One of the major features of many MMORPG expansions is the introduction of new playable races. It's a mostly cosmetic upgrade, without a heavy impact on gameplay, but still widely popular among many players, for it makes the whole game fresh once again, thanks to the new aesthetics, voices, and animations.
If Guild Wars 2 wants to be on the spotlight once again, we need a new playable race. If said new race comes with the same model and animation quality we've seen with mounts, success will be guaranteed.
There's a few good candidates already ingame, others that could work with a few modifications, and a lot of themes that haven't been covered yet and could be used to make brand new stuff. Tyria is a rich world, and we shouldn't have problems finding multiple options of where to go next.
Please, note that the development of a new playable race does not imply in any way that ArenaNet should: Adapt all existing armor skins, write a full new Personal Story with multiple options, create new capital cities and starting zones, and other assumptions generally made with new playable races. Ideally? Yes, but it's not strictly necessary, and new races shouldn't be dismissed because of this kind of assumptions.
Let's get with the analysis:
These races are the most unique, cover themes not explored by any of the currently playable races, and have a lot of potential regarding unique customization. They fit the story well, and have their own large territories to call home. All of them have joined the Personal Story in on way or another, which would justify new characters of these races playing that storyline as well.
- Tengu: Said to have been the 6th scrapped race from GW2, they have a large presence in the game, and their own large territory in the middle of the other playable races. They use the charr skeleton, which would make development and armor adaptation easier, though it's unlikely they would go back to adapt every armor skin. Lot of unique bird and Asian-themed customization.
- Largos: Very easy to implement, since they would use the same skeleton as the humans, sylvari, and norn. Most of the armor skins would be very easy to adapt too. The wings could be a problem, but they've never been stated to be a biological part of them, and for all we know they could be special assassin backpacks. Lot of fish and underwater-themed customization. They would fill the classic spot of the dark elves, and bring a dark anti-hero race to the mix.
- Stone Dwarf: A complicated yet strong candidate, with a strong history. We have contradictory reports on their situation in lore, specially their numbers. If made playable, they could come with a twist, and not be original dwarves, but some sort of construct used to replace their fallen members. Since they aren't fleshy anymore, they would have lot of geological-themed customization, like diamond beards, moss hair, and stuff like that. If sylvari are elves gone dryad, the stone dwarves would be dwarves gone earth elemental.
These races don't really fit the playable status right now, but they could with a few changes, both regarding the story and the racial features. They don't have any territories of their own that we know of, but they could join other races in their homelands if that's the case. If they are ever made playable, they will be very different from their current incarnation. Joining the original Personal Story seems unlikely for these races as well, due to distance.
- Kodan: Too similar to the norn, charr, and tengu in themes and aesthetics. Would need new unique physical elements to stand out.
- Naga: Unique enough to guarantee a new playable race spot, even if complicated from the technological viewpoint. The largos would already cover the underwater themes, so further distinction is needed there.
- Hylek: Hylek are pretty unique, but their currently known tribes (Hylek, Itzel, Nuhoch) are not good playable race material. However, a new tribe could work well depending on their physique and their location. We know there's at least one tribe in Elona, the Heket, that we haven't met yet.
These races wouldn't fit the playable status without a complete redesign, which would pretty much invalidate the point of making them playable in the first place. However, new races could be made using them as inspiration.
- Grawl / Ogre / Quaggan / Skritt / Harpy / Jotun / Troll: They are too primitive from a technological viewpoint, and they don't have a large established territory to call home. They have various biological limitations as well. Some of them are part of the racial sympathy chapter from the Personal Story, and their inclusion as playable would contradict their inclusion as foreign races we have to befriend.
- Forgotten / Mursaat / Seer: Various ancient races, all deemed to be completely extinct with no survivors left.
- Centaur: Their physique makes it hard to imagine them working correctly in multiple situations, specially doors and jumping puzzles, but that doesn't mean it would be impossible. Their running speed could feel wrong if balanced with the other races. Some combat animations, specially those involving movement, couldn't work very well with their four legs. The Tyrian tribes are either enemy factions or small tribes, so only an Elonian tribe (if any survived Joko) or a new tribe would work.
- Dredge: Have many of the features required to be playable, but they're just too ugly, lack any customization potential whatsoever, and feel really weak and impaired outside their natural environment. A deep physical redesign could make them attractive enough to replace dwarves as the go-to underground race. A group of rebels or mercenaries would work lore-wise.
- Krait: Too similar to naga and forgotten, could work if they go back to their GW1 theme of changing forms, but I don't think it's worth the effort when there's better options out there.
- Margonite: Very popular, though unlikely from a lore viewpoint, considering they're demons, and there shouldn't be many of them left. Could work if we assume they are working for their own goals now, or if we reach a point where allying with them against a bigger threat is necessary. Lot of customization options, considering they would be floating glowing mummies of sorts, kinda like Djinn. Sort of a wasted opportunity not to have introduced them with Path of Fire and the jackals, though.
Don't forget that brand new races are a possibility as well, this is just an analysis on what we have so far. Advanced tonics could be a good solution for many of the above too. Subraces are another tonic possibility, applying deep variations over the already playable races, like for example, awakened, which would change some of the animations, and apply modifications to the voices.
Additionally, I do believe racial skills should be removed, and replaced by racial masteries everyone can use. Then each race would be able to interact with some objects and events in an unique exclusive way, only in the open world and during "just for fun" stuff. A closed door? The asura hack the terminal, the charr use explosives, and the norn smash it open. Alcohol? Every race gets drunk and have different hallucinations. A dark cave? Asura summon a lamp golem, humans pray to Dwayna for a radiant blessing, charr use a flare, sylvari glow, and norn are able to see in the darkness thanks to snow leopard. Stuff like that, just for fun, to make each race's gameplay unique, but only outside of combat.
Since people love polls in race threads, feel free to choose your favorite from a summary of the above options: