A character is a customized avatar of the player in the game. Once created, the player uses the character to participate and progress through any of the three major game modes: Player versus Environment, Player versus Player, and World versus World. The number of characters on an account is limited by the number of slots available for character creation.
Players are guided through a 10-step character creation process where they determine their character's unchangeable characteristics: race, gender, profession, physical appearance, initial biography, and name.
 Hero panel
Once created, information about the character can be accessed through the hero panel. This panel also allows further customization through the character's choice of dye and equipment obtained while playing the game.
Characters advance throughout the game by gaining experience until they reach the maximum level cap of 80. Almost every in-game activity provides experience:
- Participating in events
- Completing personal story objectives
- Exploring: Discovering new areas, landmarks and completing skill challenges
- Gathering crafting materials from resource nodes
- Killing monsters
- Reviving allies
- Playing mini games
 Leveling up
- Primary article: Level rewards
When a character levels up, they are fully healed, they gain full adrenaline and life force, and they launch and damage all nearby foes. New abilities are unlocked and higher quality equipment become available at certain levels.
Gaining a level gives the character equipment rewards, unlocks mechanics, and gives various game tips and guidance. After reaching level 80, characters continue to earn a skill point for every 254,000 experience points gained.
 Dynamic level adjustment
Dynamic level adjustment is a game mechanic that automatically scales a character's base attributes to match the effective level of the current area. Level-based unlocks like skill slots and traits are retained.
- In PvE, characters are only scaled down when in areas with a lower effective level; they are not scaled up when in higher-level areas.
- In World versus World, characters are always scaled up to level 80.
- In Structured PvP, characters are scaled up to level 80. Additionally, all skills and traits are unlocked, and the character is given a separate set of PvP-specific max-level equipment.
 Exploring high level areas
The game discourages players from bringing characters into areas that are more than 10 levels above the current character level.
Levels of zones, enemies, hearts, and events more than 10 levels higher than the character are displayed in purple.
Non-player characters detect lower level player characters from a much greater distance than they would detect a character of equal level, and if they are hostile they will rush the character. Combined with the combat difficulties listed below, this makes even basic exploration of higher level zones extremely dangerous.
Characters more than 10 levels below the area level cannot do any of the following:
- Complete skill challenges, including an item challenge or communing at a place of power.
- Deal full damage. Characters seven or more levels below their target will deal only glancing blows.
- Inflict conditions. Enemies will display an Immune message instead.
- Rally off foe deaths. Lower level downed characters have to be healed, or revived after being defeated.
Lower level characters can still technically do the following, but as a rule of thumb its unlikely and not recommended:
- Inflict some control effects, if they do not require hitting the target.
- Complete non-combat renown hearts.
- Deal enough damage to get loot and to receive credit for events.
 Home instance
Every character has their own home instance. This is an instanced area which varies depending on race and changes as the character levels and completes various objectives in game.
- Accounts include five character slots to start with; you can purchase Character Slot Expansions from the Gem Store.
- Names are reserved for your account for 24 hours after deleting the character.
- When a character gains a level they will occasionally say one of the following lines, depending on their race and gender:
|Asura||I'd like to thank my krewe, and my college professors.|| Look out, genius on the rise.|
Can I get any better? Indeed, I can!
That's right. I'm the best.
|Charr|| When you're hot, you're hot.
Time for a promotion.
| Moving out.|
I did it.
I advance yet again.
I cover myself with glory.
Practice makes perfect.
|Human|| I just keep getting better and better!
The gods smile on me!
| Like fine wine, I just keep getting better.|
Congratulations to me!
Progress makes perfect.
Welcome to the big times. Population: me.
|Sylvari|| Look at my talent grow!
This calls for celebration.
| That put me in an adventurous mood!|
I'm on my way to greener fields.