Beginner’s Guide to PvP

It’s a three letter acronym that strikes fear into the hearts of many people. Some will refuse to touch it whilst some will refuse to touch a game without it. If you hate PvP or have yet to get your toes wet with Guild Wars 2‘s sPvP mode, join me as I take you through the reasons why sPvP isn’t quite as bad as you may think and why you might just end up loving it.

The Basics: PvP vs PvE

How is PvP different to PvE?

The first obvious answer is that your allies in PvE suddenly become enemies in PvP. You’ll be in a team of five players against another team of five players of any possible profession fighting to complete the objective, which at the time of writing is conquest – a point capture mode. You could be versus five mesmers or three engineers and two thieves. Additionally, those people have reasoning and logic that your AI enemies don’t. They will target you if you’re low on health, avoid your skills, heal themselves if you damage them and run away just like you will.

With that in mind, a whole range of skills you may have never used before suddenly become useful. A skill that immobilizes or cripples a foe is suddenly a skill worth using to prevent an enemy from running or getting within range. Skills that stun, push and pull are suddenly important skills because they can be used to set up high damage combos or interrupt a foe’s heal so that it goes on cooldown. Your dodge, too, becomes a vital part of keeping you alive and when to use it becomes a bigger decision. Avoiding a warrior’s stun or a thief’s backstab could be the turning point of your battle. With PvP, the skills you’ve used before or considered useless bring a new element to the combat.

Additionally, you may discover that the PvE profession you didn’t enjoy playing becomes a profession that’s fun to play. Personally, I’m not a fan of thief in PvE, but in PvP it becomes a profession that’s fun and interesting to use as your enemies think and react to what you do much more than an AI ever could. They try to look for you in stealth and attempt to avoid your attacks which makes landing that backstab much more satisfying. So with all the above, I would advise that you give PvP a go and experiment with professions and builds until you find one that sticks.

What if I’m not level 80?

Your character’s level doesn’t matter in PvP. From the moment you enter the Heart of the Mists you are a level 80 character with max stats with all your traits and skills unlocked. The beauty of ArenaNet’s design means you’re as powerful as everyone else whether you’ve been playing for one hour or one thousand. The only difference is the length of time people have been playing PvP for, and everyone was a beginner. You may have to purchase a couple of stat/sigil/rune combinations (that I’ll get to later), but for the most part, the vast majority of the game’s combat system is available to you.

Benefits of PvP

I won’t pretend that PvP is going to make you rich or get you what you want quicker, but there are a couple elements that ArenaNet has put in place that ensure you’re still being rewarded for what you do.

One of these is reward tracks. Clicking the crossed swords at the top of your screen will bring up the PvP menu. The second tab down is where you’ll find your reward tracks. From here, you have a large wealth of rewards to choose from based on dungeons, certain maps or just regions of Tyria. If a dungeon like Arah is proving too difficult for you to currently do or isn’t as enjoyable but you still want the rewards, choosing ‘The Ruined City of Arah Dungeon Track’ and completing it to the end will net you three Arah weapons and an armor skin, plus other rewards. You can progress these by completing the dailies which will award you with reward track potions or with various boosters that can be obtained in-game. Beware, though, that some tracks are locked initially until some prerequisites have been met. For all the dungeon reward tracks, you have to complete the story mode of the dungeon to unlock its associated track or wait for it to come to be unlocked during its rotation cycle. It’s a good idea to save up your PvP reward potions in bulk if you’re anticipating a particular reward track as you’ll then be able to use them all at once. It takes eighty potions to complete an entire track from start to finish.

One of the major advantages of reward tracks is being able to unlock guaranteed rewards that are sometimes locked behind luck in open world PvE. A great example of this is the Maguuma Wastes reward track that gives the player who completes it a guaranteed Ambrite fossil to finish that pesky Ambrite weapon collection. Keep an eye on the reward tracks as ArenaNet may occasionally release some limited time tracks that contain loot related to a festival such as Halloween, or can only be completed once for a unique armor skin.

In addition to this, you get 15 or 30 silver per match depending on whether or not you win or lose. Also, unlike PvE, any magic find you’ve built up will work on the boxes you open up. A number of friends I’ve played with have managed to get a couple of ascended weapons/armor chests from the reward tracks, so there’s always a chance you’ll get lucky!

Matchmaking Anxiety

I’m not going to lie, people will insult you, they’ll call you the worst player in the game and they’ll tell you to never PvP again. Ignore them. Often these guys are just trying to take out their frustration on you and aren’t perfect either as they also make mistakes. You will also get frustrated, too, but the best thing to do is take a step back and realise that you will lose sometimes. You can’t win forever, and there’s no stopping it – it will happen. Just concentrate on trying to win the game and move on if you lose; evaluate what you or your team could have done better to secure the win next time.

At the same time, if someone’s being constructive with you – listen! Don’t take it personally or get offended if someone’s giving you advice. So long as it’s constructive, keep it in mind and think of applying it to your gameplay. In my experience, the Guild Wars 2 community is happy to answer most of the questions you have, so feel free to ask a question in the Heart of the Mists or whisper that expert ranger who seemed to kill you over and over. The worst they can do is say no.

Where to Start

First things first, step into the Heart of the Mists. To do so, click on the crossed swords at the top left of your screen and hit ‘Enter PvP Lobby’. When you‘ve loaded into the Heart of the Mists, the next thing to do is to consider your build. ArenaNet has made it simple and quick to create your build in PvP, just simply click the helmet icon at the top of your screen and you’ll be presented with your equipment and specializations.

From here, you can select your amulet, rune, weapons and sigils as well as your specializations within minutes. Just give them a click and you’re done, no mess, no fuss. You may notice that some of your runes and sigils are locked behind gold. This is purely to add some progression into PvP and there’s no need for you to unlock all of them. If a particular build you want to use contains ones of these locked sigils, there are plenty of alternative runes to choose from until you gain enough gold to purchase them.

PvP Builds

What build you use is up to you. You can set out and experiment straight away though you may get frustrated if you’re killed over and over again. Be warned: Your PvE build will probably not translate into PvP well. You will most likely choose different stat combinations, weapons and utilities skills in PvP because as I discussed earlier, other skills/stats become more important. If you enter PvP with a Beserker elementalist, expect to die much more often than you’ve ever died in PvE.

Keep in mind that the main roles for PvP are bunker, roamer and something in between. A bunker catches a point and tries to keep it as long as possible so the general build idea is to be tanky with a lot of health so you’re able to stand up against two or three people at once. At the same time, a bunker should also be able to contribute to team fights and be able to take a point back if necessary,  so some damage is required. They should also perhaps consider having some team support traits or utilities in their arsenal such as traits that give might, regeneration and vitality. An example of a bunker build is this build for guardians:

A roamer, as the name implies, roams the map and helps out where they are needed, such as supporting a bunker who has the whole enemy team at their point or to take back a point on the other side of the map that the enemy isn’t defending. They are also needed to complete any secondary objectives the map has, such as killing an NPC to acquire a buff for the team. With that in mind, a roamer should have access to swiftness so they can get to where they need to be as soon as possible. They should also have a decent amount of damage in their arsenal so they can turn the tides of a team fight or capture the point off a bunker on the opposing team. They are also used to finish off any enemies the other members of your team are struggling to down. An example of a good roamer build is the thief dagger/pistol build here:

With that, though, I recommend you begin with and click on the ranked arena heading on the right. You will be able to find a list of meta builds, great builds, test builds, etc. that you can use and find guides for. With this, you have a safe bet to get stuck in and be on a level playing field with your teammates and opponents. Don’t be afraid to experiment with some builds after you get used to it, however, as theory crafting builds is part of the fun of PvP.

Before you jump into your first match, it’s a good idea to practice on some of the NPCs that are dotted around the lobby. There are various Golems and profession NPCs that can be fought against so that you can get a general idea of how your build works. These can be found in the north, east and west section of the map at Elsinarr BattlementsFallen Halls of GloryForest of Aarden. The Golems come in heavy, medium and light armor and go through various patrol routes and distances.

Queuing Up

The first thing to do is click on the crossed swords at the top of your screen and make sure you’re on the first tab. From here, you can view your stats, rank and choose to play ranked or unranked arena.

Ranked and unranked PvP are very similar – the only difference is ranked places you on a leaderboard that can be found on the Guild Wars 2 website. If you’re below rank 20 in PvP, you won’t be able to choose ranked which is why you may find it locked. Your PvP rank can be found towards the bottom left of your screen where your character level is in PvE/WVW. Once you click on either button, you’ll be entered into a queue. After a short wait, the queue ready option will pop up asking you to confirm that you’re ready to begin. From here, you’ll be presented with a map choice. The map that gets voted on the most is more likely to be chosen than a map that only has one vote, but there’s still a chance the lowest voted map will be chosen. This is so there’s always the possibility that the map you enjoy gets chosen. After the winning map is decided, you’ll be able faced with a loading screen and entered into a PvP map!

Guild Wars 2 contains matchmaking in both ranked and unranked. The difference between the two is small, but to sum it up, ranked only features the competitive maps and its own matchmaking is separate to unranked. You are also competing on a leaderboard for ranked, but other than that, the two systems are relatively the same. In addition to this, you also have a matchmaking applied to your profession in both game modes, so if you try a new profession, you’ll be matched with players appropriate to your skill level with that profession so don’t be afraid to experiment with your professions either.

Basics of Conquest

When you load in, you’ll be given a period of time for people to get ready for the match. During this warm up, you’ll have the chance to adjust your build, explore the map and battle any players you find wandering around doing the same thing. If you’re not familiar with the map, I suggest using this time to run around and get an idea of where your capture points are as they are the main goal of conquest.

All conquest maps have three capture points that are typically split into home, mid, and far. Knowing which one is which is thankfully relatively simple. Home is the capture point that is closest to your spawn point, mid sits towards the middle of the map between your spawn and the enemies’, and far is the enemies’ closest capture point. Capturing a point gives you one point every two seconds, so having all three points captured gives you 3 points every 2 seconds. The main goal is to have more points captured than your opponent so you get to 500 points first and win the game. With that in mind, the most important points to keep are your home and mid. So long as you keep those points, you’ll win the game. Of course, your opponents aren’t going to make it that easy, so you’ll have to work with your team to ensure that you keep as many capture as points as possible before the goal is reached or time runs out. Killing opponents will net you with 5 points per kill so don’t overlook getting kills for points – just make sure you focus on capping points first.

Depending on your role will depend on where you’ll go when the game begins. If you’re the team’s bunker, you’ll want to tell your team that you’ll sit at home and defend it so your first priority should be to run to your closest point and try to keep it as long as possible. This can sometimes be a boring place to sit as you may spend long periods of time with no enemy coming to fight you; so if action is what you’re after, you may be suited more to roaming. If the team already has a bunker that’s claimed home, then your job is to go mid with the rest of your team and help them to claim it. Once it’s yours, the next step is to keep it held as long as possible and make it as hard as possible for the other team to claim it. If your team manages to cap far or the enemies leave it undefended, it’s also worth considering capping their home and keeping it for as long as possible as it’s one of their most important points.

If you’re a roamer, your job is to assist your team with capping mid or try to claim far from the opposing team’s bunker. If your build is an anti-bunker build, it may be worth going far as a priority to prevent the enemy team from claiming any initial points by killing their bunker and capturing it yourself. Otherwise, you should initially assist your team in capping mid over anything else. If you spot an enemy heading to your team’s home, make sure you capture mid first and then rotate to help your team’s bunker at home so it isn’t lost. Your other role is to deal with any secondary objectives the map may have. Depending on the secondary objective, it may be worth going for if it gives your team a large enough advantage. Battle of Khylo involves a trebuchet which, while useful, isn’t as important as Temple of the Silent Storm‘s secondary objective. Temple of the Silent Storm’s secondary objective involves channelling buffs that appear at various intervals, one of which captures all three points for your team. Of course, you’re also expected to kill any enemies that you come across.

The above is just a general guide and won’t always consistently happen. The enemy team may decide to all go to your home and leave mid and far undefended, so you’ll have to adapt to their decisions. In my experience, the main priorities are ensuring you have points captured rather than killing enemies or claiming secondary objectives. If they’ve sent four people to your home and you’re not there, concentrate on mid or far – just make sure you have more capture points than the enemy.

Final Tips

There are plenty of YouTube videos and streams out there for you to look at to get tips to improve your skills. You can find some of these at the bottom of the metabattle builds and through general searches. In addition to this, I also highly recommend, which contains a collection of great tips and tricks to get you into PvP.

With this, I hope I’ve convinced you to give PvP a try. It’s a great part of Guild Wars 2 that deserves people’s attention and with leagues and Stronghold being released with Heart of Thorns, I recommend you get a head start!

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