Guild Wars 2 has three independently balanced game modes: Player vs Environment (PvE), World vs World (WvW), and Player vs Player (PvP).
PvP content within the game sees teams of 2, 3, or, in most cases, 5 players duke it out in all-out combat. Whether you are focused on dealing huge amounts of burst damage, roaming around to assassinate a key target, keep your team alive, or facing someone one-on-one in a duel to the death, PvP has many ways you can contribute to help your team become victorious and have your names sung through the mists.
If you are completely new to PvP, then this guide is for you. We will be talking about the various different game modes, how to make a build, and, most importantly, what rewards you will receive as you play.
Within the realm of PvP, there are three different game modes you can participate in. Each has its own separate rules and has different ways of reaching victory.
Conquest is the most played game mode out of all three in PvP due to it being the mode in which tournaments and ranked play are present.
You will be put into a 5v5 arena, and your team’s objective is to reach 500 points before the other team does. Your main method of earning points is by controlling any amount of the three core capture zones around the map.
Every 2 seconds, you gain 1 point for your team for each zone you control. You will also gain 5 points if you successfully kill someone. There are also secondary objectives that are unique to each map, but that will be covered in another guide.
If no team reaches 500 points by the end of the 15-minute time limit, the winner is the team with the higher amount of points.
Stronghold, while the least popular game mode of the three, can still be quite fun on a casual level.
Similar to conquest, Stronghold is a 5v5 game mode in which your objective is to kill the enemy team’s lord NPC. To get to the lord, however, you need to get through two heavily reinforced gates in your team’s lane that, while capable of being damaged by you, are weak to minions you summon.
Throughout the game, resource crates will be placed in the center of the map. If these resources are turned in at your home base, you can summon either archer or bomber Skritt minions to deal heavy damage to the enemy’s gates.
In addition, at certain times throughout the match, you can summon mist champions to act as major pushing power and as a distraction so that your minions don’t get focused down.
In the event that a stronghold game goes on for the full 30-minute time limit, the game will go into a 6 minute overtime period. If overtime ends, a secondary points system is used to determine who the winner of the match is:
- Lord Kill: 250 points, the team who killed the lord automatically wins
- Destroy a gate: 50 points
- Summon a mist champion: 20 points
- Kill an inner-base guard: 10 points
- Kill a gate guard: 5 points
- Kill a player: 5 points
Deathmatch is playable in PvP either when the conquest seasons are in their off period or during special events that are happening within the whole game.
You will be put into a team of two or three people, and your objective is to eliminate all opponents on the enemy team before they do the same to you.
Unlike conquest or stronghold, once you kill a player, they are out for the rest of the round and do not respawn. If a team dies, the last team standing wins the round. The first team to win three rounds wins the match.
In the event that both teams are still alive by the end of a time limit, a red ring will slowly enclose the entire arena that will heavily damage you every second you are standing in the danger zone. This way, each round will guarantee someone will die.
PvP lobby (Heart of the Mists)
While you can get into matchmaking for a PvP match within other game modes, the best way to experience the PvP scene of the game is to venture to the Heart of the Mists (HotM).
Unlocked for your character once you reach level 2, you can access the PvP panel in-game using the default key-bind “P” or by clicking on the crossed-swords icon in the top left of your screen. Once you open the panel, you can click on the large button at the top left to teleport to the HotM.
Feel free to explore any part of this lobby, as there is a lot to see. Some key features of the HotM include a jumping puzzle, a free-for-all brawling arena, training golems, and various necessities for any player like a black lion trading post, bank, laurel vendor, etc.
Preparation for PvP
When you first enter into a PvP match or the HotM, you will notice that your character’s stats are wildly different than what they were in WvW and PvE. This is because everyone in PvP has their stats set to specific base values, your character level is raised to 80 (the maximum of the game), and any gear you craft or obtain through PvE or WvW has had all of their stats removed.
Note that you must still wear at least wear armor in your chest, legs, and feet slots, or else you will lower your base armor. The exception to this rule is that certain classes have different base maximum health values than others:
- Guardian, Thief, and Elementalist: 11,645
- Revenant, Mesmer, Ranger, and Engineer: 15,922
- Warrior and Necromancer: 19,212
In addition, you will see that your experience bar from PvE/WvW is completely fresh and at level 1. This is because your PvP level is different from your PvE/WvW level.
As you play more matches, you will gain PvP XP that will give increasingly better rewards if you level up to certain intervals. You will need to be PvP level 20 in order to participate in ranked play, and you will need to be PvP level 100 to purchase certain weapons/armor pieces from PvP vendors.
In order to increase your stats in PvP, you need to equip yourself with standardized equipment. To do so, open up your equipment tab in your hero panel, then click the two overlapping boxes located just to the right of your helmet slot.
Here, you will see options for an amulet, a rune, weapons, and sigils. The weapons you have equipped on your character will automatically show up in this selection. Here is a brief description of what the purpose of each piece of PvP equipment does:
- Amulet: This is where the large majority of your important stats come from. Not all stat combos from PvE/WvW are available, so you will have to choose wisely.
- Runes: This selection automatically equips your armor with a full set of six duplicate runes. These provide more stat bonuses, but also have a six-piece set bonus effect which can drastically improve your build.
- Sigils: These are put onto your weapons. They are either permanent bonuses while you have your applied weapon out, or trigger whenever certain conditions are met like weapon swapping, critically hitting, etc. You can have only one type of sigil on a single weapon set at a time.
Build templates and trait lines
Unlike PvE and WvW, PvP allows you to skip the hero point collection process and has every single trait line fully unlocked for you. If you have any of the expansions, that expansion’s elite specialization is also fully unlocked for your starter class.
Once you have a build set for PvP, I would recommend dedicating a build template for that specific build so you do not have to hassle with changing traits every time you play another game mode. The great thing about this system is, whenever you make a build template in PvP, you will automatically apply that template when re-entering the HotM or a match, so you will be ready to go!
Universal build ideas
While there are certainly meta-defining PvP builds you can play, sometimes you want to make whatever works for you, which is completely ok. If you decide to go this route, there are a few things to consider including, as every “meta” build has more than one of these features if not all:
This type of ability is absolutely necessary for PvP. If you do not break out of a crowd-control (CC) effect such as stun, daze, knockback, pull, etc, the only way to avoid a CC effect is to dodge/block the ability; however, some abilities in the game are unblockable/undodgeable. You should have at least 1 at a bare minimum, but trying to have 2 is ideal for some builds. Skills that can break CC can be identified by a grey box in the ability’s description with a broken chain link.
There are quite a few builds in PvP that emphasize stacking a ton of damaging and non-damaging conditions on a target to kill them over time or in a quick burst. I would recommend taking at least 1 ability that you can activate to cleanse conditions off of you. Also, try and find defensive traits that cleanse conditions off of you whenever you meet certain requirements.
Maps in conquest are quite large. Sometimes, you need something to get back into the fight whenever you respawn or you need to get to an objective before the other team does. Skills that either teleport you, leap, or even knock yourself backward are essential to movement, just as much as the
Boons amplify a person’s survivability and damage by a lot in the game. Being able to generate key boons such as might, stability, protection, fury, and others to either yourself or your teammates is essential to boost your chance of winning a fight. Every class has the ability to give boons to themselves; however, some builds have massive boon generation for their allies, so choose boon generation based on what you want to accomplish.
Congratulations! You have participated in your first PvP match! What do you get as a reward now and what will you get if you play consistently? As you complete matches, there are three progression systems you will be able to increase no matter if you win or lose.
2 out of the 3 rewards systems can be boosted by individual booster consumables or by guildhall boosts for up to +120% (not including time-specific bonuses).
If you are familiar with WvW reward tracks, these are exactly like those. Reward tracks are essentially specific reward paths you can choose to obtain themed rewards.
Some of these areas are already unlocked for you, others require direct purchase or exploration of the PvE environment. These can be found in the PvP panel in the treasure chest tab on the left. As you play matches and consume PvP reward track potions from daily achievements, you will gain progress towards small, incremental rewards based on what reward track is selected for progression.
Each track has 8 major reward sections, and each major reward must be obtained after gaining 4 minor rewards. Minor rewards can include Tomes of Knowledge, crafting material bags, shards of glory, etc. Major rewards include weapon and armor boxes, emotes,
Once you finish a reward track by reaching the 8th major reward, there is a very high likelihood your end reward will include a few
Finally, once a reward track is completed, you will notice it either is removed from selection or is available to progress repeatedly. Non-repeatable reward tracks are generally considered the most valuable for your time spent (tier 8 rewards can include more mystic clovers, emotes, finishers, etc.), but can only be done once.
Repeatable reward tracks have lower value in their tier 8 rewards, but can be done over and over again for multiple unlocks. This can be done for the purpose of grinding a specific living world currency, multiple weapon/armor unlocks, etc.
PvP experience level
As you gain PvP levels, you will get a small bag of rewards, with bigger level-up rewards provided for every 10-level interval. Not only do you get a new PvP experience animal symbol, such as a shark, bear, and dragon, but you also unlock more and more non-repeatable reward tracks to obtain different finishers and themed rewards.
Once again, you need to be PvP level 20 to participate in ranked play and PvP level 100 to purchase certain pieces of PvP ascended gear.
Once you are able to compete in ranked play, you will unlock a new progression system which can be seen in the ranked specific window in the PvP tab.
Unlike PvP experience and reward tracks, you can not increase your progression by boosters or daily potions. Every time you complete a ranked match, you will get “pips” to progress a checkmark chest. You get 10 pips for a win, 3 for a loss, 4 for a “near loss” (your team had at least 400 points by the end), and 1 extra pip if you gained at least one top-stat award.
In addition, if you are platinum rank, you get bonus pips for every match you complete, so being good earns you rewards faster. Every time you fill a pip bar, you will check off a circle you can see on your chest. Each circle checked off rewards you with a bit of silver or gold and a few shards of glory. Whenever all the circles on a chest have been filled, you will receive a larger gold payout and a set amount of Ascended Shards of Glory.
In addition, you will unlock a new ranked chest to progress all the way up to Byzantium quality. The final 3 chests of ranked progression also offer a selection of crafting marks that can be used to purchase ascended weapons and armor from various vendors in PvP and WvW. The final chest, the Byzantium chest, is not only repeatable but the first completion of it will award a mini llama collectible. If you obtain 3 of the same type of llama mini over the course of 3 seasons, you will be able to combine them into a higher tier llama mini.
What Items to Work For
While you can get various types of items from spending shards and ascended shards of glory, the main goal of reward progression in PvP is legendary crafting. Currently, there are 5 types of legendary items you can get from purely playing PvP content:
The backpiece is locked behind a series of progression achievements and crafting, while the rest of the legendaries just need to be crafted with materials. If, for some reason, you are not wanting to work towards PvP legendary items, here are some useful things to buy from the various PvP vendors in HotM:
- Ascended armor and weapons (armor pieces are used as precursors to legendary armor)
- Ascended Rings, Amulets, and Accessories
- Ascended Salvage Kits
- Specific Non-Repeatable Reward Tracks
- Exclusive Minis
- Mist Capacitors (consumed to reset selected stats of ascended trinkets bought from PvP/WvW vendors)
Final tips and thoughts
One of the core reasons why most people do not want to delve into PvP is because of a higher presence of toxicity in that game mode. This can be generated for multiple reasons, but the main problem lies in people telling others they aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing.
While there is no way to completely remove toxicity from any PvP environment of every video game, you can always try to adjust your attitude to stay positive. Remember that an extremely small percentage of the PvP community can flat out hard carry a PvP game for their team, and everyone has their own weaknesses. Take a loss not as punishment, but as a learning experience to adapt to certain situations. Do not let yourself down because of your mistake, especially when people call you out for it in a not-so-nice manner.
Meta builds and should you play them
The short answer to “should you play meta builds?” is this: if you are learning the PvP scene for the first time, stick with classes you are familiar with, but check PvP builds to understand how they were created, what was the goal and how can you change your favorite build to better fit in a competitive world.
Once you are more comfortable with each map, role playstyle, and combat of the game as a whole, you should be able to recognize what is good for certain classes and what is not pretty quickly. Use what you are comfortable with, and adapt later when you need to make a change and understand what this change means for you.