Guild Wars 2 has been around for nearly 6 years, and if you’re a die-hard MMORPG player, chances are at some point you’ve tried it, and if you were initially taken with it, you may still be playing it today. For much of the rest of the MMORPG player base, they may have found their time in Tyria short-lived, banking on updates and changes to the game to entice them back. Well, for those of you out there that have wondered when a great time would be to return to the world of Guild Wars 2, there is no time like the present.
Unfortunately, one cannot just return to Guild Wars 2’s hallowed grounds hoping to understand the nuances and changes that have been made. Since the days of its initial release Arenanet has added two expansions, a new class, plenty of living story content, mounts and specializations to their arsenal, with such an overabundance of content to contend with it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose your willingness due to sheer overstimulation upon logging back in. In my upcoming articles, I’ll be going over a lot of the details that will aid you in coming back to Guild Wars 2, and for starters, I find it best to begin where we all log in at, the Character Select Screen.
Picking (or Repicking) Your Character
If you are a returning player you may have said to yourself, “I used to play a Mesmer, I’ll just come back and hop on my Mesmer and I’ll be fine” you may get a little shell shock when you realized just how much has changed and continues to change when it comes to class balance. There are a lot of new builds out there, Arenanet famously, or sometimes infamously makes sweeping balance changes, even as often as monthly in some cases. Specializations can fundamentally change so much about your characters that it could turn a previously unremarkable class into your new go-to. Picking up your character may not conjure the nostalgic visage you once had of it, and trust me when I say, that is a good thing.
What Arenanet has managed to do in many cases, is they have created a synergistic trait system that complements each character’s abilities. While it is still completely possible to make builds that aren’t particularly effective in PvE, WvW, and PvP, all classes are capable of creating unique builds built around your preferred play style. For example, classes that can be designated as pet friendly could be almost all classes, ranging from summoning Ghostly Weapons as a Guardian to the more traditional type of pet classes like when you use Minions as a Necromancer. In fact, 7 out of 9 of the classes have the ability to summon some form of pet or structure that can aid you in battle.
Compound this by the old archetypes of tank, healer, crowd control and damage dealer. Every class, in some form, has the ability to fill these roles. Simply saying you want to do damage can also open up a whole host of questions. Combat changes have been put in place that have now increased the viability of Condition Damage builds, which adds yet one more level of choice you might wrestle with when you’re logging back in for the first time.
Classes are Diverse, So What?
Now that we have touched on the notion that almost all classes can fill almost every role, we can get into a few short synopses of what each class and specialization may be capable of, in the shortest, most general senses. It’s important to note that some specializations will be locked behind expansion purchases, and those will be noted next to each specialization. Only one specialization can be slotted at a time. The first four classes we’re going to outline are, the warrior, the guardian, the engineer and the ranger.
Warrior - The Warrior is a fantastic starter class. It’s hearty, has a lot of options for weapon use, and plenty of mobility. The basic warrior excels at brute force damage, utilizing adrenaline to burst down opponents. Late game Warriors are still capable damage dealers with Banners and Shouts available to aid their teammates.
Berserker (requires HoT) - The Berserker is a capable specialization choice for the Warrior. In addition to adding a new weapon, the torch, and Rage skills, a Berserker also gains access to the Primal Burst ability that replaces the warriors adrenaline with a second ability that can have deadly effects on your opponents. A Berserker can specialize in heavy condition damage pressure, but when slotted properly, it can still be a ferocious burst damage dealer.
Spellbreaker (requires PoF) - Spellbreakers gain the ability to use a new weapon, the dagger, and additional special skills known as Meditations. Spellbreakers are masters of disenchanting foes, removing boons and countering attacks with their Full Counter ability, that replaces their tier 3 adrenaline abilities.
Guardian – Guardians are an all around easy class to learn. They can heal themselves and their group mates while mitigating damage when they are targeted by enemies. Without any specializations guardians can still excel at both burst damage and condition damage, which is only compounded by the tactical usage of their Virtue abilities.
Dragonhunter (requires HoT) – Dragonhunters take some of the best aspects of the Guardian and turns them into defensive powerhouses with a new long-range weapon, the Longbow. The Dragonhunters use of traps are really what sets this specialization apart, though the new virtues will come in handy, with abilities like Spear of Justice that can be used tactically in both PvE and PvP.
Firebrand (requires PoF) – Firebrands are a stark departure from the Guardian and Dragonhunter due to the replacement of the virtue system with tomes that act more like the Elementalists Attunement system than the one-off abilities that were the Guardians virtues. Firebrands gain access to the axe and mantras and are exceptionally powerful. They can utilize healing, defensive and damaging abilities transcribed into the tomes, which makes it one of the most diverse specializations. This specialization is not recommended for beginners.
Engineer – Engineers out of the box are one of the most versatile options out there. They excel at AOE, condition damage, and their kits such as the grenade, elixir and flamethrower kits provide more than just damage, but a hefty amount of utility that will keep players coming back to try different build options often.
Scrapper (requires HoT) – Scrappers are a hardy specialization with a lot of added sustainability through the use of their Hammer weapon which provides stuns, blocks, and reflects at close range to create a rather capable fighter. With the addition of Gyros that can employ healing or put out damage, it makes the scrapper a fun and simple specialization to learn.
Holosmith (requires PoF) – Where the Scrapper lacks in damage, the Holosmith picks it up. The Holosmith is a stylish and futuristic specialization that makes use of a new weapon, the sword. Whereas the Guardian and Scrapper make use of toolbelt skills, these are replaced by the Photon Forge ability that transforms your character into a hefty damage dealer whether you choose to utilize conditions or burst damage. In conjunction with the Holosmiths exceed abilities, it’s very easy to lose yourself in the moment and risk damaging yourself by overheating. This is not a great specialization for beginners.
Ranger – Rangers are the new players best friend. They’re easy to play, utilizing their longbow that does adequate damage at range, and their pets are not only fun to collect but they provide a much-needed buffer between the player and the enemies. There are plenty of build options through the use of traps, survival skills and shouts to make the ranger worthwhile for the newbie adventurer.
Druid (requires HoT) – Druids are exceptional at sustainability and healing. Armed with a staff, they not only have the ability to go into their celestial avatar state to heal themselves and their friends, but they are adept at both ranged and melee combat.
Soulbeast (requires PoF) – Soulbeasts meld man and beast together, combining your character and your beloved pet and endowing you with new abilities to heal your allies or defeat your foes. Soulbeasts acquire the dagger as a weapon and gain stance skills like Warriors do, but what soulbeasts do exceptionally well is burst damage, utilizing skills like one wolf pack to really put on the pressure.
With these four classes, new players have more than enough options to choose from, but if the class you are interested in playing isn’t listed here yet, don’t fret, for the outline of the remaining 5 classes will be on its way in no time. Keep an eye out, as we will also touch base on what to do with all of those items in your inventory, which mounts are a must have, and what to do once you’ve gotten your character to level 80!