NPC rank is an unofficial term describing the relative strength of creatures of the same level. Stronger foes have names that are prefixed by Veteran, Champion, or Legendary to indicate they will be tougher to defeat than their normal counterparts. These foes also include a colored border around their portrait. The game also includes ambient creatures and so-called epic or world bosses, respectively the easiest and the most difficult foes in the game.
Some ranks are inconsistent with the actual mob or boss in a story or world events. (Ex: The Veteran Branded Siege Devourer in Untamed Wilds ranks within a Lieutenant)
An ambient creature (alternatively, a "critter") is a harmless NPC, such as a rat or rabbit. Found in all explorable areas, ambient creatures are trivial to defeat, since they usually will not attack and have no level, making their health so low that any normal level single packet of damage defeats them. Killing them does not grant experience nor do they drop any loot.
There are rare exceptions to this:
- Some ambient creatures have been given a level, so they may take more than a single normal level hit to die, but they still give no experience when defeated. (e.g.: Salmon in the water in Grawlenfjord)
- Very rarely, certain ambient creatures do drop loot. (e.g.: Sparkfly near Cuatl Waypoint)
- Some creatures with no level have not been set as ambient, and will appear as neutral with a yellow name. They will still take a single normal level hit to die, will not count as ambient creatures towards achievements, and give experience and loot. (e.g.: Snow Owl near Scholar's Cleft waypoint)
They have no border around their portrait and their names appear in white.
Standard NPCs have no specific rank. A single player character is expected to be equivalent in strength to several normal NPCs fighting together, i.e. a player of equal level can generally defeat a normal foe using solely their #1 slot weapon chain skill, or a small group of Normal foes by bringing to bear additional skills. They have no border around their portrait. Their names appear in yellow (neutral) or red (hostile). These colors are also used with the same meaning for all following NPC ranks.
A veteran is significantly stronger than its normal counterparts in the area, but uses the same combat mechanics. They will typically have more health, armor, and hit harder, but they rarely have any unique abilities. Most players of the same level should be able to fight a veteran or two on their own (known as soloing). They have a bronze border around their portrait.
Elites (alternatively called Silvers and previously named Lieutenants by Arenanet) are a type of foe most often found inside dungeons. Elite-rank NPCs were limited to dungeons and certain areas within Fireheart Rise until Clockwork Chaos, introducing Twisted Nightmare as the first NPC of that rank in the open world. In terms of difficulty, they are placed between champions and veterans, and though a few can be soloed by players they are intended to be fought by groups. On top of this, they almost always possess abilities similar to their veteran counterparts. They are often found in groups, especially in dungeons, but can rarely be found alone. Many players will find elites difficult to tackle alone and even dungeon parties will often want to prioritize which foe to target first. Killing them also counts toward any veteran slayer achievements. They have a silver border around their portrait. Internally at ArenaNet, they were referred to as "dungeon veterans."
- See also: List of champions
Champions are typically the strongest foes players will find in the open world. They are identified by a golden border around their portrait and a "Champion" prefix for generic names. The champion portrait includes two crossed swords. Although some champions wander freely, a majority of champions are found as the event boss for dynamic events and event scaling for large groups. Nearly all champions are under the Unshakable effect, making them resistant to control effects. Unshakeable scales with the number of nearby players. Depending on scaling, champions may become immune to effects altogether, the most common being control effects and immobilize. Many players will have trouble tackling champions without help from others. Champion drop special containers called champion loot bags, which are based on the family and level of the NPC. The bags contain coin, Spirit Shards, crafting materials, weapons, armor, and rare chance at unique weapon skins.
Legendary is the rank applied to some of the toughest foes in the game, but it is also used to highlight the importance of certain NPCs within the personal story. Legendary foes include the end bosses from group events in the Ruins of Orr, in dungeons, and a tiny number elsewhere, notably Admiral Taidha Covington in the Bloodtide Coast. Their abilities vary widely: like champions, they are almost always unshakeable or completely immune to control effects, but they usually include some other special ability. In addition, they are significantly more powerful than comparable champions. Very few legendary foes outside the personal story can be defeated without a concerted effort by a band of players. In contrast, although legendary foes inside the personal story are tougher than average, they can be defeated by a single player, i.e. they are legendary because of their importance to the story. In contrast, legendary allies such as NPCs which are important to the lore of the game, e.g. the heroes of Destiny's Edge, Trahearne or General Almorra Soulkeeper, are rarely capable of defeating a veteran or multiple normal enemies on their own and will often need the assistance of the player providing the muscle. Legendary foes will always drop containers based on their family. These containers have coin, skill points, crafting materials, weapons and armor, and rare chances at unique weapon skins based on family. They have a purple starburst border around their portrait. The legendary portrait includes two crossed swords.
Epic foes (many of which are also known as World Bosses) are massive creatures located throughout Tyria that tend to be focal points of zones they're found in. They're considered world bosses and as such award players with a bonus chest upon defeat. Epic foes are identified by a unique target monitor style, with centered yellow name, a lengthened health bar, effects displayed above the health bar, and their target portrait expanded over the top portion of the health bar. Their attack patterns and damage are both impressive and require a large force to take down. They are mostly found as final bosses at the end of meta event chains, with a handful seen in the personal story and in dungeons. The most notable epic monsters are the dragon champions the players face, as well as the tutorial end bosses. Being in the area of an epic monster always causes the camera to zoom out, giving a wider view of the area; while in this area, the soundtrack will also change to the "BossBattle" playlist. These foes have different skills and abilities compared to all other targets in the game; most notably, they are immune to control effects and unique skill effects such as Binding Blade, Impale, and Tainted Shackles; the only exception to this is encounter-specific mechanics. They are usually immobile and their attacks target the same area regardless of how many players are there which makes it possible to find safe spots from where to attack them.