With our complete Guild Wars 2 beginner's guide, you'll be equipped with everything you need to know to get a head start in the world of Tyria. While things will certainly feel familiar to MMO veterans, especially if you played the first Guild Wars, there's quite a bit of different nuances to Guild Wars 2 you may not be familiar with. Be sure to read through our whole list to make sure you know how to get the most out of Guild Wars 2.
Be whatever you want to be.
There are no racial bonuses or penalties in Guild Wars 2. Likewise, every race can play as every profession, or class. If you want to be a giant, musclebound, horned cat who wears pretty dresses and casts illusion spells, go ahead. If you want to be a plant person who summons the undead, you can do that. There are no limits or incentives beyond you doing what you want, and what you think looks fun.
This applies to professions too. Every profession can heal itself, and every profession can reliably deal damage, so the roles of tank, healer, and DPS no longer apply. Don't think in terms of what role you want to fill, think of how you want to play. If you want to shoot at things with a bow, choose the Ranger class. If you want to be sneaky, be a Thief. I personally like handling business up close and personal, so most of my characters are melee-oriented, as opposed to the distanced spellcasting of Elementalists or summoning of Necromancers.
The MMO holy trinity is dead.
It's been said that any class in Guild Wars 2 can serve as any role; those roles being that of tank, healer, and damage dealer (DPS). It's somewhat true, but I'd go one step further to say there are no roles in Guild Wars 2. Every class can deal damage reliably, just in different ways. The engineer might use a pistol while the thief a dagger, and the necromancer her summoned blood fiend. Every class also has a self-heal ability and as well as revive fallen players, so dedicated healing is also out the window.
Enemy AI manages threat differently than you're probably used to as well, meaning positioning is far more important than aggro thresholds. When you take on an enemy as a group, focus mostly on yourself, unless you're doing one of the higher-level dungeons. More on that later.
Combat is about synergy.
In a lot of MMOs, you focus on doing one thing, and doing it well. If you're a long-range DPS class, you choose a key rotation cycle that maximizes your cooldowns and damage output. If you're a tank, you want to cycle through abilities that do a little damage, possibly buff your allies, and keep threat on you. Since Guild Wars 2 doesn't really utilize the MMO holy trinity, those are lessons you'll have to clear from your mind.
Biggest tip: watch the status effects of your enemy. When you fight an enemy, you'll see under their name what that enemy's specialty is and what buffs, de-buffs, or abilities they have going. Buffs are called “boons” in Guild Wars 2, while de-buffs are called “conditions.” Synergize your abilities to take advantage of what type of enemy you're fighting. Are you taking on enemies who can be stunned? Make sure at least one of your attack abilities takes advantage of the stunned condition.
There's still a lot of coordination among groups, especially in later dungeons, but it's not the kind of coordination you're used to. In this game, worry most about movement. Nearly every ability can be used on the move, so do so. Practice early and often at low levels so you're not caught off-guard when you finally take on your first dungeon crawl. You'll come across as experienced and everyone else who's still learning the Guild Wars 2 style of teamwork will thank you.
You will go down, but you won't be out.
Should you fail in one of these combat scenarios, don't worry too much. You'll enter a downed state, where your character must fight to stay alive. Think Borderlands. A health bar will slowly deplete, and if it reaches the end, you'll have to teleport to the nearest explored waypoint. Thankfully, it's easy to get back up.
If you contribute to an enemy kill while in this state, you'll rally and be once more in the heat of battle. You can also channel a self-heal, though these can be tricky to pull off if you're the only player around. One more note about going down: the more often you enter this state, the quicker the bar depletes, so you still need to be careful. Don't abuse the downed state!
You don't “group,” you just find a group.
As you wander around the world of Tyria, you'll no doubt encounter “events.” These can be boss fights, escort missions, collection quests, and more. A ring will appear on your map to show the event location, and you should always, always take part. Events are quests that don't require grouping up, but are challenging enough that one player probably can't take it on alone. Events award all players involved some XP and loot, and you'll get different levels of reward based on how much you contributed, so don't think that you can just stand back without getting your hands – or paws – dirty.
Here's an example: A scientist is collecting raptor eggs so that he can infuse them with magic and create a magical pet raptor. He needs adventurers to collect the eggs, snatched from the ferocious raptors that prowl nearby. If you start collecting eggs or slay raptors, you'll contribute to the overall progress of the quest, and Guild Wars 2 rewards you based on your contribution. There will be plenty of other players doing the same, but they don't leech or kill-steal. If someone else starts attacking a raptor and you help, you both get credit for helping progress the quest, even though you're not grouped.
There's more than one way to fry an egg. Or fight a centaur.
Most of the time in MMOs, you talk to an NPC and they give you one task to perform. You do it, return, and maybe they'll give you another task. Guild Wars 2 gives you options, and many times you don't even need to speak to anyone to start a quest. Say that you pass by a cave that's being excavated, inside of which are mech suits for you to pilot.
You hop in one because hey, why not, and slay an enemy in the cave. Your HUD will notify you that you've made progress on helping out the nearby excavation overseer, even though you haven't talked to him yet. Then you repair one of the broken down mechs. Now you've made more progress on the same quest. You choose how you want to tackle the quests in Guild Wars 2, and when you're done, most of the time you don't even need to go anywhere; the quest-givers will thank you via mail, complete with payment.
This is your story.
Guild Wars 2 has a fully voiced story that is personal to your character. That means when you customize your avatar, you're not just choosing looks. You'll also give your character a personality and history, and that will come into play during your personal rise from meager beginnings to Tyria-wide fame and glory. For example, even though my friend and I both play Asura, her story has been completely different from mine. She created a unique type of golem, while I peer into the future with an Infinity Ball.
You'll notice your personal story can get real difficult real quick if that's all you do. Pay attention to the recommended level and do your best to keep up with it, because these quests net you the most experience and some of the best low-level gear. They'll also give you a good amount of spending money, which you'll need for the game's fast travel system and various vendors.
Exploration is where it's at.
Exploration and the discovery of landmarks are huge XP boosts, many times the size of random monster kills. If you want to level up and level up quick, don't go kill crazy. Instead, start wandering! You'll find more events this way, plus more NPCs to help and landmarks to discover.
Guild Wars 2 doesn't want you to stay in one place. You should constantly be searching for a frontier of your abilities and pushing out into it. Go help out citizens around town and explore the land. You'll start completing quests you didn't even know you'd started, picking up new gear and loot to try out.
Do all the things, and don't be afraid to fail.
Don't worry about biting off more than you can chew. When you explore new things and places in Guild Wars 2, you're multi-tasking, and getting a lot done at once. Heck, you even earn XP for discovering waypoints, the fast-travel system that takes you from one point on the map to another instantly! Now you've found a new place, gotten XP from doing so, and can teleport there anytime you'd like.
When you pick up a new weapon, equip it. Go to new places with it. You'll notice that you gain different abilities and must learn through practicing. Even though I quite liked holding a single pistol with my engineer, I switched to a two-handed rifle to try it out. Now I had only a basic attack, and had to learn my others. Then I dove into a lake, and suddenly my rifle was able to shoot torpedoes. Once again however, I had to learn the rest of my underwater abilities.
If you want to maximize your time, do these things while you explore and complete quests. You shouldn't have a mindset of “Do A first, then move on to B, then C.” Instead, do A, B, and C all at once, and the game will make sure you're progressing as you should. Guild Wars 2 is not just about combat. Exploration, crafting, reviving downed players, and PvP are all viable ways of advancing your character. Take advantage of that. Experiment and try things you're not familiar with. You'll be rewarded.
Dungeons are not the big thing to do, and there aren't many of them.
There are only eight dungeons in Guild Wars 2, and you won't reach the first until level 30. These dungeons are built for enjoyment, not grinding. You might find some good loot in them, but it won't be more powerful than items you can find elsewhere, so they're not designed for gear hunters. Even when you complete a dungeon and receive your tokens that are traded at a vendor, you won't receive huge stat boosts. The gear is more about the dungeon's visual theme than anything.
It’s a wide-open world out there.
There you go, guys! The world of Tyria is waiting to be explored and your fellow adventurers are waiting for you to join in the fight. Hopefully you've enjoyed this beginner's guide for Guild Wars 2 and have an idea of how to get started in your quest. For more, check out our Guild Wars 2 guides, including including our Guild Wars 2 Warrior guide, the Guild Wars 2 Mesmer Guide, the Guild Wars 2 Elementalist Guide, the Guild Wars 2 Guardian Guide, the Guild Wars 2 Necromancer Guide, the Guild Wars 2 Engineer Guide, the Guild Wars 2 Ranger Guide, the Guild Wars 2 Thief Guide, and our Guild Wars 2 Beginners Tips, and stay tuned for more Guild Wars 2 guides.