The following guide covers basic advice for leveling a character and includes information on how to level up and options that can make leveling more efficient. It is important that this guide be treated like a guideline rather than a list of hard rules; do not just blindly follow it. Instead, think about what's convenient and important to you, and use this guide to fill in the blanks.
In Guild Wars 2, leveling up is a major part of the game. You start leveling right away by finishing the tutorial and you don't ever stop.
As a new player, your goal shouldn't generally be to get to level 80 (the maximum base level) as fast as possible but rather to enjoy and learn the game. Guild Wars 2's leveling process is smooth and well thought out, so taking your time can be as rewarding as any other activity you might choose to do. There are a number of ways to gain experience:
In this style of leveling, you explore the world and complete hearts and dynamic events, unlock waypoints and points of interest, view vistas, and interact with the core world of Tyria. This also involves doing dungeons and completing your Personal Story. This is the style of leveling primarily covered in this guide, as it requires you to make decisions about your build fairly early on.
There are a number of sources to look out for when earning experience through the "standard" methods, including:
- Map Completion - Exploring the world and discovering new areas is the primary way to level early on. Completing hero challenges and hearts or uncovering vistas or waypoints will grant experience equal to a percentage of your level.
- Events - While exploring, orange "Dynamic Events" may be encountered. Completing these rewards a large amount of experience based on your level.
- Dungeons - Dungeons are unlocked at level 30 and grant experience equal to 75% of the experience between your current level and the next. This means if a player is already at 50% of the level, completing a dungeon would level them up and grant additional experience into their new level.
- Monster Kills - Killing any enemy grants experience based on the creature's level and how long it has been alive. Often, it is a good idea to kill "neutral" creatures, as they have often been alive for longer than hostile creatures and will grant significant experience.
Training any crafting profession grants experience for each successful craft, granting far more experience if the player is under level 15 or has a currently active Booster. Since training at least one or two professions is strongly recommended, this can be a good option to level new characters or to finish out the final few levels of an existing character.
Tomes and Writs of Experience
Tomes and Writs can be obtained through many different methods in the game, primarily through sPvP and World vs World. Some can also be gained as part of the daily Login Reward systems. A Tome of Experience will grant 100% of the difference between the players current level and the player's next level, while a Writ of Experience grants 5%. It is fine to use these as they are acquired. After level 80, they can be useful for gaining Spirit Shards, a valuable currency, or for leveling alts quickly.
Level 80 Boosts come with the expansions and can also be bought in the gemstore. These boost your character directly to level 80 in addition to granting them a basic set of starting gear. The gear and build granted to you by a level 80 boost is typically very poor but will suffice while you get your start as a fresh level 80. The boost also grants a number of other benefits, such as unlocking all the level 80 waypoints and giving you a very small amount of starting gold.
It is heavily recommended that you avoid boosting to level 80 for your first character. The game can be quite overwhelming, as there is an incredible amount to learn. Take it slow, get a feel for the combat system.
Level Up Rewards
Each player gains special rewards and unlocks each time they level, until they hit level 80. These are called Level Up Rewards, and while most of them aren't especially useful, some will be used and referenced in this guide.
Dungeons are a useful resource for new players, as they can help teach you how some late-game instanced content, such as a fractals, will work. Dungeons can range in difficulty from "impossible to fail" to "harder than most end-game content", but in general they are an excellent way to introduce yourself to instanced PVE. Dungeons are also a significant source of income at lower levels.
There are eight dungeons in total. You will unlock a new dungeon in each tier of your progression, and each dungeon has two modes - "Story" and "Explorable".
The dungeon is relatively easy and popular, so it is recommended that you complete the story and the three Explorable paths when you are comfortable doing so.
- Note that especially for Explorable Path 1 (Hodgins), your group should be primarily Power focused, as otherwise you will have a hard time in Hodgins's first Scepter Room.
- Note that a thief who knows how to chain stealth can make this dungeon much, much easier.
- A good thief can stealth the party through the dangerous blooms. Blooms can also be destroyed with ranged weapons.
- It is advised to bring projectile reflects against the dredge, as they often have very hard-hitting projectiles.
Citadel of Flame
If the COF entrance is locked behind a wall of spikes and fire, the "Escort Razen the Raider to the Gates of Flame" and "Hold the Gates of Flame Against Waves of Flame Legion" events will need to be completed to unlock it.
- Classes with portals, such as Thief, Necro, or Mesmer, can be extremely useful in this dungeon.
Honor of the Waves
- Paths 2 and 3 of this dungeon contain underwater combat.
Crucible of Eternity
- This dungeon requires decent party coordination in several areas, as well as high DPS from the party.
The Ruined City of Arah
Arah contains four Explorable Modes: The Jotun, The Mursaat, The Forgotten, and The Seer. Each path has completely different bosses and mechanics other than the midboss - Giganticus Lupicus. Lupi is a major obstacle for most groups due to his extremely high health and damage in addition to his "Grub" mechanic which is often quite a challenge for newer players. While there are ways to exploit Lupi into being relatively easy, it can be beneficial to cut your teeth on him as he is simple to learn but can be quite difficult even when compared to some other end-game bosses.
As you are already level 80, you will not need to complete any of the Arah Explorable Paths. Arah can be found here: [&BCADAAA=]
- Sometimes the entrance to Arah will be locked by an event that spawns there. The event is much shorter than COE or COF's events and spawns less frequently.
Upgrade Gear Often
Even Common (white) gear of a slightly higher level can outclass Masterwork (green) gear of a lower level, so upgrading your gear often can be critical. You can visit Armorsmiths and Weaponsmiths that you find to obtain Common gear that you can use - Be sure to compare the stats on the gear you're looking at with what you're wearing by hovering over it. If the numbers are red, they're lower. Green? Higher. This can be a good way to keep your stats up to par as you level up.
Note that there is an easily-accessible Armorsmith and Weaponsmith in the PVP lobby which will sell you Common Gear of your level tier.
Stick with Power
You always want to focus on gear that has Power as its main attribute Pre-80. The secondary and tertiary characteristics of the gear can effectively be whatever you want, but Power should be your primary focus. Couple it with Toughness for more defense or Precision for more damage. Avoid Condition Damage, as Pre-80 builds can seldom make effective use of it outside of a few exceptions.
Take It Slow
You can grind out a level 80 by hand in just a few hours if you're dedicated and know the routes, but that's not going to be recommended here. You want to absorb the game, get a feel for its combat system. Guild Wars 2 is very different than many other MMOs, so rushing to 80 won't do you any good.
This one actually applies to the whole game, but Guild Wars 2 is a social game. While its fine to play solo, bringing in friends can make the game more fun and rewarding. You can use the LFG tool if you own the core game or the expansions, so don't be afraid to post looking for more folks!
Follow the Content Guide
This one is more of a preference than anything; just under or above your minimap you will see an arrow pointing to nearby objectives. While leveling, it is recommended to follow this objective compass which will lead you towards new content.
You can also ignore it, or even change what kind of content it will point to, but if you're a bit lost this is a helpful tool to use.
There are a large number of consumables which will boost your experience gain, in fact there are too many to list here. Some of the more common consumables include:
- Nourishment (food) - 10-15% bonus to all experience gained. Obtain these from crafting or as drops!
- Enhancement (utilities) - 10-15% bonus to all experience gained. Obtain these from crafting or as drops!
- Banners & Guild Buffs - 5-10% bonus to experience. Obtained via Guild Commendations or found in frequently-traveled locations.
- Experience Boosters - There are many types of these, such as Birthday Boosters, Celebration Boosters, Experience Boosters, and Laurel Experience Boosters. These can boost your experience gain by up to 150% and some will also grant you "kill streak" experience boosts for chaining monster kills together.
- Note that Celebration Boosters will usually stack with Experience Boosters
If this is a bit overwhelming, that's totally fine! Try and at least use some food and utilities frequently, as the slight bonus to experience they grant is significant over time.
This section focuses on choices to be made specific to each class. While these aren't necessarily leveling "builds", they can serve as a general guideline for traits, skills, and weapons you might choose when leveling one of the classes below. It is recommended to experiment with weapons, skills, and traits that suit your taste, rather than copying the choices below, but you can use these as a reference point for said experimentation.
Note that the options below assume that you are focusing on gear with Power. This should always be the case while under level 80, as condition damage lacks most of its important aspects at low levels.
Elementalist's profession mechanic is "Attunements" which come in four flavors: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. Attuning to a different element will change the skills currently on your skillbar as if you had equipped new weapons. This makes Elementalist somewhat complex, as it has a very large number of skills due to this mechanic.
While leveling as Elementalist, it is recommended to use either Scepter or Dagger as your mainhand weapon, with Focus or Dagger as your offhand. Doing this, you will rely heavily on for damage.
and are extremely powerful skills. You can rely on these for both defense (When cast in ) and offense ( and ). At higher levels, can also be a very powerful tool. , , and are also excellent options.
Until you get mounts, is a good option for the movement speed.
When first unlocking traits, it is highly recommended to go for Fire.
Arcane and Water will offer a mixture of offense and defense, while Air will offer a massive damage increase if taken after Fire. Earth offers some defense, but tends to perform poorly under level 80.
Engineer's Profession Mechanic is the Toolbelt. The skills on your toolbelt will change based on the Healing Skill, Utilities, and Elite Skill you choose. This is very similar to Elementalist's Attunements in some ways. This gives Engineer a rather large number of skill options at once and can be overwhelming. It is recommended to take it slow when learning Engineer and to spend time familiarizing yourself with the Toolbelt and what each new skill does.
Engineer is heavily limited on its choice of weapons due to the aforementioned Kit mechanics. While leveling, Rifle is basically the best option as Pistols do very, very low damage. Fortunately, we can create a build that does not rely on the base weapon used and instead relies heavily on kits.
should be the immediate goal when leveling an Engineer. Its Skill 1 deals very high damage. is another powerful option due to and its relatively good ranged damage, however new players may find this skill somewhat difficult to use due to its reliance on Ground Targeting. When leveling, it is completely viable to camp Bomb Kit and spam 1 while occasionally swapping to Grenade Kit to use Skill 2, 4, and 5.
Other strong skills include , , and . can also be a great option for extra mobility.
When leveling, it is often best to aim for either Explosives or Firearms first.
Afterwards, aim for the other that wasn't taken. Tools can also be taken for a mixture of defense and offense, while Alchemy is a very powerful defensive specialization. Inventions is somewhat weak pre-80, but can be good if taking several Turrets.
Guardian's profession mechanic is called "Virtues". As a core guardian, there are three Virtues available: , , and . These Virtues each have a passive effect, which occurs naturally, and an active effect which places the passive on cooldown. These are relatively simple to use compared to some other profession mechanics.
Greatsword is core guardian's bread and butter, and it is highly recommended to use it as your primary weapon. For secondary weapons, Sword/Focus is generally the best option, but Scepter/Focus will allow for some ranged engagement. Note that if using the Valor traitline, a Shield instead of Focus can be very strong.
is one of Guardian's most powerful skills, and this remains true even in end-game open world, raids, and fractals. This skill deals high damage and applies Vulnerability, which increases all damage the target takes. This should be one of the first skills you aim for when leveling your Guardian.
Other powerful skills include for crowd control, for damage, and for defense, and for projectile hate. Also note that is an exceptionally powerful heal skill which can keep you alive even through extremely high incoming damage so long as you stay attacking things.
It is highly recommended to aim for Zeal as your first specialization. This will grant you higher Vulnerability uptime and a large boost to damage.
After Zeal, feel free to explore Radiance for more DPS, Virtues for both DPS and defense, Honor for defense and allied support, or Valor for extremely high personal defense.
Illusions and Shatters
Mesmer's profession mechanic comes in two flavors. The active skills are called Shatters, and each performs a different role from damage to crowd control to defense. Complementing these Shatters are Mesmer's Illusions. These come in two varieties: Phantasms and Clones. Clones are created through a variety of sources and will use the Skill 1 of whatever weapon they were summoned with. For example, if you create a Clone while wielding a Greatsword, your Clone will use . Phantasms are only created through specific weapon or utility skills, and possess their own powerful attack. Once their attack is finished, a Phantasm will disappear and become a CLone.
These two mechanics work together: Shatters will "consume" any existing Clones (up to three). The more clones a Shatter consumes, the more powerful the Shatter becomes. This mechanic remains relevant in virtually every Mesmer build in the game, so it is important to begin getting used to it even early on.
Unlike other classes, Mesmer actually does have a few weapons that can be rather poor to use at early levels: Specifically Torch, Staff, and Scepter. These weapons will do absymally low damage at early levels and are typically best avoided. Instead, Greatsword and Sword/Sword are often the best options, though offhand Focus and Pistol can be potent as well.
is one of Mesmer's strongest skills early on. This skill is a cast-and-forget ability which deals damage in an area around your target. and can also be quite powerful, even at low levels, due to their ability to give you more clones. More clones means more shatters.
Other powerful skills include and . It should also be noted that Mesmers have access to , which allows the mesmer to teleport themselves and other allies between two points with ease.
Early on, it may be a good idea to unlock for the passive Swiftness.
Mesmer is fairly reliant on traits for its damage, and even its clone generation in some cases. Dueling, Illusions, and Domination can all be valid first choices, but the best "first" option is typically Domination
- can be taken if using Greatsword + Sword/Pistol
Necromancer's profession mechanic is called "Death Shroud". This ability works a bit like an Elementalist's attunement - Changing all of your equipped weapon skills as if you had equipped a new weapon. This ability will disable your heal and utility skills, and while active you will lose Life Force instead of Health when struck. This is a bit of a blessing and a curse
Necromancer's weapons get much stronger once elite specializations like Scourge or Reaper have been unlocked, but while leveling Dagger and Axe mainhands are ideal. Staff can also provide some cleave damage, which Necromancer lacks at times. For offhands, feel free to use any offhands you prefer, but Warhorn can be an excellent choice due to its additional crowd control.
Necromancer can branch into many different skills when leveling, but in general it is recommended to either focus on Minions or Wells. and are both very strong abilities which deal area damage while the various Minions provide additional defense by virtue of providing additional targets for enemies to hit.
Early on, it may also be a good idea to unlock for increased movement speed.
Spite, Blood Magic, and Soul Reaping are all excellent choices for Necromancer when leveling up, and each brings something different to the table. In general, Spite will offer higher DPS while Blood Magic brings higher defense and Soul Reaping provides a smoother flow to the class by making Life Force easier to get. For a generally-good option, pick Spite.
Additionally, if using Minions, Death Magic can provide a strong boost to defense.
Ranger's profession mechanic is its pet. This is not especially interactive, but it does provide the player with a second body which can be useful in many situations. Late-game, pets are often used for crowd control or "merged" with by the Soulbeast Elite Specialization for extra stats. Early game, they serve as useful allies that can provide boons, crowd control, or a cute screenshot.
Ranger's weapons are almost all good, and its hard to go wrong when choosing one. In general, offhand Dagger, offhand Torch, and Shortbow are more geared towards condition damage, which makes them a bit sub-par for leveling. Other options, like Greatsword, Longbow, and Axes are fantastic and it is encouraged to choose one you think is fun. Each weapon set has a trait that will modify how it functions, which can be a big deal when leveling up. In general, our default recommendation is to play with Axe/Axe + Longbow.
Ranger has many excellent skills, but , , and are especially good. is excellent for area damage and synergizes with if it's taken. is generally the best heal option, while is a great elite for running around in open world. Other great skills include , , and . Early on, it may also be good to run for the increased movement speed.
Ranger's traits are straightforward and typically work to either buff the ranger or their pet, or create interactions between the two. Beastmastery and Marksmanship are both excellent options to start off with, and Skirmishing or Wildnerness survival can be good later on for either increased damage or defense. For most setups, we recommend taking Marksmanship at first.
- can also be taken if you have . Use when on Longbow, and on other weapon sets to proc this trait.
Revenant's profession mechanic is "Energy". Its skills consume energy when used, and Energy must regenerate or be replenished to continue using skills. Skills will consume energy in two ways: Direct, or Upkeep. Skills that directly consume energy have a flat energy cost that is subtracted from the energy total. Skills that use Upkeep will subtract an amount from the Energy Total over time. Upkeep is managed by "Pips" just above the Revenants Energy bar. Five pips point right, indicating energy gain over time, and five pips point left, indicating energy lost. This means the maximum possible upkeep active at once is 10, or a drain of 5% Energy per second.
Energy is replenished at a rate of 1% per pip active on the right side, or will be reset to exactly 50% on swapping Legends (or to 75% if is activated).
Revenant's core weapons are generally great, but we recommend Sword/Sword as your primary damage set. Your second set can be Staff for its high crowd control or Hammer for a ranged option.
Rather than unlocking individual skills, Revenant's skills are tied to its secondary profession mechanic, Legends. You unlock Legends in the same way you would unlock normal skill types, but you cannot mix skills form one Legend with another. This means that instead of mixing and matching several skills, you instead select from several "loadouts". This has upsides and downsides, but helps to simplify the options, at least.
When selecting skills early on, it is recommended to go for and as these are more geared towards Power damage. and add a lot of damage, and most of the Dwarf skills are very strong for defense.
Devastation and Invocation are Revanant's strongest core traits for Power builds, and we generally recommend aiming for Devastation when first starting. This provides a large increase to damage and a huge amount of sustain.
Later on, aim for Retribution for an increase to defense and damage.
Steal & Initiative
Thief's profession mechanic is called Steal, and it's very straightforward. It is a 1200 range Shadowstep that will teleport you to your target. On reaching your target, it will grant you a second skill in the F2 slot which is based on the target's "Class". In PVE, this can be a bit unpredictable. The stolen skills are usually somewhat mediocre, but Detonate Plasma is very powerful.
Several traits, especially in Trickery, will modify Steal to behave in different ways. When leveling, this mechanic is mostly useful as a way to gain boons, extra stealth, or as a teleport.
Thief also has a secondary profession mechanic called Initiative. This mechanic means that Thief's weapon skills have no cooldowns; instead, they cost Initative. This point system allows a player to spam one skill for DPS, which has both pros and cons.
Thief's core weapons are all relatively good options, and unlike other classes Thief's 3rd skill changes based on which two weapons are equipped (if using 1-handed weapons). These are called Dual Skills, and some of them are quite powerful.
A few weapon sets to consider are Pistol + Pistol for , Dagger + Pistol for and , Sword + Pistol for , which is a long-duration evade (the tooltip is incorrect), or Dagger + Dagger for high damage via ⇒ .
As Thief's weapon skills have no cooldowns, it is often recommended to keep a Shortbow in the second slot for the mobility it provides.
Thief's skills are largely geared towards mobility, defense, or utility. and are both excellent options when leveling. can be used for stealth and defense, while provides even more stealth.
For heal skills, and are both recommended. For your elite, is very strong.
can be taken for even more movement speed.
It is hard to compete with Critical Strikes and Trickery while leveling on Thief. They offer high damage, high healing, and personal boon support which can make leveling a breeze. In particular, is a very strong trait if using signets while leveling.
- can be taken for higher DPS at the cost of personal sustain
Warrior's profession mechanic is its Burst. Its F1 skill will change based on the weapon that is currently equipped. These Burst skills are fueled by Adrenaline, indicated by a yellow bar to the left of the skill. As a core warrior, Adrenaline will build up in three stages, and using a Burst will consume each full bar of Adrenaline. The more bars of Adrenaline that are consumed, the higher damage the Burst skill deals.
Adrenaline is gained from a variety of sources passively during combat, or occasionally actively through skills like .
Warrior is a weaponmaster, and has access to a wide array of different weapon options. Rather than focusing on which weapons should be used, its often better to just focus on which to avoid. Longbow and Sword (both mainhand and offhand) are highly focused on Condition damage, and since Power is stronger when leveling it is generaly recommended to avoid these. Other than that, the rest are quite good and you are encouraged to experiment. We recommend Greatsword + Axe/Axe.
Warrior's Signets and Shouts are generally the best options to aim for at first, though Banners and Stances are also good. In particular, , , and will grant a massive boost to damage, while and are great for extra defense. For your elite, is excellent for building adrenaline. For healing, all options are strong. will trigger if using it, while grants passive sustain and is good for Adrenaline generation. can be used to counter high-pressure fights.
In general it is best to take Discipline first, as this traitline provides a smoother flow to the class, extra movement speed, and Quickness.
Later, you can aim for Strength and Arms for more damage, Tactics for ally support and self-healing, or Defense for more defense.
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