Level 80 Survival Handbook - How to Solo Anything

Introduction

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Reaching level 80 in Guild Wars 2 is only the beginning. Once you go into Heart of Thorns or Path of Fire, the tutorial stops and the real game begins. Gear progression is replaced by skill progression: instead of the generic tank-and-spank enemies you find wandering around Core Tyria, you'll encounter more dangerous enemies that require good reflexes and tactical thinking to overcome.
This guide is a resource for all players who want to improve at solo PvE. It's especially relevant for new level 80 players, and will provide tips and tricks for dealing with the difficulty spike after the Personal Story. However, it's worth a read for even veteran PvE players, as you might get a fresh perspective or learn new tactics you didn't know about.

Rule Zero

This is the most fundamental rule of combat:
Kill the enemies before they kill you.
While this may sound simple, the ramifications of this rule are important. To get better at solo PvE, you have to get better at killing enemies before they kill you.
You can think of this rule as an equation with two parts:
  • the damage you deal to enemies, and
  • the damage you receive from enemies.
As long as the former is greater than the latter, you will win. Thus, getting better at Guild Wars 2 is about maximizing the damage you deal and minimizing the damage you receive to make this equation work in your favor.

Dealing More Damage

Dealing damage is something a lot of inexperienced PvE players don't put enough focus on. This is because the effects of taking too much damage are a lot more obvious than the effects of dealing too little damage. If you're getting killed by enemies, it must be because you didn't have enough defense, right?
The truth is that dealing high damage is also a form of defense. Remember, your objective is to kill enemies before they kill you. With high enough damage, the vast majority of enemies literally evaporate before they can threaten you. It doesn't matter how deadly their attacks are if they simply never have the chance to use them.
Even when fighting enemies that can't be killed in one opening burst, dealing high damage means the enemy has fewer opportunities to attack. This means you will take less damage in total and have fewer opportunities to mess up.
To deal good damage, you should concentrate on the following:


  • Make sure you have a build that can deal good damage.
You can't reach the finish line with a broken-down car. If you have gear on your character that isn't level 80 and exotic, replace it. If you don't know how to optimize for damage, get a build from MetaBattle's Open World section or ask around on the internet.


  • Use your important buffs and damaging skills whenever you have the opportunity.
This is also known as a "DPS priority" or "DPS rotation." To deal good damage, you must use your skills correctly and know what order to use them in. In hectic fights it's easy to panic and fall back on autoattacking, but persevere: the more you practice your DPS rotation, the more you'll get the hang of it, and it will eventually become second nature to you.


  • When using skills that can hit more than one target, hit as many targets as possible.
Every extra enemy you hit is a multiplier for your damage. Most damaging skills can hit at least three, if not five targets. Take advantage of this by positioning yourself properly and luring or pulling enemies into your area-of-effect attacks.


  • Most importantly, don't be afraid to be reckless.
You can go full glass cannon and get away with a lot more than you might imagine. Remember that enemies can't kill you if you kill them first.

Taking Less Damage

Once you're confident in your ability to deal damage, the next step is avoiding damage. This is the more difficult part of the equation to master, because how you deal damage is always the same, but how you avoid damage varies from fight to fight.
The most important part of avoiding damage, and the part that many inexperienced players neglect, is understanding where the damage comes from. If you don't know which enemy attacks to avoid, you'll spend a lot of time on the floor wondering how your health disappeared so quickly. Thus, learning enemy attack patterns is a key part of avoiding damage.
The first few times you go up against a difficult enemy, you're probably going to die -- and that's okay. Even the highest-end raiders get their butts kicked by bosses they haven't seen before. The important thing is to keep your eyes open during the fight and carefully observe the enemy's movements and skills. After every death or near-death encounter, take a moment to ask these questions:
  • How did I die?
  • Can I stand somewhere to avoid that?
  • Can I avoid that by dodging or blocking?
  • Can I avoid that with blinds or reflects?
  • Is it in the form of conditions I can cleanse?
  • Can I interrupt it with CC?
  • If it's unavoidable, can I mitigate or heal through the damage?
  • Can I swap any equipment or use any consumables to make this easier?
By learning enemy attacks and thinking critically about your failed attempts, you'll be able to refine your strategy and better prepare for your next attempt.


Positioning

The number one cause of all deaths is standing in the wrong place. It's an old MMO adage: "Don't stand in the fire." If you're taking a lot of constant damage and don't know where it's coming from, chances are there's some sort of pulsing area damage under your feet.
Avoiding this sort of damage is fairly straightforward, as long as you keep one eye on the ground at all times. Thankfully, fights with lots of area damage rarely have other attacks that you need to watch out for. If you have difficulty seeing the boundaries of enemy skills, make sure "Disable Area of Effect Rings" is turned off in your combat options.
In addition to positioning to avoid area damage, some enemies have attacks that you can completely avoid by standing in a specific location. For instance, you can walk out of the telegraphed area of effect of boss attacks, or stand behind an obstacle to block ranged attacks. If an enemy mainly does melee attacks, you may be able to walk behind the enemy to avoid them, or stand on a raised platform where the attack doesn't hit you.

Dodging and Blocking

The number two cause of all deaths is failing to dodge or block an attack. Dodges are incredibly powerful in Guild Wars 2: unlike other MMOs, which often limit access to defensive skills, Guild Wars 2 lets you completely ignore all damage for a short period of time every 10 seconds. Take advantage of this by dodging early and often.
Dodges and blocks are especially important for avoiding damage because most enemies don't deal much damage with normal attacks. What you have to watch out for are their special skills, which usually have easily recognizable animations and a recharge time between uses. As long as you dodge or block these skills -- or even just move out of the way before they hit -- you can nullify most of an enemy's combat effectiveness.

Blinds and Reflects

Skills that blind enemies or reflect projectiles can be used to avoid damage. These skills are most powerful when there's a lot of constant incoming damage that you can't feasibly dodge, but you can avoid with blinds (if the enemies can be blinded) or reflects (if the damage is in the form of projectiles). The short breather afforded by these skills is usually enough to kill or cripple whatever enemies are threatening you.

CC

Crowd control (CC) is another way to disable enemies and prevent them from hitting you. Area-of-effect CC can divide a large mob of enemies into more manageable groups, or grant you a few seconds of uninterrupted DPS while your enemies are incapacitated. Against enemies with breakbars, CC can be used to interrupt and cancel their damaging attacks before they strike.

Mitigation and Sustain

Gear and Consumables

Fighting Multiple Enemies

Target Priority

Skirmish Positioning

Aggro and Pulling

The Enemy Encyclopedia

Living World Season 2

Dust Devils

Karka

  • Karka Hatchlings
  • Veteran Karka

Mordrem

  • Jungle Tendrils
  • Mordrem Leeching Thrashers
  • Mordrem Trolls

Heart of Thorns

Cave Screamers

Chak

  • Chak Bracers / Chak Sappers
  • Chak Lobbers / Chak Slingers
  • Chak Blitzers / Chak Zappers

Coztic Itzel

  • Coztic Bladedancers
  • Coztic Shadowleapers

Mordrem

  • Mordrem Guard Punishers
  • Mordrem Guard Snipers
  • Mordrem Guard Stalkers
  • Mordrem Vinetooths

Mushrooms

  • Mushroom Bombers
  • Mushroom Chargers

Saurians

  • Arrowheads
  • Bristlebacks
  • Pocket Raptors
  • Rolling Devils / Bonebreakers
  • Smokescales / Smogscales
  • Stoneheads

Wyverns

Living World Season 3

Jade Constructs

  • Jade Armors
  • Jade Bows

Mercenaries

  • Magma Elementals

Unchained

  • Unchained Gorillas
  • Unchained Kingpins

White Mantle

Path of Fire

Awakened

  • Awakened Abominations
  • Awakened Canids
  • Awakened Occultists

Branded

  • Branded Minotaurs
  • Branded Earth Elementals
  • Branded Forgotten Zealots

Djinn

Forged

  • Forged Cannonades
  • Forged Sharpshooters
  • Forged Forerunners

Harpies

  • Harpy Predators
  • Harpy Spellbreakers

Wildlife

  • Choya
  • Fanged Ibogas
  • Jacarandas
  • Sand Lions
  • Hydras
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