One of the most common questions asked about Guild Wars 2 is “What class should I play?” In Guild Wars 2 you’re not confined to a certain combat role by your character class, and instead what class you should use is determined mainly by your play style. Picking the class that’s right for you is an important, but sometimes daunting choice.
Below is a brief summary of each of the eight playable classes – noting their pros, cons and unique mechanics. This guide doesn’t go into details about each game mode or provide popular builds, but instead gives an outline of what is appealing about each class and lets you discover the details.
Also it’s worth noting that while I may mark some classes as ‘Easy to play’, this refers to their learning curve. In truth every class has a very high skill ceiling and you’ll never “outgrow” an easy class – there’s always more tricks to learn and tactics to master.
Easy to play, High Durability
Heavily armored and well armed, warriors are your go-to front line brawler, built to take out opponents with ample amounts of
brute force and aggression. With the highest defense in the game, a wide array of weapons to choose from and a number of offense boosting capabilities, warriors fight enemies toe-to-toe and overwhelm them.
Adrenaline is a special mechanic to help warriors in combat. Adrenaline is built each time a warrior lands an attack, slowly filling a meter above your weapon skills. This adrenaline bar allows you to unleash a powerful attack based on what weapon you’re holding in your main hand – ranging from laying down giant rings of fire to powerful single strikes. The more adrenaline you’ve built up, the more powerful the effect when you activate it.
+High Damage Output – Warriors are the undisputed kings and queens of the raw numbers game. No matter what your build or weapon choice you’re still going to be very dangerous.
+Natural Durability – Along with good damage warriors can also claim to have the highest possible health and armor totals available to players, making them very hard to take down.
+Weapon Selection – No matter how you want to fight, or who you’re fighting, warriors have a tool for every occasion. Want some ranged AoE Damage? Go longbow. Looking for some added condition damage? Pick up a sword. Want to punt somebody off a cliff? Hammers work just fine for that.
+Offensive Support – Warriors are no slouch when it comes to supporting allies, and they really shine when it comes to adding to your party’s damage output, using a number of shouts and banners to add more raw damage to any party.
-Shallow Bag of Tricks – Warriors have their fair share of control conditions like stuns and immobilizes, but even using those they’re still forced to come at their foes head on. If you can’t win by direct combat, warriors have very few alternatives.
Medium difficulty, High Durability
Guardians are an armored hybrid class, able to fight with both sword and magic. Based on the classic paladin archetype, guardians specialize using boons to bolstering themselves and allies while still being effective in direct combat.
Fitting with the theme of buffs and boons, guardians have a special mechanic know as Virtues. Virtues provide a guardian with three always-on buffs to strengthen them. These buffs can be temporarily sacrificed to empower nearby allies, turning a personal source of power into potent support tools.
+Survivability – Guardians actually have very low health pools and lackluster healing skills, but more than compensate for it in other ways. The Virtue of Resolve provides constant health regeneration when active, Virtue of Courage allows guardians to block attacks periodically, and a number of weapon and utility skills provide added regeneration, protection and healing. They also wear heavy armor to mitigate whatever damage does manage to get through.
+Strong Boons – One of the best support classes in the game, guardians stack boons on themselves and allies with ease. Beside the quantity of boons they can throw out, guardians have ready access to nearly every boon in the game, allowing them to buff allies however it’s needed.
+Damage Prevention and Healing – Possibly their strongest feature, guardians have a number of skills that remove conditions, restore health or straight-up deflect enemy attacks. A well timed skill like Shield of Absorption can save your entire party from certain doom.
-Poor Ranged Combat – Guardians are respectable fighters while in melee range, but in ranged combat they’re lackluster. They only have one true ranged combat weapon, and while it deals good damage it’s awkward when trying to hit a moving target.
-Long Cooldowns - To offset the potential impact of all their powerful blocks and heals, many Guardian skills have very long recharge times – so if you mistime your skills, you may not get a second chance.
Easy to play, Medium Durability
Rangers are a jack-of-all-trades class, with weapons and skills to help them adapt to anything they might face. Fighting at melee or range, rangers use quick movements and agility to outmaneuver foes in a fight.
A ranger’s special mechanic is their pets. A ranger may charm any pet he finds in the open world, and once he does so can switch to it or any other pet he’s charmed whenever he’s out of combat. Your animal companions come in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from tanky bears and hounds to swift and deadly hawks and cats, each with unique stats and skills. Though not always reliable, pets can provide a boost to your damage output and protect you from harm.
+Versatile – If you ever find yourself in a situation you’re not prepared for, you’re playing the class wrong. With many classes you have to specifically gear and trait yourself to fill a role, a ranger can swap between combat roles easier than any other class, and still do them effectively. Rangers can also pick a more specialized pet to compensate for any weaknesses they may have.
+Ranged Combat – Rangers have effective melee weapons, but their ranged combat abilities are especially noteworthy – rangers have arguably the best ranged single target damage of any class.
+Mobility – Rangers have a number of jumps, rolls and evades built into their weapons, allowing them to skirt around the edge of a conflict or dance around an attacker with ease. Kite like a boss.
-Awkward AoE damage – While still able to deal damage to multiple targets, rangers have a hard time doing it – usually requiring them to line up multiple foes and hit them with a single arrow, or getting in close and laying traps at their enemy’s feet.
-Pets can be Unreliable – While they can certainly save your butt in small skirmishes, pets can be downed very quickly in some situations. Most notably pet’s don’t dodge out of AoE spells, making them useless in large group fights like WvW or some dungeons.
Hard to play, Medium Durability
Engineers are one of the most unique classes in GW2, and in MMOs in general for that matter. Although only able to equip a handful of conventional weapons, engineers have access to a number of specialty weapon kits like flamethrowers and grenades, giving them a deceptive number of combat options. Engineers also have a large number of tricks and gizmos to help them, though learning to master these tools can be difficult.
An engineer’s unique mechanic is their tool belt. Essentially, instead of equipping a single healing or utility skill in each slot, engineers equip a pair of skills – one is the “normal” version equipped to the slot and another corresponding skill is equipped to your tool belt. For instance you can equip ‘Elixir B’ to your normal slot, and ‘Throw Elixir B’ will be added to your tool belt. These tool belt skills are often weaker compared to normal utility and healing skills, but the added versatility they offer are a powerful tool in the hands of a engineer.
+Weapon Kits – Engineers have a pitiful 3 combinations of conventional weapons, but it’s hard to notice that when you’re switching between a flamethrower, twin pistols and elixer guns on whim. Equipped as utility or healing skills, weapon kits replace your current weapon once activated, turning one utility skill into 5 separate attacks. You can swap between weapon kits freely and there’s no cooldown like there is with other class’ weapon swapping, ensuring always have access to the right tool for the job.
+Conditions and Boons – Engineers have access to a crazy number of boons and support abilities. They are also one of the most effective classes at stacking conditions on a target.
+Huge Number of Skills Available – Between weapon kits and tool belt skills, engineers have access to a impressive number of tools and toys at any given time.
-Complicated – The above point can actually be a huge downside to newer players, as it takes time to learn what your myriad of skills can do. For instance, if you have an elixer gun equipped you can pull it out and lay down a healing field, but in the chaos of combat it can be easy to forget about it – or if you do remember you have it, remembering what buttons to hit to get it.
-Melee is Awkward – While they do have a few short-ranged tools, engineers aren’t really built for close combat, so dealing with closing enemies can be difficult – especially for newer players.
Edit: Replaced the word “Survivable” with “Durable” in the class summary to clear up some confusion about what I meant.
Edit 2: Added the bit about skill caps at the top.
Thanks to “reddit” for the information.