Guild Wars 2: Goddamn Plant People!

By Jim Rossignol on August 10th, 2011 at 1:22 pm.

Look at his hideous green face. Horrible.
Plant people! It’s an abomination, I say. If plants were meant to be people then God would have given them the vital organs to be human, like eyes and shoes. ArenaNet, however, see nothing wrong with creating a leafy mockery of the human form with their “Sylvari”. They’ve gone as far as to blog about it in detail here, and also to detail their visual appearance here. Not an Ent in sight, though, so that’s some small reason to be thankful, I suppose.

Anyway, it’s appalling. They’re almost as heinous as those monstrous anthropomorphous plants in Popcap’s ridiculous Plants Vs Zombies. As if pot plants could ever defeat the undead. You’d need trees and stinging nettles at the bare minimum.

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110 Comments »

  1. pakoito says:

    They’re creepy and alien, which I guess is good.

    • innociv says:

      Funny you mention alien, because they overhauled them to look quite like Na’vi since their original incarnation.

      I’m not sure if that’s good, but I suppose it’s better than them looking like humans with different hairstyles and plant armor.

  2. Lobotomist says:

    I dont dare to imagine how much confusion would it make in “plants vs Zombies” if these Slyvari people would start to turn into zombies !

  3. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Gorse is probably the worst I have come accross in my expeditions, never had the (mis)fortune of rubbing up against some lovely nettles, looks and sounds rather painful though.
    Also, that photo makes it look like an Orc – Night elf hybrid. god, Blizzard has ruined me.

    .. So, are they like the slightly gay/colourful cousin of Ents?

  4. Tori says:

    Leaf them alone Jim!

  5. Lars Westergren says:

    “There are male and female sylvari, but none has ever produced a child as other races do. Because of this, traditional human-style gender roles have no meaning to sylvari, either in their society or in their romantic relationships.”

    Interesting. Doubt they are brave enough to have a race of completely bisexual NPCs in the game world itself, but at least it’s in the background text.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well Bioware *did* do that with the Asari in Mass Effect.

      Of course they *did* all look like hot half naked blue women who work primarily as strippers so I won’t give Bioware credit for that.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Exactly, the Asari are such a cop out.

    • JackShandy says:

      So do female sylvani ever look down and go “Huh, I wonder what these weird bumps on my chest are?”

    • John P says:

      I think they missed an obvious opportunity to make a genderless race here. One where you don’t choose between male or female, but could still choose your appearance to make yourself look more male or female or neither if you wanted. I guess making all the armour and other cosmetics would be harder, but it would have been nice.

    • Dominic White says:

      Most of the armor sets are wearable by all races (each race has a few racial-specific sets, though), so yeah, that’s a key design reason why they stuck with a more humanoid and male/female layout. Saves a lot on making art resources.

    • Wulf says:

      Holy crap. I can roleplay a gay charr!

      *adds to list of ideas.*

      That might work though, entertainingly enough, since the charr tend to do sex for pleasure as any children will invariably end up in a fahrar anyway.

      Also… Asari? Sylvani? The wrongness here is amusing!

  6. KauhuK says:

    Sex with plant humanoids. That’s what I’m intere.. I mean what a horrible idea.

  7. Ultra Superior says:

    This race is ruining GW2 lore for me. Does it make me a racist ? It doesn’t matter. They’re fugly, they’re like uneducated elves only thousand times worse. Ecoterrorists, with no other cultural achievement than gardening and forestry.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      They might be fun to burn?

    • Malk_Content says:

      No where in the lore that has been given has ever posited them as ecoterrorists. Yeah they have plant houses, but thats because they can make plants grow like that and the resources they have make it a natural fit. They get along with and fight alongside the Charr who have massive foundries and warmachines. Hell they can and will be part of the Engineer class.
      As for being elves I don’t really see any link apart from, they are a race of people that aren’t human, dwarves or orcs. The aren’t hundreds of years old (the oldest is 25) they aren’t perfected humans (you yourself said they are fugly) they don’t believe that they are right and the other races are inherently wrong. They do have slightly pointy ears though.
      I agree some of the character models are ugly, but looking through the examples on the gw2 site, some are quite beautiful (if in a slightly alien way) and I think that is a good thing for a game. Ugly characters should be allowed (abominations maybe not so much.)

    • Ultra Superior says:

      That is a sweet idea. Tutorial baddies for when you play fire elementalist.

      Oh my, their magic will consist of all kinds of regenerations and snares. *PUKE*

      EDIT: Yes, they are made of vegetation and live in vegetation houses, its like people living in huts made of human skin and bone, or even worse, in huts made from enslaved, bent and intertwined living people. They even have some berries protruding from their hands – its like people being dressed in testicles and vaginas.

    • Askeladd says:

      Oh, thats sick, will probably play it then.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      > “Yes, they are made of vegetation and live in vegetation houses, its like people living in huts made of human skin and bone, or even worse, in huts made from enslaved, bent and intertwined living people.”

      Er, what? One difference would be that plants aren’t sentient and can’t suffer. Another that in the game world this presumably is some form of symbiosis and the plants benefit from the Sylvari rather than being harmed.

    • Malk_Content says:

      @Ultra Superior

      Not at all the same, they aren’t making each other into houses. Just like me owning a leather jacket doesn’t mean I wear human flesh.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Some people would argue it’s pretty sick actually.

    • Malk_Content says:

      Oh I agree with that, my vegan environmentalist housemate abhors my leathers. But thankfully lives with me in the summer months and thus it rarely comes up. I assumed (maybe wrongly) that the OP wasn’t part of that crowd, at which point he guess he can be disgusted, but I don’t know what he eats/wears if he is against using animal and plant products.

    • Dhatz says:

      I didn’t hear em speak in any video.

  8. Dominic White says:

    Just to compare, this is how the Sylvari used to look:

    http://www.guildwars2.com/global/includes/images/screenshots/sylvari/sylvari-01.jpg

    Basically, they were green elves with plant-themed clothes.

    Now?

    http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/AudreySeries.jpg

    That, right there, is a proper plant-person. Very cool. Also:

    http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/WhintSeries.jpg

    Sylvari ‘born’ in the winter apparently have a rougher, more tree-like look. Very creative. Hats off to Arenanet for NOT making a generic elfin race!

    • clownst0pper says:

      I’m stunned RPS couldnt be arsed to link comparison images. RPS please hire someone who actually knows and loves MMOGs…

    • JackShandy says:

      And a foot-rub would lovely while you’re at it, thanks.

    • Dominic White says:

      I usually have little-to-no interest in MMOs, but GW2 just looks fun, so I’ve been following it pretty closely. Kudos to the developers for actually being ballsy enough to heavily redesign a race so late into development. Pretty rare, that.

    • Groove says:

      I think this looks amazing.

    • KGB says:

      Well, before, they looked like elves with a bit of plant decoration/clothes. Now they look like pretty much any dryad in one of the many fantasy worlds out there. Not very original imho. It’s a nice design though and well executed.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, they are looking better, now. They still air on the side of fae, but they’re much more androgynous for one thing, which fascinates me. I imagine that a race without a clearly defined gender would be fairly androgynous. That wouldn’t need to be the case, but it intrigues me that it is.

      Before they looked far too elfy for their own good, really.

    • Dhatz says:

      They should have plant names.

  9. Bluebreaker says:

    Tutorial on how to make plant people:
    1- Take the human model paint it green.
    2- Add random plant features like leaves.
    3- Tell a self glorified story of how much effort you put in previous steps.
    4- ???
    5- Profit

    *for bonus points add blindboys to further glorify your work.

    • godwin says:

      This.

      Not quite sure why everyone seems to be in awe – fact of the matter is the designs still conform heavily and unimaginatively to human anatomy (with male/female versions) to make the characters appealing (apparently). The lore and that FAQ thing is really, really lame.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah I thought it was a bit disapointing. I wanted to march around the world as a triffid!

    • Wulf says:

      The Nightmare Court designs are more interesting. But you can’t complain about a lack of originality with the charr present because the charr are the most raw and true form of originality and they continue to be so. They were innately a Guild Wars thing to begin with and ArenaNet continues to make the charr something specifically their own.

      There are only a few fantasy books out there I could name with something like the charr in them. And that’s it. No games, no films, or shows, or anything else. And if anyone were to find a correlation it would likely be borne of misinformation.

      The Asura are more interesting than the usual gnomes too in that they’re magic only. High-end quantum magicks, sure, but they hate technology, pretty much. It even says so on their race page. They like building things with magicks, enchantments, and what have you, purely magical inventions, magical weather machines, magical stargates, magical floating cube cities, and so on. It just makes them a cut above mini-people in any other game.

      The humans have a Renaissance Italy thing going on, too. The sylvari have that hivemind Dream thing, despite being not too visually impressive, so there is creativity there, but I will admit that the Sylvari aren’t as visually creative as they could be. And again, to be honest, the only races that strike me as visually creative are the charr and the asura, for the reasons mentioned.

    • Rii says:

      Charr look like Tauren to me.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Wulf: its fecking WoW with a paint job.

    • JackShandy says:

      Reading up on this Nightmare Court stuff, I’d honestly really like to play as one of these. I suppose they’re just an enemy, but I like the idea of joining a union of plant-people who’ve gone “Hold on, we’re made of plants. Why are we acting like humans at all?”

  10. clownst0pper says:

    From what they were to what they are, I think they look stunning.

  11. Quizboy says:

    I love these blogs following the artists’ thought process. The amount of love and care going into GW2 is pretty exceptional. Also, the picture up top is by far the derpiest of the shots they’ve released – the one with the concept art next to the finished character is amazing, probably the closest concept -> execution I’ve seen in a game.

    Also: plant people. For some reason plant people are always cool. Like Poison Ivy, and the stompy tree-building things from Warcraft (extra points for one of those not only being a tree and a person, but also a lion), and Gray Caps and Cactacae and so on. Always cool. So as much as I’m naturally drawn to being a magic Smurf with a giant robot where available, I’ll inevitably end up playing one of these in GW2. The winter ones look fantastic.

  12. Nallen says:

    I really am losing interest in this. Maybe just MMOs in general.

  13. wintermute says:

    Unfortunately they just look like elves to me. Clearly the idea was to be original and NOT do elves, but in the end the need to pander to the lowest denominator meant:
    1. Plant people had to look humanoid because hard to identify with tree.
    2. They had to be pretty because elves.
    I wish they made them alien and weird. Instead they look like generic Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney 3D characters for kids. Just my opinion.

    EDIT: After watching video, things look much, much better.

    • Nalano says:

      Yeah, they really do look just like elves with a green color palette.

      Also: Mammaries on non-mammals. Que?

    • JackShandy says:

      What, pointy ears? That’s about the only elf-like thing about them. I guess Elves like plants, as well?

      I didn’t think of elves until I heard you saying they set out to create an Elf race.

      EDIT: I also think it’s a bit late to complain about the fact that every magical race looks like humans with bits on. You know, after thousands of years of human culture and all.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, the only vaguely ‘elf-like’ bit about them now is that their ‘ears’ (and they really are just extraneous bits of leaf and bark – you can see that it’s a solid wooden knot on some of them) are a bit more pointed than a human.

      As for why they look humanoid, down to having male/female shapes, the magic tree that spawned them was planted and raised by a human, and the Sylvari were basically created to help out the (primarily humanoid) alliance against all the big bads that have decided to wreck up the world.

    • Calcipher says:

      Actually, the human anatomy on them is the one part I have the least problem with. It is well known that plants mimic the anatomy (especially sex organs) of other species to increase the chance of pollination. Of course, that means that these plants developed with the assumption that humans were the pollinators, which I don’t want to think about.

    • Nalano says:

      @ Calcipher

      If that’s the case, why aren’t their boobs bigger?

    • DrGonzo says:

      Elves are people who love trees, these are tree people! Completely different!

      But seriosuly, I understand what they are getting at. They do look a lot like elves/humans to me, but painted green. Was hoping for something weirder. Gotta say as it gets closer to launch GW2 looks a lot more like WoW. Still, an improved WoW wouldn’t be a bad thing, just not what I wanted.

    • Bhazor says:

      Apart from the face/hair the difference between male and female seems fairly slim. The “female” ones are pretty much flat by game standards and the “males” aren’t exactly ubermench.

    • Arglebargle says:

      The farther you get from a humanoid shape, the more unique art assets you need to build. Aside from whatever cultural conventions may be there, too much variation means loads of extra game crew work. Practical considerations play in. We should be happy they have the Charr in at all.

      There is something kinda cool about a race whose oldest member is only 25 years old. This may sway me from the Asura.

    • Big Daddy Dugger says:

  14. AlexV says:

    At first I was thinking: why would plant people have breasts? or look humanoid at all? Not just humanoid, but attractive to humans… then I remembered: they might well be trying to get laid by humans after all…

    • Wulf says:

      That…

      Huh.

      You’re intelligent and that’s a very good point. The pale tree was familiar with humans and very humanoid (centaur) races. It could be building the Syvlari to have human sex appeal in order to more quickly integrate into different forms of society. They’d have a shoe-in with humans immediately if their women had an ethereal beauty and boobs, because guys tend to be shallow like that. And look at that, they do.

      …I hadn’t considered that angle. What many don’t realise is that the Pale Tree is actually sentient and a sort of server consciousness where all Sylvari are uplinked when they sleep. And when Sylvari are in their proto-state, they dream, and they learn from the stored memories and from the memories of sleeping Sylvari out there in the world. So perhaps to a degree they even shape their own appearance. If they decided that they’d want to be a shoe-in with the charr, they might drop the boobs and go with twisted-vine horns and some fine grassy covering that looks like fur.

      That… is a very, very interesting point.

    • Askeladd says:

      Well, why do they want to get laid? Its surely not for reproduction because they all came from a tree.
      I want to add this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zRAZ_IehjE
      BTW: one of the best sci fi series. I liked the character design.

      Edit: http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/323815/Why-do-the-Sylvari-have-mammaries.html
      That wasnt one of you posting this, right?

  15. Iskariot says:

    I am not into MMO’s but these creatures look good.
    But I would have liked them to have less human faces.

  16. Koozer says:

    Nice work with a more original race, but I have to say I’d only consider playing one if they were less humanoid and less…pretty.

  17. Rii says:

    I’m impressed, but then from the comments above maybe it’s because I have low standards or something. The Sylvari are certainly more appealing to me now than they were before.

  18. Unaco says:

    Couple questions here…

    1. Do they burn?
    2. Would it be acceptable for a Vegetarian, or Vegan, to eat them?
    3. Do they make good eating? If it can somehow combine the greens and the steak into one package, that would be great.
    4. Why do they need Mammaries if they don’t reproduce?
    5. How well do they burn?

    • Wulf says:

      I’m not sure they burn as easily as normal wood because the kind of wood we burn is dry wood, if wood is submerged in any liquid, it doesn’t actually burn that well. Considering that they have their own form of blood, which seems to be less viscous than sap, I’d say that they might not burn as well as a tree.

      What they might burn as well as is us. We burn pretty well, too, you know? Perhaps not as well as a dried out tree, but we burn. And if we were dried out a bit, I’m sure we’d burn just as well as a tree. I think the only reason we don’t burn each other at campfires is because we’ve established that it would be vaguely creepy, so we burn dead/dried trees, instead.

      The mammaries question, however, is a good one.

    • Askeladd says:

      We probably burn better. Remember all that body fat?

  19. neolith says:

    So… plants with boobies, eh? I’m not proud to say so, but the internet has shown me stranger things already.

    • Wulf says:

      I’ve frankly witnessed stranger things in written fiction. The Sylvari, whilst interesting, aren’t particularly odd. You don’t have to be Internet-scarred for that. And there are more strange things going on in Guild Wars 2 than a plant with boobs, too.

  20. Foosnark says:

    I like them. They’re cute, in a sort of vaguely menacing-under-the-surface way rather than overtly mean and tough.

  21. Grey_Ghost says:

    Seems pretty lame to me. Look at the pretty plant ladies with the superfluous boobies! Yeah, just seems like such a cop-out in my opinion.

    • Wulf says:

      Another reason I like the charr – the women don’t have breasts and their sexual dimorphism is actually interesting. Unlike with every other race, charr women are also badasses that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. It is disappointing how they’ve copped out with the non-charr races, but that’s because of mainstream appeal, I suppose.

      But there is at least one race there that isn’t just “I R human mostly, I has boobs, I has sex appeal!” and that makes me happy.

    • Laurentius says:

      I agree, it’s pretty stupid tbh, making such fuss about plant people and how they are different form other races, only to add those strategically placed leaves and flowers to cover bits they shouldn’t have.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Wait, Asuran females have boobs?

    • Askeladd says:

      Only for child molesters.

  22. Joof says:

    I was really excited for this game, so I bought the original Guild Wars. Now I’m concerned this game will be terrible. I shouldn’t have bought the first Guild Wars. =/

  23. clownst0pper says:

    New Sylvari video of them in motion: http://www.arena.net/blog/video-growing-the-sylvari

    Anyone who says they don’t look good in that can kiss my ass!

    • Rii says:

      /watches Ree Soesbee in motion

      Oh, right, Sylvari … yeah, they’re alright.

    • Askeladd says:

      Thanks for that video, I like how they look.

      Maybe some bizarre deformed monster race will be included for those that want to play that.

      I know of HR Gigers works, but nothing really that looks like its not from this world.
      How far does imagination reach anyway?

      Show me your best ‘not from this world’ artwork of a ‘thing’ that you’d play in an online mmo!

    • Dominic White says:

      The Charr are enormous hunchbacked lion-people with curled demonic-looking horns and gallop on all fours. Is that monstrous enough?

    • Grey_Ghost says:

      They look fine for painted humans with leafy bits.

    • Askeladd says:

      Hm no, they are not. Just a mix of a human with something lion-like and put horns on it.
      Dont get me wrong, I think the Charr are great but nothing truly unique in its similarities.

      Maybe its just the humanoid thing thats gotten old.

    • JackShandy says:

      Jesus, everybody, almost every single magical race for a few thousand years now has been humans with bits on. I don’t know why you’re all suddenly taking offence to it now. It’s like running up to Set and yelling “Everybody, look- It’s just a bloke with a dog mask!”

  24. Gap Gen says:

    “Well, Jimmy, when a chiselled man and a blackberry bush love each other very much…”

  25. FunkyBadger3 says:

    I’ve got wood?

  26. Petethegoat says:

    I find it pleasing that this looks slightly worse than Morrowind does these days.
    Not that I’m a graphics whore or anything, but it’s nice that Morrowind’s mod community is easily competing with the likes of Guild Wars 2.

  27. botarea says:

    I cannot wait for Guildwars 2 it will be so awesome this game! I hope there wont be bots for this game

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