These are the things I wished I knew when I started last month. Any further thoughts from veterans appreciated.
There are lots of good, recent guides on post-80 content, so the focus here is on leveling through PvE.
The only exception is for a particular kind of PvP, and even that may be integrated soon. See PvP, below, for more info.
You can't change your class, your race, or your background. The background chosen at character creation affects the first three stages of your Personal Story, a series of quests every 10 levels.
For convenience and smooth targeting, I recommend
Skills in GW2 come from both your weapon and, later, your build. By level 8, you'll have available all your weapon skills.
At levels 11-19, you get access to Utility Skills, purchased with Hero Points. Earn Hero Points at marked locations as you explore, and also at certain levels as you level up.
At the end of this post, I've put tips on each class that may help when getting a feel for how they play.
You can see your buffs (usually "Boons") and debuffs ("Conditions") above your action bar, at the bottom of the screen.
Some, like boosts from food, persist for several minutes or more, but most in-combat effects are brief by PvE standards, lasting only a few seconds.
When you "die," you first go into the Downed state, granting you access to some abilities. Kill an enemy with them and you pop back up.
When dead ("Defeated"), other players can Revive you.
"Aggro" or "threat" isn't held the same way as in other MMOs. It builds according to players' Toughness score, their proximity, their damage, and their level (lower levels drawing more aggro).
GW2's quest system is elegant: go where you want, and help the local populace where you want. No fetch quests, no narrow path..
To get bonus experience, complete the "heart" quests that appear as you explore. You also get experience for discovering Points of Interest and Vistas in a given area. Some Vista spots offer mini-puzzles for access.
Fill a Heart or level up and you'll get a reward, accessible on the lower right, above your minimap.
You can quest in a lower-level zone. Your level will scale down (to the max zone of the level +1). You can see this on other players when their level displays with a green arrow pointing down, next to their name and portrait.
Events will pop up as you roam. They grant a lot of exp.
Activate Waypoints by getting close to them the first time you're nearby.
Your Capital City
Consider going to your capital city (Divinity's Reach, Black Citadel, Rata Sum, Hoelbrak, The Grove) once you hit level 5. The portal to your capital is behind where you began in your starting area.
At level 5, you may consume food and potions to get bonus exp (just choose the cheapest one, usually 4c), and more important, cheap bags. Get them at the Black Lion Trading Post, marked on your map.
That's also a good time to buy a Salvage Kit (Crude or Basic will do), plus a copper Axe, Sickle, and Pick for gathering. Get them from a crafter of any kind, or from most merchants.
When you join, all your characters are in the guild. Guild membership is account-wide.
You can join up to five guilds (I'd find it hard to keep up with that many, but do as you like).
Dailies and Rewards
Each day you log in, you get a reward. Yay! Reset at 4pm Pacific.
You also have the option to do daily activities for another reward, or three of them for yet another bonus. Check them out under Hero ->Achievements.
Buying and Selling Gear
Don't worry about gear at starting levels. The easiest attributes to grasp are Power (for direct damage) and Vitality, but if your build favors another, fine. Attributes explained on the GW2 Wiki.
Buy and sell gear at the Black Lion Trading Post. You can do this from anywhere (through the lion icon on the upper left), but you can pick up only from a TP marked on your map, as in capital cities.
Every item has buy and sell offers posted. If you want to buy or sell an item immediately, you can do so at the best price offered. Or you can set your own offer.
Salvage and Junk
Some items you find are Junk - trophies you can sell to merchants but not to other players. Other trophies can be Salvaged, and those will not sell when you select Sell Junk Items at a merchant.
When should you Salvage, instead of listing? Veterans say 'Salvage everything until you hit 80,' and that's perfectly viable. It's easier, it's faster, and it often makes more money than selling the individual items.
But when you are just starting out, dirt poor, you can often make more money by selling the item instead. Here's an easy rule-of-thumb: Salvage when the item sells for less than 3s. It's a surprisingly accurate gauge, from level 1 to 60, according to my testing. There are exceptions, and prices do vary, but that rule is right so often that it's worth keeping in mind.
Really, don't fret about stats and gear before you hit 80. That said, here's how upgrades work.
Sigils go in weapons and Runes go in armor, one per piece, Soulbinding the item. To get bonuses from set items (like "...of Divinity," which gives +4 to stats with one such rune and +8 with four), put the appropriate rune into, say, your gloves, and the next rune into your boots, for example. Rare (yellow) gear doesn't have more rune slots (still just one), but it offers more bonuses for more runes spread throughout your outfit.
...is entirely optional as you level up. If it's fun for you, go for it: you'll earn exp as you make stuff. If you'd prefer to be smacking Sons of Svanir, feel free to bonk skulls instead of crafting.
See below for suggested Crafting links.
Black Lion Chest Keys
You'll get many kinds of reward chests in your adventures -open or sell them (if not Account Bound) as you please.
Black Lion Chests, though, require a key, bought with gems, or earned once a week by completing the first series of a Personal Story (available at level 10). The server resets for this just after Sunday midnight, Pacific Time. More info from the GW2 Wiki.
Powergamey Magic Find
One of your attributes is called "Magic Find," and it increases your chances of getting rare goods. It's an account-wide bonus for all your characters, and you can see it under Hero->Equipment (bottom right).
It will rise as you adventure, but if you are especially power-gamey, you could consider boosting it by buying Ectoplasms from the TP, then salvaging. You'll get Luck, which you use, and Crystalline Dust, which you sell back for a bit less than you paid. You'll need, say, 5 to 10 gold to start, and you can quickly get to 50% that way. After that, it becomes more of a grind: the 4000 luck that brought you from 0% to 27% MF, would raise you only 1% once you were at 100%. Video explanation.
In any case, don't worry about it. You can get good MF boosts once you hit 80 through food and other items. Those temporary bonuses are big by comparison, and you can use them when you need them.
...are a forgotten thing in GW2, more or less, and veterans run them mostly for speed runs to collect materials. That means they often expect ideal teammates and quickly kick newcomers.
It's a shame, and it doesn't reflect well on the community. But remember that the community is, overall, extremely welcoming and helpful - just less so in dungeons (and pvp).
If you like running dungeons in other games (as I do), don't despair: Fractals currently scratch that itch for GW2, and they're widely enjoyed. They unlock once you have a character at 80.
If you'd still like to run an official Dungeon, use the LFG tool at the upper left. You're more likely to find people at a peak time (weekend or evening), and it's helpful to already have the nearby waypoint. You can start dungeons at level 30, with the easier Story more. More info at the
GW2 Wiki page for Dungeon.
PvP and WvW
PvP arenas and World-vs-World contests both see a lot of activity. For some GW2 players, it's their main interest. Others do it rarely if at all.
While I really like text guides (they're easier to skim than video, among other things), it's hard to find a good one for newcomers to either PvP or WvW. Many assume a fair amount of knowledge already. So here's a fine
PvP intro video.
one for WvW.
I highly recommend checking the video, as WvW is overwhelming at first. The maps are far bigger than for PvP, the objectives aren't as clear when you first start, and your role can be harder to determine. Start with the video or join with a friend who can help you out (and remember that you both need to be from the same world server, at least for now).
...in the next post, and class tips after that.
Hope you enjoy GW2 as much as I do!