Guild Wars 2: Basic Guide to Game Mechanics

This guide focuses on the B2P experience, since I have never interacted with the F2P version and its restrictions, outside of readings. The vast majority of information present should still be relevant to F2P players. While this is not an exhaustive list, I have compiled many of the major mechanics of the game to help provide a strong baseline of knowledge for new or returning players.

 

Introduction

Relevant Background
  • I have played the game on and off over the last 10 years for a total of over 4,000 hours.
  • I have played a multitude of MMO’s over the years including: GW2, GW1, FF14, ESO, SWTOR, Wildstar, The Secret World, Black desert, New World, Runescape, Archeage, and others.
What is Guild Wars 2 (GW2)?
  • GW2 is a “theme park” style MMORPG taking place in a fantasy setting. By theme park, I mean that this game provides you with activities to engage with (story, world events, PvP, etc.) to get you from point A to point B, rather than expecting you to find your own fun and objectives. WoW, FF14, and ESO are examples of theme park MMO’s.
  • GW2 is very casual friendly and a great deal of it can be experienced solo if you want.
  • For those interested in endgame activities (raiding, pvp, etc.) those are available as well, even though GW2 is not as expansive as other MMO’s in this department since raids were added years after release.
  • GW2 also implements dynamic level scaling so that all content can stay relevant and engaging for players of all levels. This allows high level character to play with lower levels without completely trivializing encounters. Its not perfect, and a geared level 80 will absolutely be better off than a lower-level character, but it gets the job done.
  • GW2 is also very inclusive with its content. By this I mean that exp from kills and events is shared by all participants so you do not have to fight over spawns. As long as you do the minimum amount of damage to an enemy you will receive credit. Harvesting can be accessed by everyone so you do not have to compete for resources. All characters also have the ability to revive other characters (by giving them a sensual rub down) to further increase player interactions.
Versions of the game (Free and Paid)
  • Currently there are two ways to play GW2: free to play (F2P) and buy time play (B2P).
  • There is no subscription fee, period.
  • There are a number of restrictions on F2P accounts (Character slots, bag slots, chat features, game modes, etc.) that you should be aware of if you choose this route. Specific details can be found on the Guild Wars 2 wiki.

Character Creation

Character Slots
  • The game is very alt friendly, with many items being shared across your account, and you are provided with a number of character slots to begin with (5 for paid and 2 for free I believe). From what I have heard you can increase this amount to 72 slots.
Races
  • There are 5 playable races available to players with no gender/racial restrictions for any content. The races are: Human, Norn, Charr, Sylvari, and asura. A very general overview of each race follows.
  • Humans are your typical humanoids that you see in every fantasy game.
  • Norn are akin to “giants” and have the ability to shapeshift into different forms with their elite skills. While it is unique in its application, shapeshifting is more of a novelty than a necessity.
  • Charr are a large feline race that move on all 4’s.
  • Sylvari are the plant-based race similar to elves from other games.
  • Asura are the smallest of all the races and are similar to dwarves/lalafell from other games.
Classes
  • There are 9 classes in the game, three for each Armor archetype (light/medium/heavy).
  • Heavy Classes : Warrior, Guardian, and Revenant.
  • Medium Classes : Thief, Ranger, and Engineer.
  • Light Classes : Elementalist, Necromancer, and Mesmer.
  • Each class currently has 3 elite specs available to them once they hit max level (80) and have unlocked the tracks. These elite specs are akin to advanced classes in other games, with the added benefit of changing them at will at no extra cost. They add new mechanics to the core classes (such as turning a ranger into a healing druid, or thief into a sharpshooting sniper)
  • There are no gender or racial restrictions on any classes.

Combat Mechanics

Tab Targeting
  • The game utilizes tab targeting for combat while still maintaining a relatively active and engaging combat flow. There is no global cooldown for actions, everything is independent.
  • Combat is quick and flashy and revolves heavily around movement to survive.
Action Camera
  • If you want to take a more action-packed approach to combat there is an option to turn on action camera in the settings. This replaces the default cursor with a reticle, and gives the game a feel similar to a shooter (attack with mouse click, look around by moving the mouse, etc.). While this will not override the games tab targeting mechanics (projectiles do not need to be precisely aimed to hit their targets) it does provide a different feel than they basic control scheme.
  • To create a key bind for action cam : “Game Menu” (Cog in top left of screen) > “Options” > “Control Options” (Mouse icon) > scroll down to “Camera” section and pick your binding.
Does not follow the Holy Trinity (for the most part)
  • If you are familiar with MMOs you are likely aware of the holy trinity which consists of a Tank, Healer, and DPS. While these roles are relevenat in the highest levels of content (Raids, Strikes, high tier PvP), the vast majority of the game is not.
  • All classes are given the tools to excel on their own and maintain their own survivability. While it is possible for you to spec as a healer or tank later on, most open world content caters toward dealing damage and mitigating via dodging.
  • This approach allows everyone to get in on the action and makes it easier to engage in early to mid-game instanced content.
Skills (Weapons, Healing, Utility, elite, and profession mechanics)
  • The skill bar consists of 10 slots: 5 for weapons, 1 for healing, 3 for utility, 1 for an elite skill, and additional functions for each classes’ unique profession mechanic.
  • Weapon skills are dependent on your equipped weapon and are different for every class (a longbow for a warrior has different skills than a longbow on a ranger). While no class has access to every weapon in the game, most have a mix of melee and ranged options, even casters. Every class also has access to two weapon sets that most are able to swap between during combat with a relatively short cooldown.
  • Healing skills are also available for ever class. They are unique for each class and can be altered depending on your elite specs.
  • Utility Skills are additional active skills that you can use in addition to your weapon skills.
  • Elite Skills further augment your build with a strong effect that usually has a much longer cooldown than your other skills.
  • Profession Mechanics are unique for each class and a cornerstone of their identity. Examples include: Rangers and their pets, Mesmers and their clones, and Guardians and their virtues. Elite specs further modify these mechanics and provide new ways of interacting with the class.
Traits
  • In addition to your active skills (weapons, utility, profession, etc.) you also have passive abilities known as traits.
  • Every class starts with 5 normal trait lines. 3 elite trait lines (elite specs) have been added to each class, one for each major expansion. While you can use up to 3 normal trait lines at a time, only one elite spec can be used at a time and it can only be placed in the last trait line slot.
  • Each trait line consists of 3 minor skills and 9 major skills.
  • Minor skills are the nodes that connect the columns of the trait line together. These passive effects are always active, once you have unlocked them, and have the trait line equipped.
  • Major skills make up the columns within the trait line. You can only have one from each column active at a time, for a total of three active major skills from each line.
  • Outside of combat, trait lines can be changed on the fly at no cost to the player. There is even an ability to save build templates for even faster changes.
Damage Mitigation
  • Dodging is a major feature of the combat system and is essential for survival. The recharge is relatively short and a player can have anywhere from 1-3 dodges available depending on their class and spec.
  • While “evasion”, “blocking”, and “missing” are features in the game, they are usually tied to skills. Dodging and certain skills provide evasion and completely negate damage. Certain boons (aegis) and skills provide blocking Missing occurs when attacking while blind.
Hostile Area of Effect
  • Hostiles will often times produce damaging areas of effect which are signified by red circles, or cones, on the ground. Depending on the encounter, these areas can be damaging or outright kill the character in one hit.
  • These areas of effect can be mitigated using the various damage mitigation effects previously listed (blocking, dodging, evasion).
Combos
  • Combos are another aspect of the combat system available to all classes. They consist of combo fields and combo finishers. When a combo finisher is activated in, or goes through, a combo field, a combo effect occurs. These can have numerous effects, such as providing a boon in an area, doing extra damage, causing a condition, and many more possibilities.
  • Skills will specify if they create combo fields or finishers and the type they create.
  • Combos can be done independently or cooperatively with others (they place a field and you provide a finisher, or vice versa).
Defiance
  • Defiance is a mechanic that prevents NPC’s from being crowd controlled. Skills that cause crowd controlling effects (knockdown, pulling, immobilize, fear, etc.) deplete defiance bars and once fully depleted the NPC will be briefly stunned before their bar regenerates.
  • Player characters do not have defiance but can use “stability” (a boon) to counteract crowd controlling effects.
Rallying and Reviving
  • Instead of dying instantly, when a players health reaches 0, they become downed. When downed, players gain new downed skills they can utilize to fight back against their attackers with the goal of rallying. If you have played borderlands, it is very similar to that. Each time you rally after being downed you suffer from a death penalty (DP) which will reduce your overall health. Accumulate too much DP in a short time frame and you will be defeated, instead of rallying, the next time you are downed. Being defeated also damages your armor.
  • All players have the ability to rally downed individuals and revive defeated individuals, no resurrection skill needed. Rallying downed individuals takes significantly less time than resurrecting someone who is defeated. Some classes have skills that also allow them to rally others.
  • When defeated you can teleport to a waypoint or wait for someone to come revive you.

The Story

Main Plot
  • The main story of gw2 consists of the base game story, the expansion stories, and the living world seasons between them. The narrative builds off of what comes before, they are not separate stories, so it is best to play everything in order of release if you want to fully grasp the situation.
Core Story
  • The Story of the base game will likely be your initial means of reaching max level. While it branches off in parts, and even starts in different locations depending on your race, around midway through plotlines converge and from that point forward everyone has nearly identical experiences.
Living World Seasons (LWS)
  • Living world seasons are major story events that occur after the core story and lead up to the various expansions. They are similar to the patches in FF14 that add new story beats.
  • New maps, masteries, and even mounts, become available during the various living world seasons.
  • Initially these were free but currently they have to be purchased. There should be a bundle the has all of the, and the expansions included.
  • You can replay these seasons once you have completed them if you choose. You can also skip them on alts if you just want to do the most recent story on a different character.
Expansions
  • Expansions are the culmination, or follow up, of plot threads introduced during the previous living world seasons. If you skipped them, you might be lost on events going into the expansion.
  • Each expansion introduces new mechanics (gliding, mounts, fishing), elite specializations, maps to explore, gear, and more.
  • Expansions are paid content. There should be bundles available contain them and the living world seasons.
Order of Releases
  • Base Game Story
  • LWS1
  • LWS2
  • Heart of Thorns (first expansion)
  • LWS3
  • Path of Fire (expansion 2)
  • LWS4
  • LWS 5 (Icebrood Saga)
  • End of dragons (expansion 3)

Character Progression and Customization

Leveling
  • Level 80 is the max level and can easily be achieved following the main story, map completion, PvP, or through boosts.
Horizontal Progression
  • Instead of vertical progression prominent in other games (where new updates and level cap increases invalidate old gear) GW2 utilizes horizontal progression.
  • The level cap has stayed the same for 10 years and legendary gear has always been the pinnacle of gear.
  • Instead of the endless grind for additional stat progression, endgame revolves around build diversity, cosmetics, alts, and world interactions.
  • This progression system makes it so that if you take a break from the game for an extended period you will still be relevant when you come back.
Armor, Stats, and Trinkets
  • From lowest to highest item rarities are : white (junk) > black (basic) > blue (fine) > green (masterwork) > yellow (rare) > orange (exotic) > pink (ascended) > purple (legendary)
  • The only difference between ascended and legendary, excluding time investment to make them and visual flair, is that you can change the stats and look of legendaries at will and for free. Their stats are the same.
  • In addition to the various weight classes (light, medium, heavy), armor comes in a variety of stat combinations. These stats are per piece, so you can mix and match if you wish, or you can have all pieces amplifying the same stats.
  • Major stats include : Toughness, Vitality, Power, Precision, Ferocity, Condition Damage, Expertise, Healing Power, Boon Duration, and profession specific stats.
  • In addition to armor, you have access to 6 trinket slots: 2 rings, 2 accessories, 1 back piece, and 1 necklace. These trinket slots also come in the same stat combinations as armor and greatly enhance your characters abilities.
  • Runes are additions to armor that increase stats and give passive effects. They come in 6-piece sets, and give set bonuses based on the number you have installed.
  • Sigils provide extra passive effects to the slotted weapon. One handed weapons can have one sigil each while two handed weapons can hold two.
  • Infusions are another form of stat boost that become available in late game. They can be added to weapons and armor and add numerous effects. They are essential to some game modes (Fractals) and min maxing.
Character Appearance
  • It is possible to change your appearance and gender, but not race, after character creation with makeover kits. These come in two varieties: Total makeover kits (change everything about your character) and Hairstyle Kits (change your hair). Both can be purchased from the gem store.
  • There are vendors in major cities that let you preview all the various appearance option available to you for free prior to buying a kit. They are the “mirror and scissors” icon on the map.
Account Vault: Bank, Material Storage, and Wardrobe
  • The very first tab in the account vault is your bank . You can store numerous items here that can be accessed by all your characters. Your initial number of bank tabs will be pretty small but it can be expanded with gems.
  • The second tab in the account vault is your material storage . This is where all the material you gather will be stored in stacks of 250 (this can be increased). You can deposit materials from you inventory at anytime by hitting the deposit materials button in the top right corner of the inventory window.
  • The third tab in the account vault is the wardrobe . This is where all of the various weapon and armor skins you collect will be stored. They are automatically added when you salvage any piece of gear, or you can do it manually by unlocking the gears skin in your inventory (Right click it and choose that option). Once unlocked in this manner that gear will become account bound and can’t be traded.
  • You can view nearly every armor, weapon, outfit, or miniature skin in the game at the wardrobe by right clicking and choosing preview or by clicking the skin with the left mouse button. You are able to preview armor and weapons inaccessible to your class but you can’t preview cultural armor (armor gated by race) of a different race.
Crafting and Gathering
  • The game has a basic crafting system. Gather the necessary resources, go to the corresponding workbench, and press the craft button to create. There is no failure in crafting, you get the expected end result each time.
  • You will often times need a recipe in order to craft something. These can be purchased from vendors or the trade post or looted from enemies. Once you have a recipe, the required level in its profession, and the necessary resources, all that’s left is to find the correct crafting station and make it.
  • There is a discovery feature where you put in random items with the intention of finding new recipes. This is very useful when it comes to leveling the various crafting professions.
  • Crafting is most effective at endgame since it is one of the few ways to get ascended gear, which is account bound.
  • Various gathering tools are utilized to gain the resources for crafting. They include: Axes (wood), Pickaxes (ore), and sickles (plants). These come in different rarities, with higher rarities needed to gather higher tier resources.
  • Gathering with a tool lower level than the resource will cause the attempt to fail and provide you with ruined resources, a useless commodity.
  • Gathering tools can also be outfitted with glyphs which give them addition effects (gather faster, more gathering attempts, addition resources, etc.).
Masteries
  • The living world seasons introduced masteries to the game as an additional means of progression. Many of the mechanics are map specific and can only be leveled up in certain maps.
  • Masteries usually provide new ways of interacting with the open world, such as using mushrooms as jump pads to reach higher elevations, granting access to locked locations, and making new vendors available.
  • Mounts and gliders also have their own mastery tracks that unlocks additional functionalities when leveled.
  • All masteries are leveled by gaining experience through events and defeating foes in the corresponding open world environment.
Achievements
  • Various accomplishments throughout the game provide the player with achievement points. Excluding the first achievement chest, granted at 100 points, players will receive an achievement chest every 500 points they gain (at 500, 1000, 1500, etc.). These chests can contain account boosts to gold/karma, gems, and skins.
  • Some achievements also come with titles that will show up under your character’s name.
  • Some weapons and armor are exclusive to achievements.

Traversal and World Navigation

Waypoints
  • Waypoints are fast travel points available in every map. Once activated you can travel to them from anywhere in the world by clicking them on them in your map and paying the listed fee. There is no cooldown on such fast travel, the only restrictions are: having the waypoint unlocked, it being uncontested, and you having the money for the trip.
Asura Gates
  • Asura gates are another form of fast travel available in major cities. They are portals that can take you to completely new regions at no extra cost.
  • They are very useful when first starting out, but less so once you have all the waypoints.
Gliding
  • Introduced in the first expansion (Heart of Thorns), gliders allow the player to soar through the air and avoid plummeting to one’s death. Some maps have air drafts that will help elevate you when gliding, but for the most part gliding is used for downward descents.
  • Once unlocked, gliding will be available to all characters on your account. The feature is also accessible in all maps, with few restrictions.
  • Some areas (such as jumping puzzles) are designated as “no fly zones” and will dismount you if you glide through them. Gliders can only under certain conditions in WvW.
Mounts
  • Introduced in the second expansion (Path of Fire), mounts are traversal tools that help the player navigate the world much faster than on foot.
  • Unlike most other MMO’s, where mounts are just speed boosts with different looks, each mount in GW2 functions differently and has its own pros and cons. One is great at vertical ascension, one is very nimble and has great control, some are capable of flying, some can travel across water or deadly sands, etc.
  • Mounts also have their own active skills and mastery skill lines which provide them with unique abilities when riding or dismounting them.
  • Once unlocked all characters on your account will have access to your mounts and any progression made towards their masteries.
Skiffs and Fishing
  • Introduced in the third expansion (End of Dragons), fishing adds the ability to ride skiffs and go fishing.
  • Multiple players are able to ride along on your skiff with you and go fishing.
  • Once unlocked, all characters on your account will have access to your skiff and fishing as well as any progression made towards masteries. Fishing does require bait.
  • New fishing spots were added to core game areas so that the skiff and fishing would be relevant outside the expansion’s zones.

PvE (Player vs Environment) Experience

Main Story
  • This will likely be your main method of reaching max level on your first character but is by no means the only way. The story will take you through a variety of regions in the game, but not all of them, as the plot unfolds.
Zone Exploration
  • Exploration is a major component of the PvE experience, especially when leveling, and can provide you with plenty of rewards.
  • All maps in the core game include: Points of interest (PoI’s), Vistas, Waypoints, Renown hearts (not in major cities), and hero points (not in major cities). Completing all of these activities in the zone will give you map completion rewards and a chance of getting a black lion key, used to open black lion chests.
  • Points of Interest (Small white and orange squares) are exactly what the sound like. They normally don’t have any particular function but they do add life and history to zones.
  • Waypoints (Diamonds with a blue core) are your fast travel and spawn points in a zone.
  • Vistas (Double red triangles) give you a nice view of the surrounding area as the camera pans around showing off the level design.
  • Renown hearts (Yellow hearts; initially empty but fill as you progress them) are essentially the fetch quests of GW2. Most require you to do a task in a designated area a certain number of times until the heart fills and it is completed. Once completed, the renown heart NPC becomes a vendor who can sell you various goods. Most of these are pretty generic but some add some unique mechanics (shape shifting, sneaking, etc.).
  • Hero points (White triangle with a person inside) are present in the core maps and in expansion maps. They are needed to unlock traits in the trait tree.
  • Scouts (telescope icon) are in some maps and can help direct you to various features of the zone.
Jumping Puzzles and Mini Dungeons
  • Some zones have jumping puzzles and mini-dungeons hidden in them for avid explorers to find.
Events
  • Events are one of the major means of gaining exp while exploring zones. They will spawn throughout each zone and require you to do a variety of tasks to complete them. Some are escorts, some are about gathering supplies, some revolve around combat encounters, and some consist of all of the above.
Meta Events
  • Meta Events are zone wide events that are progressed by doing the various regular events that spawn in the zone. Many of them culminate in a boss encounter or massive battle. They are more prominent in later game regions but some low to mid-range areas have them.
World Bosses
  • World bosses are a type of event that spawn in specific zones. Often times many players in the zone will show up to take them on for the rewards. They are present in early and late game zones.
Dungeons
  • Dungeons were the original endgame PvE content when the game first launched. While their relevancy has decreased significantly, it is still possible to get groups fairly often.
  • Dungeons are entirely optional and are not required parts of the story. They become available pretty early on and go up to level 80.
  • Dungeons consist of a story route and multiple explorable routes.
  • The story route is usually easier and more cinematic than the explorable routes. At least one person in your group needs to have completed the story of the dungeon to enter the explorable routes.
  • The explorable routes expand on the dungeon area and ad unique encounters. A person who has completed the story is required to open up the explorable instance. No key or resource necessary, they simply need to walk into the portal and choose explorable. Which route you take is put to a vote inside the instance, and decided by simple majority.
  • Completion of dungeons in explorable mode provides a currency that can be utilized to buy dungeon specific weapons and armor with their own unique skins.
  • In order to enter a dungeon, you must be physically in the zone while the dungeon instance is occupied by a party member. You do not need to trek all the way to the physical entrance since a pop up will show up to let you teleport inside. Who ever opens the instance does need to travel to the dungeons physical location to get it started.
Fractals
  • Fractals are arguably the replacement for dungeons and are very active. They take place in a variety of locations with a multitude of mechanics to make encounters more difficult. They also come with difficulty scaling, up to level 100, for even greater challenge.
  • Fractals are one of the major ways of gaining ascended gear and infusions.
  • Fractals can be accessed in Lions Arch.
Strikes
  • Strikes are relatively new 10-man endgame encounters that consist of fighting an instanced boss.
    Raids
    • Raids are considered the most challenging of the various PvE endgame options. They are 10-man instances, similar to strikes, and consists of multiple encounters. If you have raided in other MMO’s you are likely familiar with how raids work.
    Guild Missions
    • Guilds missions are a variety of events that guilds can partake in every week for guild and individual rewards. Activities span PvE and PvP aspects of the game and include: Guild Puzzles, Bounties, Challenges, Treks, Races, and grouping to do various PvP modes.
    Seasonal Festivals
    • Throughout the year GW2 celebrates various seasonal festivals. These festivals last for a couple weeks and introduce new areas and activities that are unavailable normally.
    • There are currently 6 seasonal festivals that are celebrated, each providing its own unique activities and rewards.
    • These activities are open to players of all levels and located in major hubs for easy access.

PvP (Player vs Player) Experience

The Mists
  • The mists is the main hub for Structured PvP (sPvP). You can access it at anytime after doing the brief tutorial by pressing the crossed sword icon in the top left of the screen and choosing the option to “enter PvP lobby”.
  • In the mists everyone is scaled up to level 80 and stats are normalized. Some traits and abilities work differently in PvP than they do in PvE and they will specify this in their descriptions.
  • In the mists, instead of armor, your stats will be derived from an amulet. You can switch them out as you wish in this lobby and even purchase some for gold. Clicking the helmet icon when in the mists (top center of screen) will show you your PvP amulet, Runes, Weapons and Sigils.
  • The mists is a great place to test builds and get a feel of what a class is like at level 80. You will be granted access to all traits and abilities in the mists to test things out and there are even NPC’s you can fight to test out builds, as well as a free for all arena with other players.
Structured PvP (sPvP)
  • Structured PvP is accessed by the two swords icon just like the mists but instead of going to the lobby you pick the game mode you wish to play.
  • There are unranked and ranked game modes available consisting of relatively small teams (5 or less).
  • sPvP has its own reward track and ranking system you can work towards and it is even possible to create legendary armor through sPvP.
World vs World (WvW)
  • World vs World is about the only content that is impacted by your server. It can be accessed via the icon that looks like a castle (or “Rook” chess piece…), just left of the sPvP icon.
  • In this game mode players from 3 servers face off in large maps to gain control of the land. While this mode is predominantly PvP oriented there are some hostile NPCs involved as well to keep things alive and engaging.
  • Players are capable of building siege equipment (Golems, Arrow Carts, Rams, Ballista’s, Trebuchet, etc.) to combat opposing forces and overtake their keeps.
  • WvW has numerous reward tracks, legendary armor set, and even its own unique mount.
  • WvW is not immediately accessible (must be 31 for paid, and at least one level 60 for free players, according to the wiki) but once in your stats will be scaled to that of a level 80.

Player-to-Player Interactions

Guilds
  • Guilds are one of the social features available to players in GW2. A player is capable of being in 5 at a time.
  • Guilds can claim guild halls and build them up with various furnishings. Some guilds have even built race tracks in their halls, showing just how creative you can be.
Groups
  • Basic groups can consist of up to 5 players. Most content, excluding strikes and raids, revolves around this smaller composition.
Squads
  • Players can also form squads of anywhere from 10 – 50 players, depending on who created the squad. These are a great way of engaging with meta events throughout the various maps and other large group activities, such as guild missions.
Looking for Group (LFG)
  • The game has a LFG system that lets you create, advertise, and search for parties for various activities. This is one of the main ways you can get a party to do dungeons or join in on meta events.
Servers (Worlds)
  • While the game does have multiple worlds, they only have an impact on who you face in WvW (within your region: NA or EU).
  • Outside of WvW everyone is located within an instance of a single megaserver. If you wish to play with players in a different instance, it is as easy as right clicking their portrait and joining on them, if there is room in the instance.
  • There is an option to transfer servers if you wish to be on another one for WvW reasons.

The Economy and Trade

Black Lion Trading Company
  • The Black Lion Trading Company is the auction house / trading post (TP) in the game. Unlike some MMOs where you have to bid for items, here all you have to do is place an order and you can get your items almost instantly. You can sell or buy items of all types here, with copper, silver and gold being the only accepted currency. The trading post takes various listing and exchange fees from whatever you sell as a tax. Whatever you buy or sell can be picked up at the black lion representatives available in all main cities (scales icon).
  • While there is no direct player-to-player trade interface, it is possible to mail stuff.
Copper, Silver, and Gold
  • These are the three main currencies used throughout the game, with greater emphasis on gold and silver over copper. Anything purchased or sold on the TP is done with these currencies as well as transactions with most NPC vendors.
Karma
  • Karma is a currency rewards from a variety of activities (events, renown hearts, etc.) and is used to purchase items from a number of vendors throughout the game.
Map Currencies
  • There is a plethora of map currencies in the game, with many living world maps having their own unique type. They are used at the vendors in the corresponding maps, in conjunction with gold or karma, to purchase their goods.
Account Wallet
  • The vast majority of currencies in the game are collected in your account wallet, which is accessible to all of your characters. If you open you inventory and go to the bottom right corner you will be able to expand your wallet to see all the currencies you have.

The Cash Shop

The Gem Store (Cash Shop)
  • The game does have a cash shop called the gem store. The premium currency is called gems which can be purchased with real money, in game gold, or awarded from some achievements. The conversion rate of gold to gems is relatively stable and due to the relative ease of making gold it is a relative fair system as far as cash shops go. The items for sale are mostly cosmetic or convenience items (unlimited salvage or gathering tools, transmutation charges, etc.)
  • Due to the ability to convert gold to gems and vice versa, it is technically possible to “buy gold”. A $25 gem card (what most stores sell) can get you a few hundred gold which you can use to buy stuff off the trading post or from various NPCs in the game. Technically speaking, if you wanted to spend the money, you could use this to buy legendary weapons off the trading post and have best in slot weapons for a few hundred dollars. While this is possible, I would not advise it since the main allure of said weapons are their skins and free stat swaps over their stats. The difference between an exotic and a legendary is like 5% and ascended weapons, tier above exotics, have the same stats as legendaries and can only be earned in game.
Black Lion Chests (Loot Boxes)
  • Black lion chests are the loot boxes of the game and require black lion keys to open. It is possible to get theses as rewards from map completion or as rewards from certain story steps. There is a reliable way to farm one a week per account as well. The contents of these chests are cosmetic and often times they can even be sold on the trading post for gold at relatively cheap prices.

Conclusion

If it isn’t obvious by now, or by the length of this post, I highly recommend this game. While it may not be perfect, no game is after all, it has many features that allow it to stand out from its competitors and stay engaging, even 10 years in.

The game respects your time and does not require a commitment if you don’t want one. Stop playing for a year? No problem, all of your gear is still relevant, give or take a few balance patches. Strapped for cash? Thankfully there is no subscription so you can either remain free or pay once and never again (except for expansions).

Combat is engaging and fast paced and build crafting with the various classes is very enlightening. The unique approach that the game takes to the “Holy Trinity” (Tank, Healer, and DPS) is also refreshing to see, even if some endgame content still leans on such roles. Most encounters are accessible without reverting to this mindset though.

While the visuals might not be for everyone, the game provides and overabundance of ways to customize your characters look with the wardrobe system which many of us have spent way too many hours playing with.

The cash shop is arguably one of the fairest in the genre and even allows you to generate the premium currency in game, and a relatively steady rate once you know how to make gold. While such features are not for everyone, and some of the cosmetics are gated almost exclusively by the cash shop, for a game that is B2P with no subscription of any kind, I have no complaints.

I would recommend the game to anyone interested in trying out a different flavor of MMO. While it may not have introduced new concepts to the genre, Arena Net (the developers), have gone above and beyond to make what is present stand out from the crowd. Just look at our mounts, emphasis on player interaction, and combat system to see what I mean.

While there many not be a “the best MMO” out there, I can confidently say that GW2 is the best for me.

Tips

  • Go to the mists to test out builds. If you find the leveling experience dull or want to use a level boost, I highly recommend going to the mists first and testing out how the class functions when fully unlocked. This can save you from investing in a class that you don’t like in the long run and wasting time/resources on it.
  • Use the Wiki. There is a highly detailed wiki for GW2. You can even access it in game by typing “/wiki” in the chat box.
  • Don’t burn yourself out. If you ever get bored of playing, take a break. Due to how progression works, and the lack of a subscription fee, you are not obligated to force yourself to stay active daily. Play some other games, go on vacation, do whatever. If and when you come back everything thing you earned will still be viable.
  • Avoid mounts until the 2nd expansion. This is more of a suggestion than a tip, but I would recommend avoiding mounts until you reach PoF. The base game and all content leading up to PoF were build with on foot movement in mind, so mounts are not necessary. They absolutely have their uses but they can also take away from the experience of the world for some. The map design in the core areas is very generous with waypoints for fast travel, so besides competing against mounted players you wont have too many issues. The choice is yours, and there is a free trial to test out the raptor mount so you can get a feel for what is in store later down the road. Just some food for thought.
  • You can preview dyes, weapons and gear on the trading post. Just right click and choose the option and it will show you how it looks on your character, when drawn, and by itself. This is very useful when previewing armor in the wardrobe when you want to see how dye impacts your look.
  • Copper fed solvage-o-matic. If you buy anything from the gem store get this. Arguably one of the best convenience items in the game and saves you from having to worry about salvage kits.

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