Getting started in Guild Wars 2
It’s a 10 year old MMO, but it’s still kicking ass…
If you are looking for a free-to-play MMO that looks good, has an active, thriving community, and great story and combat, Guild Wars 2 is hard to beat. Here’s how to get started…
Getting the game
Best way to get it, as usual, is via Steam. Grab it and start installing. You will already see one of the coolest things about the game pretty quickly: you can start playing while it is still installing. Same goes for updates — you will never have to sit around waiting for a huge update, most of the time it just does it all in the background while you play.
Creating a character
Choosing a Server World
There are two megaservers: EU and NA. Choose the one that your friends play on because you can’t switch between them.
There are also a set of about 2 dozen Server Worlds associated with each megaserver. In general you rarely need to care about which one you are on, except for the World vs World large-scale PvPvE game mode. Then it’s very important and very expensive to change. So when you are making your first character consider carefully what Server World to pick.
My Guild, Hidden Tradition, plays on the EU megaserver, and the Underworld Server World. If you want to join our team in future, pick Underworld when you make your first character!
You have a choice of 5 different races to pick from. Note that each race has a different personal story in the game (!), and different racial skills, so your choice does make a difference, but only by a very slight amount. So don’t worry about min-maxing or whatever, pick what appeals to you.
- Human —you know what this is already. Good basic choice if you are unsure.
- Nord — big human-style people from the frozen North of the world. Choose this if you like Vikings.
- Sylvari — the equivalent of elves in this world. Made from plants, and wonderfully emo. It’s complicated.
- Charr — large, aggressive cat people who like big machines and hitting things. Choose this if you like steampunk and running on all fours.
- Asura — small gnome-like creatures that love the interface of magic and technology. Tons of fun.
There are 9 professions (classes) to choose from. In Guild Wars any profession can do pretty much any role. Some are slightly better than others at certain things, but each is very flexible. They mainly differ in that each one has a completely different playstyle. So again, pick whatever one appeals most to you.
- Warrior — lots of weapon choices, and heavy armor. Not only can deal out and take damage, has lots of shouts and banners that can buff a party. Probably the easiest class to play if you are starting out.
- Guardian — basically a Paladin type. Heavy armor plus weapons and magic. Good for tanking and healing. One of the most common choices, and for good reason, it’s a very solid class.
- Revenant —not available to free players, you have to buy one of the expansions to get access to it. Heavy armor and a very flexible martial/magical playstyle. Definitely not for beginners.
- Ranger — the classic Medium armor class from so many games. Choose this if you like pets and having a profession that’s a great jack-of-all-trades. Good for solo-ing or for working a team, makes for one of the most versatile professions in the game.
- Thief — sneaky, sneaky, sneak sneak. If you like stealth and assassinating people, this is your choice. Medium armor and low health, so a bit of a glass cannon.
- Engineer — guns, machines, potions, and Medium armor, this profession has it all. The most flexible support class in the game, but also one of the trickiest to play well. Not for beginners, but experienced players will rule the battlefield with this one.
- Elementalist — you know what this is already. Light armor, tons of spells, huge amount of possibilities. Not the easiest class to play but you can do a huge amount of damage and healing. If magic is your thing, this is the best way to start.
- Necromancer — if you’re a Goth who likes blood and the undead, your choice is clear. Light armor but good survivability thanks to Death Shroud. Generally considered the best DPS in the game.
- Mesmer — a class unique to Guild Wars. A light armor magic user that specialises in messing with people’s heads. Not easy to play, but has a fast, fluid playstyle. You will either love it or hate it. Personally I love it, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
Getting into the game
The Open World
Open world play in Guild Wars 2 is quite different than most other MMOs. You generally won’t find some NPCs standing idly around waiting to give you a quest. Instead stuff just happens, whether you ask for it or not. If you turn up at a village you might find it being raided by bandits, and immediately you’ll find yourself in the middle of a quest to defeat them. Succeed in driving off the bandits and you’ll get an automatic reward. Fail, and the village will actually be taken over by the bandits! All the merchants in the village will run away, and it will become hostile to you. And the next person who comes along will get a quest to liberate the village. Yes, the world changes depending on player interaction. So if you aren’t sure what to do or where to go, just strike off in a random direction and see what you can find. You’ll find things to do happening everywhere keep any eye on the top right of your main screen to see what events are running in your area.
The nearest thing to a main questline that you’ll find in Guild Wars 2 is your Personal Story. To follow it, press H for your Hero panel and look for the Story tab. Start it up and start playing through it, it will keep you going for quite some time and show you lots of the world.
Changing the camera mode
Guild Wars 2 has, as its default play mode, an old school MMO style that requires you to hold your mouse button down to change camera view. I’m not a fan of this, but luckily there’s a way you can change it into working more like a modern FPS style. Go to Options — Control Options and under Camera add a key command for Toggle Action Camera (I used the Ins key, but you can pick whatever you like). Once you’ve done that, go back to the game and hit that key you just defined. Now you will get an actual targeting cursor and can change direction just by moving your mouse. This is a HUGE game changer. It also makes the game playable with a gamepad controller — I play all the time with a Steam Controller.
If you mouse over your skill bar you will see that some AoE (Area of Effect) skills say they are Combo Fields, while some other skills are listed as Combo Finishers. Combining a Combo Field with a Combo Finisher will give you a useful secondary effect. For example, firing a Combo Finisher arrow through a Fire Combo Field will set the arrow alight so that it becomes a Fire Arrow and does additional burning damage. Whereas firing an arrow through a Water field will cleanse conditions that you may be suffering from. In group play, coordinating these Combos can massively increase the effectiveness of your team!
More info about Combos can be found at the Guild Wars 2 Wiki.
Downed state and Revival skills
When you hit 0 Hit Points you do not die immediately. Instead you go into a Downed state where you are still alive but dying slowly. In this state you get 4 new skills. The 4th skill is always one where you try to heal yourself, but the other 3 vary depending on your professions. One or more of these skills allows you to do damage even while downed. If you manage to heal yourself or if you manage to kill an enemy while Downed, you come back to life again. You can also be revived by allies.
Most professions have one or more Revival skills which enable you to revive a player who is in the Downed state — but only when they are in that state. Revival skills do not work if the player is fully dead. Nevertheless if you’re going to be doing group play I would strongly advise you to carry at least one Revival skill, it can make a huge different to the overall survivability of your team.
You can find a detailed list of Revival skills at the wiki page.
LFG and joining a Guild
Press Y to bring up the Social panel. Here you can add Friends, look for a party, or join a Guild. I’m Dashwood.3215 if you want to add me there. Ping me and ask for a guild invite to Hidden Tradition.
Representing your Guild
While guild membership is at the account level, guild representation is at the character level. To get access to all of a Guild’s perks, you need to Represent that guild on your character. Open the guild panel by pressing G. On the sidebar, the Account Guilds tab lists all of the guilds you have joined. Select your favorite one and then click the Represent checkbox. You must do this individually for each character, since joining a guild does not automatically require you to Represent it. Similarly, newly-created characters will not represent a guild until you select one for them. To end a character’s representation of a guild, uncheck the checkbox.
To go to your guild’s main base of operations, press G for the Guild panel and click the Guild Hall button on the top right. Look for Nathan the barman to get free booster drinks!