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. Earliest access to a dungeon: the Ascalonian Catacombs story mode.|
|40||Able to unlock master-tier traits by using a Master's Training Manual. Able to use tier 1 cultural armor and 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
Players are discouraged from playing in areas that are too far above their current level. Due to how player and enemy stats increase with level, players will find it very difficult to deal significant damage against enemies more than 10 levels above their own. This means they generally will not receive credit for killing foes, preventing them from receiving any drops, and consequently preventing them from receiving any credit for participating in events. In addition, monsters will detect a much lower level player from a much further distance than they would detect an equal level player, and rush to attack them.
- The levels of zones, enemies, hearts, and events will be displayed in purple when they are 10 levels or more above your character's level.
- Players can still complete Renown Hearts as long as the heart has non-combat tasks to perform.
- Players cannot complete skill challenges; communing and item challenges can not be started.
- Players will only deal glancing blows to enemies.
- Players will find it very difficult to deal enough damage to receive credit for kills or participation in events.
- Players cannot inflict conditions, enemies will display an "Immune" message instead.
- Players can inflict control effects.
- Players cannot rally off enemies.
|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.