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Disambig icon.png This article is about Traits as a game mechanic. For the list of available traits, see List of traits.

Traits are now unlocked. Spending hero points in specializations earns you traits. Once unlocked, you can select them in the build tab for your specialization.

— Message upon unlocking the traits functionality

The trait user interface of a guardian, with all three specialization slots used.

Traits are passive abilities that modify and enhance character's skills and provide bonuses to damage and attributes. The trait interface is accessed in the Builds tab of the Hero panel. Traits can be assigned after they are unlocked in the Training tab by spending Hero points earned either through leveling or by completing hero challenges.

Traits are grouped into and selected as part of specializations, also known as trait lines. Each profession has access to five core specializations and three elite specializations; the latter available with their respective expansions. Only three specializations can be equipped at a time, and only one of them can be an elite specialization. Each specialization provides 12 traits, of which 6 can be active at the same time.

Unlocking traits[edit]

Traits are unlocked sequentially in each specialization by spending Hero point.png Hero points in the Training tab of the Hero panel. Each specialization consists of 12 traits (3 minor and 9 major) and unlocking all costs 60 hero points. Every new tier has an increased cost of hero points, starting at 2 for the first minor trait and ending at 8 for the last major trait.

Unlocking traits in an elite specialization requires ownership of its respective expansion and costs 250 Hero points (which includes both skills and traits). Additionally, the character must be level 80 and all core skills and specializations must be fully trained. Hero challenges in expansion zones reward 10 Hero points compared to 1 point in Central Tyria, which makes them the primary method of training an elite specialization in the PvE game mode.

Equipping traits[edit]

Traits become available for use after equipping the appropriate specialization in the Build tab of the Hero panel. Each profession has access to five core specializations and three elite specializations. Three specializations can be equipped at a time, and only one of them can be an elite specialization. Additionally, an elite specialization can only be equipped in the last (bottom) specialization slot, while other have no restrictions. Specializations and their traits can be freely changed when out of combat, including elite specializations.

There are two types of traits in each specialization: minor and major. Minor traits are always enabled when a specialization is equipped, while major traits are selected by the player. Additionally, traits are grouped into three tiers, from left to right in each specialization: adept, master, and grandmaster. 1 minor and 3 mutually exclusive major traits are available in each tier, for a total of 6 active traits per specialization.

Soothing Mist.png Minor Traits have hexagonal icons.
Cleansing Wave (trait).png Major Traits have square icons, and are laid out in a column at each tier.

Players commonly refer to the traits in their build by assigning a number (1, 2, or 3) to each Major trait. For example, the Guardian build shown in the image at the top of this page could be described as: Zeal 213, Honor 223, Virtues 123. Some players add dashes, slashes, etc, in between the numbers, ie. Zeal 2-1-3 or 2/1/3.


Traits bring a wide variety of effects, both to defense and offense. They may provide bonus attributes, improve or modify skills, grant effects like boons and auras, or inflict damage and conditions on enemies. Certain traits have their own passive abilities, trait skills, which are activated automatically when a certain condition is met, e.g. health dropped to a specific threshold or the character was disabled by a control effect. These effects, including trait skills, can be viewed in the tooltip by mouse hovering over the trait icon in the Build tab of the Hero panel.

Traits are categorized into specializations based on their effect, both functionally and thematically, although this is not a strict rule. For example, a specialization might be mostly focused on supporting traits but include some that increase damage. Elite specializations and their traits are notable for changing profession mechanics and often significantly altering the playstyle and identity of their respective professions.

Lists of traits[edit]

See also: Specialization

Trait lists are profession-specific:

Historical changes[edit]

June 23, 2015
  • This update drastically changed how traits work, introducing the concept of specializations as follows:
    • Players have three specialization slots to spend the traits into, while still being able to view all traits on the left side of traits panel.
    • Players no longer need to spend varying amount of points into a specialization (formerly "trait line"), instead all specialization slots are fully unlocked to trait into, therefore making it possible to pick three grandmaster major traits at the same time.
    • Many traits have been merged with others, while some have been completely culled, resulting in less traits to choose from but with greater impact on gameplay; because of these changes, players have three major traits for every tier (adept, master, and grandmaster). For some professions, several minor traits had their effects increased, so choosing a specific specialization may become scope-defining.
      • The number of possible trait allocations for each profession, assuming all points were used, was reduced from 364,917,960 to 196,830.
    • Specializations aren't attached to attributes as trait lines were, so choosing a specialization doesn't change values on the Hero Panel (except for Condition Duration, and Boon Duration, which are only increased by trait effects, sigils or runes). To make up for this loss of attribute points all exotic or better equipment have had their attributes increased.
      • As attributes are divorced from specializations, the profession-specific mechanics' recharge reduction (e.g. Attunement Recharge Rate) had its full percentage attached to a trait.
    • Traits are now unlocked through Training Panel by spending hero points (formerly skill points) earned from levelling or completing hero challenges (formerly "skill challenges") throughout the world. It is no longer possible to buy trait guides from vendors, or unlock them by completing tasks in the world anymore.
    • As trait lines are gone, specializations took up their place not only by replacing terminology and trait lines but also introducing a new system to expand professions' progression - the elite specializations - which drastically changes a profession gameplay, adding a full new set of traits, and unlocking access to a previously unavailable weapon, and a skill type.
April 15, 2014
  • This update made numerous changes to the trait system as part of the Spring 2014 Feature Pack.
    • Automatic tier unlocks. Previously, each tier had to be unlocked by purchasing a trait manual; tiers also could be unlocked earlier, at levels 11, 40, and 60.
    • Unlock system for major traits. Previously, major traits were all unlocked by default. Existing characters retained the unlocked traits.
    • Trait points were condensed by a factor of 5. In the original system, points accrued at a rate of 1 per level starting at level 11, for a total of 70 points. Each point only gave +10 to attributes, and 5 points were required to activate each minor trait/major trait slot; a maximum of 30 points could be spent per trait line.
    • Free trait point refunds outside of structured PvP. Previously, points could only be refunded for a fee at profession trainers or by using an Instant Trait Reset.
    • A 13th major trait was added to every trait line.


  • ArenaNet decided against including racial traits in the game as a matter of game balance: each race should be equally effective in each profession. For example, there should not be important differences between norn and asura warriors.[1]
  • The trait system was redesigned into tiers prior to the second Beta Weekend Event.