The term endgame refers to the content that keeps players engaged in the game after they reach the maximum level. While Guild Wars 2's open world uses Dynamic level adjustment so that high-level players can still play in low-level zones, endgame content is catered towards players with at least one maximum-level character.
Guild Wars 2's endgame content is varied but can be categorized as follows, further developed below in the body:
- Progression-based content such as improving equipment, training masteries, unlocking elite specializations, mounts etc.
- Combat-based content subdivided into open world and instanced PvE content, Structured PvP game mode, and World versus World mode.
- Story and exploration-based content such as playing new story chapters found in expansions and Living World episodes or doing map completion.
- Cosmetic-based endgame such as unlocking dyes, gear skins, mount skins, glider skins, or legendary equipment with its unique features and visual effects.
- Achievements and Community, which can take the form of socializing through Guilds or pursuing achievements and titles
Unlike many similar games, Guild Wars 2 lacks a gear treadmill (where new gear sets are added periodically making previous gears obsolete). Instead, the driving philosophy is horizontal progression, in which players can achieve non-numerical bonuses via the Mastery system, cosmetics, or Elite Specializations. This progression can occur on both a character-wide and account-wide level.
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 just as powerful as Ascended but has additional quality-of-life improvements in the form of being available to all characters in the account through the Legendary Armory, having the option to change its attributes freely at any point, or remove its upgrades or change its cosmetic appearance without cost.
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 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
- See also: Player versus Environment
Shortened as PvE, in this content players fight against NPCs and the environment. While PvE is a very wide term that encompasses things such as story or world bosses, the endgame focuses on the following:
- Open world events
Meta events and map meta events are large-scale battles where a large number of players, or even every single player on the map in some cases, work towards a common goal. Many of these events are on a global 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-player group PvE. Fractals are short, repeatable, rewarding, and have an innate progression system. They feature 4 different tiers 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, players will need to equip Agony Infusions in their gear to resist the Agony of higher-level fractals. Players possess a Personal Fractal Level, which is the highest level fractal they can open by themselves, though they can enter any fractal opened by another player. Fractals of the Mists can be accessed from Lion's Arch near the Fort Marriner Waypoint and from Mistlock Sanctuary.
- Primary article: Raids
Raids are 10-player squad-based PvE instances focused on challenging combat and mechanics and require owning their respective expansion. Each raid encounter typically utilises multiple phases with several unique mechanics which test the squad's coordination, damage output, and positioning. It is the most challenging PvE content in the game in terms of required skill, alongside challenge motes in Strike Missions and Fractals of the Mists. 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, with some of them 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 the 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: Structured PvP
sPvP, shortened as PvP, is a game mode in which 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 PvP 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. 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 its main castle. Periodically, players will earn WvW Reward Track points based on their performance to obtain various rewards such as crafting materials or loot boxes containing weapons and armor. WvW is much slower than PvP, but features large-scale fights and integrates some PvE elements while focusing on PvP. The new matchmaking 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. In between 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.
Guild Wars 2 provides its players with hundreds of cosmetic armor and weapon skins to customise their characters. Players can collect hundreds 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. 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 are all achievable in-game. Heritage armor rewards players of the original Guild Wars.
The gemstore also contributes to the cosmetic-based endgame, 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 guild, and guild halls to decorate and hold meetings.