Unlike other games in the genre, when your health reaches zero in Guild Wars 2 your character enters a ‘downed’ state. During this time your character cannot move or fight with their standard skills, instead they are given access to four skills that will allow you to rally and get back onto your feet.
Down and Out
When you are downed, your character is in a debilitated state. As a result, you cannot move, dodge, activate any of your skills or undertake any of your profession mechanics. You can tell when you enter a downed state based on the fact your health will have reached zero and you are now stationary, in a heap on the floor. Thankfully this means that you don’t yet have to give up the fight and although you are severely weakened, this does not mean you are finished.
Enemies when you enter the downed state will continue to attack you, based on your inability to avoid them. Each time you are downed, whether from a player or enemy you incur one downed penalty. This downed penalty reduces your health when in the downed state by 25% for each point and will last for a total of 1 minute. After being downed 5 times within the space of a minute you will be defeated, resulting in you having to teleport to the nearest Waypoint.
If you are downed underwater it is actually called drowning and you’ll be prompted with a message stating “Swim to the surface!” while if you are downed on land the message will state “Fight To Survive!”
Each profession has access to four downed skills. Three of these are unique, based on the profession you play with the fourth common to all professions. Unlike your standard profession based skills, those available in a downed state are not powerful. In fact they are often pitiful. However, they are intended to buy you precious seconds to finish of your foes (and thus rally) or survive for long enough to heal yourself up and rally.
For all professions this is your primary attack when downed and allows you to feebly damage your foe. In many instances, particularly in PvE this can often be enough to see off the last few drops of health the enemy might have which will cause you to rally.
A skill based specifically on your profession, this can vary drastically. A ranger for example has Thunderclap which damages and dazes foes around their target (exceptionally useful for stopping people finishing you off) while a Necromancer can cause fear in their foes, causing them to run away. Used at the right moment, you can seriously hinder anyone wanting to finish you off.
The third downed skill tends to be offer defensive utility and again varies from profession to profession. Some are certainly better than others, but most can cause enough damage to finish off weakened foes. My particular favourite is the thieves, which allows you to drop a smoke bomb and vanish in stealth. The rangers ability to call your pet to your downed location, to revive you, is also incredibly useful.
Lastly is the universal skill available to all professions. Called Bandage, this skill calls your allies to help and restores your health while you channel it. If you manage to complete the channel, you will rally. You should be aware however that bandage is easily interrupted so can be made useless if you are still under attack.
Recovering and Finishing
We've mentioned rallying a few times during the course of this beginners guide, but in simple terms, rallying is what allows you to get back up and back into the fight. You can rally in several ways but this tends to happen from killing an enemy with your downed skills or during you attacking them and if someone else lends a helping hand.
As also mentioned above, you can rally by using Bandage. If you successfully channel skill 4 to the point where your health is restored, you will rally.
If you are unlucky enough not to rally you will enter a defeated state. At this point you are considered dead and will need to return to a nearby Waypoint.
There are two key icons you need to be aware of when playing, specific to downed. The first is Downed Ally indicated by a blue icon and Downed Enemy, indicated by a red skull icon.
In PvP (and unlike in PvE) you can actually finish players when they are downed. This will kill the enemy player and force them to return to a Waypoint, unless another member of their party resurrects them. You can finish another playing by pressing the F key but I should forewarn, you can be interupted when using the finishing move. When you are near a player you can finish, the message "FINISH THEM!! [F]" will appear on your screen.
Summary of Downed
1. You enter a downed state when your health reaches zero.
2. When in a downed state, your standard skills are replaced with 3 profession specific skills and 1 global skill all professions share.
3. You can rally when downed by killing your foe through using your downed skills (or if someone else helps) or by using your Skill 4 (bandage).
4. You can finish other players when they are downed by (default) pressing F next to their downed body.
5. Beware when finishing people as they will be able to fight back and disrupt your attempts with their own downed skills. Learning each professions downed skills is incredibly important (the guardians is a nightmare!)
I'll be producing more guides in the coming weeks exploring the downed skills in much more detail, including those which are good, bad and just plain ugly.
You can contact the author of this post by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Twitter @PersistentWorld