User:Wrin/Articles/Immigrating to GW2 - Guild Wars 2 Wiki (GW2W) (2024)


  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Let's Break Some Assumptions
    • 2.1 The Trinity
    • 2.2 Class Roles
    • 2.3 Dynamic Combat
    • 2.4 Buffs and Heals
    • 2.5 No Ranging, No Casting
    • 2.6 Difficulty Levers
    • 2.7 Horizontal v.s. Vertical Progression
    • 2.8 Exploration and the Overworld (Open World)
    • 2.9 Questing
    • 2.10 Direct Farming
    • 2.11 No Subscription
    • 2.12 Rushing
    • 2.13 Mounts
  • 3 So What's Next?


Welcome to Guild Wars 2. This article is designed for people who are migrating from other MMOs, specifically the traditional "Western MMO" such as World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. For the remainder of this article, we'll refer to these as "Trinity MMOs" due to their reliance on the Tank/Healer/DPS trinity.

Let's Break Some Assumptions[edit]

To start things off, we need to establish a good baseline to work with. Many MMO's teach their players very specific habits. Because MMOs require so much of their players time, players that spend a lot of time in one MMO can develop a baseline of assumptions and patterns that they carry to other games. Some common ones include:

The Trinity[edit]

Trinity MMOs establish a basic Trinity of Healer, Tank, and DPS as the core roles of the party. In Guild Wars 2, there is (generally) no threat or aggro system for the vast majority of fights. While there are a few raids that use Toughness-based Threat, and one that uses mechanic-based threat, the vast majority of PVE in Guild Wars 2 does not use Toughness-based threat mechanics or even any properly-identifiable threat mechanics. Often, enemies will focus the player with the highest DPS, but sometimes they factor in distance, healing, and even random stats such as Precision (Crit Chance). Because of this absence of proper taunts or threat-control, "tanks" are not really a part of Guild Wars 2, outside of a few raid encounters.

This does not mean that Guild Wars 2 doesn't have roles. Instead, we have an odd combination revolving around a few specific duties and a few specific buffs that raid groups must always have. The roles can be roughly summarized as:

  • DPS
  • Boon Support / Boon DPS
  • Healer
  • Alacrity, a critical buff
  • Quickness, the other critical buff
  • Fight-specific niche roles (Cannons on Sabetha, Lamps on Qadim)

Often, each subgroup will have one Boon DPS that covers Alacrity paired with a Healer that covers Quickness, or vice-versa. In the few situations where there is a tank, it is often one of the Healers that performs the role.

Class Roles[edit]

Most Trinity MMOs rely heavily on classes or specializations performing a set, specific role. WoW's Protection Paladin is always a tank. Final Fantasy XIV's Sage is always a healer.

In Guild Wars 2, there are no true set roles. Rather, specializations are able to perform a wide variety of roles. Chronomancer, for instance, can cover every single role in the game.

Dynamic Combat[edit]

All Trinity MMOs rely on their Global Cooldown (GCD) to help balance rotations against fight mechanics. There is no GCD in Guild Wars 2 and our cooldowns are much lower on average than other games. This can create very fast-paced, sometimes hectic rotations that many may find somewhat difficult, such as Condition Weaver or Condition Holosmith. We do have many slower-paced rotations, however, such as Power Reaper or Power Daredevil.

Buffs and Heals[edit]

The buffs we must maintain in this game (called Boons) matter much, much more than they do in other games. In most Trinity MMOs, party buffs can make up 10, 15, or even 20% of a party's damage. In Guild Wars, they can often multiply our damage by anywhere from 40% to 200%, depending on the specific build.

These buffs are also very short durations, with many applications just being a few seconds in length. Because of this, they have to be constantly re-applied by our supports and healers.

The range of these buffs, in conjunction with the very short range of heals in this game, mean that in most raids or other instanced content you will constantly be "stacked" on top of your allies in a neat little blob, sitting right next to the boss.

No Ranging, No Casting[edit]

Because of the fast-paced, dynamic content and the existence of The Blob, there are no true ranged DPS in this game, and no true casters. You will not be ranging from a distance in most fights, except occasionally during split phases (if your build has range).

The lack of a GCD, the low cooldowns, and fast cast times also more or less prevent the existence of any traditional caster, though we do have many magically-inclined or mage-adjacent specializations and builds like Condition Scourge, Condition Tempest, or Virtuoso.

This is not to say that having access to range is bad. In many of the harder fights, having some sort of ranged damage can be a huge advantage that allows the party to coordinate using distance as a defensive tactic. It is just that in most situations, you will never be more than a few pixels away from the boss's backside.

Difficulty Levers[edit]

In all MMOs there exist three "levers" for difficulty, though only two matter to us right now: Character and Challenger.

The "Character" lever determines how hard our characters are to play. This can include things like rotation speed (often measured in APM) and rotation complexity. While this type of difficulty has some subjectivity, there is measurable objectivity present as well.

The "Challenger" lever determines how hard our enemies are to fight. This often includes things like boss mechanics and the environment we fight them in (though some consider Environment a separate lever).

In WoW, for instance, the Character lever is not focused on as much as the Challenger lever. WoW's mythic raids, for example, contain numerous, often very difficult, mechanics that require high skill levels to respond to. There is typically a very high level of personal responsibility on each player in the raid and "DPS Checks" or "Heal Checks" can sometimes be quite brutal. This is similar in Final Fantasy XIV's Savage and Ultimate raids.

Guild Wars 2 focuses much more on the Character lever, in general. Our rotations can be quite difficult to master and playing at the highest level in this game requires a similar level of commitment to other MMOs. Our rotations are very fast compared to Trinity MMOs and often have more layers of complexity. Because of this, our Challenger lever is, on average, much lower than other games. Our fights are often simpler and have fewer mechanics overall.

This isn't to say that we don't have some really hard fights: Some of the new Strike Mission Challenge and Legendary Modes are incredibly difficult. This also isn't to say that mechanics aren't important: Just like any MMO, ignoring boss mechanics will often wipe the party. It's just that on average, this game's difficulty comes from mastering your build's rotation rather than from mastering fight mechanics.

Horizontal v.s. Vertical Progression[edit]

In Trinity MMOs, the level cap is increased with each new expansion. This helps depreciate older content and push players into new content. Often, this results in a kind of controlled power-creep that enables players to solo or low-man older content easier while incentivizing them to group together for newer content. This is called Vertical Progression. While this model has its benefits, it isn't the model that Guild Wars 2 decided to use. Instead, Guild Wars 2 uses a form of Horizontal Progression. This means that new content in Guild Wars 2 typically does not introduce stronger gear or abilities, but rather new options, new methods of completing tasks, and new roadblocks to overcome.

This progression system results in a lack of any real gear grind in Guild Wars 2. Exotic Berserker's (Power/Precision/Ferocity) gear is available on the trading post at a very low price and is the second best-in-slot option for many builds, with the best-in-slot being Ascended. Since Ascended gear is often only 8-15% better than Exotic, in almost all content Exotic gear will function just fine.

Importantly, this does not mean that Guild Wars 2 has no grinds. It is an MMO, and as such it its filled with grinds and anti-churn tactics in order to maintain player engagement. Rather than grinding gear each expansion, Guild Wars 2 relies heavily on its Mastery system for player engagement, allowing the player to unlock new abilities for exploration, looting, crafting, quality of life, and rarely, combat, in the new expansion zones.

This system also stops old content from becoming depreciated. Old zones, like Tangled Depths, can still present a significant challenge to even fully geared, max-level players. There's no over-leveling zones in this game.

Exploration and the Overworld (Open World)[edit]

In Trinity MMOs, exploration is often not especially rewarded. Typically, the overworld (in GW2 we say the open world) is primarily a vehicle for questing.

In Guild Wars 2, exploration is heavily rewarded with an incredible amount of experience (which is still very valuable at max level). The open world is very well designed and encourages you to just run around and explore a bit, finding nooks and crannies which are often filled with goodies.


There are no true quests in Guild Wars 2. Instead, we focus on Events. Our Events come in a few flavors, but the big ones are "Dynamic Events". These can be incredibly lucrative to farm and many of them can chain together to create a "Meta Event" (an event of events). Map Metas, like Silverwastes's RIBA, Drizzlewood Coast South and North, or Dragonfall can net a player quite a bit of gold per hour and function something similar to an open world raid.

These events are one of the game's primary focuses, especially for casual players.

Compared to other games, Guild Wars 2's open world is much more developed and heavily focused on, while we have somewhat less focus on instanced content like raids.

Direct Farming[edit]

In many games and MMOs, you can easily direct farm specific items or materials. For instance, if I want Netherweave Cloth in World of Warcraft, I would go kill enemies that typically drop Netherweave Cloth (or maybe just go buy it, since its so cheap now...). If I want a specific glamour in Final Fantasy, I would go do the content that drops that glamour.

In Guild Wars 2, drops are very random and there are very few instances of enemies or content dropping specific materials, items, or transmogs. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to target farm many specific materials. Because of this, farming often revolves around doing activities that net the most gold per hour, keeping the materials you need, and selling those that you don't in order to buy the rest of what you need.

There are some materials that can be targeted, typically ores, plants, and wood via node farming. There are also farms like Volatile Magic Trophy Shipments that drop a specific set of materials.

No Subscription[edit]

Guild Wars 2 is an entirely buy-to-play game, meaning you buy each expansion and there's no subscription fee. This has its upsides and downsides. For example, there is very little content-based FOMO in Guild Wars 2 due to the lack of a subscription and the horizontal progression. However, there is also more focus on Guild Wars' cash shop than other games, such as bank tabs costing premium currency.


Certain MMOs expect you to commit many hours a day to each new patch in order to "keep up". This results in a mindset that wants you to "rush" ahead and complete things as fast as possible.

Guild Wars 2 will actively punish you for doing this. From daily gates to events being on a timer, this game is not a game you can "rush" ahead in, and you gain no benefit from doing so.

The leveling process is already pretty fast but should be taken at a steady pace and enjoyed. You have an incredible amount of things to do before you are "done", so just pace yourself. There's no subscription fee here. The game isn't going anywhere. Our content patches are slow. Take your time.


In most trinity MMOs, you basically just have flying mounts and ground mounts. WoW's Dragonriding is an exception to this.

In Guild Wars 2, our mounts are much different and each serves a unique purpose. New mounts do not generally invalidate other mounts and you will get good use out of most of them. Our flying also works quite differently, with it being heavily limited.

So What's Next?[edit]

If you're coming from another MMO, especially a trinity one, you should approach Guild Wars 2 with a very open mind. Throw away a lot of your assumptions and try not to focus too much on your past experience. It may sometimes be useful, but often leaning too heavily on old assumptions can cause confusion and make you start to dislike a game you may have otherwise enjoyed.

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