New Player’s Introductory Guide to Guild Wars 2
Welcome to Guild Wars 2! Whether you’re new to the MMO genre or a veteran of other games, GW2 isn’t quite the same as anything you’ve tried before. To that end, there are plenty of things all new players need to know to start off right. While the in-game tutorial will teach you the most basic mechanics of the game, there is still much that need more explanation. Now, this guide isn’t going to tell you how to create the most overpowered character, or to be a PvP master, since those are apt to shift every patch. What we will cover is the basics of starting the game and its different modes, as well as a few helpful tips that will allow new players to start off in the best possible position.
The first thing any player must do upon logging into Guild Wars 2 is to select which Server to play on. Also called Worlds or Shards, Servers determine your team in WvW and the people you most often see in the world. If you have friends who also play, you will probably want to ask them which Server they are on so you can join them easily. But if you find yourself on a different Server from your friends, don’t fret! In GW2 you can still talk to, party, and play with friends from other Servers, you just won’t be able to go into WvW with them.
Once you’ve decided on a Server, time to create your character.
First, you must decide what race to play as. There are five races to choose from in Guild Wars 2. Each race has their own appearance, story lines, and racial abilities. However, unlike other MMO’s all races can be all professions and racial abilities are fairly weak and not usable in PvP. There are no opposing factions to worry about, and all players are friendly when outside of PvP and WvW, no need to choose a race based on that. So don’t worry about trying to squeeze out a slight advantage or choosing the right faction, just play what you like!
Human - Diverse and robust, the Humans of Tyria have endured much through the ages. Now unified under the nation of Kryta, Humans are led by their Queen and pray to their six gods for favors.
Norn – Great northern warriors, the Norn look much like stout, oversized Humans but are a faction onto their own. They have a hunting-centric culture and the ability to shapeshift into various were-animals.
Charr- An imposing race with feline features, the Charr are fierce combatants. Their culture is extremely militaristic, relying on strict discipline and ingenuity to secure their place in Tyria.
Asura - An entire race of mad scientist midgets, the diminutive Asura have towering egos and a rodent-like appearance. Obsessed with advancing all forms of science and magic, they never miss a chance to remind everyone of their superiority.
Sylvari - Plants imitating Humans, the Sylvari have an elvish nature and leaves, bark, and stems for flesh. Their earnest and curious nature is owed to their recent introduction to the world of Tyria, and they believe it is their duty to protect it from the Elder Dragons.
Next, you must choose your character’s profession. Each of the eight professions or classes in Guild Wars 2 possess their own, unique methods of attack, as well as the ability to heal themselves and provide aid to allies. Unlike other MMO’s there are no dedicated tanks or healers here, so don’t worry about what role will get you in groups and instead choose based on which profession will fit your play style best.
Warrior - A versatile weapon master, the Warrior wields blades, guns and blunt instruments with unmatched proficiency, using them to tear through battle in a fury and build their adrenaline levels to unleash terrifying blows. Exemplifies the Knight or Berserker archetype.
Guardian - With heavy armor and fanatical conviction, the Guardian uses massive Hammers and Greatswords to smash enemies, unbreakable Shields to defend themselves, and holy magic and virtues to help allies or trap foes. Exemplifies the Paladin or Magic Knight archetype.
Thief - Specializing in stealth and poisons, Thieves rely on traps and tricks to escape from bad situations, aid allies, or get in position to steal from and assassinate their opponents with devastating attacks using Daggers, Swords, or even Pistols. Exemplifies the Assassin or Rogue archetype .
Engineer - Possessing the most ingenious machines and potions throughout Tyria, Engineers use their cunning to modify their Pistols and Rifles with new tricks, wield a number of gadgets and explosives, and empower themselves with potent Alchemical concoctions. Exemplifies the Mechanic or Alchemist archetype.
Ranger - With the ability to command nature’s most fearsome beasts, the Ranger also uses Long Bows to attack from afar, Greatswords to face a charging enemy and nature magic to fortify themselves, their pets, and allies. Exemplifies the Hunter or Archer archetype.
Elementalist - Able to harness the immeasurable powers of the elements, Elementalists use Staves and Daggers enchanted with Fire to devastate their enemies, Air to zip around the battlefield, Earth to protect themselves and Water to restore their allies. Exemplifies the Mage or Wizard archetype.
Mesmer - Bending the fabric of reality itself, Mesmers manipulate minds and bodies with Staves, Swords and Greatswords to help or harm others, open portals for allies and create illusionary clones to distract enemies before shattering them for powerful effects. Exemplifies the Illusion Mage or Magician archetype.
Necromancer - Controlling the forces of life and death, Necromancers channel their power through Staves, Daggers, or Foci to summon horrific creatures of rotting flesh, curse their enemies, or even drain life away before using it to fuel their most fearsome spells. Exemplifies the Death Mage or Lich archetype.
Once your character is created, you’re ready to go off into the world. Now, I can’t detail an entire game tutorial for you here, and any attempt would just pale in comparison to the tutorials the game gives you as you enter the world. So instead I’ll emphasize pay attention to the tutorial and tips, and give some extra tips everyone should know but isn’t always covered in-game.
- The very first thing you should do in Guild Wars 2, and any PC game, is press Esc, go to Options, and carefully peruse every option and key binding available to you in the game. Adjust the settings to your liking, this will help you to learn the game and help it customize to your play style.
- One option that most players recommend disabling is “Double Tap to Evade” under the Combat/Movement header. While some players enjoy it, its generally considered to be a nuisance in combat and jumping puzzles and is better to give Dodge its own unique button.
- Never be afraid to explore. Its a big beautiful world out there, and there’s no rigid quest hubs to tie you down, so go see it!
- Starting at level 2, you can always teleport instantly, for free, to Lion’s Arch, the central city in GW2. Click the PvP icon in the top left area of your screen and in the PvP window that appears click “Go to the Heart of the Mists.” This will take you directly to the Mists, the PvP hub of GW2. From here, you can click the same button again to go back to where you were, or continue past a short tutorial to go to the main hub where a teleportation gate to Lion’s Arch awaits. Lion’s Arch also possesses gates that will take you to any of the other cities in the game. Be sure to abuse this.
- You can easily clear bag space at any time. To do so, open you Inventory window, click on the gear icon in the top right, and select Deposit All Collectables. This will send all your crafting materials to your bank, which can be accessed from any crafting table or NPCs in every city.
- You can sell on the Trading Post anytime, anywhere. Also called the auction house, the Trading Post lets you buy and sell from other players from anywhere. The default shortcut key is ‘O’. Note that you will have to visit a Trading Post NPC to pick up any items or money you earn there.
- Buy gathering equipment as quickly as possible. Harvesting Sickles, Logging Axes, and Mining Picks are available from most NPC merchants and will allow you to gather valuable crafting materials and earn Experience from the world around you. Be sure to find a merchant and start gathering as soon as you can.
- Don’t be afraid of other players. Years of other MMO’s have taught people to avoid one another in the world, not helping others out of fear of ‘kill stealing’ or getting attacked by hostile players. In GW2 there is no world PvP or ‘kill stealing’, every player attacking an enemy will get full Experience and their own loot drops. Also anyone can Revive a dead player by approaching them (default ‘F’), and it gives you Experience, so never avoid helping someone out!
- Don’t squander money. Again, many other MMO’s give you exponentially more gold as you level up. Not true in GW2. While you will make more money as you level, it is not the crazy, exponential amount most new players expect.You can afford to spend money on what you’ll need, but its always a good idea to save up as much as you can, even one gold coin can be quite valuable at max level.
- Learn to dodge. Observe your enemy’s movements carefully, and learn when and how to dodge their attacks. The quicker you get the hang of this the better off you’ll be. It may not feel very necessary at first, but later in the game it is your only hope of staying alive.
- Learn Combos. These are skills that combine a ground effect (the “field”) with another skill (the “finisher”) to add special and powerful effects to skills. They’ll become essential to understand in the late game, and if you learn about them early, you can perform a lot of neat tricks. Be sure to check your skill tooltips to see which ones combo!
- Every time you use a Trait book (needed at levels 11, 40, and 60), all your character’s Traits are reset. You can use this to adjust your build or try out new ones. Traits can be reset at an NPC for a fee outside of this, still.
- Want to plan your build before committing to it? Try a skill calculator.
PvP in Guild Wars 2, also called structured PvP or sPvP, consists of two teams of 5-8 players each on various maps that feature ‘Conquest’ style game play. Both teams fight to capture 3 nodes, gaining points for each node held, first team to reach 500 points wins. While all the maps have these 3 points as the main objectives, each have an additional mechanic unique to the map to spice things up.
To start, open the PvP window by clicking the PvP icon along the top left of your screen, then click the ‘Go to the Heart of the Mists’ button that appears on the PvP window. This takes you to the Heart of the Mists, the PvP lobby in GW2. If it’s your first time, you’ll have to go through or skip a basic tutorial that does a decent job of drilling the basics of PvP into you. Continue on and you’ll find yourself in the lobby proper.
Here, everyone is level 80 (the max level), can access all skills and respec your traits at will. In addition, your gear will be automatically replaced by special PvP gear. This special gear is equal in power for all players, but you can customize the stats and bonuses you receive. Seek out the NPCs to the east and they will supply you with all the gear and upgrade components you could ever want. Be sure to check them out.
Getting started in PvP is simple, just go talk to the ‘PvP Browser’ NPC in the west side of the lobby and choose a match to head into. If you’re feeling lazy, you can just click the Play Now button in the lower left of the Browser window, but unfortunately that seems to have a tendency to throw players into matches devoid of other players.
There’s far more to PvP than just this, but you will now be able to get in there and begin learning the intricacies of PvP.
World Vs. World is one of the most unique and interesting features available in Guild Wars 2. It is a massive, 3-way war between three different servers labeled as red, green, and blue teams, represented by hundreds of players each. Each WvW match continues for a week of non-stop action before a winner is declared and servers are matched up again for the next round.
There are a total of four massive battlefields that compose WvW. Three of these maps serve as home base maps, one as a home for each server which generally owns the majority, but not the entirety, of their map. The fourth map, dubbed the Eternal Battlegrounds, serves as the central map for conflict as each server is given an equal slice of the map to occupy.
Here, the goal is for players to gather and coordinate to assault the other teams’ towers, camps, and keeps. Teams earn points every few minutes for every location they are in control of. These points can give bonuses to everyone on the entire server and ultimately determine the winner of the match. Players can pick up a resource known as Supply in order to build vehicles to lay siege to locations and to upgrade or repair structures that their team owns.
Starting at level 2, any player can enter WvW at nearly any time. All players will be automatically leveled up to level 80, the max level, while in WvW. However, all your skills, traits, and gear will remain the same as they are in PvE. Because of this, higher level players will still have a significant advantage over lower ones, so some players may wish to wait until they reach a higher level before taking on WvW.
To enter WvW, simply open up the WvW window by clicking the tower icon in the top left area of your screen, or by pressing the default hotkey of ‘B’. Now, Click on the ‘Go to World vs. World’ button button at the top of the window and select from the drop-down menu which map you would like to enter.
Upon entering a WvW map, its easy to get confused by all the icons crowding your map. However, its actually not very complicated once you understand it. The color of the icon denotes which world currently possesses that location. As for what each one means…
Resource Camp – WvW starts here. These small camps generate the Supply and Supply Caravans that power the rest of the buildings. Resource Camps by themselves have fairly weak defenses and, if undefended by an opposing team, can be captured by a small group of about 2-4 players.
Supply Caravan – These caravans originate from Resource Camps and travel to the other locations, keeping them supplied with… well, Supply. Without regular deliveries from caravans, Towers and Keeps won’t last long against sieges. This is why it is often a good idea for enemies to target and destroy these caravans. Caravans by themselves are fairly weak and, if undefended by an opposing team, able to be destroyed by 1-3 players.
Tower - Towers have a sturdy defensive wall and a small contingent of NPC defenders. They’re good for serving as bases for small groups of players looking to head out to further into the battlefield. If looking to assault one, its generally a good idea to set up a Ram to bust down the gate. Overall, their defenses are a bit stronger than Resource Camps and, if undefended by an opposing team, should be able to be captured by 4-7 players.
Keep - Large bases with two separate sets of walls and a decent contingent of NPC defenders, Keeps provide an excellent base of operations for large groups of players. Siege vehicles are absolutely necessary when assaulting one of these. Has strong defenses and, if undefended by an opposing team, may be captured by 10-20 players. But don’t expect to capture these without heavy resistance!
Stonemist Castle – The pinnacle of WvW, Stonemist Castle is located only in the center of the Eternal Battlegrounds. It is the largest structure in WvW and serves as a focal point of conflict. All servers want it, but only one can own it. Possessing two very sturdy sets of walls and a sizable contingent of NPC defenders, not to mention a massive defending force from the opposing team, be sure to bring as many players and siege vehicles as possible when assaulting this Castle.
And a few other icons worth recognizing right away…
Skirmish -This icon shows up wherever a fight is currently going down. If you’re nearby, you’ll probably want to head over and help out!
Commander – Commanders are players with this special icon over their heads. These icons denote them has generally being leaders of other players, so if you’re looking for something to do, try following one. To join a Commander’s group, click on their icon on the main and select ‘Join Squad.’
Of course, there’s far more to WvW and all of Guild Wars 2 then what is mentioned here. But this should provide you with the basics you need to know to get out there and start playing effectively. Good luck and get going!