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Choosing the Best Profession for your Playstyle

August 23, 2012 - 6:27pm -- Xerin
GW2 Best Professions

There are a total of eight professions in Guild Wars 2 and picking the right one can be a daunting task for new players. There are tons of players out there that are fretting over picking the wrong profession and being stuck either underpowered or with a profession that they don’t care about. This stems from the fact that conventional MMOGs will force you to pick a class and play it for extended periods before you even start unlocking the core gameplay mechanics. Thankfully, GW2 works a bit differently.


GW2 Engineer Selection Screen

First, you can unlock the core mechanics of each of the professions (think classes from other games) within the first day of casual play. This includes a few weapon skill bars, the unique mechanic for each profession, and even a utility skill slot or two. After that, the profession pretty much plays exactly that way from level one to level eighty without much of a difference. So there is no long grind to discover that a profession isn’t what you want it to be – it’s just a gameplay session or two. Let’s not forget that you also get an instant 80 by hoping into the mists (GW2’s PvP lobby).

So, when you sit down to pick a profession (or class) to play, don’t worry too hard about it. You can “try before you buy” and keep yourself from dedicating time to a playstyle that you might like. So let’s first talk about how to try a profession out and take it on a test run before we help fit you with the profession of your dreams.

Try Before You Buy

GW2 Into the Mists

In conventional MMOS, you’ll pick a class and have to play it for a few days before you get enough skills/abilities to actually find out what that class is about. By then you’ve wasted a large portion of your gameplay time and will have to decide to either remake (putting you behind your friends, doing the same content over again, etc.) or just deal with it. In GW2, you don’t have to go too long before having access to all of the skills and abilities that a profession offers.

Your level isn’t hyper critical in GW2 and is only used for PvE content. You can be dynamically adjusted to level 80 by entering the mists, after a short tutorial at the start of the game. There you’re level 80 with all of your skills and traits (think talents) unlocked and access to every type of endgame gear. You can effectively test run any profession by entering the mists (press [H] or open your hero panel and then choose the PvP tab) and fighting in either PvP matches or trying your abilities against one of the many practice dummies available in the lobby.

So after you pick your profession, feel free to give it a test run. Even if you skip the mists, you’ll unlock your entire profession mechanic, a utility skill slot, and most of the abilities on a few weapons by level ten, which gives you access to about 80% of how a profession plays. So you’ll have a great idea of what a profession is about in no time.

The Right Profession

Picking the right profession comes in two parts. First you’ll want to pick your category and then you’ll want to pick your profession. Let’s first talk about the different profession categories and then move on to each profession. Professions are broken down into three categories: soldiers, adventurers, and scholars. Each category wears one specific type of armor and has an overarching playstyle (melee, midline, and caster). The first step to picking the perfect profession is discovering which category fits you best.

Soldier Professions

Professions: Warrior and Guardian
Armor: Heavy

The soldier profession is for those who want to stand right in the frontline of battle. Soldiers stand in the thick of battle and work hard to control it, avoiding damage, supporting allies, and dealing the pain right back at their enemies. Control is critical to both soldier professions, even though they are not “tanks” (as there is no holy trinity of tanks, healers, and DPS), they are still hearty and their playstyle focuses on blocking damage and controlling enemies.

If you want to stand in the thick of battle, toe to toe with the enemy, then the soldier professions are perfect for you. Thanks to GW2’s innovative combat system, both professions are not exclusive to melee. They can also act as ranged professions utilizing rifle and bow (warrior) and scepters and staves (guardian).

Adventurer Professions

Professions: Ranger, Engineer, and Thief
Armor: Medium

If being a heavy hitting heavy armor wearing close combat specialist isn’t your thing or casting magical spells with the flick of a wrist, then the adventurer is probably for you. These professions are designed around the use of weapons and general “midline combat.” These are the unique and fun professions that don’t lock themselves into either “melee specialist” or “magic specialist” and instead focus on their unique profession mechanic. Adventurers fall in line with rogues and hunters from other MMOs.

If you want to wear medium armor and focus on things like bows and firearms, then the adventurer is right for you. They focus on both close combat and ranged combat and use a variety of weapons, with a heavy focus on ranged weaponry and are in general, more “modern” or “steampunk.”

Scholar Professions

Professions: Elementalist, Mesmer, and Necromancer
Armor: Light

These are the magic users, who focus on ranged magical attacks, although like with everything in GW2, they are all capable of building to be close combat specialists. Think wizards and mages from other MMOs, but with some unique GW2 flare. Scholars are very capable and can fit very well into a support or control role very easily.

If you want to cast spells, then the scholar professions are for you. Do note, GW2 doesn’t follow the holy trinity, so you could “tank” with a necromancer if you want to and that is a complete and total viable way of thinking about it. So think more or less if you want to achieve victory through casting spells, more so than thinking about nuking enemies from a distance.

Profession by Profession

So after you pick which category interests you most, it’s time to pick a profession. As previously mentioned, you can easily repick with no true consequence and you can “try before you buy” thanks to the mists. So don’t fret too much! When you’ve found a profession that you like, be sure to check out our class guide for tons of details about each profession.



GW2 Warrior

To play a warrior is to play a character that can utilize most weapons in the game, wears heavy armor, and uses the adrenaline mechanic to deal burst damage. Compared to the guardian, the warrior mostly focuses on large infrequent giant hits of damage instead of a constant stream of damage. If you want to go into combat and deal some seriously big numbers, then the warrior is appropriate for you.

They’re also extremely versatile, having access to so many weapons and being able to be built out in a variety of different ways. If you’re indecisive about a profession and want something that can do it all, both control, support, and damage then the warrior is a great choice.


GW2 Guardian

Guardians focus on control and being very tanky. They don’t deal a lot of burst damage, (although you can build them that way), but instead focus on dealing a stream of constant and reliable damage while protecting themselves and their allies. They use Virtues, which work a lot like signets, to have passive benefits that they can trade to give an instant benefit to themselves and nearby allies.

If you’re wanting to play a support role then the guardian is a great choice. If you’ve ever played League of Legends, you can think of support Garen as an apt summary of the Guardian. They can use wards to block enemy movement, grant boons to nearby allies, and if you want, switch to two-handed weapons to deal some serious damage.



GW2 Engineer

If you want a fun profession, then the engineer is for you. They can spawn turrets, throw grenades, drop med kits, throw elixirs, and play a lot like the Assault class in Battlefield 3. A mix of support and ranged damage, the engineer is very capable of helping their allies and dealing some serious damage. A toolbelt is their profession’s mechanic.

If you want to go support, this is the perfect profession; they can do very good healing and provide a ton of conditions and boons. Their med kits are invaluable in PvP and of course, they can build themselves out to do damage.


GW2 Ranger

This one doesn’t need much of a description – truly, a master of ranged combat. Rangers get a pet as their unique profession mechanic. Pets work a bit differently in GW2; they are AI controlled and fight with a mind of their own. You can control some aspects of them, but they generally will go and do their own thing freeing you up to worry about your own actions.

Rangers focus primarily on long ranged combat, but can be built to melee. Although most of the melee builds are for control, to regain distance and a greatsword lets them be a bit tanky. If you want to stand from a distance and shoot things with bows, while having a pet, then the ranger is perfect for you.


GW2 Thief

Stealth and traps are the primary abilities for thieves. They focus on working in the shadows, like assassins or rogues in other MMOs, but with a twist. Their attacks have no cooldowns, but instead use a resource known as “initiative.” Initiative regenerates much like energy in other MMOs and each attack costs a little bit to use. So you can focus on dealing constant, continuous damage or use all of your initiative in a giant burst attack.

Mobility, stealth, traps, and burst are all words that come to mind when thinking about the thief. If you like rogues, then you’ll love the thief, and it’ll make a great profession for you.



GW2 Elementalist

Elementalists are masters of the elements and the arcane. This is your tried, true, and trusted caster profession that works like a mage or wizard in traditional MMOs. They can fit support, control, and DPS roles with ease and can really juggle all three at once. Their mechanic is attunements, trading weapon swapping for the ability to swap between four different skill sets per weapon, each with either a “raw damage, burst damage, support, and control” role. They can heal allies, apply boons and conditions, and deal some impressive damage by flipping through their different attunements.

If you want to play the true caster archetype, like a mage, then the elementalist is for you. They excel at ranged combat, so if you want a backline support/damage profession then again, the elementalist is a great choice.


GW2 Mesmer

Trickery and confusion are two words you can apply to the unique mesmer profession. Their profession mechanic is the ability to spawn illusions and then shatter them for different effects. Illusions come in three flavors, a basic one that is dispelled when attacked, clones of the caster who share the caster’s name and have low health and damage, and phantasms which have higher health and damage than clones and their own skill bars. Mesmer’s can cloak themselves, hiding in the shadows and confusing their enemies to target their illusions.

If you want to play something different that is capable in any role in the game, from ranged to melee, support to control, then the mesmer is right for you. They are very unique and you cannot really compare them to other classes in MMOs because of how absolutely different they are. If you want to play something you’ve never played before, then you should definitely try the mesmer.


GW2 Necro

The masters of death and decay, the necromancer is a pet profession that can spawn AI controlled minions who do their bidding and deal damage through conditions and other skills. They have high survivability and their unique mechanic is death shroud, a state that grants different skills and a secondary health bar. Necromancers follow the traditional caster archetype, but really prove what is possible with GW2’s unique combat mechanics and are very capable of dealing high amounts of damage purely through conditions.

If you want to play a durable caster that can have minions and has the option of dealing major damage through non-conventional methods, then the necromancer is for you.

Pick a Profession Wrap-up

There are eight professions and each of them viable, balanced, and tons of fun. It comes down to a personal choice as to which profession you’ll play when you first load into the game, but like I’ve mentioned before – don’t fret. You’ll know if you like it or not within the first hour or two of gameplay. GW2 doesn’t punish you for starting out like other MMOs, but instead embraces allowing you to choose your own path and your own destiny within the game.

What profession will you be playing when you first start? Let us know in the comments section below.


sylvinstar's picture
Submitted by sylvinstar on

Warrior is easy to pick up and play - definitely a good suggestion there for those who are unsure what to start with.  Most of my favorite professions in Guild Wars 2 made the favorite list pretty much as described in the article.  I played them for a very short time and they just clicked.  Engineer was a bit different however.

Engineer I thought was okay at first, but it really didn't blow me away. It wasn't until I jad leveled one up to around 12 (and later to 16), that I really grew to love the class.  IMO, Engineer is not as fun at first, but as you open up more utilities they become incredibly fun.  This class requires a bit more time to come into their own compared to some of the other classes.

As far as playing Ranger as a ranged class, I'd say for me this class works best when I am using it to move back and forth from close (axe) to long mid-range (shortbow).  I am sure in WvW I'd be keeping my long bow in my inventory to switch in for keep defense and attack however.



Stormc's picture
Submitted by Stormc on

It sounds a bit like the Necromancer forces you to use pets all the time in your description - which isn't the case. In fact, the MM is one of the least viable options for any sort of PvP. In PvE it may depend on personal taste but nonetheless, it is not a requirement to use a pet.


Especially because of this "[...] that can spawn AI controlled minions who do their bidding and deal damage through conditions and other skills." people may think that all damage comes through minions while the author may have intended to say that the player can spawn AI controlled minions or use different kinds of dark magic to deal damage either directly or via conditions.


Apart of that, a good guide though.

Wedge7's picture
Submitted by Wedge7 on

Nice guide. It might be useful to link each profession to their respective guide on here, to give people an even greater idea of what each can do. 

Also, "Mobility, stealth, straps, and burst are all words that come to mind when thinking about the thief." Mobility, stealth, and burst for sure, but straps? Might want to edit it back to traps laugh

I'm pretty certain I'll be rolling a warrior, thief, ranger, elementalist, and necromancer. Still haven't decided on my main though! 

oneeyered's picture
Submitted by oneeyered on

Warrior ftw! That's my main I will role tonight but I will run just about every class at some point.

Its a simple world for complicated people



aerdred's picture
Submitted by aerdred on

Typos sad posting to hopefully be constructive:

Thief; 2nd para; 3rd word should be 'traps'.
Elementalist; 1st para; 2nd sentence; 3rd word should be 'your'.

You guys have done a great job with this site before launch and helped flesh out some knowledge and ideas for myself, and I'm sure; other people. Thanks.

I'll be playing a ranger main I think and also plan on creating a warrior, an elementalist and a necro when the servers go live. See you in the game!

Xerin's picture
Submitted by Xerin on


sylvinstar's picture
Submitted by sylvinstar on

Yeah, Ranger finally beat out necro for my main spot, but just barely.  If I could I would have 'co-mains'.

chewy001's picture
Submitted by chewy001 on

I love your site, tons of great information for beginner players.  

For everything MMO related visit MMO Talk

Dutch_07_05's picture
Submitted by Dutch_07_05 (not verified) on

Good guide ^_^

Alex's picture
Submitted by Alex (not verified) on

Best guide for beginners there is. Thanks!

Matt's picture
Submitted by Matt (not verified) on

Thanks for the info! I was looking for something like this

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