Choosing your race is one of the most important decisions in an MMO. Even your class selection can be subject to change, depending on the game, but barring promotional or paid-for items, the race you pick will stay with you forever. I don’t know about you, but I tend to spend the most time in any RPG creating my character. The more in-depth the tools, the more time I spend inching various meters left or right in a vain attempt at perfection. It’s not even uncommon for me to play a character for a few hours, decide their eyebrows are too dark, and start over. It’s an obsession, I know.
Of course, every MMO typically offers a vast array of races and species to choose from; from typical fantasy staples to more outlandish varieties like sentient hamsters. This week, we’re taking a look at, in no particular order, seven of the least played races. To have the data speak for itself, just click the header for each race!
Charr - Guild Wars 2
The Charr are awesome. Their debut in Guild Wars allowed them to carve out a niche in the corner of gaming’s beast races. While they are physiologically akin to larger felines, they also possess a wargish look to them and much of their culture and society is viewed through the lens of barbarism. In truth, Charr are quite complex and enlightened. They have renounced all gods, and above all else, value military strength, prowess in battle, and determination to succeed.
So it remains to be seen, why would such a hardened, militaristic nation be one of the least played races in Guild Wars 2? It’s a good question, and one that really burned the britches of writer Peter Fries when he tweeted about his disappointment in the community coalescing around the human race. The tweets seemed to have disappeared since then, but we trust Kotaku enough not to just make up minor twitter outbursts.
Apparently, both Charr and Asura sit at the bottom of the barrel; the likely answer being that both races deviate too far from humanoid racial aesthetics comfortable to many players. In many MMOs, this problem isn’t such a big deal since a race is as much a statistical choice as it is an aesthetic one, but in Guild Wars 2, it means a good sixth of the game story is going unplayed by many players.
Goblins - World of Warcraft
Goblins. It’s always Goblins. For years these cheeky green rascals have captured the hearts and minds of players everywhere. They were loud, crude, and insanely greedy, but they were also one of the more flamboyant races in World of Warcraft. Unlike the Alliance Gnomes, Goblins had an edge to them that could cut a diamond; they always felt a little unhinged. It probably seemed like a great move on paper when Blizzard finally decided to roll these scamps out as a playable race during Cataclysm, but now, several years on, Goblins occupy the bottom spot in all of Warcraft’s playable races.
It isn’t hard to guess why. Gnomes might be tiny, but they have a charm to them that attracts players looking for something unconventional, yet familiar. Goblins? They’re just plain ugly. I’d also wager that they are a race that is supremely more fun to listen to than to play. Either way, Goblins were never a controversial addition to Azeroth (unlike Pandaren and Dranei) but years later the stats don’t lie. People don’t like playing as Goblins.
Baraka - TERA
A lot of MMOs tend to follow similar design trends. You have your humans, your elf-likes, your little cuties, and then your giants for players really looking to step into something unfamiliar. Unfortunately, statistics seem to show most people prefer playing something that at least resembles a human. It might not have to look like them per se, but it should look like something they’d at least want to get to know over drinks. Baraka? Not likely.
These statue-like creatures descended from giants. But while their progenitors went off to war and likely had a bad time of it, considering their demise is known as the Day of Fire, these boulders decided to sit down and read a nice book. No, seriously. Don’t be fooled by their mountainous appearance; Baraka are gentle, pacifistic scholars who want to spread knowledge around the world. It’s easy to understand why they never really took off as a desired race in a game all about killing giant monsters. Still, a part of me is a little sad; Baraka are easily one of the more original “plus-sized” races offered in MMOs.
It also bears mentioning that while I chose Baraka because of a preference for their aesthetic and social stylings, tons of MMOs have races just like them, and I’d be willing to bet that all of them are similarly untouched by players.
Roegadyn - Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Speaking of brutes, Roegadyn are Eorzea’s resident “big-boned” race. Inspirationally, these hulks descended from Final Fantasy XI’s Galka, who, at first glance, look exactly the same. In fact, before A Realm Reborn was released and saved Final Fantasy XIV from the pit of despair that was version 1.0, Roegadyn, like the Galka, were a male only race. Yoshi P., Director of A Realm Reborn, opened up the gender selection as part of his sweeping changes to gameplay of XIV, but even the ladies couldn’t save this race from occupying last place.
Roegadyn males are barrel chested, top heavy, and hairy, but their female counterparts can be downright beautiful if they want to be. Still, Roegadyn are just another race that establishes that most players want to play something vaguely human-shaped, and something vaguely human-sized. But I still get a kick out of seeing one as a white mage. Something about a behemoth Roegadyn healing other players is cheerfully subversive.
Tellarites - Star Trek Online
Remember how I said most people want to play as humanoids? These guys are the exception. Finding any concrete data on race distribution for Star Trek Online was impossible, but after spending hours digging through all the games and their various races, Tellarites easily stand out as the one I can safely say not a lot of people enjoy playing.
Hailing from the planet Tellar, this porcine race enjoys nothing more than having a heated argument and then burying the hatchet by sharing a nice dog. To eat. Just in case that wasn’t apparent. Star Trek Online is, admittedly, bursting with races that would earn an immediate pass during a night of speed dating, but that is part of the charm of the Star Trek universe. Furthermore, like Star Wars, fans of the series love playing the more adventurous (design-wise) characters, especially if they share an ancestry with a notable character from the TV series. Unfortunately, Tellarites don’t have any major representation in any of the Star Trek lore, which means that the only players actively looking to play them might either want their racial abilities, or just plain enjoy playing freaky looking characters.
Which race to play is always going to be a hot-button issue, and unfortunately many will be neglected in favor of either better designed or more approachable choices. This should never stop developers from giving players more choice, even if they choose otherwise. That said, the wide world of MMOs is absolutely brimming with ugly, odd, and bulky species to be abandoned, and this list only contains a small sampling. Have you come across a particularly egregious example? Or do you play one of the races above and find my gently xenophobic comments about them troubling? Then let us know in the comments!