Getting Into Guild Wars 2 PvP

When getting started with Guild Wars 2's sPvP, know what your abilities do, remap your hotkeys, and for the love of all that is holy test out your build on the NPCs.

When getting started with Guild Wars 2's sPvP, know what your abilities do, remap your hotkeys, and for the love of all that is holy test out your build on the NPCs.

Guild Wars 2 is a fun game.  MMORPGs in general appeal to a certain kind of gamer, but some of them find ways of drawing in players of other types of games as well, whether through a gimmick or an innovation or just a good idea.  One of the ways that Arenanet’s MMO does this is through its PvP.  Any player, even one literally just created and still sitting at level one, is capable of entering the game’s PvP area and competing with all traits, abilities, items, and skills unlocked.

This does mean brand new players who have no idea what they are doing are fully capable of finding their way into games against players who have multiple max-level characters.  The new matchmaking system will help prevent a total un-fun drubbing, but it is still a lot to be thrown into suddenly.

So it is to these prospective new PvPers that I offer these few tips to help make your first foray into the static PvP of Guild Wars 2 as painless as possible.

Know what you do!

This may seem like common sense, but it’s still worth saying.  Even if you’ve never played a single minute of the PvE content in the game, make sure you actually know what your abilities and traits do before taking them into PvP.

The tooltips give the basics of what the different skills do, but there is a limit to what information those tips can grant.  If an ability says it is an AoE, what sort of AoE is it?  What shape?  How big?  Does it emanate from you or can you place it?

Knowing the answers to questions like these is important, but only takes a moment.  Use the abilities, even without a target, just to see what they do.

Make it easy to reach!

Guild Wars 2 has 10 hotkey-linked abilities.  By default, these use the numbers on the keyboard, one through zero.  That seems simple enough, but that also means that at any given point in time several of those numbers are out of reach of your fingers.

Binding other keys that are within easier reach is a great way to make it easier to adjust to the PvP, keeping you from having to move your hand and take that precious moment to place it again.  It will also keep you from getting used to having the abilities out of reach, which promotes certain types of tactical thinking (relying solely on weapon skills instead of utility skills, for instance) thereby heading off bad habits.

Test your build!

In the Heart of the Mists, there are NPC golems and NPCs representing each class in the game.  The golems are target dummies, the NPCs will fight back.  When you think you have a build ready to take into PvP, whether the default build, one you got from someone else, or one you made yourself, go to those dummies and NPCs and test it.

Use the golems to see what sort of AoE damage you can do for fighting multiple opponents, and then practice taking down the NPCs.  Fight each one at least once.  They aren’t pushovers, so it is entirely possible that you’ll find yourself getting beaten by them.  

Once you’ve got your build and your ability with it to the point that you can regularly beat each and every one of those NPCs without being downed, you are ready to take that build against other people.

Have fun!

The last tip I have to offer is to enjoy yourself, win or lose.  Whether you have friends to play with or not, Guild Wars 2 is a game.  Go into PvP with the same goal as you go into PvE.  It isn’t there just to win, it is there to play.  Don’t get discouraged if you lose and don’t be rude if you win.  Just play for the sake of playing.  I’ll see you in the Mists!

About the author


Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.