So asura week has come and gone, it's always surprises me the amount of coverage these race weeks get, with other games not being so lucky as to get a single acknowledgment about their races. Then again a lot of depth is provided by various persons at Arenanet each race week, it's an example of providing a bit for everyone, while the lore and design articles may pass the bulk of the potential audience the videos are seen by many more. I'm greatly invested in the game at this stage, so every piece was interesting.
Am I going to be rolling one as main? It's still hard to say because at this stage each one of the five races are appealing, I don't think I can decide until I get my hands on character creation. As far as the 'little guys' in MMOs goes, the asura are much more intriguing than most. First thing is the origin of their architecture, basing it on EOTN, I'd have guessed there was south american influence but apparently it's in fact Hindu, which also suggests that they share their name with deities found in Hinduism. Their architecture certainly is impressive, especially seeing Rata Sum from a distance as below, but it has some tough competition already in the game. The notion that they wrought these impressive structures from the earth as monuments to their ambition is bewildering.
Their motivations for doing what they do, is the most intriguing thing for me, and why haven't a race of megalomaniacs destroyed themselves or the planet by this time. This is something that should become clearer interacting with this race in game, and the lore should be interesting and comprehensive if not initially then certainly when Quora Sum is released. The lore does seem to be quite expansive already, someone on the forums spotted that the asura protagonist in friday's story had a quote in the skritt article released previously.
It's impossible to describe asura as cute, the over-sized eyes and if they open their mouth not only do you have those pointy teeth but the snark, snark, snark and more snark spilling out ("Shut your talk-hole, bookah. Every time you open it, you drip stupid all over my floor.", although resorting to a racial slur such as bookah maybe displays some insecurity). Yet the animations were designed to be on the cartoonish side, and my favourite description of them:
"When I look at an asura—particularly one with the larger weapons—I see a character setting events in motion that are larger than himself, or unleashing forces almost beyond his control. If he were less arrogant, maybe he’d hesitate or hold back, but that just doesn’t seem like the asuran way."
The animation is comical and appealing, but it's an overused trope that the smart ones must be bungling boffins, unless of course they are the bad guys where superior intelligence just adds to their frightfulness and is another reason to crush them into oblivion. The Inquest, the evil fraction of the asura actually make a lot of sense with their organisation and preservation of knowledge, but of course they are depraved in their actions and hold up a mirror to the ethical actions of the other asura. Where that goodness derives from is a little unclear, by all accounts they should have tried to take over the world by now.
Arenanet pigeonholed themselves somewhat by sticking with these two restrictions: each profession can be all races, and that there is no difference between races in terms of game mechanics i.e. none move faster than others. Of course this is a pretty common situation in MMOs, but where are the games that there is a noticeable differences between races and not meaningless things like +5 skinning or +20 resistance to nature damage. The charr really should be the fastest moving when they go down on all fours, the norn should hit the hardest and the asura should have the smallest hitbox. An asura should look at tools and gadgets used by engineers and dismiss them as primitive before whipping out their dicrystalline etherizers.It does seem a bit of a cop out to say that some professions are rare for some races and that the players are exceptional individuals, I'll try for some semblance of realism in my choice at least.