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. They are the main protagonist in Guild Wars 2.
Players are guided through a 10-step character creation process where they determine their character's characteristics: race, gender, profession, physical appearance, initial biography, and name. Players can later change some aspects of the character through means of purchasing a Total Makeover Kit, a Name Change Contract or Identity Repair Kit from the Gem Store. Race or profession cannot be changed by any means. Some physical appearances are exclusively available through a makeover.
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 (including but not limited to):
- Participating in events
- Completing personal story objectives
- Exploring: Discovering new areas, landmarks and completing hero challenges
- Gathering crafting materials from resource nodes
- Killing monsters
- Reviving allies
- Playing mini games
- Completing Dungeon runs
- Consuming Writ of Experience and Tome of Knowledge
- Primary article: Level rewards
When a character levels up, they are fully healed, they gain full adrenaline and life force, and if they are in combat they will also launch and damage nearby foes with the Level Up contextual skill. New abilities are unlocked and higher quality equipment become available at certain levels. Gaining a level gives the character equipment rewards, unlocks mechanics, and gives various game tips and guidance.
There is much endgame content designed specifically for players after reaching level 80.
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 both World versus World and Fractals of the Mists, characters are always scaled up to level 80, but skills and traits that are locked remain so.
- 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.
Exploring high level areas
The game discourages players from bringing characters into areas that are more than 10 levels above the current character level.
Levels of zones, enemies, hearts, and events more than 10 levels higher than the character are displayed in purple.
Non-player characters detect lower level player characters from a much greater distance than they would detect a character of equal level, and if they are hostile they will rush the character. Combined with the combat difficulties listed below, this makes even basic exploration of higher level zones extremely dangerous.
Characters more than 10 levels below the area level cannot do any of the following:
- Deal full damage. Characters seven or more levels below their target will deal only glancing blows.
- Inflict conditions. Enemies will display an Immune message instead.
- Rally off foe deaths. Lower level downed characters have to be healed, or revived after being defeated.
Lower level characters can still technically do the following, but as a rule of thumb it is unlikely and not recommended:
- Inflict control effects.
- Deal enough damage to get loot and to receive credit for events.
- Complete non-combat renown hearts.
- Complete non-combat hero challenges, such as communing at a place of power.
Additionally, damage is scaled by the level difference. A low level character will receive much more damage even with the same amount of armor as an appropriately leveled character. On top of this, all hits received will be critical hits. Similar holds true for outgoing damage. In addition to all hits being glancing blows as noted above, damage is further scaled down.
- A character's age can be displayed using the chat command "/age".
- Each character in an account receives a Birthday Gift for each year since its creation.
- If the Hero (achievements) category was not yet received on the one-year anniversary of the creation of the oldest character then talk to the Birthday Vendor to get it.
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.
While many aspects of the game are unlocked account-wide once completed or acquired, there are a few notable exceptions which can not be transferred to other characters:
- Story progress:
- Core, expansion, and living world episode story progress are bound to the character that started it.
- Dungeons - Explorable mode can only be started by characters that have completed the story mode.
- Most Living World Season 2 achievements can only be completed on a second playthrough on the same character.
- Knight of the Thorn - can only be started by characters that have completed the Heart of Thorns story.
- Forging Steel - instance can only be created by characters that have done the story.
- Some collections:
- Super Adventure Box skills.
- Crafting level
- Map completion and exploration:
- Soulbound items, weapons, and armor.
- Birthday gifts
- Character Adventure Guide experience-granting tutorial achievements are earned separately by each character.
- Some gem store upgrades:
- Additional bag slots, equipment templates, and build templates.
- Paid-for Accounts include five character slots to start with; you can purchase Character Slot Expansions from the Gem Store.
- Free-to-play accounts only have two character slots. The other three are locked.
- Names are reserved for your account for 24 hours after deleting the character.
- The race of a character does not impact the character's stats, such as power or vitality. Races do have access to different racial skills and early personal story chapters.
- When a character gains a level they will occasionally say one of the following lines, depending on their race and gender:
|Asura||I'd like to thank my krewe, and my college professors.
I'd like to thank my krewe, and my college instructors.
That's more like it.
|Look out, genius on the rise.|
Can I get any better? Indeed, I can!
That's right. I'm the best.
|Charr||When you're hot, you're hot.
Time for a promotion.
I did it.
I advance yet again.
I cover myself with glory.
Practice makes perfect.
|Human||I just keep getting better and better!
The gods smile on me!
I'm so good, it hurts.
|Like fine wine, I just keep getting better.|
Congratulations to me!
Progress makes perfect.
Welcome to the big time. Population: me.
Kicking tail and taking name.
|Norn||Bow to me in my progress!
By the power of me, ha ha!
Experience makes me strong.
Greatness. I am becoming greatness!
|Hold up. |
The glory is all mine.
|Sylvari||Look at my talent grow!
This calls for celebration.
I only get better and better.
A world of possibilities awaits.
Where one path ends, another one begins.
|That put me in an adventurous mood!|
I'm on my way to greener fields.
- The character's voice is determined by the combination of gender and race:
- The asura female is voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey.
- The asura male is voiced by Steve Staley.
- The charr female was previously voiced by Kate Miller, and is now voiced by Mara Junot starting from 2019, first appearing in War Eternal.
- The charr male was previously voiced by Ron Yuan, and is now voiced by Lex Lang starting from 2016, first appearing in Living World Season 3.
- The human female is voiced by April Stewart.
- The human male is voiced by Nolan North.
- The norn female is voiced by Claudia Christian.
- The norn male is voiced by Matthew Mercer.
- The sylvari female is voiced by Jennifer Hale.
- The sylvari male is voiced by Brandon Bales.