During my time in Guild Wars 2, there have been many different things that I’ve noticed well worth their own discussions. However, there was one thing, while not unique to Guild Wars 2, I found to be a really interesting topic to think about: starting zones. I found myself wondering how each of the unique starting zones are different and how that affects the players within them. Are Charr players more aggressive based off of their more gritty and gruesome starting zone? Are human players the most like their actual self due to the similarities of their own lives within human civilization?
The first thing I did to explore this idea was to look back at my opening experiences and the avatar that I created. As a Charr, I’d started off in the Village of Smokestead, a harsh and brutal place ravaged by war and machinery. Within the first few minutes of the game, I was thrust into battle in an on-going war and, shortly after, I was in the dense wasteland of Ascalon. Aside from a brief interaction early on with someone helping me figure something out, I had little to no interaction with other players and found myself playing mostly solo, seeing only the occasional group of players running around the world together.
To counter this starting zone, I travelled to Soren Draa, the starting zone for the Asura race. Immediately upon spawning, there were people chatting in the map chat. Nothing too specific either, just general chatter. There was also a moment when three players joined me in a small, world event that had been going on in the area.
After playing in two of the starting zones, both near the end of the day, I’ve noticed a stark difference in how the players interact with others. During my hour or so in Smokestead, there was little to no communication between players. For example, I went out of my way to ask a player for assistance in a world event we’d both been near, and instead of turning me down, they actively ignored me and ran off.
On the other hand, during my time in Soren Draa I had a few good instances of interaction. From the moment I loaded in, I could see people chatting about their days, asking questions and other forms of small talk. One moment that stood out to me had a newer player asking how to get to Lion’s Arch. Before a minute had past there were five different people, all answering in the chat.
With all of that said, I certainly don’t believe that I have come to any conclusion as to how starting zones affect playstyle. I will say that, after visiting both zones for about an hour, just near the end of the day, there did seem to be a difference in interactions. However, there are so many other variables that would have to be taken into account before anything can be said conclusively. So ,are Charr players as cold and bloodthirsty as their race may be? Are Asura players all small, cute, and helpful like their demeanor may seem? Probably not! But it’s definitely something I’ll be keeping my eyes on in the future!