Time for my take on the final Beta Weekend!
While Verene spent almost the entire weekend as a sylvari, I immersed myself in the much-anticipated experience of the diminuative asura. Through what I believe to be a combination of factors, this weekend was a marked improvement over the previous two, and the coming weeks will prove a most grating ordeal of impatience indeed.
My character of choice this time around was Zott, a dignified asuran Elementalist from the College of Synergetics, with a particular affinity for the lightning strikes of Air attunement. His first invention was the Infinity Ball, a remarkable device that predicts the future (and so what if it doesn’t predict it correctly every time?).
The asura experience begins with a call for aid in pacifying malfunctioning golems (not yours, of course), which introduces you to the Inquest. The Inquest is a sort-of krewe, who believe ethics only get in the way of scientific progress, and without them the true nature of the Eternal Alchemy can be unlocked and so enable them to run the world like a massive machine. During my beta play, this usually manifested itself in experiments fusing asura with their golems, whether the asura in question really wanted it or not.
The asura as a race are absolutely unique, and my new favorite. The info we’d gotten from the team in the past always seemed to paint them as rather serious, almost dour scientists, studying the world yet aloof from it. In actual play, this is far from the truth, and the asura don’t take themselves nearly as seriously as the other races think. For instance, the first area, Metrica Province, contains a school full of asura children (called progeny). As you walk by, you hear many bits of childish chatter, and one part that stood out to me was the “your mom” jokes. Oh yes:
“Your mama’s IQ is so low, she thinks norn cows go ‘moot’!”
“Well your mama’s IQ is so low, she thinks ‘elemental’ is four letters in the middle of the alphabet!”
“…Seriously though, your mom is really smart.”
“Yeah, yours too.”
It was a heartwarming, adorable moment that really cemented the asura as a living race for me.
Other notable looks into asura-based humor included “STA/B-0 the Super Golem,” and another golem labeled “OVR-9000.”
The asura themselves seem to slip and then stumblingly recover their aura of dignity in conversation. And if you look hard enough, you’ll find individuals who just really, really like bunnies.
The asura starter area, Metrica Province, showcased the refinement of challenge as we inch closer to full release. Events did an excellent job of guiding you around the area, keeping your experience gained about equal with your level needed for the next zone you were led into, giving the entire area a very dynamic feeling of organic growth. The next thing you see is always a fun challenge, but never too difficult to take on. It felt very good and I applaud them for that careful balance. It also looks absolutely beautiful, and is filled with plenty of neat things to look at and do (oh Vistas, how I adore thee). It’s great seeing how much the asura have built up in the last 250 years. The events to be found were all very fun, and granted a new look at the hylek and the skritt (I will have to write a separate post on my beloved skritt).
My personal story was also a kick, dealing with unfusing golems and, eventually, a new application for my old Infinity Ball that, long story short, led to meeting myself as an evil overlord from another dimension’s future. Talk about your fun cliches! Every step was well-executed, and it left me eager for more when the game launches for real.