As someone that participated in the beta events leading up to launch, and has played a lot in the week following launch (still not to level 80 yet, I have did a lot more than just grind out levels,) I felt like it was important that those people that feel overwhelmed or like they are not really doing very well have a good list of tips for making their game a little bit easier (hopefully) and more fun (probably.) This is not to say I think I'm the authority on all things Guild Wars 2, but this just a list of tips that I feel like would have been nice to know the very first time I played the game (especially if it were my first MMO.) Some of the tips are very specific and practical, while others will be more general.
1) Don't Be Afraid to Experiment
Guild Wars 2 does a lot of things, but locking you down to a specific play-style is not one of them. Every profession in the game has a massive amount of potential to fill any role you want at any given time, and it is very easy to alternate between them. Don't be afraid to spend skill points on a skill that just seems cool, even if you're not sure how useful it will be for your play-style, that is okay. There are more than enough skill points to purchase all the skills you need, and you even continue to gain them after you hit level 80. Experiment how you want, when you want, and just have fun!
2) Embrace the Combat System
While playing an MMO, a lot of us are probably used to standing in one spot, cycling our skills, and just waiting until you kill the enemy and get your XP, loot, etc. Well, that isn't really how Guild Wars 2's combat system is intended to be played (although you still very much can, if everything else is a bit too much right now.)
In Guild Wars 2, you're encouraged to be mobile. This means moving around, avoiding enemy attacks (you can usually tell before an enemy does a big strong attack, or if there is a red circle appearing on the ground for where an area attack will happen.) This means dodge rolling is your friend! The default key binding is double-tapping a direction on the keyboard, and your stamina bar supports two full dodge rolls before it needs to recharge (it is the curved gauge above your health orb.)
Another thing to note is weapon swapping. This can mean a lot more than just a ranged weapon and a melee weapon, with the right planning, you can use weapon swapping in any situation to increase your effectiveness in battle. Maybe in PvP an enemy is trying to run away and you can use one of your weapons to attack while chasing and bind them in place, then switch to another to teleport/lunge forward and close the distance.
Finally, take note that some of your skills will say "Combo" at the bottom. This means exactly what you think - they can be combined with other skills. The best part is that it's not just with your skills, but skills from other players as well. If an Elementalist laid down a wall of fire on the battlefield, and a Ranger stayed back and shot arrows through the fire, they would become fire arrows. If a character lays out an area on the field that heals anyone standing in it and a Guardian smashes his hammer down in the center, it will splash the healing water and amplify the effects. These are known as Combo Fields (areas that can produce a combo) and then Combo Finishers (areas that complete the combo.) The combinations are almost endless, and it goes right back to tip #1 - experiment!
3) Inventory Tricks
A lot of people I know played the game for dozens of levels and did not know two really useful features existed: you can auto organize the inventory, and you can have it magically deposit all of your collectibles (upgrade gems, crafting materials, minis, etc) into your bank no matter where you are. Both of these options are accessed from the inventory screen (default I) and then you click the tiny little gear icon in the top right corner of the inventory. "Deposit Collectibles" and "Compact" are both right there!
4) The Crafting System
I know a lot of MMOers (myself included) typically ignore crafting for the most part and just enjoy the rest of the game. However, Guild Wars 2 makes crafting easy for any type of character, and actually useful. Not only do you gain regular XP for crafting items, you gain XP just for gathering them too (mining ore, picking plants, chopping trees, etc.) Once again, you're encouraged to experiment as much as possible, as you can uncover new recipes just by throwing stuff together and seeing what happens.
As long as you do a decent job of crafting stuff every now and then, you should be able to always have the ability to make useful items! Furthermore, crafting stations are useful because they allow you to access your entire bank! This is great, because crafting stations are much more frequent throughout the game than bank NPCs are in the world. Keep that in mind!
5) A Different Kind of Questing
If you've played an MMO (or most single-player RPGs for that matter) then you know that an NPC with an exclamation mark means they have a quest, a question mark usually means they are part of a quest you already have. Something like that. Well, Guild Wars 2 gets rid of that setup entirely. In this game, you complete quests and objectives as they arise and as the world needs you. Lets say you are traveling around the snowy Shiverpeak Mountains as a Norn and a giant wurm emerges from the ground. If you notice in the top right corner of your screen, in orange letters it will probably have some type of event notification for you, and it may even be a group event that needs multiple players.
Well, if players are not able to complete the event and the bad guys win, the world could change. If you are supposed to kill invaders and evacuate a mine within a certain amount of time and fail (happened to me once) the mine might cave in or something, and then spawn another event to help the NPCs regain access. The world is constantly populated with events like this (the dragon in the featured image up at the very top is one of those events that happens in that zone every three or so hours, that is not a scripted mission.)
6) For All of You Completionists Out There...
Guild Wars 2 tracks every single thing you do in the game. If you press M to bring up your world map, it shows you how many points of interest (cool spots to check out,) hearts (quest areas to help NPCs that then become merchants that sell you things for Karma, don't forget this!) skill point challenges (activities in the game where you can earn a skill point,) vistas (really beautiful scenic areas of the game with their own cinematic presentations,) and waypoints (the fast travel nodes in the world) there are in the game.
In addition to all of these visible things on the map, the game tracks how many kills of which enemies you get, how much you gather, how many events you complete, everything, The more variety of activities you do in a day, or the more areas you visit, the more achievements you unlock, and in turn gain XP bonuses. This once again goes right back to point #1 - you are rewarded for exploring and experimenting with new things all of the time. Don't hold back your curiosity!
I hope this short list helped you out with the game! I tried to put several tips within each section to organize it better, so if you just skimmed the tip titles, maybe you should read it a bit closer and you might find out about something you didn't even know! All of the images in this article were screenshots that I took during my time with the game so far. Oh, and before I forget:
7) Have Fun with Dye Colors!
As you play the game, you will find unidentified dye on enemies. If you double click them, you find a new color that you can use to dye your armor. By pressing H and opening up your Hero panel, you can click the little dye dropper icon above your gear at the top. Here, you can customize all of the colors however you want, at any time!
If you would like to find me in-game, my name is Thrymangor Cyris and I'm a War General for Shadow of Truth! Comment below and let us know what you think of the game so far!