Cosmetic Inspection in Guild Wars 2 – Fashion Feature or Faux Pas?

Cosmetic Inspection is the newest feature that Guild Wars 2 added in the April 17th patch, giving the ability to inspect other players’ outfits and fashion. This allows anyone to right click on a player, identify the names of the skins and dyes they are using, and then write those names into the official wiki or into google to find out where to get them. As the game has been nicknamed Fashion Wars 2 for many years now, it is surprising why such a feature hasn’t been added to the game sooner.

However, to some players this feature is not just a nice convenience, it suggests an invasion of privacy and a gateway to more invasive changes to the game. In this article, we’ll first take a look at some of the most obvious benefits and detractions that the cosmetic inspection introduces, but then go even further to speculate on some potential pros and cons that may or may not happen.

Obvious Benefits

  • Helps newer players learn faster
  • Enables new, player-driven content
  • Advertises the game’s content rewards

Obvious Issues

  • Others can judge your fashion
  • Copying looks without consent
  • Demystifying character identity

Player-First Focus

Regardless of whether or not this feature is a total positive or not, it is a fact that the cosmetic inspection or some kind of fashion template system has been near the top of the list for player requests for a long time. However, the way that it is implemented is extremely important. If it is overly monetized like the build template system, or unhelpful for its intended purpose like some of the new player gem store packages, then a highly requested feature can still flop. So while we consider the benefits and issues of this new feature, we need to think about its purpose and if it actually satisfies that.

Fashion Forward Progression

The most obvious benefit of the cosmetic inspection is when someone sees an outfit they like, they can easily see exactly what other skins or dyes they are using to compliment each other to attain that look. With a keen eye and a lot of experience, this was possible before; but with the new feature it has become much more accessible to do so for the less experienced players. This is especially important because there are tens of thousands of skins in the game and every patch adds more to the already bloated pool. Even for a veteran of the game, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what skins to use when there are so many options. The ability to easily inspect a skin then find out where to get it by using its name in a wiki search will solve this.

After players find a skin they want that could be in any of the expansions or living world episodes, they will likely go and work towards those skins in that area. They may already own that piece of content, in which case they will go back and experience it again, helping to repopulate those areas and keep the game’s many zones thriving. Otherwise, they might purchase that episode or expansion because of a skin they want. That’s more content for them to enjoy and more support for the game.

Other than these in-game activities it may affect, there are plenty of events that occur on social media which involve Guild Wars 2 fashion. The most popular community-driven activities include fashion contests which occur live on Twitch or through Discord channels, cosplay/outfit showcases on Instagram or Reddit, or skin reviews or acquisition guides on YouTube. For those who want to share their outfit, taking a good screenshot can take a lot of knowledge about the in-game settings. If you do want more information on taking the best screenshots in Guild Wars 2, find out in this Screenshots Guide. However, taking a screenshot of someone else’s outfit is much harder to do. The inspect feature can make it easier to interact with others in these social situations or to create all new player-driven content. While the time of day and background can drastically change how a character’s fashion looks, the inspection creates a more normalized appearance with the UI. This could make fashion contests easier to manage and follow for the viewing experience.

Bringing the “War” Back to Fashion Wars

While some of the previous points were made in support of the new feature, they could also have been interpreted as negatively affecting the game. If players can access others’ skins and dyes so easily, even if they could figure this out before, they can more easily judge players for their fashion choices. Also, not always are people willing to share their fashion. Before if someone would generally have to ask. It created mandatory consent. If someone is not willing to offer their outfit to others, they no longer have that choice since anyone can just inspect. Outfits can take a lot of time and effort to create to make them look perfect, and for someone to be able to copy that so freely might be disheartening to fashion lovers.

While these concerns are valid, the answer to potentially negative social interactions is not to avoid social interaction. An MMORPG is made for social interactions, and these features are what help to improve the overall experience. However, an MMORPG is also all about options and letting players choose their path. Those who really care about hiding their look to protect it from being stolen can put on a secondary outfit when they aren’t willing to share. This isn’t ideal but it at least puts some more control in the hands of the player. The ultimate solution would be for ArenaNet to add an option in the settings that allows players to toggle on or off whether they want to allow players to inspect them. Most players probably won’t care, but for those who do, the consent is optionally provided.

Another popular concern is that player appearance may become less prestigious because it will become easier to look better, especially for those who are competing in fashion contests. This one is in my opinion not valid. If someone wears the same outfit every day, even if they look good, others will get tired of it and it will lose its prestige. Fashion prestige is more about the ability to create the next trend, not about gatekeeping others from keeping up with the trends. Imagine a celebrity showing up to the red carpet with a raincoat on over their expensive new tailored dress because they don’t want someone to copy their fashion. It’s a bit of a ridiculous example, but maybe necessary to help people remember the purpose of fashion even if its in-game.

Is It Really Worth It?

To really understand the decision of ArenaNet, we must understand their values. They want to provide updates and content that improves the game for the majority of players without negatively impacting many other players in the process. For example, adding new skins for Bladesworn gunblades or Mechanist mechs would be really cool, but how many players play Warrior as a Bladesworn or Engineer as a Mechanist? Instead they can make a Mechanist themed shield which engineers or any other class that can wield a shield can use.

In the previous example, there isn’t a clear tradeoff other than development resources. How about when they add a new map to the game with its own meta event. This seems only good, but the more maps there are, the more spread out players will be, making the rest of the world feel less populated. So something that has an immediate positive benefit can certainly become negative later on and it’s important to consider the future consequences when dealing with longstanding products like an MMORPG. Here are some more unforeseeable results from this new feature:

Potential Benefits

  • More fashion feature opportunities
  • Less wiki, more in-game

Potential Issues

  • More negative feature opportunities
  • Promotes less player interactions

The addition of a fashion inspect also opens up the opportunity for a fashion template system. This would allow the separation of gear from skins which would be much more convenient since gear does not always need to be changed when fashion does. Also with the recent addition of DirectX 11 to the game’s engine, allowing more interesting and better quality graphics, a greater emphasis can be placed on skin acquisition, with cosmetic inspection providing in-game tooltips that show where these items are obtained. One big issue with Guild Wars 2 is that to go for skins and achievements it is necessary to alt-tab out of the game much of the time. This won’t change any time soon, but minimizing how much is needed is a step in the right direction.

It could be great to get cosmetic templates, but what if they are overly monetized? Players are also afraid of this opening the door to a gear inspect feature, which can be used to gatekeep newer or more casual players who don’t have optimal gear from getting into groups. One of the main philosophies of the game has been to allow players to play how they want. Take the player, not the class. That’s why the game is balanced in a way that most content can be done very casually. Only in the hardest content or in the most competitive groups is a gear check necessary, and in those cases there would be many more hurdles before getting that far. Just like a cosmetic inspection, a gear inspection could have an optional toggle. However, because fashion won’t be the deciding factor for someone’s exclusion from a group, but most certainly gear can be, this is a much more serious topic.

We could already perform these inspections in-game, but a new feature would just make it more convenient to do so. You can already ask people to link their gear before they can join your group. You can already see what people are wearing and with a little bit of fiddling find out their dyes. Toxic personalities will always find a way to attack others, so their existence shouldn’t prevent the addition of a useful feature, even a gear inspection. You might not ever get that same interaction of someone asking you what you’re wearing, but now you might start receiving compliments on your fashion after they’ve already inspected you. So at the end of the day what matters is that new features are added to keep changing the game and promoting new players to join and old players to come back so that there is a community.

If you want to discuss more about this topic or share your fashion or another fashion you’ve inspected, join our Discord and check the Fashion Wars channel.

Cosmetic Inspection in Guild Wars 2 – Fashion Feature or Faux Pas?


  1. really sad to see AI being used to write articles like these. this used to be such a good site until Vallun lost his partnership with ANET

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