Sympathy for the Dalek

That’s rather rubbing it in a bit…

As alluded to in the inexplicably resurrected podcast, I’m having some difficulties adjusting to Guild Wars 2, mostly because for some reason Arenanet thought it would be a massive hoot to take the main nemesis villain race from early-stage Guild Wars: Prophecies and make them playable, and on the same team as us beleaguered humans.

Back in the olden days, 250 years prior to the events of GW2, the Charr caused The Searing, an improbably catastrophic event involving massive crystal meteors called out of space in a directed orbital bombardment which caused a wonderfully picturesque lush medieval country to be quite literally bombed into the stone age, and after a two-year nuclear winter of sorts, the early events of Prophecies see we players escorting the surviving refugees away from dead ashen Ascalon to a new life in Kryta.

Not great neighbours then, and the harrowing implied behind-the-scenes treatment of waif-like franchise mascot Gwen in Eye of the North only cements the idea that Charr are really not The Good Guys.

 

It all leaves me with a massive problem buying into the current goings on in what passes for modern-day Ascalon, an eerily familiar landscape dominated by Charr ironwork and smokestacks. Tootling about the Plains of Ashford as a human Mesmer, tagging explore points and vistas, is a lot like sending a Hobbit to go map-making in a post-Scouring-Of-The-Shire Hobbiton. “I remember when all this wasn’t overrun by our mortal enemies!”, I think to myself, and then to add insult to injury, find myself murdering dozens of Ascalon “Separatists”, bold human freedom fighters, in a massively hypocritical attempt to impress various Charr ‘heart’ NPCs to complete each zone. If not that, then putting down dozens of Ascalon humans ghosts, which is nearly as bad.

The sensation of vengeful xenophobic time traveller only increases as I travel about Ascalon. Their city, The Black Citadel, is built on top of Rin, the doomed human capital from the Nolani Academy mission of GW1. During this mission, you have to blow a big magic horn to make it rain, which puts out rampaging Charr fires. In GW2, they’ve got the damned thing on display in the Citadel, all smashed up! Much of the Great Northern Wall still exists and many parts of Ascalon resemble their GW1 counterparts, places I’ve actually been. Many of the indigenous Veteran and Champion grade ghost bosses are the very same NPCs who taught me how to use basic class skills in Pre-Searing!

Admittedly, it is all done very well, leaving me a lot more affected that I ought to be. It’s just a computer game, I think to myself, but still feel twinges of genuine anger at the state of an imaginary world I held dear. Technically, I shouldn’t even be concerned about it all anyway. My GW1 main character (who either has an identical great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter, will live to be over 280 years old or is actually a Timelord – I haven’t decided yet) is Elonian anyway – created in the Nightfall campaign, which means according to their own personal canon, they never experienced the Searing personally, instead joining the Prophecies storyline after the refugees made it to Kryta and just before the whole Shining Blade/White Mantle storyline kicks off. I did have a Prophecies alt though and it does still get to me a bit!

Arenanet have made a reasonable attempt to join the dots through the intervening 250 years and to balance the books of morality somewhat; with some later human-induced retaliatory cataclysm called ‘The Foefire’, along with a retrospective pre-history rework which now suggests that the humans stole Ascalon from the Charr in the first place, but I remain dubious. I wonder whether their strained attempt to meet the needs of gameplay (we need to add a playable Charr race…somehow!) by rewriting so much game lore has been a success or not. It feels a bit forced to me. A lot of it is detailed in the supplementary reading materials and I was so perplexed by it all that I went and bought Ghosts of Ascalon, just to answer the massive rhetorical ‘WTF?’ I have about it all. I guess that means it worked on a commercial level. (It’s not a big book – small pages, big writing – expect a reviewlet on the podcast soon!)

Petty complaints, I agree, and on the whole the sense of worldwide nostalgia is a big plus for me, making me a lot more interested and invested than if Guild Wars 2 had been set in an entirely new world. I should probably just stick to the Kryta, Maguuma and Shiverpeak zones for my blood pressure’s sake!

So my weird time-travelling genocide project continues, and I’m increasingly sympathetic to the plight of the often misunderstood Dalek race. I will EX-TER-MIN-ATE the Charr race one way or another, although I am hampered by the numerous instances of a strange bug where sometimes Charr seem to end up with green or teal names and become unattackable! I repeatedly log bug reports, but have yet to hear anything back on the matter. My frustrations do have something of an outlet though, as in typical MMO backstory fashion, even the Charr have their ‘evil civil war’ counterpart faction in the form of the Flame Legion, fire worshiping Charr of whom I am allowed to kill as many as I like! And if that’s not enough, there’s always WvWvW…

More on actual gameplay soon!

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