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 storyline objectives
- Exploring: Discovering new areas, landmarks and completing skill challenges
- Gathering crafting materials from resource nodes
- Killing monsters
- Reviving allies
- Playing mini games
When a character levels up they are fully healed, they gain full adrenaline, and they launch all nearby foes (thereby damaging them). After the first 15 levels, the time or effort required to attain a new level remains linear.
 Level unlocks
|5||First utility skill slot unlocked. Begin earning 1 skill point per level.|
|7||Weapon swapping unlocked. (Except for Elementalists and Engineers.)|
|10||Second utility skill slot unlocked.|
|11||Trait system unlocked by using an Adept's Training Manual. Begin earning 1 trait point per level.|
|20||Third utility skill slot unlocked.|
|30||Elite skill slot unlocked. Recommended minimal level to go into the dungeon: the Ascalonian Catacombs in story mode.|
|35||Recommended minimal level to go into the dungeon: the Ascalonian Catacombs in explorer mode. Able to use tier 1 cultural armor and weapons.|
|40||Able to unlock master-tier traits by using a Master's Training Manual. Able to use tier 1 cultural weapons.|
|60||Able to unlock grandmaster-tier traits by using a Grandmaster's Training Manual. Able to use tier 2 cultural armor and weapons.|
|80||Maximum level. Able to use tier 3 cultural armor and weapons. Continue to earn 1 skill point per a certain amount of experience.|
 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.
 Getting ahead of yourself
The game discourages players from bringing characters into areas that are more than 10 levels above the current character level. As a general rule, characters far below the area level will be unable to receive credit for killing foes and therefore from receiving event credit or loot. In addition, monsters will rush low level characters and will detect them from a much greater distance than they would detect a character of equal level.
To remind players of these differences for characters with relatively low levels, the game uses a purple color to display the levels of zones, enemies, hearts, and events.
- No longer possible
Characters more than 10 levels below the area level cannot do any of the following:
- Complete skill challenges, including item challenges or communing at a place of power.
- Deal full damage. Instead, characters more than seven levels below the target foe will deal glancing blows.
- Inflict conditions. Enemies will display an Immune message instead.
- Rally off foe deaths. Instead, characters have to recover on their own or be resurrected after they are defeated.
- Receive credit for events. Although technically possible, given the changes above, it is highly unlikely that a character can do enough damage to get participation credit.
- Still possible
- Chance of glancing blow
|Level difference||Chance of glancing blow|
 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.|
|Charr|| Moving out.|
I did it.
|Human|| I just keep getting better and better!
The gods smile on me!
| Like fine wine, I just keep getting better.|
Congratulations to me!
Welcome to the big leagues. Population: me.
|Sylvari|| Look at my talent grow!
This calls for celebration.
|That put me in an adventurous mood!|