Character creation : which class to choose?

A very often asked question in the GW2 subreddit and the official forum (and in the game itself) is « What profession should I play? ». Remember that in GW2 your role in a group is not determined by the chosen profession but by your play style. Choosing a profession that suits us is an important but sometimes difficult choice. This guide is there to help you in your choice.
You will find below a brief summary of each of the 9 playable professions, with their pros and cons. This guide does not cover every game mode in depth and does not contain a build. It will describe the outline of each profession without getting lost in details or elite specializations.

The professions, as known as classes, of GW2 are divided into 3 groups that determine which armor the character can wear and influence the style of play in a superficial way:

  • Soldiers (Guerrier Gardien User chieftain alex revenant icon option c) wear heavy armor. They are resistant fighters, but they must risk direct combat with their targets to be effective.
  • Adventurers ( Rodeur Voleur Ingenieur) wear medium armor. They use their high mobility to survive attacks and overwhelm their opponents.
  • Scholars (Elementaliste Necromant Envouteur) are spell casters wearing light armor. Fragile, they must control their opponents to face them according to their terms and triumph.

 

Lexicon:

  • Getting started: it will be easy if new players can quickly understand the basics of the class. It will be difficult if new players have to spend time learning how to use skills properly to survive a low-level confrontation.
  • Advanced Techniques: Is the class easy or difficult to master at a high level play? This includes PvE, PvP and WvW.
  • Note that all classes require a lot of practice to be perfectly mastered and a class with difficult techniques will never dominate an easy class and vice versa.
  • Health points and armor: We are talking here about health and basic armor without the equipment bonuses.

Warriors

350px warrior 02 concept art 1

  • Getting started: Easy
  • Advanced Techniques: Easy
  • Health points: High
  • Armor: Heavy

Highly protected and well armed, warriors are found to be naturally in place in chaos of melee where they can eliminate their adversaries with brutality. With the best defense statistics of the game, a wide range of weapons to choose from and many offensive enhancement capabilities, warriors triumph over their enemies face to face.

Adrenaline is the special mechanism that helps warriors in battle. Their adrenaline is accumulated each time the warrior attacks, gradually filling a gauge above the weapon skills. This bar increases the effectiveness of a special skill determined by the selected main hand weapon. The more the bar is loaded, the more powerful this skill will be.

Mobile and strong: Warrior’s basic health is the highest in the game. Combined with heavy armor, the warrior is a naturally difficult class to kill. The warrior can also count his great mobility to disengage from an unfavorable situation.
A wide choice for armament: Regardless of the opponent, warriors have tools for all occasions. Inflict AoE remotely? Use the long bow. Deal damage from alterations? Take a sword. Throw an enemy from a cliff? That’s what the hammer is for!
Offensive support: Contrary to popular belief, the GW2 warrior is an excellent support and shines especially when it comes to increasing the power of a group using shouts or banners.
Long Range Weapons: Although warriors have remote control tools and weapons, they give the best of themselves in close-combat.
- Limited number of skills at a time: A basic warrior has only 17 skills available. This is the lowest number in the game with one exception. Warrior skills are powerful but you will have to make choices for your build.

Ethos: A warrior’s game plan is relatively simple. Throw yourself at your enemies, knock them out or immobilize them and inflict heavy damage with your key weapon skills. Your choice of weapon can lead you towards more control for less damage or less control but more damage. Your utility skill can make you more dangerous or allow you to temporarily ignore enemy hits.

Guardians

Guardian 02 concept art 1
  • Getting started: Easy
  • Advanced Techniques: Intermediaries
  • Health points: Weak
  • Armor: Heavy

Guardians are hybrid soldiers, capable of using sword and magic. Based on the classic archetype of the paladin, guardians specialize in the use of benefits to enhance their capabilities while being highly effective in direct combat.

Class mechanics embodies this supportive aspect: all guardians channel exclusive virtues. Virtues are a set of 3 passive bonuses that enhance the fighting abilities of the guardian. These bonuses can be sacrificed temporarily to strengthen allies, transforming a source of personal power into a powerful advantage for the group.

 

Bunker: Although guardians have a weak health reserve, they largely compensate in other areas. The virtue of resolution continually regenerates health when it is active, the virtue of courage allows the guardian to block attacks periodically and number of skills confer protection and regeneration. They must not forget that they wear heavy armor making them very resistant.
+Block and heal: Guardians are among the best support in the game, able to accumulate benefits for themselves as their team. Guardians have access to virtually all benefits of the game to improve a group as needed.
+ Offensive potential:Contrary to a cliché about paladin classes, guardians also perform well in attack. Guardians have the tools to chase their enemies and quickly eliminate them.
Limited distance combat:Guardians are respectable close-combat fighters but are weak at a distance. They have only one real remote weapon that inflicts respectable damage but hardly reaches mobile targets.
Requires a strong ability to anticipate:Guardian skills are potentially very powerful. To counterbalance this advantage, these skills have important cooldown times. They must be used wisely.

Ethos: A guardian’s game plan differs from the warrior's. Guardians inflict damage with their key weapon skills (like warriors) but instead of neutralizing their enemies, guardians prefer to cancel their counter-attacks. Powerful strikes will be blocked by Aegis, small blows will be punished by Retaliation advantage while alterations will be converted to advantage.

Rangers

350px ranger 02 concept art 1

  • Getting started: Easy
  • Advanced Techniques: Difficult
  • Health points: Medium
  • Armor: Intermediate

Rangers are adventurers who adapt to all situations, using their weapons and their pets. As capable at a distance as they are in melee, ranger use mobility and agility to dominate their opponents.

The special mechanics of the ranger is his pet. A ranger can charm juvenile animals in nature to help him in battle. A ranger can change his pet when he’s out of action. Animal companions range from imposing bears to swift felines to vicious devourers, each with its unique skills. Although not always reliable, pets are a significant bonus to ranger damage and an effective bodyguard.

Remote Combat: Close Combat weapons are effective but the ranger’s remote capabilities are remarkable. Rangers have the greatest range of the game and can inflict great damage while remaining out of reach for their enemies.
Mobile and acrobatic: Rangers have a large number of rolls/jumps/escapes built into their weapons allowing them to maneuver in the margin of a confrontation or avoid close attacks. The fight presents a beautiful fluidity.
Competent everywhere…: A ranger can easily adapt to all situations and assume all possible roles. The class also allows for a wide variety of play styles, with builds that accumulate passive bonuses and others that require good timing in the use of skills. Rangers are viable in all game modes.
……Excellent nowhere: This is the counterpart of the ranger’s versatility. Whatever the role assumed, there is another class capable of fulfilling the same role more effectively. The ranger’s remote combat is effective but there is a lack of zone attacks. The offensive support potential of the profession is appreciated, but others can bring more.
The pet is a burden: Although a pet can save your skin in small fights, in big fights it is likely that the pet will be killed quickly. Pets don’t know how to avoid AoEs. The Ranger class is an easy profession to tame for beginners, but at a high level the management of the pet requires a lot of practices, especially in dungeon and WvW.

Ethos: Rangers must take a decision that affects the game plan. Either we rely on the pet to inflict damage or the pet is just an extra force. The first builds family is resistant but has poor damage. The second builds family is more aggressive but more fragile.

Engineers

Engineer 02 concept art 1
  • Getting started: Difficult
  • Advanced techniques: Intermediate
  • Health points: Medium
  • Armor: Intermediate

The engineer is one of the most original class of GW2 and in the world of MMO. Although the engineer can only use a very small number of conventional weapons, he has access to specialized kits such as flamethrowers, grenades etc. greatly increasing their combat options. Engineers have a lot of gadgets to help them in combat, even if learning to master them can be difficult.

The engineer’s class mechanics is the tool belt. In short, instead of choosing a single care or utility skill, the engineer chooses a skill pair – one is the “normal” skill and the other is in the tool belt

 

For example, it is possible to choose elixir B in the utility location to get elixir B throwing in the belt. Belt skills are generally weaker than normal skills, but they can reverse the course of battle in the hands of a seasoned engineer.

Weapon kits: The engineers have a pitiful choice of 3 conventional weapons, but we quickly forget this detail when we see them go from a flamethrower to an elixir gun in the blink of an eye. Weapon kits are utilitarian skills that replace weapon skills once activated. It is possible to switch freely and without reloading the weapons to the kits which allows to always have the right tool at the right time.
Alterations and benefits: Engineers have phenomenal access to benefits and other support skills. They are very good at accumulating alterations on multiple targets.
Large number of controls available: Between the weapon kits and the tool belt, the engineer has access to a very large number of toys at any time, especially the skills that stun, blind and prevent enemies from attacking.
Complicated to play: The advantage above is also a big disadvantage for neophytes because it takes time to learn what gadget does what. For example, if you have an elixir gun, you can use it to set up a healing zone, but in the chaos of combat, it is sometimes difficult to remember this, and remember the skill that generates that zone.
-Close-combat is weird: Although engineers have powerful short-range tools, they do not have the resistance of warriors or the dodges of a ranger to hold out for a long time in close combat. Dealing with aggressive enemies can be difficult for neophytes.

Ethos: Curiously, despite the complexity of the engineering skills, the game plan is very similar to the warrior: control the enemies and ingest intense damage for a short time. The engineer compensates his greatest fragility compared to the warrior, by a better ability to buff himself (by means of combos or elixirs) and to counter the game plan of his enemies (with blindness and conversion of alterations).

Thieves

Thief 02 concept art 1

  • Getting started: Intermediate
  • Advanced techniques: Intermediate
  • Health points: Weak
  • Armor: Intermediate

The thief is the classic archetype of assassins or rogues, very mobile and extremely deadly. Thieves are skilled at entering and exiting a fight at will, waiting for the right moment to hit a target and then safely retreat the next.

Thieves have a small number of mechanics that are unique to them: first, thieves can steal. Activating a theft teleports you to your target and grants you a single-use object that depends on the victim of the theft. In addition, thieves do not have reloading cooldown time on their weapon skills. Instead, they use a resource called the initiative to activate these weapons skills. It is possible to spam a weak attack or use the initiative completely for a devastating attack. Finally, when thieves carry two weapons in one hand, they can combine them to carry out an ambidextrous attack that changes according to the equipped weapons.

Assassination: By using their initiative, thieves can inflict significant amounts of damage in a very short time. Combined with their opportunistic game style, thieves excel at murdering their targets.
Mobility and Positioning: Thieves have access to a large number of teleportations and dodges allowing them to engage or disengage from combat. Thieves can quickly cover long distances to catch up with a weakened or unprepared enemy.
Stealth: More than any other class, thieves are followers of shadows. Utilitarian skills and even some healing skills make it possible to conceal oneself and/or allies to escape danger or get closer to an enemy.
Fragile: Although wearing intermediate armor, thieves have very low health. We must make good use of its mobility and stealth to avoid as many attacks as possible.
Less effective in large groups: Thieves are much more effective in dueling and killing isolated targets than in large-scale combat. Their remote weapons are short range and they have little AoE.

Ethos: The game plan of the thief is very simple on paper but complicated to implement. Do not play fair. Go stealth, murder your targets, then retreat. Different builds give access to different ways of killing, whether by dagger in the back, venom overdose or theft of enemy benefits. But the guerrilla aspect will always be there.

Elementalists

Elementalist 02 concept art 1
  • Getting started: Difficult
  • Advanced Techniques: Difficult
  • Health points: Weak
  • Armor: Light

At first glance, one might think that the elementalist is our classic fireball wizard, but if you try to use it as artillery, you won’t get very far. The elementalist is a complex class and using it at full capacity is difficult but very satisfying. With big damage potential, powerful utilities and one of the best mobilities in the game, a well-played elementalist is a powerful fighter.

The mechanics of the class is the ability to channel the elements (Water, earth, fire or air). Depending on the element he channels, the elementalist will have access to a unique set of weapons skills (each with its own cooldown times) and the properties of some utility skills will also change.

 

Versatile: The ability to channel 4 elements transforms a single set of weapons into 4, each with its own specialty. Learning when to move from one element to another and using your entire spell arsenal is essential to play a good elementalist – channeling the same element all the time prevents you from using the class to its full potential.
Mobility: To compensate for their fragility, elementalists have a wide repertoire of movement skills to escape danger. Many tears were shed by players trying to catch up with an injured elementalist.
Many combos: Elementalists are the masters of 2+2=7. Although all classes can use tandem skills to create powerful combos, the elementalists are the specialists. They have at their disposal very popular combo areas in all game modes but also the skills to exploit these combo areas.
Vulnerable without its advantages: The counterpart of all these combos is that an elementalist cannot not use them. If they do not exploit all their tools to their full potential, elementalists are very weak in direct combat. The professions that can take away their advantages (such as necromancers), or that can block their attacks (such as guardians) are their nemesis.
Very fragile: Elementalists are by far the most fragile class in the game, with the weakest health and armor in the game and without stealth skills to avoid danger. If you are unable to avoid or absorb attacks, you will spend a lot of time on the ground.

Ethos: The game style of elementalists is very variable. Some builds work like those of warriors: control then murder. Other builds are based on a very fluid approach to combat in the manner of rangers approaching and moving away. Finally, elementalists can specialize in damage applied to a large area using a staff. In all cases the use of combo zones is almost compulsory.

Necromancers

Necromancer 03 concept art 1

  • Getting started: Easy
  • Advanced Techniques: Easy
  • Health points: High
  • Armor: Light

An interesting iteration of the typical dark spell caster, the necromancers combine a wide range of very versatile skills with incredible endurance. The necromancers prevail by attrition and gradually subjugating their opponents. Able to inflict an impressive number of alterations and ignore counter-attacks, the necromancers gain the advantage over their opponents as the fight continues.

Necromancers can wear the Death Shroud that gives them a unique set of skills and acts as an additional health reserve. As nearby creatures die or use certain spells, necromancers accumulate vital force. A necromancer can use this vital force to activate the Death Shroud that will gradually drain the vital force and replace the skills with 5 new unique spells. The vital force acts as a second life bar: Any damage taken when the shroud of death is active drains the vital force and not health.

An autonomous class: As a good caster of evil spells, necromancers are an autonomous class, able to accumulate many offensive bonuses alone. The other classes have access to these bonuses but you have to be in a group and coordinate to have a satisfactory result.
Master of Alterations: Properly equipped for this purpose, necromancers are considered the absolute masters of alterations in the game, capable of accumulating, scattering and returning alterations to its enemies. An engineer can apply more alterations to his enemies and faster, but the necromancy can return them to him while adding his own alterations.
Resistance: Between the Death Shroud, a large amount of HP and abilities to steal enemies' life, necromancers are very strong. They wear only light armor otherwise they would be immortal. A necromancer even equipped in an offensive way can afford to dive into the melee in WvW.
Reduced mobility: Once in range, necromancers can control and martyr their targets ad vitam. The trick is to catch them in the first place which is not necessarily easy. Their lack of mobility and stability also bothers them to escape from difficult situations, especially in PvP.
A selfish class: All classes can perform combos, but necromancers are among those that have the most difficulty exploiting them. Their combo zones are not very popular and they lack skills to exploit allied zones. Necromancers shine by their autonomy but they bring little to a group, if not dps.

Ethos: The game plan of the necromancer systematically involves hindering your opponent. Necromancers are not very mobile but do well from a distance. The key is not to let your prey escape. You have many tools to weaken your enemies and then reduce their attacks to nothing. You then have the opportunity to replicate either by using alterations or by inflicting direct damage through your Death Shroud.

Mesmers

Mesmer 02 concept art 1
  • Getting started: Difficult
  • Advanced Techniques: Difficult
  • Health points: Medium
  • Armor: Light

Mesmers are the representative class of the Guild Wars franchise and a truly unique class, both subtle and deadly. Specialized in manipulation and able to counter his opponents, a mesmer will cause more hatred in PvP than all the other classes combined.

A mesmer specializes in creating illusion to confuse, damage or simply embarrass his enemies. These illusions resemble their creator and exist in 2 varieties: Clones resemble traits for traits to the mesmer and have weak fighting abilities, but can momentarily distract the enemy. The illusory combatants are translucent and powerful. All illusions can be broken by the mesmer using special skills, which forces illusions to self-destruct in exchange for special bonuses.

 

A Toolbox: A mesmer has a wide arsenal of tools including projectile return, group stealth, portals between two places, creating lures and many others. A good mesmer always has an asset at hand to protect his allies or make life easier for them.
Assassination and attrition combat: Unusual fact in GW2, the mesmer can adopt a style of assassin’s game or combat over a long time to more easily manage multiple opponents in PvP or WvW.
Control: As a mesmer, you will force your enemies to confront you on your terms. By accumulating confusion to punish, blocking attacks and reflecting projectiles and harassing targets with illusions while remaining stealthy, a mesmer will always find a way to disappoint an opponent.
Unsustainable: Once you have emptied your mesmer bag of mischief, you have little chance of winning an exchange of blows. Mesmers inflict little damage without their illusions and are very fragile without their other tools. During the big clashes, your illusions will quickly succumb and deprive you of your offensive potential.
Weak in large-scale combat: : Une fois que vous avez vidé votre sac à malice d’envoûteur, vous avez peu de chances de sortir vainqueur d'un échange de coups. Les envoûteurs infligent peu de dommages sans leurs illusions et sont très fragiles sans leurs autres outils. Pendant les grands affrontements, vos illusions vont rapidement succomber et vous priver de votre potentiel offensif.

Ethos: As a spell caster, mesmers do very well from a distance. You have the choice between two great game plans. Either quickly assassinate your enemies at the means of breakage skill, or eliminate them in the long run by means of alterations. But you will also have to counter your opponent’s game. Where necromancers use alterations to counter enemy attacks, mesmers interrupt the chains of attack of their adversaries by means of stupor or stunning or briefly immune to blows.

Revenants (EXTENSION)

Revenant 02 concept art 1

  • Getting started: Difficult
  • Advanced techniques: Intermediate
  • Health points: Means
  • Armor: Heavy

Revenants are only available to players who have purchased at least one GW2 extension. Halfway between the shaman, the mystic warrior and the fallen paladin, the revenant is an atypical class in the MMORPG universe. Revenants channel the energy and spirits of beings belonging to the past, whether they were heroes or threats to Tyria. By channeling these legendary characters, revenants get new powers associated with these legends.

The channelling faculties of revenants translate into 2 distinct class mechanics: Firstly revenants have an energy/mana bar. Skills drain this resource. On the other hand, revenants can channel two legends and pass from one to the other in combat. The activated legend determines the utility skills as well as the healing and elite skills available. Changing the legend resets the energy bar to 50%.

+ Many tools at your disposal at the same time: With its two channeled legends, the revenant has a wide range of specialized assets during a fight. Apart from a fight, it is easy to change its pair of channeled legend which allows the revenant to adopt a specific role quite quickly. A good revenant knows how to use all the skills of his legends.
+ Autonomous with its advantages: The revenant has a good ability to confer offensive and defensive advantages. Unlike the guardian, the revenant does not have the same ease to share these advantages with the allies.
+ Dynamic fighting style: Energy of a revenant is a factor that limits the use of his skills. However, the revenant's skills are very quickly recharged. A player who intelligently manages his energy can access a very fluid and responsive playing style. Unlike the warrior who relies on his natural resistance and the guardian who bases his defense on a judicious use of blocking skills, the revenant ensures his survival by means of attacks avoiding skills.
± Changing traditions: Forget what you know about heroic fantasy, the revenant does nothing like the others. The mace is a weapon oriented alteration, the hammer is a weapon at a distance and the stick is used body to body to heal its allies. The skills associated with channeled legends have unusual but striking functions.
- Inflexible: Revenants have a limited selection of weapons available and each legend comes with its specific skills. It is difficult to precisely adjust a build for a specific encounter as other classes do. In PvP, revenants are very predictable because of this. An ill-equipped revenant is very vulnerable to alterations.
- Complicated management: Because of its inflexible nature and its energy system, a revenant must manage in real time the charging times of his legends, his skills, his energy level as well as his energy consumption. Making a mistake in managing your resources (like changing the legend at the wrong time) means leaving the door open for enemies to exploit a weakness. The revenant is an aggressive class with intermediate resistance but does not forgive mistakes.

Ethos: As a soldier in heavy armor, the game plan of the revenants is close to warriors' and guardians'. You will need to get closer to your targets and quickly inflict severe damage and then start over. But you have neither the control potential of the former nor the defense capabilities of the latter. On the other hand you have tools to give you powerful offensive advantages and ways to disrupt the enemy game.

 

Frequently asked questions:

I want to play short-range/long-range, which class to choose?

Concept tempeteIn most MMOs, you have the possibility to choose between a "remote" class and a "melee" class (ex: WoW hunter vs warrior). Lucky shot with Guild Wars 2, you don’t have to make that choice. Each class has access to medium or long range and close-combat weapons, and you will have to move from one to the other as the combat progresses. Each class of course has a "preference" for short or long range combat. Close-combat warriors are expected to be seen with the thieves while elementalists and rangers can afford to stay further away.

But in the end, whatever the class, you will inflict maximum damage in close-combat. No exceptions. Guild Wars 2 PvE favours grouping of players and close-combat for technical reasons that will not be discussed here.

I want player with complex/easy classes, what do I choose?

Use "Advanced techniques" and "Getting started" to make your choice. The engineer is by far the most complex class to master. He is followed by the elementalist and the mesmer. These three classes have very different game styles but all require practice to be mastered. Be careful, a complex class will never be significantly more powerful than a single class.

I want to support my teammates, which class is best suited?

Gw2 guardian elite specialization teaserNo matter how you play, the guardian is a class with a natural affinity for support. Supporting a group with a guardian requires a lot of anticipation: you must anticipate enemy attacks to be able to counter them. Offensive support is more limited.

Revenants have a very strong support aspect but you needs to adapt its build especially for that. Revenants support through raw healings or distribution of defensive and offensive benefits.

Elementalists and engineers have many support tools but must sacrifice a lot of offensive potential to claim to be able to support their group.

Note also that warriors possess impressive offensive support capabilities. However this is a "passive" support that will not really appeal to a "priest" player of World of Warcraft.

I want a class with mana management, are there any?

Yes! The revenant has a class mechanics called energy. It is a classic mana system from the MMO industry. You also have the thief who has a resource called initiative that feeds his weapon skills. The initiative is a resource quite close to mana: the total reserve is weak but it regenerates quickly.

I want a class that will allow me to atomize my enemies, which is it?

Necrohot2Simple and difficult question: the answer changes all the time depending on the balancing, the game mode (PvE, PvP and WvW) as well as the people you play with (small group vs large group, optimized group vs Pick-up group). Here are some tips to help you make your choice: 

  • Elementalists can create builds to assassinate players (PvP/WvW). In PvE they are the ultimate nukers (very intense damage on a precise position). However, in non-optimized groups and outside of instances, the elementalist is not fundamentally more powerful than other classes.
  • The warriors also have a strong dps in solo PvE and also have builds to assassinate enemy players in PvP and WvW. However all these builds require to have a close-combat target. Warrior damage is moderate in groups but remains an indispensable component of any optimized group.
  • Thieves are the ultimate assassins, capable of inflicting enormous damage on a target in a very short time. They are also able to inflict sustained damage over time to a single target with an adapted build. However, in major clashes, thieves struggle to shine.

Which class will make me feel invincible?

  • Warriors are the class that has the most life points and the strongest armor of the game as described above. With the right skills, a warrior is hard to kill.
  • The necromancers wear light armor but have a class mechanics (shroud of death) which is oriented towards resistance. Even with the most fragile armor, necromancers can afford to suffer damage and fight in large groups in WvW.
  • If you feel like a support talent, and you play well, guardians make very good tanks despite their very limited life reserve. Unlike warriors who just take the shots and regenerate their health, guardians must stop the shots before they are hit. This requires a good amount of anticipation.

Who’s got pets??

ChronomancerBest class with pets is the ranger. Rangers can use two combat pets in turns and change them freely out of combat. There are a wide variety of animals that can be used as companions for a ranger. Using your pets dynamically and intelligently is an important part of a ranger’s gameplay.

If the ranger does not suit your needs, you can opt for a necromancer and his undead servants. However, undead servants are undesirable in instantiated content. Finally, elementalists can invoke temporary pets called elementals to help them fight.

 

Which class allows me to play a stealth character?

  • The thief is the king of stealth. A big part of the gameplay of a thief consists in disappearing to reposition itself advantageously (knife in the back!)
  • Mesmers have less stealth potential for themselves but can conceal huge groups of players quickly for short periods.
  • Engineers have, to a lesser extent, stealth.

Source: SnickyMcNibits, HamartiaV
Translation and adaptation: Reegar Else
Images: GW2 wiki
Correction: Shun

Translation: Juke

Last edited: 13/06/2020

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