The term endgame refers to the content that keeps players engaged in the game after they reach the maximum level. It focuses on progression and replayability, since no developer or company can deliver content as quickly as good players consume it. While Guild Wars 2's open-world and personal story uses Dynamic level adjustment so that high-level players can still play in those low-level areas, endgame content is catered towards max level players.
Guild Wars 2's endgame content is very varied but can be categorised as follows, further developed below in the body:
- Progression-based content: such as improving your gear, masteries, unlocking elite specializations, etc.
- Combat-based content: subdivided into PvE content and PvP content (PvP and WvW)
- Story and exploration-based content: Living World, map completion, expansions.
- Cosmetic-based endgame: unlocking dyes, mount skins, legendary weapons and armor, etc.
- Achievements and community: completing achievements and socializing through guilds.
One of the singularities of Guild Wars 2 is the lack of "gear treadmill" (where new gear sets are added periodically making previous gears obsolete). Instead of getting better gear, it is the player that is expected to get better at the game.
When looking for an endgame, most of the time the purpose remains to get some sort of progression. Guild Wars 2 allows that progression to be directed towards either a specific character or the whole account.
A character that has reached maximum level is only at the start of their journey.
- Elite Specializations
These are trait lines that open up new worlds of possibility for each profession. Each of the expansions: Heart of Thorns, Path of Fire, and End of Dragons, introduced an elite specialization to each profession. Elementalists can become weavers to attune to two elements at once, thieves can become deadeyes to snipe their foes with precision, engineers can summon Jade Mech CJ-1 as mechanists , and so on.
- Gear and builds
One of the first goals of a level 80 character should be to get a full set of gear of the desired attribute combination, together with runes and sigils. Gear of Exotic quality is often easy and inexpensive to obtain through the trading post, and is enough to welcome players into the endgame. As players progress, they will begin their journey towards Ascended gear, the best gear in the game, obtained mainly through crafting. Legendary gear is as powerful as Ascended but has an added QoL through Legendary Armory as well as having the option to swap upgrades and attributes freely.
Gear attributes, together with traits, weapons, and utility skills, create a build, which determines the effectiveness of a character. New players might want to consult external guides and builds before starting their gearing process and venturing into the endgame.
Furthermore, all professions have several builds with different goals in the endgame. A player might need power based gear for one build, and healing for another, so the gearing process is pivotal to the endgame.
- Other considerations
Beyond that, there are other things that contribute to character progression:
- Inventory size can be maximized by using bigger bags on a character, and even further by purchasing Bag Slot Expansions (Default price: 400 Gems). The biggest bags increase the inventory size by 32 slots. Note that bag slots are character bound and unlocking more on one character doesn't add bag slots to other characters.
- Learning a crafting discipline allows players to create their own gear and/or food.
Guild Wars 2 also focuses on account progression, a set of features that, once unlocked, become available to all characters in the account.
The mastery system is the main account-wide progression system, providing all of the characters of the account with benefits such as gliding, mounts, etc. In essence, masteries work like a levelling system, except instead of getting character levels, players earn different passive effects, abilities or are able to access new content.
- Primary article: Mastery
- Other considerations
- Shared Inventory Slots are shared between all characters, so players can put in them items that they will want every character to have access to.
- Such items might be lounge passes, such as Invitation to "Lily of the Elon"; salvagers, like Copper-Fed Salvage-o-Matic; converters, like Herta or Princess; contracts, like the Permanent Bank Access Contract; or other varied gizmos such as the Prototype Position Rewinder or the White Mantle Portal Device.
- Account bonuses, such as Magic find or Gold Find.
- The commander tag that allows players to broadcast their location on a map and lead massive organised groups of players. It will also make organising a raiding squad easier.
- Account bound gear can be used by any character, even the armor if it's of the required weight. All Ascended and Legendary gear is account bound.
- Account unlocks and convenience items from the Gem Store such as Bank Tab Expansions, Permanent Contracts or unlimited Gathering tools or Salvage kits.
- Account-bound consumables such as Tomes of Knowledge can also be collected to increase the leveling speed of a new character.
- The Home instance can be enriched with many Nodes that can be gathered daily.
- Amassing currencies, such as gold, to progress on other goals. They are stored in the account-wide wallet.
Combat based content
Guild Wars 2 features three different combat game modes: PvE, sPvP, and WvW.
Player versus Environment
Shortened as PvE, in this content players fight against NPCs and the environment. PvE is a very wide term that encompasses things like story and world bosses, the endgame focuses on the following:
- Open world map meta events
Starting with Heart of Thorns, map meta events are large scale battles where a large number of players, or even every single player on the map in some cases, works towards a common goal. These events are on a timer, which can be consulted in Event timers, have a low or non-existent entry barrier, and are the first step in the PvE endgame.
- Fractals of the Mists
- Primary article: Fractals of the Mists
Fractals of the Mists have taken over dungeons in instanced 5-players group PvE. Fractals are short, repeatable, rewarding, and have an innate progression system. They feature 4 different levels of difficulty, progressively introducing more mechanics known as instabilities to shake things up. Fractals are the perfect stepping stone for PvE players as they progress through the easy tier 1 fractals into the hardcore tier 4 fractals with challenge motes.
To progress into harder and more rewarding Fractals you will need to gain Agony Infusions and equip them in your gear to not die to Agony in higher-level fractals. In addition, you are also gated by your Personal Fractal Level which is basically the highest level fractal you can yourself start. This can be surpassed by having someone else open the fractal for you. Fractals of the Mists can be accessed from Lion's Arch near the Fort Marriner Waypoint and Mistlock Sanctuary.
- Primary article: Raids
Raids are 10 player squad-based PvE instances focusing on challenging combat and mechanics. They also require the expansions. Each raid encounter typically utilises multiple phases with several unique mechanics which test your squad's coordination, damage output, and positioning. It is the most challenging PvE content in game in terms of required skill. The main hub for all raids is the Lion's Arch Aerodrome.
While infamous for lacking an innate progression system and sometimes having a high barrier entry in the LFG tool, the reality is that there are several communities focused on training and welcoming players to this game mode. It is highly recommended to start raiding within a guild or a training community for this reason and not in the LFG. Note that some encounters require certain masteries (at least from a few people in the squad). More information on these masteries in the encounter wiki pages.
- Strike Missions
- Primary article: Strike Missions
Strike Missions are 10 player squad-based PvE instances, featuring a public and a private mode.
Strikes from The Icebrood Saga require the Path of Fire expansion and are relatively simple, serving as an introduction to 10-player based combat, and somewhat scale in difficulty. They can be accessed from the Eye of the North.
Strikes from End of Dragons require the End of Dragons expansion and are more challenging. Players are first introduced to the encounter as they progress through the End of Dragons story, and then they can access the strike version of the encounter which requires 10 players and is significantly more complex. These strikes also feature a Challenge Mote, a hard mode where both the difficulty and the rewards are increased.
Structured Player versus Player
- Primary article: Player versus Player
sPvP, shortened as PvP, in this game mode players fight each other. Teams of 5 players must cooperate to overcome their enemies and reach 500 points faster than them. Here, players have to balance offense and defense, as killing an enemy will not do much good if the team loses too many objective points in the process. After a match players will be awarded Reward Track points to obtain various rewards such as crafting materials, minis and loot boxes containing weapons and armor. PvP can be played starting at level 2 because all players are scaled to level 80 and their gear is just as strong. PvP uses different gear that is provided for free by the game through the hero panel. There are two game modes. Conquest: where players capture and defend nodes; and stronghold, where players assault the enemy's base while defending theirs. Conquest is considerably more popular.
Matches are fast-paced and games can be won or lost in mere seconds.
World versus World
- Primary article: World versus World
World versus World versus World, shortened as WvW, is a large scale player versus player game mode focusing on castle siege. Players are grouped together according to the world that they belong to and have to face against two other worlds on the same battlefield. A world has to procure nodes to strengthen their main castle. WvW is much slower than PvP, but features large scale fights and integrates some PvE elements while focusing on PvP. The alliance system currently in development will considerably change how players are grouped together in this game mode.
Story and exploration-based content
Guild Wars 2 is a story rich game with large maps encouraging exploration. Inbetween its 3 expansions, Heart of Thorns, Path of Fire, and End of Dragons, the game features a system called Living World that acts as a pseudo-DLC. Even though not necessarily required, Living World often adds substantial content to the game and its seasons can be seen as mini-expansions.
Living World Season 1 is the first season of Living World. Just as Tyrians rallied together to face a common enemy, their enemies are now working with each other to wreak chaos. But such uneasy and volatile alliances would never happen on their own. Someone or something is pulling the strings.
Living World Season 2 grew the concept of Living World and added 2 new maps to the game. A new Elder Dragon is slowly awakening from its slumber, and its minions are starting to invade Tyria. Rally together with your new friends to protect Glint's legacy, and experience the past with your own eyes to uncover the true origin of the sylvari.
Heart of Thorns, the first expansion, focuses on open-world exploration and challenges through its 4 maps, massive map-wide meta events, and added gliding and elite specializations. The Pact is determined to take the fight to the jungle dragon, and the commander rallies old and new allies to survive the deadly jungle of the Heart of Maguuma.
Season 3 expanded Living World, with each release adding a new map, 6 total, and masteries. Glint's legacy unfolds as magic runs rampant through Tyria and three world-ending crises feast on volatile magic.
Path of Fire, the second expansion, added 5 new maps, mounts, and elite specializations. The Human God of fire and war, Balthazar, inexplicably turns against Tyrians and wreaks havoc on the Crystal Desert and northern Elona.
Season 4 followed the design of Season 3 adding 6 new maps, mount masteries, and 3 new mounts. The Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik and the Lich Palawa joko terrorise Elona as Glint's legacy begets a new balance to magic in Tyria.
The Icebrood Saga attempted to redesign Living World but wasn't ultimately successful throughout its 3 maps and 5 episodes. A change in direction halfway through the saga pulled resources into the development of End of Dragons, the third expansion, condensing the finale of the Icebrood Saga into one single episode split into four chapters released over the span of five months. A war is waged on the Far Shiverpeaks as deceptions and mistrust grow in the outskirts of an Elder Dragon's domain, and alliances crumble and fall to promises of power.
End of Dragons, the third expansion, added 4 new maps, 1 new mount, fishing, skiffs, Jade Bots, and new elite specializations. For millennia, the Elder Dragon cycle has dictated the flow of magic in Tyria. Now, in Cantha, the cycle must end.
Living World episodes are unlocked for free by players that log in during the time that episode is the most recent one. Otherwise, players will need to buy the episodes from the Gem Store using gems acquired with gold or real money, or buy the game's complete package.
Sometimes nicknamed Fashion Wars, Guild Wars 2 provides its players with hundreds of cosmetic armor and weapon skins to customise their characters. Players can collect dozens of dyes to change the color of their armor, and use transmutation charges through the wardrobe to change the appearance of their armor and weapons. There's something for everyone. Simple skins looted from enemies while levelling, cultural armor and cultural weapons purchased in cities with gold, dungeon armor and weapons to show off players dungeoneering skills, npc armor like the Orders of Tyria skins, or even sets modelled after pirates or the Lionguard; they are all achievable in-game. Heritage armor even rewards players of the original Guild Wars.
The gemstore also contributes to the cosmetic-based endgame (while helping fund the game), providing mount and glider skins to change the appearance of a player's transportation. There are also outfits to change a character's appearance without changing their armor, and chairs to sit with style in the open world. Furthermore, the Black Lion Trading Company periodically creates new sets of weapons that players can trade with each other.
Legendary gear, which is just as strong as Ascended gear, lets players show off their hard-earned flashy gear, while the Legendary Armory ensures every character in the account can use that gear that can change attributes at any time, combining looks, swaggering, and convenience.
- Other considerations
- Titles are rewarded for completing certain achievements. Some are quite exclusive, such as titles for killing hard raid bosses.
- Miniatures are small cosmetic-only creatures that follow the player around. Once again, some are quite exclusive such as minis of raid bosses.
- Finishers allow players to finish, or "stomp", their dead enemies with style in PvP and WvW.
- Novelties allow players to transform into diverse creatures with tonics, or play musical instruments, engage in costume brawl, or sit in their stylish chairs.
Achievements and community
Achievements reward achievement points, which are visible to other players. Several skins can also be acquired through achievements or by reaching points thresholds. Some achievements are collections that provide considerable rewards when completed.
Guild Wars 2 is a Massively Multiplayer game, and there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people and strengthen the feel of belonging to the community, such as chatting with other players, roleplaying, mentoring, helping others for example with a hard hero challenge, or joining a guild. Guilds are the perfect way to find new friends to play with, they encourage socialization, and even have guild missions so that all members can help grow the build, and guild halls to decorate and hold meetings.