The Classes and Races of Guild Wars 2

In just a few short days, Guild Wars 2 (GW2) will unleash on the MMO gaming community.  This innovative new game will change the way many look at massive multiplayers and RPG.  Such game-changing things are usually met with either massive success or massive derision.  In case of massive success, here’s your definitive guide to the races and classes of GW2, releasing on August 28.

Before you delve into these, be sure to read our quick overview of GW2 so you can become familiar with some of the differences between this game and those you’ve become used to.  If you don’t at least understand the way GW2 is handling the Trifecta (aka “tanks, healers, and DPS”), then you won’t really get the class/race information below either.

Before we get started, let’s put one thing to rest: ZAM asks if Guild Wars 2 is really ready to launch.  Our answer?  Hell ya!  Having seen the beta and final readiness release information from ArenaNet, the game is definitely ready to rock.

The Races of GW2

There are five races in the game, each with a different back-story of lore and intrigue to bring it into the fray.  Each has unique abilities and some overall personality to it that comes from both that trait as well as the lore behind it.  They aren’t quite as (badly?) done as the different racial speech patterns of World of Warcraft (are trolls supposed to sound like Jamaicans, and if so, where are the references to Bob Marley and herbs?) and are kind of fun in their own way. The following descriptions of each race will give obvious hints towards their strengths and weaknesses and which classes they generally attune towards.

So, in no particular order, the races of GW2:


Destined to be the least-played race, since all of us already have some general experience with them and games are about escapism, so the other, cooler-looking races will likely get first pick.  Still, humans have some interest, not the least of which is the fact that they’re the underdogs of the game and one of the options when making a human is to fill in your character’s mandatory back story with your greatest regret being having not joined the circus.  Really.

The Norn

These are basically really awesomely-armored Vikings.  These are barbarians that resemble humans and live in the arctic with a shamanic culture.  Their story lines tend to have a lot of shape changing, hunting, and snowball fights.  They talk a lot about drinking as well.

The Charr

These are humanoid lions with horns.  They are, for all intents and purposes, the Orcs of the Guild Wars.  Everything for them is about butt-whoopin and barbarism.  A lot of things revolve around war, arenas, clan loyalties, and war.

The Asura

This is the race all of the girl players will build their characters on.  They’re basically the anime-styled cat hobbits of GW2.  They wear vaguely Asian-esque clothing and hats, commit many acts of comedy, and are the technical (aka “gobos”) of the world.  Lots of inventions and eccentricities here.

The Sylvari

Speaking of races girls will play, this one is for the more grown up females.  As the name hints, these are basically green elves.  Their hair is actually plant life and have lore like being born out of a tree and spend a lot of time in foliage gardening.

The Professions of Guild Wars 2

As stated before, professions give a general idea of your skill set, but aren’t locked in the same way they are with other games.  A Warrior still has big weapons and a Guardian still has thick armor, but neither is going to take a lot of maces to the face and walk away unscathed like they can in other MMOs.  Just be aware that toe-to-toe combat is generally a bad idea in GW2.

The Warrior

This most basic of classes is generally the same in all RPGs.  This class has access to nearly all of the game’s weapons, special abilities to draw attention, commit acts of blood letting, and make everyone around them (who’s on their team) feel better knowing that the big muscular warrior has got their fronts.  For all of that, they are also one of the hardest to play because many of the player’s skills while controlling a warrior center on quick movement and coordination with other front-line teammates.

The Guardian

A sort of combination tank and battle mage, the Guardian wears thick armor, doesn’t do as much damage as a warrior, and has the ability to take more damage and avoid more hits than other classes.  Their magical abilities generally center on protection of self and friends and conjuring mystic weapons.

The Engineer

Tricky, but not in a sneaky way, the Engineer is a DIY expert of building tools and items and then using them to wreak destruction on enemies or bind them up for safe keeping.  They can do everything from building bombs and guns to whacking things with a wrench.  Definitely one of the more quirky classes.

The Ranger

Similar to hunters in other games, the Ranger is an archer and outdoorsman.  They summon pets from the wild, can lay traps, and imitate animals.  If you aren’t into action packed battle sequences with a lot of running around and jumping while shooting, you probably won’t like this class.

The Thief

If you love the game Assassins Creed, you’ll like playing thieves in Guild Wars 2.  They are basically ninjas in the neo-Manga style.  I haven’t checked, but I think long bangs and an overcoat are required style points for thieves in GW2.

The Mesmer

At their core, Mesmers are illusionists who fool people into thinking one thing while another is happening.  They control raw chaos and can use it to create many interesting, special, and often deadly effects.  They require some work to master, but are highly adaptive and powerful.

The Necromancer

These are the undead, in a way, of the game and have the ability to mostly just do evil things like corrupt and drain life.  For those who enjoy magic dealing that includes a lot of minion summoning, the Necromancer is the choice.

The Elementalist

Like the druids and similar classes of other games, the Elementalist in GW2 works with the four elements (earth, fire, water and air) to create magical effects.  Abilities are both area affect and targeted and can both damage and heal.  They are the closest thing to a priest the game has to offer.

Building a Character

Building characters is actually fun in Guild Wars 2 and many may find themselves spending hours in the generator making new toons that they never actually play.  The basic Q & A setup of the builder and fun graphics and often hilarious comments by the assembling toon make this one of the better character generators we’ve seen in a long time.

Have at it on August 28!



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