It is undeniable that some professions in Guild Wars 2 are easier to play than others. They might have simpler F1-skill mechanics, or easier to use skills, or are more durable in everyday fights. Some are simple to learn and understand, whilst others require a more thorough knowledge of the game to make the most out of them.
There are currently eight professions (classes) in Guild Wars 2, with the Heart of Thorns expansion introducing a ninth, and each profession has its own unique playstyle, with different strengths and weaknesses. I’m going to rank them in order of how simple they are to learn and play, from the simplest profession all the way down to what I believe is the most complex profession. This will mainly refer to PvE. Hopefully this will allow new players to pick one that suits them best. Of course, this is a matter of opinion, and if you have your own order, let me know in the comments below.
Of the eight professions currently available, there are two that wear heavy armour (the soldiers: guardian and warrior), three that wear medium armour (the adventurers: engineer, ranger, and thief), and three that wear light armour (the scholars: elementalist, mesmer, and necromancer). The revenant will be introduced in Heart of Thorns, and is the third soldier profession, but I haven’t played it yet, so it won’t be included on this list.
In order of simplicity to complexity, I would rank the professions thus: warrior, ranger, guardian, necromancer, elementalist, engineer, thief, mesmer.
For new players, you can’t go far wrong with creating a warrior as your first profession. They are easy to play, easy to learn, and wanted in all areas of the game. Their profession mechanic is adrenaline and a single F1 skill tied to their equipped weapon. Hit things to build up adrenaline, unleash your saved-up adrenaline in a powerful burst skill, repeat. They have a wide variety of weapons to deal with all situations (powerful melee and ranged weapons, condition-based melee and ranged weapons, and defensive and control weapons), they have great mobility (thanks to their greatsword, warhorn, and sword skills), they wear heavy armour, have a high health pool, can have strong health regeneration, and their utility skills can provide fantastic party support (shouts and banners). If you want to go simple, play a warrior.
Rangers are pretty simple to play. They can deal great damage, are pretty survivable, and have a pet to help them during battles. Their simplicity comes from having their pet rush in to take aggro from mobs, whilst the ranger safely deals damage from afar. They can play both power builds (longbow being supreme at this) and condition builds (shortbow, sword, torch), and have a range of utility skills to help them either survive or deal damage. For the ultimate in easy-mode pew pewing, equip a longbow, stand at max range, and press 2.
Being another soldier profession, the heavily armoured guardian can stand in the thick of battle and remain unhurt. Their virtues provide them with blocks, health regeneration, and extra burning damage, and thanks to all their skills and utilities, they have great defensive and protection abilities for themselves as well as their allies. This makes the guardian one of the most durable professions in the game, despite their low health pool. They have weapons for all situations, and like the warrior, can wade into most fights and come out on top. If you’re looking to farm events (in PvE or WvW) and tag mobs for loot, you can’t go far wrong with playing a staff guardian (press 1 for loot bags).
The first scholar profession on the list comes in at number 4. Necromancers are fairly simple to play, mainly thanks to having a high health pool and a second health bar in the form of Death Shroud, the unique profession mechanic. By using certain weapon and utility skills, and by feeding off the souls of the dead, they build up their life force, and can then switch into Death Shroud for an extra health bar and five unique skills, dealing direct damage, conditions, and fear. Couple this with life stealing skills and the ability to surround yourself with undead minions, and you have an incredibly durable profession, whittling down their opponents through sheer attrition. Necromancers are masters of condition damage and boon removal, able to quickly inflict a wide range of conditions upon their opponents. As well as this, they can also be specced into power damage, with their elite skill Lich Form being able to deal incredibly amounts of damage in a short period of time. Their durability makes them more forgiving to play in terms of mistakes, with the balancing act of managing two health bars pushing them towards being a slightly more complex profession to play.
The elementalist can be a tricky profession, or a rather simple one. Their unique mechanic is the ability to attune to the four elements: fire, water, air, and earth. They can’t weapon swap, but each weapon has different abilities depending on which attunement they’re in. Fire is generally more damage based, water is healing, air is mobility, and earth is protection. It can be simple to play as a staff elementalist staying in fire attunement and blasting things at range, or you can play with greater complexity, using traits and skills and attunement swapping to kill your foes and stay alive. Elementalists have light armour and the lowest health in the game, so they rely on killing things quickly, managing their attunements, or staying away from mobs to survive. Their versatility is one of their greatest strengths.
Like the elementalist, the engineer can’t weapon swap. They rely instead on utility kits (like a grenade kit, bomb kit, flamethrower, and elixir gun, for example), which give them a fresh set of weapon skills when they’re equipped. Each utility and heal skill also gives a unique F1-4 skill. This allows engineers to be extremely flexible, equipping specific kits and other utility skills (turrets, gadgets, and elixirs) to combat each fresh encounter. It also means that they are rather complex to play, as you need to know and understand many more skills than the other professions, and how they interact with one other. The variety of builds available further adds to making the engineer a complex profession to play.
The thief may seem fairly simple, with the single F1 steal skill, but their complexity comes from their squishiness, their initiative, their shadowstepping, and their ability to stealth. They have medium armour and a low health pool, and because they’re often in the thick of the fighting, they can be downed quickly. To prevent this, you have to master dodging around and evading attacks, using the correct thief skills at the precise time. It’s easy to spam skills and then run out of initiative, leaving you incredibly vulnerable. Stealth plays a huge part in thief gameplay, and knowing when to stealth is vitally important, both for survival and for setting up a high damage attack chain.
Finally, we come to what I believe is the most complex profession to play: the mesmer. Mesmers rely on illusions and confusion to win the day. To play one effectively, you need to know about stealth, about the positioning of you and your illusions, about skill times, and about when to shatter your illusions and when to keep them up. The F1-4 skills involve shattering your illusions to create certain effects: Mind Wrack deals damage; Cry of Frustration applies confusion; Diversion dazes foes; and Distortion allows you to evade all attacks. You can trait so that shattering your illusions has extra effects too. They are lightly armoured, so rely on avoiding damage via distortion or stealth. Each chosen weapon and utility skill is vitally important to a mesmer’s chosen role, and there is little room for making mistakes. If you want a challenge, play a mesmer.
There we have it, my run down of the eight professions, from the simplest to the most complex. My most-played professions are currently the warrior, necromancer, elementalist, and engineer, though I have a level 80 of each. It’s nice to just bull rush through content on a warrior, and equally fun to kit-swap and throw grenades on an engineer. I enjoy the difference in complexity, using a profession’s specific abilities to overcome various challenges. It adds to the fun of Guild Wars 2.
Do you agree with this order? Which profession is the most complex for you? Let me know in the comments below!