Profession determines skills, traits and equipment available to player characters for engaging in combat and is roughly equivalent to a character class in other games. There are eight professions, each with a unique style and theme to their combat approach which is emphasised by the use of an important profession specific mechanic and access to different skill types and effects. Professions are not restricted by race or gender and each is able to contribute damage, control and support during combat. Once a profession is selected for a character, it cannot be changed.
Professions are divided into three categories based on their armor type:
- Two heavily armored soldiers (with the Revenant announced for Heart of Thorns)
- Three moderately armored adventurers
- Three lightly armored scholars
In addition to their armor class, professions also receive varying amounts of bonus health.
Soldier professions are frontline fighters who use heavy armor and can both deal and withstand heavy damage in direct combat.
Guardians are the masters of protection. Their special ability is the use of three virtues; Virtue of Courage, Justice and Resolve, which enhance their attacks and defenses until they are used to aid allies. The guardian's play-style has a defensive feel and is adept at supporting their allies. Their unique attribute increases their Virtue Recharge Rate.
Masters of martial combat, warriors have access to a wider selection of weapon types than any other profession, allowing for a multitude of play styles. Warriors' unique resource, Adrenaline, is built through sustained attacking and can be spent to unleash powerful burst attacks during combat, and are even more devastating with their unique attribute Burst Recharge.
Adventurer professions fight from the traditional midline. They all possess a good mix of ranged weapons, and are otherwise flexible combatants. They wear medium armor.
Masters of mechanical mayhem, engineers deploy device kits, weapon kits and turrets to mix up the battlefield. The engineer's profession mechanic is the tool belt - each healing or utility skill adds a skill to this belt, providing them with added utility when it is needed most. Their unique attribute increases their Tool Belt Recharge Rate.
Rangers are masters of their natural surroundings, and use a versatile set of skills to hunt their enemies. The rangers are also accompanied by their trusted pets, fighting in unison with their own set of pet skills to pick off their enemies one by one. Their unique attribute provides a Pet Attribute Bonus.
Thieves use their initiative to fuel their weapon skills, dishing out quick chains of damage before slipping away into the shadows. The other part of their speciality is stealing - each enemy has a number of items which provide stolen skills to the thief to turn the fight. Their unique attribute increases their Steal Recharge Rate.
Scholar professions are the least durable fighters in direct combat, possessing only light armor. They make up for lack of defense with versatility and adaptability, however.
Elementalists can adapt to any situation by attuning to one of the four elements: Fire, Water, Air or Earth. Each attunement changes the five weapon skills on the skill bar, depending on the elementalist's equipped weapon set, and essentially gives the elementalist more skills to use than any other profession. Their unique attribute increases their Attunement Recharge Rate.
Mesmers can create illusions to fight by their side, which they use to harass enemies with phantasms or mislead them with clones. Illusions can also be shattered, destroying them and causing secondary effects, such as confusion, a powerful condition which damages foes as they continue their assault in vain. Their unique attribute increases their Shatter Skill Recharge Rate.
Necromancers use a special resource called life force which is gathered each time a creature near them dies, or additionally by using certain skills. Its main function is to fuel necromancer's Death Shroud. While in Death Shroud, the character's health is temporarily replaced by accumulated life force, and has access to new skills and traits, such as using fear as a weapon. Their unique attribute increases their Life Force Pool.
- On April Fool's Day 2011, ArenaNet jokingly revealed the commando as the seventh profession (the real seventh and eighth professions had not yet been announced), complete with skill videos and wallpapers on the official site and a special quest in Guild Wars.
- During development, the developers discussed many different iterations of the profession system and the final set of professions they included. The number of professions varied between six and twelve during development and included ideas such as warden, marksman and juggernaut which were discarded. A developer interview with Tap-Repeatedly discusses profession development in more detail.
- The early development stages of Guild Wars 2 included secondary professions, a game mechanic available in the original Guild Wars. This feature was removed to allow for more unique customization of each profession and eliminate the associated balancing issues with multiple professions using the same skills.
- See the professions reveal page for an overview of how each of the professions were announced to the public during game development.
- ^ Intervju: Guild Wars 2, GameReactor (Google translation)
- ^ Exclusive Interview: ArenaNet's Jon Peters and Jonathan Sharp, Tap Repeatedly