Disclaimer: The opinions and viewpoints expressed by the various authors (including me) do not necessarily reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Neoseeker.
We've seen two Guild Wars 2 beta weekends now, with a few stress tests peppered in between, and something that's really bothered me is how ArenaNet is handling female norn.
Guild Wars has always been known for its attractive characters, though not to the same unreasonable extent as, say, Aion. Yet ArenaNet squeezed enough variety into the character creation process to cater to a wide net of players. Depending on your class, your character would stand a certain way, and we had a fair range of faces to choose from. In Guild Wars 2, we haven't seen much of this variety implemented, but my main gripe is with the female norn.
Norn are, by far, my most anticipated playable race, and being able to finally create my norn Guardian in the beta made me giddy with fangirlish joy. Entering the character creator, I was pleased to see so many customizable features but disappointed at the lack of options within them. Okay, I know the game is still in beta, and the full version hasn't even been given an official release date yet. Neither fact does much in quelling my concerns.
Big Beautiful Women
Compared to other races, norn live fairly spartan lifestyles, and they've evolved to withstand the harsh northern climate. This is something I'm willing to live with; less armor for female and male norn make sense if the race is physically impervious to cold. But aside from greater height and heavier set bodies, norn look pretty much like humans above the shoulders. Even stranger is that human ladies have a small-chest-large-frame option while norn women don't. Trust me, I've looked. The heaviest norn female build comes with pretty notable breasts that bounce through chain armor.
ArenaNet does a slightly better job with the males. Norn men are characterized by their hulking bodies, making them significantly larger than human men -- a heavy torso, thick limbs, abundant facial hair, etc. When you place a female norn beside her dude counterpart, however, I'm sorely reminded of WoW, where the men and women belonging to the same race looked like they were different species. Trolls were probably the worst case scenario, but the norn situation comes close to what we saw in Orcs and Tauren; men were hulking and brutish while women were just larger human ladies. That's not how evolution works! Heck, even the Blood Elf and Human guys looked like beige gorillas.
My point? Male norn look like they can punch out a mammoth. Female norn... don't.
Just a Pretty Face
Physique aside, there's the issue of faces. I've noticed that norn women have slightly larger noses than human ladies, but large schnozes are hardly a sufficient racial trait. For the most part, female humans and norn look disappointingly similar and ridiculously gorgeous.
I'm not against letting players create Photoshop-perfect characters, and I'm certainly not telling ArenaNet to make all norn hideous. Let humans be the conventionally gorgeous race, if this game absolutely needs one, but don't apply those same designs to the norn. Give these shapeshifting titans hardy qualities befitting a race of giants bred in the unforgiving frozen wastes and raised in a martial culture. When looking at a norn, I really don't want to see the same delicate features found in humans.
Allow us to make females without makeup. Last I checked, there was no option for a completely makeup-free lady, so my hardened norn Guardian is forever stuck with soft blush and light eyeshadow -- in addition to her implants, of course.
I did like seeing the norns' assortment of tattoos, which fits how norn conventionally dress. If they're showing skin, it makes sense that they'd want to cover some of that skin with artwork significant to their culture. That doesn't excuse the dainty faces we're stuck with, though, and the poor selection of scars is especially disappointing. This is something even the guys are missing out on, which I find so baffling that I'm fairly convinced Anet will rectify this later. What kind of badass doesn't have scars? And tiny little cuts don't count. Just take a few notes from Star Wars: The Old Republic on this, because that game had some pretty gruesome options, regardless of sex.
So yeah, here's hoping they get that sorted out by the time Guild Wars 2 is dated. There's still time, and I'm desparately clinging to faith. ArenaNet has been incredibly transparent throughout the game's development, and their design manifestos are a pleasure to read. Hopefully we'll be treated to more customization options and see more diversity in the MMO's human-esque races down the road. I believe in you, ArenaNet.
On a side note, I can't put into words how disappointed I was when I logged in to find my Scholar's Outfit reduced from full robes to strips of fur and fabric between beta weekends.