I was a little silent over Asura Week. Usually my goal during those weeks is to find some different angle to push and provoke thoughts along different lines. I just wasn’t finding it with the asura. I wasn’t finding anything of depth. I would easily say they are the most superficial player-race in Guild Wars 2. What you see is what you get.
I first looked at their history. Ree Soesbee’s lore-filled post had a smidgen more. The race owned the underground with the skritt gnawing at the edges. Legends say that there were six prosperous asuran cities as grand as the monstrous Rata Sum. This civilization fell to the destroyers in a mere moment as the enemy used the asurans technology against them. Some fled to the surface, and those smartest of asura are now the ancestors of the asura of today.
Yet the same thing happened to the humans in a couple punches to the face rather than a world-tearing roshambo. The human’s fall from Tyrian lordship is one of stories and legends. Their fall from grace is felt, and now we do see a surviving human race standing against all odds. Even though the asuran lost everything too, it’s irrelevant. What you see is what you get. If there were lost technologies from the destroyer cleansing. They are lost. Stories of their power and legend won’t help an asura weld a bactobattery cell in to a phytosluice golem.
Even in the 250 years after the sunlit world met the asura, the stories have been few. We get stories of Kalla Scorchrazor beating back the Flame Legion so that charr society may once again be whole. We get stories of the Firstborn sylvari going in to the world and feeding the Dream with adventures, emotion, and death. We get tales of the mass migration of norn while they bore Jormag’s tooth in equal pride and shame. Yet, for everything the asura have done for the world there is nothing to tell. If an asura gate went up in the Black Citadel. That’s what happened. What you see is what you get. Stories of backhanded dealings with the lesser races and how the Imperator almost got sent “Elsewhere” when he demanded to be the first to step through the Black Citadel’s gate won’t help an asura install yet another waypoint in backwoods Sparkfly Fen.
There current culture too seems to be missing so much depth. All other races are inferior. Check. All other asura are inferior or rivals… that are also inferior. Check. Magitech that doesn’t make sense to anybody but an asura. Check. What you see is what you get.
I used to think that asura were the most human-like of all races. They were so easy to understand, and that still might be true. Yet, no human can act like there is nothing going on beneath the surface for very long. The asura that ArenaNet have imagined are logic defined. They are individualistic Vulcans without humility. If they have more culture than the distillation of the battles of real life academia, I just don’t see it.
Perhaps in Guild Wars 2, the depth will come through as players explore the personal storyline and events surrounding the diminutive race. This is not to say I don’t love the little guys. I think they have personality gallore. Perhaps I am just missing something.