Guild Wars 2 Hub

Your Source for Original GW2 Guides and Features

Complete Trait System Guide

Around the Web

August 17, 2012 - 12:56pm -- Sardu
GW2 Trait System Guide

Traits are one of the ways you will be able to continue improving your character as you level, and customize your build to suit your combat style. In this guide we’ll explain how the trait system works, the direct impact traits will have on your attributes, and how traits factor into your overall character build.

As part of the natural level progression of your character in PvE and World-versus-World (WvW), you will unlock access to the trait system once you reach level 11. From this point on you will gain 1 additional trait point each time you level, for a total of 70 trait points by the time you reach level 80. If you’re stepping directly into the Mists for structured PvP (sPvP) – regardless of your character level – you will automatically be scaled up to level 80, so all 70 trait points will be available to use.

Traits serve a couple of very important functions for your character:

  1. Each point spent will improve 2 of your Attributes, thereby improving your effectiveness in combat
  2. Traits will also improve or enhance different skill lines, weapon sets, profession mechanics, or combat actions, allowing you a certain amount of flexibility in how your build functions

Unlocking Traits

Trait Hint Text

As soon as you reach level 11, a new on-screen tip will appear in the upper left corner of the screen alerting you to the availability of the Trait system. From this point on, you will automatically receive one additional trait point each time you level. However, before you can begin spending points you will need to visit a trainer NPC for your profession. Trainers can commonly be found in all major cities, and will also be located near the entrance to the city in any of the level 1-15 starting zones for each race.

Map Display Options

To find your profession trainer, open your map [M] and they will be marked with a small icon that looks like a book. If you’re having a hard time locating them, with the map open you can click on the small icon that looks like an eye on the bottom left corner of the map. Trainers will be grouped under “Services” (shown to the right) so unchecking the other icon categories can help make them easier to locate.

Once you’ve located the trainer for your profession, interact with them by pressing the default [F] key, and they will give you the option to purchase one of their Trait Manuals.

Profession Trainer

To unlock the first tier of traits you will need to purchase the Adept’s Training Manual. This will allow you to spend up to 10 points in any of the 5 unique trait lines for your profession. As you can see in the image below, there are two additional trait tiers and associated training manuals you will need to purchase to unlock them at the appropriate levels which we’ll look at in more detail below.

Training Manuals

Spending Trait Points

Now that you have the Adept trait tier unlocked, you can spend up to 10 points in any of the 5 trait lines for your profession. To do so, open your Hero window [H] and click on the Skills and Traits tab located on the left of the window. Clicking on “Traits” from the list of available options will open up the main traits screen, as shown below:

GW2 Traits Window

Your current total of unspent trait points will be displayed in the upper left corner of the window next to the hexagon icon. In our example image above, you can see this character has all 70 trait points unlocked and ready to spend.

Before you begin spending points, you will want to take some time to familiarize yourself with the 5 trait lines for your profession to get a better idea of how each will improve your character. Please note:

  • Each point spent will improve 2 Attributes associated with that trait line
  • 5 points spent in a single line will unlock a Minor trait
  • 10 points spent in a single line will unlock a Major trait
Attributes Display

As you begin spending points, you can see the direct impact it has on your Attributes by switching to the main Hero tab (the topmost tab on the left of the window). Your attributes will be displayed on the top right corner of the screen, and hovering your mouse over them will also show you the details for any associated secondary attributes. To learn more about attributes and how they improve your character, be sure to read our Complete Guide to Attributes.

Once you’ve spent 5 points in a single line, you will automatically unlock a minor trait for that line, while spending 10 points will unlock a Major trait. Major traits differ in that you will have options for which trait you would like to slot from a pop-up list that will appear when clicking on that slot. These will allow you to directly impact which aspects of your build you want to focus on enhancing or improving in some way.

Additional Trait Tiers

Initially you will only have access to the Adept trait tier. As you continue leveling, you will gain access to two additional tiers; Master and Grandmaster. The levels at which these unlock are:

  • Adept – level 11
  • Master – level 40
  • Grandmaster – level 60

Each tier unlock allows you to spend 10 additional points in each line, for a total of 30 points per line once you’ve unlocked Grandmaster traits at level 60.

Trait Points

There are no hard, fast rules to how you spend your points. For example, by level 80 you could spend 30 points in 2 lines and 10 in a third line, 30 in one and 20 in two, or even 20 in two lines and 10 in three. Just remember that each point spent in a single line will directly impact 2 of your attributes, so you will typically get more benefit from specializing in fewer lines than if you attempt to diversify your points too much.

Resetting or Refunding Traits

If you decide you want to reset your traits you can do so at any time, but there will be a fee associated with doing so outside of structured PvP. In sPvP you can reset your traits directly in the trait window (as shown in our example image above) by clicking on the Refund Traits button. Please note that this can only be done between matches while in the Mists.

To refund your traits in PvE or WvW, you can do so in the following ways:

  • Purchasing and using a trait manual
  • Paying a trainer 71 copper per point refunded*

*Please Note: The amount listed above reflects the cost per point refunded during the beta, and is subject to change in the live game. We will be updating this guide to reflect any changes once exact costs can be confirmed in the live game during the headstart weekend!

You’ll also want to take note of the fact that your sPvP builds are stored separately from your normal PvE build. As such, resetting points in one game type will not directly impact the other. This can be extremely useful since it allows you to “try before you buy” by traveling to the Mists, spend or reset trait points, and test the results on the static and AI controlled practice targets.

To learn more about the specific trait lines for each profession, be sure to visit our Profession Guides portal for links to each of our core and advanced profession guides.


sylvinstar's picture
Submitted by sylvinstar on

So that's 56.8 silver for a full respec.  I suppose that is not a huge deal by endgame.

whoresbane's picture
Submitted by whoresbane on

The obligatory simple talent tree found in modern mmorpg's will never be the standard anymore. Arenanet has upped the standard with Guild wars 2 and therefor the quality of the whole genre, the same genre that other studios almost killed with there insanity. 

"The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists."

Gypsyhatten's picture
Submitted by Gypsyhatten on

"Paying a trainer 71 copper per point refunded"

During the last stress test, I only had to pay 50 copper for a refund at level 20. Where did you get 71c/point number from?

Sardu's picture
Submitted by Sardu on

That was the amount when point refunds were first added. For now I'm going to add some notes in the guide that we will be updating that section with more information once we can confirm refund amounts during the head start. In the meantime, thanks for the tip that a refund cost you 50c at level 20!

sylvinstar's picture
Submitted by sylvinstar on

One thing I liked about Rift was how they allowed cross combination of abilities within an archetype, and the fact that before release they said flat out that PvP would not be perfectly balanced - in fact it wasn't their goal to perfectly balance PvP.  A-net has a different way of providing players a variety of build types, but it works about as well IMO.

LexStriker's picture
Submitted by LexStriker on

Question... when I get a Major Trait by going to Level 10 in a Trait Line, I then get to choose which Major Trait I want... from what I see here. Now, am I locked into that one specific Major Trait I have chosen until I ReSpec, or can I go back and switch out for any other Major Trait on the pick list later?


Sardu's picture
Submitted by Sardu on

Major traits will be locked-in once slotted in PvE and WvW. In structured PvP this works a bit differently, as I have been able to reslot Major traits while in the Mists without having to refund all points and start over.

LexStriker's picture
Submitted by LexStriker on

Ok, so what you are saying is that once I chose a Major Trait, there is no going back to change it later, except with a ReSpec... correct?... in PvE and WvWvW, that is.


Sardu's picture
Submitted by Sardu on

That is correct.

Since respecs on traits didn't make it into the beta until the tail end, I suspect that aspects of how they work will be changing in the live game, but its on my list to update that portion of this guide as soon as I get into the headstart weekend and am leveled up enough to confirm. :)

LexStriker's picture
Submitted by LexStriker on

Thank you for clearing this up... much appreciated.


Sardu's picture
Submitted by Sardu on

Updated info on Major Traits --- once you've unlocked the slot, you can swap out any trait for that tier in PvE when not in combat. So you'll only really need to respec if you want to shift points from one line into another.

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

hey, would you mind updating the refund trait with the actual version of the game instead of the beta informations, please? I really would like to know how much it will cost to respect a lot once level 80.