A skill is an ability which is activated by the player to perform an action. It is through skills that a character is able to do damage, protect themselves and their allies, and perform actions with objects in the environment. Skill selection is one of the most significant ways a player can customize how their character plays.
Skills are picked through a choice of weapon and unlocking and selecting slot skills into the skill bar. Skills are automatically improved as the player gains levels, and manually by increasing attributes and selecting traits. Types of skills available to a character are determined primarily by its profession with a few racial skills and a very few global special skills.
 Learning new skills
Initially, characters in the Player versus Environment and World versus World settings are limited in terms of available skills. Additional skills are acquired depending on their position in the skill bar: weapon skills (occupying slots 1-5) are unlocked through kills made with the respective weapon, while slot skills (slots 6-10) are purchased with skill points.
 Weapon skills
Only the first skill on a weapon is available when a new weapon class is equipped. The remaining weapon skills are unlocked sequentially by using it to kill mobs. As kills are made, the locked, greyed-out skills gradually fill with color from left to right. Once an icon is fully colored, the skill is unlocked and will be available for use with any weapon of the same class. A summary of all weapon skills and unlock progress can be brought up in the Hero panel.
Weapons give different skills depending on which slot they occupy:
- One-handed weapons in the main hand give 3 weapon skills, while two-handed weapons give 5 weapon skills.
- Off-hand weapons give 2 weapon skills.
- Aquatic weapons give 5 weapon skills.
Weapons do not share cooldowns with other weapons, although the cooldown does not reset when switching to a weapon of the same type. Weapon skills recharge even if the weapon is not currently equipped or stowed.
 Slot skills
Healing, utility, and elite skills — collectively, slot skills — are available for selection by the player to complement a character's weapon skills. These skills use slots 6 – 10 on the skill bar: slot 6 for healing skills, slot 10 for elite skills, and the others for utility skills. New characters only have slot 6 unlocked; the remaining slots unlock in sequence as the character reaches levels 5, 10, 20, and 30.
Slot skills must be purchased with skill points gained from leveling up (starting at level 5) or via completion of skill challenges scattered throughout the game in PvE and WvW environments. The skill costs are outlined in the tables below. For utility skills, 5 skills in a tier must be purchased to unlock the next higher tier; for elite skills, 2 skills from the first tier must be purchased to unlock the second tier.
|1st profession skill||Free|
|2nd profession skill||1|
| 3rd profession skill
 Using skills
Weapon skills are automatically selected upon equipping a different weapon. Slot skills are selected by the player out of combat. All skills may automatically change (or be suppressed) when switching attunement, entering water or using an environmental weapon.
A skill is activated by clicking using its icon in the skill bar or by the keyboard using the number bound to the skill bar slot. Some skills require an extra click to target an area of effect. Skills can be activated in towns and outposts. Movement can terminate activation or full activation, but most skills allow the character to move freely. The user can select a skill to use as an auto attack by Ctrl right-clicking it. Some skills have an activation cost, such as adrenaline, initiative or life force. Skills with activation time can be interrupted preventing the effect and recharge.
Mousing over a skill icon in the user interface reveals a tool tip that describes what the skill does when it is activated. The information displayed in the tip is updated as the character improves their attributes and choose traits which modify the skill's behavior and indicates the maximum damage from using the skill without hit modifications, such as critical hits and skill combos. Some skill effects and range can also be identified by the colors and icons on the skill bar. If necessary, skills can have different effects in PvE and PvP versions or be disallowed from PvP play to maintain balance.
Once the skill is successfully activated hit and miss mechanics come into play. These depend on range, level and body position of the target, obstructions, interactions with other skills and the actions of the target, among other things. Skill effects can combine to create combos. The details of skill damage and the effects of these factors are covered in detail in the article on damage.
A skill with an area of effect has the area marked on the ground. Skills which have a positive effect for the player are marked in green, skills which do not affect the player have a yellow marking, and skills which will harm the player are marked in red. Area of effect attacks, buffs, and heals are applied to up to five targets in the area.
Once the activation is complete a skill will enter a recharge time before it may be used again. A skill cannot be swapped until its recharge is complete.
 Skill types
Skills with similar behaviors are grouped into types. Many traits affect all skills of a certain type.
- Chains — three skills that share a single skill slot, which are executed in sequence on a single target.
- Shouts — affect a large area and give bonuses to allies or debuff enemies.
- Signets — provide a passive benefit, but can also be activated for a greater effect.
- Transforms — allows the user to temporarily become something else, gaining a variety of new abilities.
- Traps — effects placed on the ground and triggered by enemies walking over them.
 Profession specific skill types
- Consecrations — apply an area effect that aids allies or punishes enemies.
- Meditations — support skills which can cure conditions, break out of stun or teleport the user.
- Spirit weapons — summon a temporary spirit weapon to fight; dismissable for a special ability.
- Symbols — apply an area effect locally which hinders enemies and aids allies.
- Tomes — replaces the players chosen skills with a set of powerful temporary skills.
- Wards — areas across the ground that prevent enemies or projectiles from crossing them.
- Banners — banners that buff allies and can be picked up, moved and replanted
- Physical — involves controlling and disabling foes.
- Stances — short-term defensive or offensive enhancements.
- Device kits — replaces weapon skills to provide skills of a special nature and purpose.
- Elixirs — induce random effects to support yourself, your team or to harass your enemies.
- Gadgets — utilize mechanical gadgetry like rocket boots and battering rams.
- Turret skills — deploy stationary devices to help defend and control an area.
- Weapon kits — replaces weapon skills to provide more specialized weapons.
- Pet skills — pet-specific skills.
- Pet utility skills — utility skills that affect your pet.
- Spirits — nature spirits which influence the battlefield around their location.
- Survival skills — enhance damage and avoid it
- Dual wield — the third weapon skill for thieves is determined by both the main-hand and off-hand weapon.
- Deceptions — skills that allow for hasty maneuvers.
- Stealth Attack — enhance the first weapon skill while stealthed.
- Tricks — gain control over enemies, enhance damage and escape from harm
- Venoms — apply a poisonous creatures' venom to your weapon to inflict conditions with attacks.
- Arcanes — skills using non-elemental magical energy to boost damage.
- Cantrips — magical tricks, sorcery, and charms which activate on an instant.
- Conjures — summon potent environmental weapons for yourself and another for an ally.
- Glyphs — grants an effect or supportive nature based on current attunement.
- Clones — temporary allies with caster's name and appearance to mislead the enemy.
- Glamours — ethereal fields that have special, manipulative effects.
- Manipulations — skills used to mislead opponents.
- Mantras — chargeable skills with an instant cast when triggered.
- Phantasms — temporary phantom versions of the caster which attack enemies with different abilities.
- Corruptions — self-inflicted suffering in form of conditions grants powerful effects.
- Marks — ground-targeted spells which are triggered by foes moving into the targeted area.
- Minions — undead allies that attack foes and can be consumed by their master.
- Spectrals — spells using an otherworldly spectral energy.
- Wells — a persistent spell that affects the surrounding area.
 Activation type
- Channeled skills — activated, then continuously cast for a set time.
- Charge skill — held down to power them up for more impressive attacks.
- Sequence skills — after using a skill, it is replaced by another.
 See also
The skill system was redesigned into tiers prior to the BWE2.
- ^ Warriors, traits, and combat chatter: Massively's interview with the Guild Wars 2 Lead Designer, Massively