User:Gulbasaur/Things I Wish Someone Told Me - A new player guide
A GW2 New Player Guide
This guide is designed to help new players on their way and clear up a few things that I wish someone told me along the way.
Start at the beginning. If you have a level 80 boost, don't use it until you've got to grips with how things work. I really recommend starting at level 1 and playing around until you have a feel for the game.
The start of the game introduces you to the story and gives you some context about what you're doing, as well as providing you with a tutorial.
Race and Profession
You're going to spend a lot of time with your new character, so make sure you're happy with them!
The choice of race is mostly cosmetic, although there are some differences in how you start the game and a few abilities, but generally not enough to impact gameplay in the long run. The wiki has a guide to the playable races of Tyria outlining the differences. Pick one you like the look or feel of.
Your gender, height and build are purely cosmetic, although there is the small point that smaller characters animate faster while running, creating the impression that you're moving quicker as they have to take lots of little steps to cover the same distance. This is purely visual, but it's something that bothers some people. Additionally, lots of jumping puzzles are easier with a smaller character. Large and small characters have the same hitbox, so being a really tall norn doesn't make you an easier target than being the tiniest asura.
Spend some time making your character look decent; you will have some chances to change things later, but at a fairly high cost. Lots of players are quite proud of their character's appearance, so indulge a little and spend some time making someone you're pleased with.
Your profession, however, is enormously important as it determines all your skills and abilities. It is generally agreed that they are fairly balanced, although some may be late bloomers. The 'holy trinity' of DPS-healer-tank does not exist in most of the game; every profession can heal, has ways of mitigating damage and can provide damage, depending on how you build your character. Read the different pages for professions and pick one you like the look of. As a free player, you get two character slots, so try a few different characters out.
Specializations are different traits you can use to adjust how you play. They become active as you level up and are unique to each profession. As you unlock them by spending hero points you unlock new abilities and ways of making your existing abilities better. Read the descriptions carefully as some of them are more powerful than they seem. Each one usually has a preferred weapon, so if you're unsure, use your favourite weapons to guide which you choose (but feel free to vary it, this isn't mandatory).
When you hit level 80, if you have the expansions, you open up the possibility of elite specializations, which can dramatically change how you play. There is absolutely no harm in changing up your build as you need to (but you need to be out of combat to do so). It's not uncommon to have one build (set of specialisations, weapons and armour) for solo play and one for groups if you want to be able to support a team but also be able to play on your own at times.
Your gear determines a lot of things but, generally speaking, higher number are better numbers. You will acquire most of the gear from random drops or buy buying it using karma from karma merchants when you complete a renown heart quest. For levels 1 to 79, this is enough to keep you well-equipped to tackle most things along as it is up to date. Replace gear as you go, always swapping for more powerful gear from karma merchants if the stats are right. If you're struggling, consider looking on the trading post for gear that matches your build.
Gear is sorted by rarity, which determines how strong it is. For levels 1-79, you can get away with Fine and Masterwork items. Buying gear below level 80 from the trading post is generally seen as less useful as you'll out-level it and gold is harder to come by than karma on your levelling journey.
When you get to level 80, make it a priority to get some Exotic gear with appropriate attributes (stats) to your style of play. You'll gradually replace it with Ascended gear, which is slightly more powerful and needed for higher level fractals. Legendary gear is mostly for bragging rights or a challenge; it's not any more powerful, although it does allow you to change its stats whenever you want to.
Weapons determine five of your skills, and this can totally change how you play a character. In your first few levels, you'll be rewarded with a variety of different weapons to try out and they usually play very differently. At level 10, you get the ability to weapon swap, which allows you to react to combat by switching between two sets of weapons very quickly. Each profession uses each weapon differently and not every profession can use every weapon. Here is a useful chart to show you who can use what.
Armour offers you protection and provides you with attribute bonuses. You can change its colour for free using dye in the hero panel (press h to open) or change the way it looks entirely using the wardrobe tab in the hero panel at the cost of one transmutation charge for everything changed.
Your profession determines whether you use light, medium or heavy armour.
Weapon and armour upgrades
When you hit level 80, it often pays to get a full set (of six) runes of the same kind, as they often give you better bonuses for using a full set.
Other stuff you pick up
Food and utility items provide small bonuses on use, often with a +10% exp bonus. It's generally not worth saving for a special occasion if you're playing normally. Food is usually quite cheap and can be bought in lots of populated areas.
Anything you can't use or don't want to keep, you can either sell or salvage with a salvage kit. Salvaging will harvest materials useful for crafting. In the inventory panel, there's a cog symbol. If you click it, you can choose "Deposit All Materials", which moves all crafting materials to your bank and clears up space.
Attributes and statistics
The game isn't very good at explaining what these actually do so some players feel a little clueless. In brief:
- Power: Increases direct damage.
- Precision: Increases Critical Chance - how likely you are to do extra damage.
- Ferocity: Increases Critical Damage - when you get a critical hit, this determines how hard it hits.
- Toughness: Increases Armour - but be careful, certain enemies will be more likely to attack you with high toughness. If you love being the centre of the fight, focus on this.
- Vitality: Increases Health - your hit points. If you don't want to attract too much attention, focus on this over toughness.
- Concentration: Increases Boon Duration - how long your boons (buffs) last. Longer is better.
- Condition Damage: Increases the damage done by inflicting conditions like poison, burning, bleeding etc.
- Expertise: Increases Condition Duration - makes poison, burning, bleeding etc last longer.
- Healing Power: Increases all outgoing healing your character does, including self heals.
Have a think about what kind of character you want and choose gear accordingly. This is particularly relevant for whether you do power (up-front) or condition (effect) damage and whether you want more toughness (which makes you more of a target in certain raids) or vitality (which is useful if you want to stay out of the way). In certain raids, having too much toughness can actually be a problem, so be if you want more survivability it may be better to focus on vitality if you're unsure.
It's usually considered better to focus on three or four stats rather than try to get a little of everything, although some builds differ. It really depends on how you play.
Kill them before they kill you. Simple, right?
Learn to dodge in your starter area and use it in combat. It will save your life by pulling you out of dangerous areas. This is not a game where you can tank by having a million billion hitpoints - get used to dodging.
Boons are buffs. Some offer you protection and some increase your damage output. They are great.
They are usually short-lived but very powerful. At the top levels, boon duration becomes very desirable if you're playing a support role, gained by raising your concentration and using runes, sigils and consumables. If you have any abilities that offer boons to your teammates, it's generally a good idea to keep them up and running. Your allies can't protect you if they're dead.
With damage, prevention is better than cure, and a character with well-managed boons will be more useful than a player who spams heals.
Crowd Control and Defiance Bars
These are skills that interrupt, slow down or otherwise impede your enemies.
Some very high level enemies have a defiance bar that prevents control effects from working. If you're in a squad and the leader says "CC", they mean crowd control. Hit the boss with every piece of crowd control you've got as this will break the defiance bar down and let you interrupt or slow down your foe. Remember, prevention is better than cure, and a boss whose attack is interrupted is better than a boss who just downed all your teammates.
Players can score a combo for additional damage or effects by combining powers. These aren't combos in the beat-em-up sense, but additional effects caused by using certain skills in combination with certain other skills, like extra healing, stealth or a shield. Read more about combos and find out what your character can do.
Every character has the ability to heal themselves and others in some manner, although very few can do so very efficiently.
Heals can be fast, powerful or have a large area of effect, but rarely all three. Generally, you'll have a strong but slow personal heal, a quick but weaker personal heal and some way of healing everyone around you, albeit weakly or over a longer period of time.
Prevention is better than cure so use boons wisely. Healing can be a literal lifesaver, but don't rely on heals and don't rely on other players to heal you.
Healing power is an attribute that increases the strength of your heals, but it's probably a low priority for many builds. Some elite professions like druid tend to have high healing ability, but they also focus on providing boons for the whole team with heals to patch people up. A teammate who heals is a teammate who heals. A teammate who manages boons well means you might never even need to heal.
Blocks, Distorts and Evades
Several skills enable to you avoid damage completely by blocking, evading, distorting (etc). These are generally reliant on timing things right, although Aegis basically lets you have a block "ready to go" when you need it.
When you take enough damage, you are downed. You'll have a chance to rally and revive yourself and nearby players will often come to help you out. If you're doing any team, party or squad content, it's expected you will do the same and revive your teammates. Even in open world content and world bosses, players will almost always take the time to revive one another.
If you don't make it back up, you are defeated. You can either re-spawn at the nearest waypoint or in a checkpoint in an instance (fractal, personal story etc). If you're in a fractal, strike mission or raid, typing "/gg" will allow you to respawn faster providing your team is not in combat.
Remember to get your gear repaired as soon as you are able.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing" is something that can hit players at the start if they've come from a more guided game like WOW, SWTOR or ESO. Veteran players often reply with "Do what you want! It's an open world!" and while that's true, there isn't really a menu to choose from so you don't really know what's on offer.
Before level 80
Work through your personal story, which will move you through the world and unlock rewards as you go along. It takes you from humble beginnings to fighting a war against incredibly powerful enemies and a new chapter is unlocked every 10 levels.
How to Level Really Quickly
You level by gaining Experience. Various boosters are available, but it is also worth knowing the following for quick and efficient levelling:
- Completing every path of a dungeon once will get you around 4 levels per dungeon, of which there are eight.
- Completing the maps of the six Tyrian capital cities will get you about 4 levels in total.
- Getting a crafting discipline from 0 to 400 will get you about 8 levels. Raising it to 500 will get you another four (but costs substantially more gold in materials).
- Playing PvP and WvW grants you a Tome of Knowledge now and again through the reward tracks.
Crafting is of most value at level 80, so if you get to level 70-ish and want a final push to 80, it's worth spending some time (and some gold) in raising a crafting discipline.
World Bosses and Meta Events
Most zones have a meta event, which is a series of events that lead up to a final battle, boss fight or claiming of territory. Most are pretty cool, although some are rather short and sweet. Additionally, many zones have a world boss, which is a larger fight that usually attracts a lot of players. They tend to have decent rewards, so have a lookout for them on the map and in the LFG.
The event timer is useful for finding out what's coming up around the world.
As you're levelling, focus on completing renown heart quests for earning karma, completing events (look for orange markings on your map) and exploring. Look for hero points, which allow you to unlock extra skills and traits early. When you complete a map by completing all renown heart quests, visiting every point of interest and vista and getting every hero point, you get a nice bonus. Jumping puzzles and diving googles challenges are other things to look out for.
If you don't like the map you're on, look at other races' zones of a similar level. If you don't like the green fields that humans start in, the norn areas have a rocky, jagged frozen atmosphere, the asura zones are a lush jungle, the sylvari zones are a verdant forest and the charr a war-torn battlefield.
You can't outlevel a zone. The game scales you down to keep things interesting. You don't lose any new skills, but your health and other attributes are adjusted down. You can outlevel the zone rewards, though, so don't be disappointed if your loot isn't very useful.
You will get daily recommended activities. If you complete three, you get a reward, including two gold. They are usually things like visiting an area and completing events, collecting wood or ore from an area or visiting a vista. Some are possible at low levels, while some will take place in high-level areas that you have no hopes of even getting to alive at low levels. Usually, there will be three that you'll be able to do and very low level characters have their own set of dailies to keep you encouraged.
There are separate PvP and WvW dailies, which count toward your "three dailies for two gold" total. The "score 3 kills in PvP" one is fairly achievable as a newbie.
Completing one daily gives you a small reward, so they're usually worth doing and encourage players to revisit parts of the world and try varied activities. Players often help each other, so if you see a bunch of people grouping round something, there's probably something going on.
Dungeons are party-based instanced PvE missions that have a focus on story. They start at level 30. You can choose between story mode and explorable mode, which is more difficult and needs to be unlocked by completing the story first.
If you're new to dungeons, say so. They're easy to get lost in. Use the LFG menu to help find a group of players to play with.
At level 80
So, you're at the top... now what?
At level 80, you start to unlock masteries. These are additional bonuses that replace levelling up, and affect every character you have. You increase them by getting experience and then buying them with mastery points. Heart of Thorns and Living World Season 3 have their own (shared) new masteries, Path of Fire and Living World Season 4 have another mastery track of their own with the Icebrood Saga adding another.
Masteries stop gaining experience when they're full up, so if you don't have the mastery points to spend, it's worth selecting a new mastery track to unlock to put the exp to good use. You don't lose anything by doing this, but you do lose experience points by letting them go to waste on a full mastery track.
You will also get daily fractals. Fractals are top-level dungeons accessed in teams (usually of five) with decent rewards and sometimes unusual mechanics. You'll be rewarded with various bits and pieces, including at least one fractal encryption, which requires a fractal encryption key to open. You can buy these in the little market area in the fractal lobby area from the golem BUY-4373. The Deeply Discounted Fractal Encryption Key is the most cost-effective way of doing this, and the rewards are always worth it financially.
You can find a team easily using the Looking For Group menu (press y). If you say "this is my first fractal, so please tell me what to do" and are pleasant to your teammates and pull your weight in battle, they'll usually help you out. If you're in Lion's Arch, you can teleport straight in as soon as you join a team.
Occupying a space somewhere between open world content and raids, you've got strike missions. These are (mostly) short boss fights focused on getting the essentials of team combat right. Head to the Eye of the North and join a strike squad in the LFG panel.
They vary in difficulty, but generally Shiverpeaks Pass is seen as entry-level and the Whisper of Jormag and the Boneskinner strike missions both presenting more of a challenge and requiring better coordination and communication.
Once you've cut your teeth in fractals, maybe try a raid. People take raids very seriously and can be a bit prickly about builds because raids work best when everyone is highly coordinated, communicates well and makes the most of their build, so look for a "training" or "casual" raid in the LFG panel until you know what you're doing.
Living World and Expansions
Living World story chapters are a continuation of the personal story. They are released at intervals, and anyone who logs on during the release window gets it for free. Older Living World content has to be bought in the gem store.
Season 1 is now largely impossible to do due to how it worked (although some parts were reused in fractals or other instances), but Living World Season 2 works as an introduction to Heart of Thorns and Living World Season 3 bridges the gap from that to Path of Fire, with Living World Season 4 and The Icebrood Saga continuing the story further.
It's generally agreed that LS2 was good but not amazing, LS3 was an improvement with reward-rich maps and LS4 has a well-made story. LS3 and LS4 have their own dailies, focussing on a different map each day and they tend to draw a crowd when they're in focus. The Icebrood Saga is the latest addition and its maps are all very well made and worth exploring.
There are two game expansions: Heart of Thorns with a tangled jungle filled with unique maps, giant events that take place over entire zones and require squads of players to work together for good rewards and use of a glider to travel between high peaks and deep valleys, and Path of Fire, which opens up a beautiful desert and gives you access to unique mounts. They are sold as a bundle - if you get Path of Fire, Heart of Thorns is applied to your account for free.
PvP and WvW
There is no open world PvP. It's entirely opt-in. Both PvP and WvW have good reward tracks, which unlock decent gear, including some currencies that are hard to find elsewhere. If you're going for Legendary weapons, you will need to at least spend a few hours in WvW, and PvP is an easy source of mystic clovers, which you'll need in abundance in legendary crafting. Otherwise, it's just for fun.
PvP refers to Player versus Player in small, often 5v5 matches against other players in a dedicated zone. You increase your rewards by helping your team, scoring kills and completing objectives.
WvW refers to World versus World and involves reclaiming territory from other teams in a dedicated zone. You increase your rewards by helping your team, scoring kills and completing objectives. The more you participate, the faster you are rewarded, so get stuck in and help out.
Both of them adjust your level up to equivalent to level 80, so you can dive at lower levels if you want to.
Join a guild
Joining an active guild really adds a lot to your experience in playing an online game as it provides you with a familiar group of people who may run events, challenges, competitions and raid training. I recommend heading to the Guiid Recruitment subreddit to look for a guild that suits how you want to play.
There is next to no kill-stealing in this game (players will often wait before taking a boss down so others can get into battle in time) and you never have to compete for resources. Mining, logging and harvesting nodes are unique to you and loot and experience points are equal for each player that hits an enemy and does more than token damage. This creates a pleasant, non-competitive atmosphere in-game, with players stopping to help each other out. Be part of that!
There are lots of different currencies to keep track of, but generally karma is the most important 1-79, after which point map-specific currencies and gold become more and more important. Gold starts out as a trickle, but builds up faster by completing dailies and event chains in the higher level maps.
Currency is shared between characters.
If you want to get gold relatively quickly (the griffon, commander tag and legendary weapons are all gold-sinks), I recommend this guide on Metabattle, although do be aware that there are some things that not even gold can buy on its own; many items require two currencies together.
The gem store contains a lot of useful gear, but please remember that this game is not pay-to-win. It primarily contains vanity items (skins), time-savers and convenience items, as well as access to the Living World story content. Many players see it as a kind of 'tip jar' for the development team. Buying a bag slot expansion or bank tab expansion can go a long way in making the game more convenient.
Players generally advise against buying gold in the gem store, as the exchange rate is rather steep, but if you need some money fast, there is that option.
As you explore, remember to pick up materials by logging, mining and gathering. You'll need appropriate gathering tools, which are available to purchase at almost every settlement you come across. These materials are useful for crafting and for selling at the trading post for some quick cash. Remember to use "Deposit All Materials" from the cog menu in the inventory.
Materials you gather are shared between characters when they're in the bank.
Crafting is the most reliable way to get the gear you want, but takes time and comes at a cost in resources. Legendary gear requires completing a series of achievements, collecting a lot of easy-to-miss items and reaching level 500 in two crafting disciplines, so if that's your goal, make sure you level up the right ones.
Crafting involves discovering new recipes for gear and creating things. Try combining different things to see what you can make. You'll pick up the patterns fairly quickly. Each crafting station also functions as a bank. You can craft directly out of your bank, so you don't need to take things out first.
You don't need to buy recipes, which is good because they're quite expensive. Look at the wiki, follow a guide or experiment to discover new things to craft. You soon start noticing patterns. Many of the things you craft while levelling are, honestly, fairly useless but unlock a skin and give you a bit of experience. Have a look at what you've made, equip anything you like and salvage the rest for materials.
GW2 Crafts has one guide to crafting, focussed on what you need to buy and Pwniversity has one focussed on what you need to do. Doing it all in one go is expensive, so thing of it as a long-term goal.
Materials stack in your bank up to stacks of 250. Beyond that and they overflow into your inventory. If you've got 750 of something, you probably can get more of it fairly easy, so think about what you need to keep and what you can sell, salvage or destroy.
Remember, it's a game. Go, explore, do what you want. Have fun!
Thank you to everyone on the subreddit and the forums who gave constructive feedback. I've included a lot of edits as per your suggestions.