A Leveling Guide: Early Builds and Tips — Guild Wars 2 Forums

A Leveling Guide: Early Builds and Tips

Ojimaru.8970Ojimaru.8970 Member ✭✭✭✭
edited May 5, 2019 in Players Helping Players

Quick links:

Elementalist
Engineer
Guardian
Mesmer
Necromancer
Revenant
Ranger
Thief
Warrior

Who is this guide for?

I starting conceptualizing this guide after hearing countless new players feeling lost, or even not unlocked a single Skill or Specialization because they feel overwhelmed with their choices, and the perceived scarcity of Hero Points. Hence, I wanted to give some structured path of Skill and Specialization unlocks, for those that desire it. The builds I recommend will mostly mimic those seen on endgame guides, such as Snowcrows and Discretize, which I hope will help ease players into harder content as their characters progress. Along the way, I will also explain the core concepts of the builds, both to help players understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of the build, and to better understand damage rotations when they eventually reach endgame content.

Power or Condition Damage?

The Rule of Thumb is Power builds are better than Condition builds while leveling.

This is due to the low health pools of most enemies your character will face while leveling, and the propensity for Power builds to burst these enemies down far quicker than relying on damage-over-time attacks.

Furthermore, the damage scaling of Conditions rely on Expertise and Condition Duration, both attributes that aren’t easy to come by while leveling, or are very cost inefficient to gear for (e.g. buying specific runes and sigils). Conversely, Power builds have easy access to the attributes they rely on, i.e. Power, Precision, and Ferocity.

This is not to say it is impossible to level with Condition Damage. Throughout my guides, I will try to provide my best take on such builds for each profession.

Bonus XP

When defeating an enemy, your character gains experience ("XP"), which is needed for them to progress in character levels. However, shortly after an enemy is spawned into the game world, they will start accruing Bonus XP that will be awarded to the character(s) that defeated them. Following this logic, you will often gain the most Bonus XP from defeating enemies not associated to Heart Quests and Events, such as neutral wildlife outside of the common paths players take while leveling.

In the figure below, you'll see that the Plains Worm Hatchling that had just appeared gave its base 20 XP to the player character. In comparison, the Brackish Skales nearby gave nearly twice the total XP when defeated, whereas the Bandits ten steps to the East gave over three times the XP of the Hatchling, despite taking approximately the same time to defeat.

You can speed up your leveling even more by activating one or more Experience Modifiers. For example, a fresh free-to-play character could increase their XP gain with the following:

  • Food
    ** Loaf of Bread sold by Master Chef NPCs (aka Cooking Trainers; +10% XP gain from kills for 15 min; 40c each)
    ** Bowl of Apple Sauce sold by Farmhand Paris in Shaemoor Fields (+10% XP gain from kills for 30 min; 16c each)
  • Utilities
    ** Apprentice Maintenance Oil (Huntsman crafting; +10% XP gain from kills for 30 min)
    ** Apprentice Tuning Crystal (Artificer crafting; +10% XP gain from kills for 30 min)
    ** Rough Sharpening Stone (Weaponsmith crafting; +10% XP gain from kills for 30 min)
  • Guild XP Gain (up to +10% XP gain for 1 day)
  • Guild Experience Banner Bonus (gained by interacting with Guild Karma and Experience Banners and Guild Heroes Banners; +10% XP gain from kills for 30 min)
    In other words, these buffs can increase XP gain from kills by another 50%.

Other non-Gem Store XP bonuses include:

As an example, stacking all the above can yield big jumps in XP gain, as demonstrated in the image below.

Changelog:
March 25, 2019: First post!
April 27, 2019: Minor update to Revenant to include use cases for Ancient Echo.
May 5, 2019: Expanded on Bonus XP section to include XP gain buffs. (Thanks @”Khisanth.2948”)

"Thief? How rude! I'm a Procurement Specialist." -Glenn Gynnafante

Tagged:

Comments

  • Ojimaru.8970Ojimaru.8970 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 25, 2019

    Engineer

    Mechanics:

    The Engineer was probably the hardest profession for me to learn while leveling. Despite having a very limited selection of traditional weapons, the profession more than made up for it with the sheer variety of Kits and Toolbelt skills, each confounding me with their own specific damage and utility abilities, with no means to keep track of all each individual Kit and weapon cooldown. That being said, I would always recommend aspiring players to learn to use, and appreciate Engineer Kits. However, rather than trying to memorize the every single ability, focus on familiarizing with a handful of key abilities, and how those fit in your regular damage rotations.

    The second block I stumbled over was my misconception of the Engineer’s weapons themselves. Despite being traditionally ranged weapons, both Power and Condition Damage builds operated far better will close to the enemy, and thus being able to maximizing the capabilities of Blunderbuss (Rifle 3), Jump Shot (Rifle 5), and the Bomb Kit on a Power build, as well as Blowtorch (Pistol 4), and Flamethrower with a Condition Damage build. Hence, I found it far more effective to think of the Engineer as a primarily melee profession, which also happens to have some ranged options.

    Leveling Builds:

    Power


    The most appropriate weapon of the Power build may be the Rifle, but its main source of autoattack damage in between high-value abilities actually comes from the Bomb Kit, or Grenade Kit if your character finds a need to fight from afar. This build works best with equipment with Power, Precision, and Ferocity.

    The high-value skills alluded to earlier are as follows:
    Blunderbuss (Rifle 3),
    Jump Shot (Rifle 5),
    Surprise Shot (Rifle Turret Tool belt),
    Grenade Barrage (Grenade Kit Tool belt), and
    Fire Bomb (Bomb Kit 2)

    To keep things simple, use the Surprise Shot and Grenade Barrage whenever either are available, start the fight by hopping on top of the enemy with Jump Shot, unload with Blunderbuss, and stay in Bomb Kit for the remainder of the encounter, using the aforementioned Tool belt abilities when able.

    For Skill unlocks, which start at level 11, I like to quickly pick up both Healing Turret and Rifle Turret with the Hero Points given as part of the Level Up Reward. The Healing Turret is considered as one of the more preferred healing ability throughout all stages of the game for the significant heal and condition cleanse of the ability. The Rifle Turret, on the other hand, can be set down for some extra damage, but its main contribution is the instant-cast Surprise Shot Tool belt ability. The Grenade Kit and Bomb Kit are unlocked next to form the rest of the build’s arsenal.

    The earliest you can begin unlocking Specializations is at level 21. At this early stage, I find it best to go for flat damage boosts. Hence, my preferred choice would be the Explosives Specialization, with traits such as Glass Cannon, Steel-Packed Powder, Shaped Charge, and Orbital Command. Additionally, the Big Boomer trait also provides some extra health, based on the character’s Power, which they will prioritize in gearing anyway.

    Around the time your character reaches level 45, and unlocks the second Specialization slot, they will likely have a lot more equipment that gives Critical Hit Chance and Critical Damage bonuses. Therefore, they would make the best use of the Critical Hit-focused traits in the Firearms Specialization.

    Conversely, a Specialization into Tools provides a lot more defensive capabilities, allowing the Engineer to quickly regain their Endurance through Optimized Activation and Adrenal Implant. At the same time, Static Discharge and Excessive Energy provide some additional damage, while Streamlined Kits offer a little quality-of-life improvements by granting the Engineer Swiftness each time they equip a Kit.

    Condition Damage


    As for Condition Damage builds, I can’t say I’ve ever had any success with the variant. Most endgame builds of this sort always felt overly complicated, and too cumbersome to execute. The build I offer here is a very simplistic take, while also playing into the fantasy of a Flamethrower-wielding pyromaniac.

    For weapons, dual Pistols are the most obvious choices, and offer the most in terms of Condition Damage. However, you should try to keep this weapon set active only long enough to cast Blowtorch (Pistol 5), and Poison Dart Volley (Pistol 2), before switching back to the Flamethrower. While wielding the Flamethrower, prioritize casting Napalm (Flamethrower 5) and Flame Blast (Flamethrower 2), and filling the gaps with Flame Jet.(Flamethrower 1). An easy way to keep track of Blowtorch is by tying its cooldown to Flame Blast; after two casts of Flame Blast, switch back to the Pistols, and Blowtorch should be ready to go.

    Additionally, drink both Elixirs when able. Helpfully, both of these share the same cooldown timers for easy tracking.

    When your character is able to unlock skills at level 11, Flamethrower is an easy pickup early on to start your Engineer’s quest for blazing glory. Next unlock both Elixir B and Elixir U to fill out the other two Skill slots.

    While the Power build used the Firearms Specialization to enhance their Critical damage, this build will utilize it for the bonuses it provides to Condition Damage instead. As it is very difficult to increase Condition Duration at low levels, traits such as Chemical Rounds, Thermal Vision, adn Incendiary Powder are vital to the build’s prowess.

    Lacking other direct means to enhance Condition Damage, I would opt for Alchemy as the next Specialization, when it becomes available at level 45. This Specialization provides a bevy of Boons, from defensive ones from Invigorating Speed, to more bonuses to Condition Damage through the Might stacks gained from Hidden Flask and HGH. As a bonus, Transmute, Emergency Elixir, and Compounding Chemicals help to keep the Engineer healthy through their journeys.

    As above, we can round out the build with the versatility of the Tools Specialization, beginning from level 71.

    "Thief? How rude! I'm a Procurement Specialist." -Glenn Gynnafante

  • Biff.5312Biff.5312 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Awesome - thanks for putting all the work into this. New players can now get answers to half the questions we see posted time and again in this forum. Kudos.

  • Loosmaster.8263Loosmaster.8263 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Well done Oji. Anet failed to allow me to give more than 1 thumbs up...

    Playing the PvE scene because WvW is just "BAD"...

  • MeththeMadman.7420MeththeMadman.7420 Member ✭✭
    edited March 26, 2019

    This is great. As a new player this is very helpful. Actually makes me want to create a rev to level. Thanks for the effort.

    How do you recommend setting up keybinds as a new player? I play a warrior.

    I'm thinking my key binds should be set up like this:

    key 1 - Signet of Fury
    key 2 - Bull's Rush
    key 3 - GS #2
    Key 4 - GS F1

    Can I do that? (Sorry for the stupid question)

  • @MeththeMadman.7420 said:
    This is great. As a new player this is very helpful. Actually makes me want to create a rev to level. Thanks for the effort.

    How do you recommend setting up keybinds as a new player? I play a warrior.

    I'm thinking my key binds should be set up like this:

    key 1 - Signet of Fury
    key 2 - Bull's Rush
    key 3 - GS #2
    Key 4 - GS F1

    Can I do that? (Sorry for the stupid question)

    Unfortunately, you can't set character specific keybinds, so if you bind Utility Skill 1 to R and Weapon Skill 2 to T, all characters will use that setup.

  • This is a great guide! Honestly a candidate for pinning, and definitely something I need to save the link to!

  • @Tanner Blackfeather.6509 said:

    @MeththeMadman.7420 said:
    This is great. As a new player this is very helpful. Actually makes me want to create a rev to level. Thanks for the effort.

    How do you recommend setting up keybinds as a new player? I play a warrior.

    I'm thinking my key binds should be set up like this:

    key 1 - Signet of Fury
    key 2 - Bull's Rush
    key 3 - GS #2
    Key 4 - GS F1

    Can I do that? (Sorry for the stupid question)

    Unfortunately, you can't set character specific keybinds, so if you bind Utility Skill 1 to R and Weapon Skill 2 to T, all characters will use that setup.

    You'd need special software that allows you to set macro profiles that you can swap on the fly. For example, some logitech keyboards allow you multiple profiles and a key that will swap between them. As @Tanner Blackfeather.6509 says, the game itself doesn't allow for per-profession or per-character settings.

    Hype is the path to the dark side. Hype leads to unfulfilled expectations. Disappointment leads to anger. Anger leads to disgust. Disgust leads to "oh, new shinies! I'm back!"

  • @Illconceived Was Na.9781 said:

    @Tanner Blackfeather.6509 said:

    @MeththeMadman.7420 said:
    This is great. As a new player this is very helpful. Actually makes me want to create a rev to level. Thanks for the effort.

    How do you recommend setting up keybinds as a new player? I play a warrior.

    I'm thinking my key binds should be set up like this:

    key 1 - Signet of Fury
    key 2 - Bull's Rush
    key 3 - GS #2
    Key 4 - GS F1

    Can I do that? (Sorry for the stupid question)

    Unfortunately, you can't set character specific keybinds, so if you bind Utility Skill 1 to R and Weapon Skill 2 to T, all characters will use that setup.

    You'd need special software that allows you to set macro profiles that you can swap on the fly. For example, some logitech keyboards allow you multiple profiles and a key that will swap between them. As @Tanner Blackfeather.6509 says, the game itself doesn't allow for per-profession or per-character settings.

    Thanks!

    So how do people set up key binds so that they are easily reachable?

  • @MeththeMadman.7420 said:
    So how do people set up key binds so that they are easily reachable?

    Here is what I've done:
    Weapon attack skills stay on 1 - 5
    Switch A & D for strafe left and right - you don't need keys to turn if you control your direction with your mouse.
    Heal skill (6) on left shift
    Utility skills 7, 8, and 9 are bound to Q, E, & C
    Elite skill - 0 - is bound to an extra button on my mouse, same with the special action key.

    This works pretty well for me. Dodge is still on V (and double tap), and the selected mount is still on X. My hands are large enough that I don't have problems reaching F1-F5. I do have an 18 button MMO mouse, but really only use a couple of extra buttons on it for combat related stuff.

    The nice thing about this set up is that it works regardless of what character/profession I'm on - my heal is always the same, my elite is always on my mouse, etc. Since I have all 9 classes on my main account and I rotate through them, it really makes it easier to switch from ele to warrior to ranger. I only have to remember what to use when, and not which key it is bound to like I would if we had unique character binds.

  • Ojimaru.8970Ojimaru.8970 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Kaltyn of Torbins Deep.2946 said:
    Switch A & D for strafe left and right - you don't need keys to turn if you control your direction with your mouse.

    Great point raised here! One of the most underrated and best quality-of-life change you can do for yourself is to learn to turn the camera with your mouse, rather than using a keyboard hotkey. This is because "keyboard turning" is not only cumbersome when you're trying to move and attack at the same time, the rate at which your character turns is fixed, and is actually much slower than using your mouse to turn.

    "Thief? How rude! I'm a Procurement Specialist." -Glenn Gynnafante

  • Aetatis.5418Aetatis.5418 Member ✭✭✭

    good job!

    i do miss some choices/different approaches on some professions though.
    but i guess its a compromise - keeping it simple/short and still providing enough information.

  • Lasiurus.4067Lasiurus.4067 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Really, really, good job, nice core elementalist build for open worlds
    Cellofrag

  • Orion Templar.4589Orion Templar.4589 Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 28, 2019

    @Ojimaru.8970 said:

    Point Blank Shot (Longbow 4) is a skill you should assume does not exist. Don’t use it. Don’t look at it. Don’t even think about it.

    This was my favorites part of the write up. If all rangers used Point Blank Shot intelligently (when it was appropriate) it would cut down on a lot of angst.
    Nice work on these write ups!

  • Ojimaru.8970Ojimaru.8970 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Rubi Bayer.8493 said:

    @Ojimaru.8970 said:

    Who is this guide for?

    I starting conceptualizing this guide after hearing countless new players feeling lost, or even not unlocked a single Skill or Specialization because they feel overwhelmed with their choices, and the perceived scarcity of Hero Points. Hence, I wanted to give some structured path of Skill and Specialization unlocks, for those that desire it. The builds I recommend will mostly mimic those seen on endgame guides, such as Snowcrows and Discretize, which I hope will help ease players into harder content as their characters progress. Along the way, I will also explain the core concepts of the builds, both to help players understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of the build, and to better understand damage rotations when they eventually reach endgame content.

    Thanks a ton for taking the time to create this! I posted a link to it on the Guild Wars 2 Twitter in order to direct more of our community to it–it deserves to be seen!

    You're very welcome, and thank you for the shout out!

    "Thief? How rude! I'm a Procurement Specialist." -Glenn Gynnafante

  • Khisanth.2948Khisanth.2948 Member ✭✭✭✭

    It seems you forgot food and utility consumables? Not for the stat increase but for the 20%/25% exp from skills they offer. There are plenty of very cheap ones available on the TP.

  • Ojimaru.8970Ojimaru.8970 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Khisanth.2948 said:
    It seems you forgot food and utility consumables? Not for the stat increase but for the 20%/25% exp from skills they offer. There are plenty of very cheap ones available on the TP.

    Yeah, I'm thinking of putting together a mini-guide for XP buffs. Where possible I want to avoid using the TP as free-to-play players do not immediately have access to it.

    "Thief? How rude! I'm a Procurement Specialist." -Glenn Gynnafante

  • Just wanted to say thank you for these guides. After picking up the game years ago and never getting past level 10 I have just recently picked it back up and have been quite lost on what direction to go with hero points. Very useful guides for someone new where all the options and skills can be a bit overwhelming

  • Anchoku.8142Anchoku.8142 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 22, 2019

    @Ojimaru.8970
    Just saw this thread and have three suggestions:
    1. Identify trait, skill, and rune options for each profession to improve running speed. This is huge for those without mounts.
    2. Identify AI pets or other skills to help in PvE. Easy-mode is nice for new players adjusting to the game or just a new profession. Pets, minions, turrets, elementals, spirits, clones, and so on can help new players a lot.
    3. In the absence of AI help, or despite it, perhaps identify an, "Oh, kitten!" skill or two for use in emergencies that new players can learn to use to disengage. Something like stealth, a long distance mobility skill, or sending a pet to preoccupy an enemy.

  • Ojimaru.8970Ojimaru.8970 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Anchoku.8142 said:
    @Ojimaru.8970
    Just saw this thread and have three suggestions:
    1. Identify trait, skill, and rune options for each profession to improve running speed. This is huge for those without mounts.
    2. Identify AI pets or other skills to help in PvE. Easy-mode is nice for new players adjusting to the game or just a new profession. Pets, minions, turrets, elementals, spirits, clones, and so on can help new players a lot.
    3. In the absence of AI help, or despite it, perhaps identify an, "Oh, kitten!" skill or two for use in emergencies that new players can learn to use to disengage. Something like stealth, a long distance mobility skill, or sending a pet to preoccupy an enemy.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    1. Good point. I suppose I have taken mounts (and Choya Pinata Tonic) for granted. I'll look into this.
    2. This one's tricky. First off, all the relevant builds suggested, i.e. Necromancer, and Elementalist, already feature summoned pets; similarly Mesmer clones and phantasms are a core part of the gameplay, as mentioned; finally, the Ranger section does mention pet management as something to learn. I included the Rifle Turret in the Power Engineer build, but generally don't want to recommend turrets too highly due to the tediousness of cooldowns and setup. Secondly, I don't want to players to rely too heavily on summoned minions; to my experience, it can be difficult to wean players off these crutches.
    3. Another good point. I suppose my mindset has been, for the longest time, that nearly all open world encounters -- even while leveling my alts/keyrunners -- end far too quickly to represent enough threat to warrant escape skills. I'll chalk that up to the to-do list.

    "Thief? How rude! I'm a Procurement Specialist." -Glenn Gynnafante

  • Anchoku.8142Anchoku.8142 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 22, 2019

    @Ojimaru.8970 said:

    @Anchoku.8142 said:
    @Ojimaru.8970
    Just saw this thread and have three suggestions:
    1. Identify trait, skill, and rune options for each profession to improve running speed. This is huge for those without mounts.
    2. Identify AI pets or other skills to help in PvE. Easy-mode is nice for new players adjusting to the game or just a new profession. Pets, minions, turrets, elementals, spirits, clones, and so on can help new players a lot.
    3. In the absence of AI help, or despite it, perhaps identify an, "Oh, kitten!" skill or two for use in emergencies that new players can learn to use to disengage. Something like stealth, a long distance mobility skill, or sending a pet to preoccupy an enemy.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    1. Good point. I suppose I have taken mounts (and Choya Pinata Tonic) for granted. I'll look into this.
    2. This one's tricky. First off, all the relevant builds suggested, i.e. Necromancer, and Elementalist, already feature summoned pets; similarly Mesmer clones and phantasms are a core part of the gameplay, as mentioned; finally, the Ranger section does mention pet management as something to learn. I included the Rifle Turret in the Power Engineer build, but generally don't want to recommend turrets too highly due to the tediousness of cooldowns and setup. Secondly, I don't want to players to rely too heavily on summoned minions; to my experience, it can be difficult to wean players off these crutches.
    3. Another good point. I suppose my mindset has been, for the longest time, that nearly all open world encounters -- even while leveling my alts/keyrunners -- end far too quickly to represent enough threat to warrant escape skills. I'll chalk that up to the to-do list.

    Thank you for the quick response.
    I know the second suggestion is tricky but very new players can get around easier by using an AI to hold aggro and provide a minimum dps while requiring fewer active skills. I had thought pointing out AI helpers as dps and aggro control would be helpful until a player gained enough personal skill and character levels to unlock and practice more active combat skills.

    Mesmers and Rangers come with stock AI pets but I see no harm in reminding players of their most basic use.

  • Ojimaru.8970Ojimaru.8970 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Update: Expanded on Bonus XP section to include XP gain buffs, as suggested by @Khisanth.2948

    "Thief? How rude! I'm a Procurement Specialist." -Glenn Gynnafante

  • Thank you, helped me to get back in the game after some years

  • Thanks for all the helpful info.

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