Guild Wars 2: Choosing The Best Profession For Your Playstyle
There are a total of eight professions in Guild Wars 2 and picking the right one can be a daunting task for new players. There are tons of players out there that even to this day, find it difficult to settle on one specific prfoession. I suspect this primarily stems from the fact that conventional MMOs force you to pick a profession and play it for extended periods before you even start unlocking the core gameplay mechanics. Thankfully, Guild Wars 2 works a bit differently.
Firstly, you can unlock the core mechanics of each of the professions (think classes from other games) within the first day of casual play. This includes a few weapon skill bars, the unique mechanic for each profession, and even a utility skill slot or two. After that, the profession pretty much plays exactly that way from level one to level eighty without much of a difference. There's very little grind needed in order discover that a profession isn’t what you want it to be – it’s just a gameplay session or two. Let’s not forget that you also get an instant 80 by hoping into the mists (Guild Wars 2's PvP lobby).
So, when you sit down to pick a profession (or class) to play, don’t worry too hard about it. You can “try before you buy” and keep yourself from dedicating time to a playstyle that you might like.
Try Before You Buy
In conventional MMO's, you’ll pick a profession and have to play it for a few days before you get enough skills or abilities to actually find out what that profession is about. By then you’ve wasted a large portion of your gameplay time and will have to decide to either reroll (putting you behind your friends and doing the same content over again.) or just deal with it. In Guild Wars 2, you don’t have to go too long before having access to all of the skills and abilities that a profession offers.
Your level isn’t hyper critical in Guild Wars 2 and is only used for PvE content. You can be dynamically adjusted to level 80 by entering the Mists, after a short tutorial at the start of the game. In the Mists you’re instantly level 80 with access to all of your skills and traits (think talents). You can effectively test run any profession by entering the Mists and fighting in either PvP matches or trying your abilities against one of the many practice dummies available in the lobby.
Even if you skip the mists, you’ll unlock your entire profession mechanic, a utility skill slot, and most of the abilities on a few weapons by level ten, which gives you access to about 80% of how a profession plays. You’ll then have a great idea of what each profession is about in a very short period of time.
The Right Profession
Picking the right profession comes in two parts. First, you’ll want to pick your category and then you’ll want to pick your profession. Professions are broken down into three categories: soldiers, adventurers, and scholars. Each category wears one specific type of armor which has an overarching playstyle (melee, midline, and caster). The first step to picking the perfect profession is discovering which category fits you best.
Professions: Warrior, Guardian and Revenant (soon)
The soldier profession is for those who want to stand right in the frontline of battle. Soldiers are in the thick of battle and work hard to control it, avoiding damage, supporting allies, and dealing the pain right back at their enemies. Control is critical to both soldier professions, even though they are not “tanks” (as there is no holy trinity of tanks, healers, and DPS), they are still hearty and their playstyle focuses on not only dealing damage, but mitigating it.
If you want to stand toe to toe with the enemy, then the soldier professions are perfect for you. Thanks to Guild Wars 2's combat system, both professions are not exclusive to melee. They can also act as ranged professions utilizing rifle and bow (warrior) and Scepters (guardian).
Professions: Ranger, Engineer, and Thief
If being a heavy hitting heavy armor wearing close combat specialist isn’t your thing or casting magical spells with the flick of a wrist, then the adventurer is probably for you. These professions are slightly squishier and are are primarily designed to deal high damage while bringing some utility. These are the unique and fun professions that don’t lock themselves into either “melee specialist” or “magic specialist” and instead focus on their unique profession mechanics. Adventurers fall in line with rogues and hunters from other MMOs.
If you want to wear medium armor and focus on things like bows and firearms, then the adventurer is right for you. They focus on both close combat and ranged combat and use a variety of weapons, with a heavy focus on ranged weaponry.
Professions: Elementalist, Mesmer, and Necromancer
These are the magic users, who focus on ranged magical attacks, although like with everything in Guild Wars 2, they are all capable of specializing to be close combat specialists. Think wizards and mages from other MMOs, but with a unique flare. Scholars are very capable at supporting allies and dealing high damage.
Choosing Your Profession
After you've pick which category interests you most, it’s time to pick a profession. As previously mentioned, you can easily repick with no true consequence and you can “try before you buy” thanks to the Mists. Don’t fret too much!
To play a warrior is to play a character that can utilize most weapons in the game. A warrior wears heavy armor, and uses an adrenaline mechanic to deal burst damage. Compared to the guardian, the warrior mostly focuses on large infrequent giant hits of damage instead of a constant stream of damage. If you want to go into combat and deal some seriously big numbers, then the warrior is appropriate for you.
The warrior is also extremely versatile, having access to so many weapons provides a lot of flexibility. If you’re indecisive about a profession and want something that can do it all: control, support, and damage then the warrior is a great choice.
Guardians focus on control and survivability while aiding allies. They're more than capable of dealing high damage, but their burst is limited. Many guardians focus on dealing a stream of constant and reliable damage while protecting themselves and their allies. They use Virtues, which work a lot like signets, to have passive benefits that they can trade to give an instant benefit to themselves and nearby allies.
If you’re wanting to play a support role then the guardian is a great choice. If you’ve ever played League of Legends, you can think of support Garen as an apt summary of the Guardian. They can use wards to block enemy movement, grant boons to nearby allies, and if you want, switch to two-handed weapons to deal some serious damage.
If you want a fun profession, then the engineer is for you. They can spawn turrets, throw grenades, drop med kits, throw elixirs, and play a lot like the Assault class in Battlefield 3. A mix of support and ranged damage, the engineer is very capable of helping their allies and dealing some serious damage. A toolbelt is their profession mechanic.
If you want to go support, this is the perfect profession; they offer very good healing and provide a ton of conditions and boons. Their med kits are strong and whether you wield a pistol or rifle, you can deal incredibly high damage with the right setup.
This one doesn’t need much of a description – truly, a master of ranged combat. Rangers get a pet as their unique profession mechanic. Pets work a bit differently in Guild Wars2; they are AI controlled and attack targets based on who you are attacking. You can control some aspects of them, but commands are limited to attack or retreat.
Rangers focus primarily on long ranged combat, but can be built to melee. A melee ranger primarily concentrates on dealing conditions while surviving for long periods of time. A ranged ranger wielding a longbow has less survivability but high spike damage.
Stealth and traps are the primary abilities for thieves. They focus on working in the shadows, like assassins or rogues in other MMOs, but with a twist. Their attacks have no cooldowns, but instead use a resource known as “initiative.” Initiative regenerates much like energy in other MMOs and each attack costs a little bit to use. You can focus on dealing constant, continuous damage or use all of your initiative in a giant burst attack.
Mobility, stealth, and burst are all words that come to mind when thinking about the thief. If you like rogues, then you’ll love the thief, and it’ll make a great profession for you.
Elementalists are masters of the elements and the arcane. This is your tried, true, and trusted caster profession that works like a mage or wizard in traditional MMOs. They can fit support, control, and DPS roles with ease and can really juggle all three at once. Their mechanic is attunements, trading weapon swapping for the ability to swap between four different skill sets per weapon, each with either a “raw damage, burst damage, support, and control” role. They can heal allies, apply boons and conditions, and deal some impressive damage by flipping through their different attunements.
If you want to play the true caster archetype, like a mage, then the elementalist is for you. They excel at ranged combat and have powerful close-quarter spells, so if you want a backline support/damage profession or an up-close spell caster, the elementalist is for you.
Trickery and confusion are two words you can apply to the unique mesmer profession. Their profession mechanic is the ability to spawn illusions and then shatter them for different effects. Illusions come in three flavors, a basic one that is dispelled when attacked, clones of the caster who share the caster’s name and have low health and damage, and phantasms which have higher health and damage than clones and their own skills. Mesmer’s can cloak themselves to confuse their foes as they leave their illusions behind.
If you want to play something different that is capable in any role in the game, from ranged to melee, support to control, then the mesmer is right for you. They are very unique and you cannot really compare them to other classes in MMOs because of how absolutely different they are. If you want to play something you’ve never played before with a high skill ceiling, then you should definitely try the mesmer.
The masters of death and decay, the necromancer is partially a pet profession that can spawn AI controlled minions who to do your. They have high survivability and their unique mechanic is Death Shroud, a state that grants different skills and a secondary health bar. Necromancers follow the traditional caster archetype, but really prove what is possible with Guild Wars 2’s unique combat mechanics and are very capable of dealing high amounts of damage through conditions or power.
If you want to play a durable caster that can have minions and has the option of dealing major damage through non-conventional methods, then the necromancer is for you.
Pick A Profession Wrap-up
There are eight professions and each of them viable, balanced, and tons of fun. It comes down to a personal choice as to which profession you’ll play when you first load into the game, but like I’ve mentioned before – don’t fret. You’ll know if you like it or not within the first hour or two of gameplay. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t punish you for starting out like other MMOs, but instead embraces allowing you to choose your own path and your own destiny within the game.