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. 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.