With the first public beta weekend for Guild Wars 2 set to kick off this Friday, this will be the first time many fans will have an opportunity to play the game. To help get you up to speed on some of the things that sets GW2 apart from traditional MMOs, we've put together a list of useful tips for first time players. While some of the info contained will be familiar to those of you who have been following the game closely for the past couple of years, you'll still want to keep these things in mind when you dive into the game this weekend.
1. Buy weapons and use them early
Buy all the available weapon sets for your profession as soon as you can afford to. I went over this in greater detail in one of my beta impressions articles, and encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. The important things to note, however, are as follows:
- The image on the right lists the available weapons for each profession
- Following the tutorial you will own 1 weapon set, but will need to purchase the others, obtain them as loot, or select them as rewards from personal storyline missions.
- To unlock the skills for a weapon, you will need to actively use it in combat. Cycling through your weapon sets early will allow you to unlock all of the skills, and give you more options in combat.
Bonus tip for world PvP:
While you can dive directly into the Eternal Battlegrounds at level 2 if you want, I would still encourage you to obtain your weapon sets and get some skills unlocked first. You can typically unlock them all by level 5, or within the first hour of playing if you cycle through each new weapon as you obtain it.
While you can still unlock your skills within the Eternal Battlegrounds, I’ve found it’s best to go in with more options in combat so that you can contribute to your home world’s progress more effectively straight off the bat without having to keep making trips back to the vendors to buy weapons.
2. Learn the building blocks of builds
A given build in Guild Wars 2 consists of numerous parts, each serving a different function in your overall build. These are listed below in the order in which they’re unlocked in standard PvE progression:
- Weapon Sets – weapon sets will grant you the first 5 skills on your hotbar, mapped to the 1-5 keys on your keyboard. At level 7, weapon swaps will unlock for those professions able to do so in combat. This is done by pressing the tilde ~ key.
- Profession Mechanics – each profession in GW2 has a unique mechanic. In most cases you will need to unlock the full use of these mechanics either through active use or leveling. For example, the necro’s death shroud skills unlock through use similar to weapon skills, while elementalist attunements unlock through leveling.
- Healing Skill – the healing skill slot for all professions is mapped to the number 6 key. You will start out with one heal unlocked, but can purchase others as you earn more skill points.
- Utility Skills – these are mapped to the 7-9 keys, with all three being unlocked once you reach level 20. Utility skills need to be purchased via skill points, and can be freely changed while out of combat.
- Traits – at level 11 you will unlock the first tier of traits. More details on this process can be found below.
- Elite Skills – Last, but certainly not least, you will unlock your elite skill slot at level 30. Elites are more powerful skills, but also cost more than double the points of the most expensive utility skills. In general, you will probably need to complete multiple skill challenges prior to reaching level 30 if you want to purchase an elite as soon as the slot is unlocked.
3. Learn to dodge during combat
Dodging is a very simple, but extremely important part of combat in Guild Wars 2. Double-tapping the directional movement keys will allow your character to dodge in that direction, which can not only allow you to quickly move out of AoE damage, but avoid direct attacks as well. The better you are at knowing when to dodge, the more effective you will be in combat.
You’ll want to note that dodging expends Energy, which is displayed in a meter directly above the 6-10 skill slots, to the right of the health meter. This bar contains enough energy for 2 consecutive dodges, and automatically replenishes over time.
As you begin playing through your first events, get a feel for how dodging works, and how long it takes for the meter to replenish. You’ll also want to learn to read the animations for bigger attacks and when to dodge out of them rather than doing so randomly and expending all of your energy. Even if you’re dead set on diving directly into structured PvP, I would encourage you to get used to dodging first if nothing else. It will save your bacon, and is one of the things that will set the good players apart from the great ones.
4. Getting to structured and world PvP
Some players will want to dive directly into structured or world PvP as soon as possible. Once you’ve created your character you’ll need to play through the tutorial intro for your selected race which will get you to level 2. As soon as this is completed and you’ve collected your reward, you can dive directly into either type of PvP.
For structured PvP open your hero panel [H key] and click on the PvP tab, located on the bottom left. At the top of the window there will be two options: Play Now and Enter the Mists
- Play Now will automatically place your character in the next available match
- Enter the Mists will allow you to travel to the PvP lobby where you can adjust your build, change weapon sets, reset trait points, or even test out your builds on various types of practice dummies. This is suggested for first time players so that you can at least look over your current build prior to diving into the action.
For world PvP the process is similar. Players travel to the Eternal Battlegrounds via Asura Gates, one of which is located in the Mists. As above, open the hero panel [H key] and click on the bottom left PvP tab. Select Enter the Mists at the top of the screen, and head to the Asura gate.
Alternatively, you can also use the Asura gate located in major cities, though travel through the Mists tends to be the quickest way to get there.
5. Traits unlock at level 11, but you can buy the Adept tome early
Trainers for each profession can be found in all major cities, as well as in the general proximity of where you will enter the world following the tutorial. These trainers will sell the tomes you will need to unlock traits once you hit level 11.
While you can certainly make a trip back to town via waypoints at the appropriate level, it’s a good idea to purchase the tome early and have it in your inventory. That way, as soon as you hit level 11 you can double click on the book, unlock the first tier of traits, and spend your first points.
If you want to view the traits for your profession before this point, don’t forget that you can travel to the Mists where you can also test new skills prior to spending points on them.
6. Try out skills before spending points in The Mists
As mentioned above, you can try out all available skills for your profession by heading to the Mists. Once there, your character will be boosted to level 80 with all skills and trait points unlocked. You can freely swap in new healing, utility, and elite skills here and test them out on various types of practice dummies found throughout the zone.
Since many skills can cost a higher amount of points (up to 7 for some skills) this will let you get a feel for what they do, or how they will interact with your weapon skills prior to committing to the point cost.
While there, you can also find underwater practice dummies that will allow you to get a better feel for underwater combat in a much safer environment. Likewise, this is a good place for rangers to try out each of the available animal companions to see how they work with various build concepts.
7. Have fun!
Guild Wars 2 is an amazing game, and while many players will busy themselves during the beta weekends with data collection, discovering whether their build theory-crafting works as expected, or other activities, don’t forget to have fun while you’re playing!
The GW2Hub team will be tentatively rolling on the Sorrow’s Furnace home world for this weekend’s beta event, and all are welcome to join us there. Even if you roll elsewhere, remember to have fun, and enjoy your time in Tyria!