character’s tale is unique and different, and it really helps if they look unique as well.  For other players, their character is a representation of themselves in the game, so that they may be a part of an epic story.  Having a way to customize your look is very important so that we can stay connected to our character and the game.  So let’s take a look at a few ways that Guild Wars 2 tackles this issue.

Let’s start off when you actually create your character.  Most games bring us to a screen that lets us cycle through some faces, hair styles and body colors to choose from.  For some, this seems like it would work, but all the players end up looking very similar.  From what we hear during the Arena Net Q&A session from Comic Con, we’ll get to select from preset choices, and then we can use slide bar interfaces to customize the look of chosen features even further, to fit the look we are trying to get.  What’s really great about this is that the way they explained this feature: it’s different for each race.  This really shows the amount of detail they are pouring in to let us really get we want, no matter what race we play.  We will get to see these features more in depth when gamescom comes around in the end of August, so get ready to see this all in action.

Something that has happened to me quite often in other games is that I have a set of armor that looks great, then I find another set of armor that has better stats, but I hate the way it looks.  That’s why I’m really excited about a new feature in Guild Wars 2, called transmutation stones.  What the stones do is attach the look of one set armor to another, so if you really liked the look of one set armor, but need the stats of another, just use the transmutation stones to make the better armor look the way you want.  These stones will also work on weapons, allowing players to look exactly how they want in battle, whether it’s a warrior that wants to look like a drunken ninja, or a necromancer that wants to look so sinister it would make Sauron cry.

Another cool feature, for customizing your armor, allows you to overlap armor pieces with one another.  An example that has been given to us shows a coat that also has a helmet and shoulder armor built in.  You can use the built in parts for your look, or use the parts you already have.  This will add to the diversity we see in the game world, as everyone has different styles.

One thing that bothers me in a lot of games, is when I get a piece of armor that would look awesome if it wasn’t neon yellow or pink, because all my other armor pieces are gray, black and a dark blue.  What bothers me even more is if I can’t dye or change the color of the piece at all.  Some games have used a dye system before, including the original Guild Wars, but it still had some issues.  They have revamped the dye system for Guild Wars 2.  To compare to the original games dye system, you had to try mixing basic colors to get the color you were looking for.  This system worked to an extent, but it really didn’t give the results players were looking for.  With the new system, they decided to just make something like 254 colors with thousands of hues without the need of mixing.  That is an insane amount of colors to choose from and really opens up for some fine tuning your customization. What makes this system even better is that the color is affected also by the materials of your armor.  For example, leather that has red applied, will look different than if it is applied to iron, which means they are paying attention to detail, and that keeps the look more realistic and believable. 

I fully believed that ArenaNet would be the company that would break the shackles other companies slap on us, stopping us from having characters that look the way we want.  They are a company that isn’t afraid to let concept artists try new methods and styles, rather than standing still or going backwards.  This allows the game to look great in every aspect, including our characters, which is important to letting us stay connected to the game.   With all these features for making our characters looking great, it’s just another reason to be excited about Guild Wars 2.

I would love to hear what you guys think about character customization in Guild Wars 2.  Do they go far enough, or were you hoping for more options still? Leave some comments below sharing your thoughts.


David North