GW2 New Player Tips Guide: Starting Out

PZZA on the rocks

If you’re here, then you probably know that the core game of Guild Wars 2 is now Free To Play (with restrictions, of course). If you’re one of the many new players coming into the game for the first time, F2P or no, then welcome! You might have a few questions, or a lot of questions, and you might also prefer text guides over videos (like me). So while this is coming sort of late, I’m making a short series of new players guides that will hopefully help you in your first forays into Tyria.

#1: Which server should I choose?

World Select

As of the April 15, 2014 Feature Pack, you can now play with people from all servers in PvE, not just from your own home world. This is called the Megaserver System. In other words, even if your friends chose a different server than you, you can still play with them in PvE.

This doesn’t mean that server choice is completely useless. Your server determines which world you play for in the World vs World game mode. In WvW, servers are ranked and placed into tiers. The higher tiered servers are more populated, thus it’s harder or impossible to even get into them in the first place. The type of gameplay that occurs in different tiers also varies, with higher tiers being more ‘zergy’ while lower tiers are considered better for roaming and dueling type play.

If you think you might be interested in doing WvW, then it would be wise to carefully consider your server choice, and to not pick a server that is at the bottom of the rankings. You can check out the World vs World rankings here.

You can only change servers by paying a fee in Gems or by deleting all of your characters. (Free2Play accounts cannot change servers by deleting their characters)

#2: Which race is the best?


There are no racial bonuses or stat differences between the races. Your race affects these things:

  • Physical appearance
  • Animations
  • Armour appearance
  • Player’s voice
  • Personal story
  • Starting region
  • Racial skills

The race-specific skills are generally not as useful as the ones you get from your profession, so you should just pick the race you think looks the coolest. You might also find that while all the races move, jump, and attack at the same speed, they may feel like they play differently because of their animations and size. Since race is the only thing you can’t change about your character later, you should make sure you’re happy with your race choice before you make a Male Norn Warrior and get to like level 50 before realizing you don’t like the way he runs. (Like me.)

#3: What profession should I choose?


Each profession could take up an entire post each, but I can generalize a bit to give starter advice.

Each profession can use multiple kinds of weapons, and each profession has melee (or close-ranged) and ranged options. There’s no dedicated tank/support/damage/etc professions. Everyone can do a bit of each, but certain professions are better at certain things than others.

Generally speaking for PvE:

  • Warrior: Very tanky heavy armour class that excels in melee damage and offensive support. Has access to the greatest number of weapon choices in the game. Generally considered one of the easiest classes to pick up.
  • Guardian: Heavy armour with a low health pool, but has many defensive and support abilities so they end up being tanky despite low HP. This is a group-support oriented class that is like a magical warrior.
  • Thief: Masters of mobility and stealth who deal great single-target damage. Squishy with medium armour and low health pool. Like a rogue or assassin class. Their party support consists mainly of blinds and stealth.
  • Engineer: Use toolkits to gain access to different skill sets. Uses mostly ranged weapons. Medium survivability, can place turrets for damage, support, and control. Difficult to learn.
  • Ranger: Think more along the lines of a wilderness ranger rather than strictly an archer class. They fight alongside their pet and can use both bows and melee weapons. Can do good damage and offers some party support, but isn’t the best in either. Pet AI can be an issue at times.
  • Necromancer: Surprisingly tanky caster class that uses dark magic to inflict damage and conditions on enemies as well as raise undead minions to fight for them. Notably sorely lacking in support skills.
  • Mesmer: Wielders of illusions and mind-trickery. They summon phantasms and clones to confuse the enemy and deal damage. They do average damage and are somewhat squishy, but they have a lot of abilities to help them avoid taking hits. They also have a lot of useful utility skills such as Portal and projectile reflects.
  • Elementalist: Highest damage potential, but extremely fragile with light armour and a low health pool. The mage class. High learning curve.

While there is a meta, there are no bad classes, so feel free to pick whatever you like.

#4: How do I level up as fast as possible?

Number 1: On your first character, do not worry about leveling up fast.

I repeat, DO NOT RUSH TO LEVEL 80.

In fact, don’t even worry about your level.  If you rush, you will miss out on the great leveling experience that Guild Wars 2 offers. Just play the game and your level will increase on its own.

You should treat the Guild Wars 2 world as a living world, like an online Elder Scrolls game. Run around and explore. You are encouraged to explore and you get rewarded for it! You might even find a jumping puzzle if you look carefully enough.

Number 2: The gold “Heart Quests” are a trap. The hearts are not the main source of experience points. Don’t be fooled by the hearts! The hearts are there to guide you around the map. What you’re really looking for are the Dynamic Events, which show up as orange icons and circles on your map. If you happen across one of these, leave the heart and join in on the event, which will give you much more EXP than the heart will.

Orange circle on the map, orange icon in the quest tracker

Orange circle on the map, orange icon in the quest tracker.

The NPCs aren’t to be ignored like in every other game. If an NPC runs up to you yelling for help, they may trigger an event when spoken to, or they might point you in the direction of a nearby event. For example, if an NPC and his dolyak have a yellow circle over their heads, they might be waiting for some heroes to escort them somewhere.

gw2 event waiting

Looks like this guy’s looking for volunteers.

After you complete an event, don’t run off right away! Many events run in chains, creating mini-storylines that you can follow with follow-up events and EXP to go with them. Sticking around a bit after events will ensure you don’t miss another event that started just after you left.

#5: When should I do my story?

You should do your story missions as soon as they become available.

Not only do they give useful items, gear, decent EXP, and other rewards that new players will need, doing the story as they become available will ensure you don’t come back and faceroll them with your downscaled character. (Well, it’ll still be easy, but you want to be around the same level for the best experience.)

Additionally, you gain access to story mode dungeons at level 30. These should be done sometime after you meet the members of Destiny’s Edge in Lion’s Arch. You can do them any time, but you should do them before the final story mission, which is The Ruined City of Arah’s story mode. The Personal Story does not make you do the dungeon story modes, but if you skip them the final mission doesn’t make the most sense.

So, these are the dungeons, in order (you also receive in-game mail about them once you reach the minimum level):

    • Ascalonian Catacombs (story mode) – Level 30
    • Caudecus’s Manor (story mode) – Level 40
    • Twilight Arbor (story mode) – Level 50
    • Sorrow’s Embrace (story mode) – Level 60
    • Citadel of Flame (story mode) – Level 70
    • Honor of the Waves (story mode) – Level 76
    • Crucible of Eternity (story mode) – Level 78
    • The Ruined City of Arah (story mode) – level 80 (final story mission)

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