Guild Wars 2 Leveling Guide - Best Ways to Reach 80!

Guild Wars 2 Leveling Guide - Best Ways to Reach 80!
Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 Leveling Guide

Leveling a new character is a challenging process in many MMORPGs. Players are often trying to blitz through the early levels to reach the epic endgame content as quickly as possible. It’s perfectly understandable – many games in this genre offer some of the most exciting instances and challenges to the players who stick around for a long time and max out their characters. Of course, these encounters also provide valuable rewards. That’s why many gamers seek the optimal leveling strategies in every MMORPG.

Guild Wars 2 offers multiple methods of accelerating the leveling process. In this guide, we’re going to talk about the potential items and consumables that you can use to increase your experience gains. We will also cover effective builds to play during that time, as well as the best locations and methods of collecting experience. Let’s get right into it!


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Experience Boosts

In GW2, there are tons of ways of increasing your experience gains. A lot of them rely on consumable items. While some of them can be difficult to get for new players, you should be able to access a few of these buffs easily. The more accessible ones might not give you the biggest experience gains, but every little thing matters when you're optimizing the process. 



Black Lion Booster – grants +50% experience from kills, +75% gold from kills, +100% Magic Find (chance of looting high-quality items), and +25% increased gains in PvP Reward Tracks. Its effects last for 30 minutes. This item can be found inside the Black Lion Chest.   

Experience Booster – an exceptional booster that’s available in the Gem Store. It provides +50% experience from all sources in all the game modes, as well as +50% Reward Tracks gains, and +100% bonus experience for killstreaks. It has 2 hours duration.

Experience Booster (masterwork) – it has identical effects to the Gem Store version, but it only lasts 30 minutes. You can buy it from any Laurel Merchant for a single Laurel.

Birthday Booster – provides +100% to experience and gold from kills, Magic Find, and WvW rank, as well as a 10% increase to the reward track progression. It lasts for 1 hour and 1 minute. Every GW2 character receives this item as a part of their birthday gift each year (counting from the day of character creation).

Celebration Booster – works just like the Birthday Booster. You can get it for completing the Living World Season 2 event chain called Pact Assaulted and for participating in GW2 special events (World Boss Rush, Meta-event Rush, et cetera).

Winter’s Blessing – grants a +10% increase to experience and Karma gains from all sources for 1 hour. It can be acquired for Wrapped Gifts during the Wintersday Festival every year.

Food – all food provides the Nourishment bonus that grants at least +10% (up to +15%) experience from kills. Most importantly, you want to have the Nourishment effect active at all times when you’re killing anything. Some of the cheap and effective foods that provide +15% experience (and other useful effects) are Bowl of Candy Corn Custard and Piece of Candy Corn Almond Brittle.

Utility Consumables – again, all of these items provide an experience bonus called Enhancement. When you have it active, it grants +10% experience from kills. We recommend having it on at all times during fights. You should simply use the cheapest one that you have available. Potion of Grawl Slaying is a good example.

Lunar New Year consumables – most of them provide a buff of +5% bonus experience from kills, but an item called Lucky Firecracker grants +10% bonus XP (experience points) from all sources for an hour. All these items are available every year during the Lunar New Year Festival.

Banners – banners are consumable items that you can place on the ground. Every ally that touches them will receive an experience bonus for 30 minutes. There are three types of them: Guild Exp Banner, Guild Karma and Experience Banner, and Guild Heroes Banner. You can buy them for silver and Guild Commendations.

Tome of Knowledge – a consumable item that instantly makes a GW2 character level up. It’s an account-bound item that can be found in multiple high-level chests and boxes. We know that you wouldn’t be reading a leveling guide if you had access to one of those items, but we had to include it, even though it’s impossible to get on a fresh account. Tomes of Knowledge have been introduced as a way for veteran players to level up their alts. These items can’t be traded, so there's no need to start looking for it as a new player. 


Area-specific boosts

Bloodstone Empowerment – a consumable that provides a permanent 10% experience bonus for all activities that take place in Bloodstone Fen. This boost is stackable up to three times, but it gets more expensive with each purchase. You can buy it from the Pact vendor Natto for gold and Unbound Magic.

Draconic Mons Empowerment – works the same way as in Bloodstone. A permanent boost provided by consumables that stack up to three times. You can buy it for Unbound Magic and gold. Supplymaster Hanjo sells it.

Season 4 Empowerment – the identical effect has been added to all the Living World Season 4 maps: Domain of Kourna, Dragonfall, Domain of Istan, Jahai Bluffs, Sandswept Isles, and Thunderhead Peaks. The only difference is that instead of Unbound Magic, you can buy them with Volatile Magic.

Perseverance – a special effect granted in Ember Bay for helping the researchers (completing the renown hearts). It provides +10% experience from kills and +25% Magic Find. The bonus lasts until you leave the zone. You can enable it once more in the same way when you return.

Seraph Morale – works similarly to Perseverance, but it works in Lake Doric and provides a 1% bonus for each event completed (up to 10%). It also grants additional bonuses when you get to higher stacks. The boost resets to 0 when you leave the area, but you can stack it up once more when you come back.

Explorer’s Respite – a boost provided by Priory Historian Elisa and her bonfire in multiple zones across the Crystal Desert. It lasts three hours and provides +5% XP from all sources. You can activate it for performing a dynamic event called Gather Wood for the Fire for an Experience Boost. When the bonfire is lit, you can approach it to refresh the buff’s duration.

Wishing Well – a 30 minutes buff that provides +3% experience from kills and some other bonuses. You receive it by making a wish at the Wishing Well inside the Garden of Seborhin. The bonus is stackable up to 5 times, and its duration refreshes every time you do it.



Bonus Weekend Event – once in a while, ArenaNet enables a bonus XP weekend, when the experience gains from WvW and open-world activities are doubled. It’s not a viable strategy since you can’t use it whenever you want, but you can take advantage of it to create an alt when it’s available.

Guild XP Gain – a bonus that increases the experience gains for all members of your guild. It can provide from 3% to 10%, depending on the number of enhancements. It’s available at Nathan the Bartender in the Guild Tavern.

Experienced Enrichment – an enrichment that can be used on Ascended amulets. It provides +20% extra experience for kills in PvE.

XP gain for achievements – you receive an account-wide, permanent XP boost for the achievement point that you earned. For every 2,500 points, you get +3% of all experience gains. This makes leveling alts easier on accomplished accounts.


Leveling builds

When designing your build for early levels, you have to keep a few things in mind. First of all, in early levels, power DPS is much more valuable than condition damage. The monsters are unlikely to have large enough health pools and resistances to warrant the use of conditions. This damage profile tends to be more valuable in more challenging, high-level content.

At the same time, you are probably going to play solo. It means that your build has to be self-sufficient. You’re going to need damage to kill the enemies, but you also have to bring some defensive tools to make sure that you survive. Including a ranged weapon in your build is another important thing to consider. It can allow you to pull monsters from a distance and maybe even finish some of them off before they can get to you.

Builds that utilize some types of pets are also really efficient in the open world. It applies to Ranger’s animal companions, Mesmer’s Illusions, and Necromancer’s undead minions. Other classes should focus on making sure that they’re able to deal a lot of power DPS and survivability. If a more detailed setup is needed, search for the recommended open-world builds online.

Of course, you’re not going to have all the skills and traits available right away. Sadly, you’re not going to have an opportunity to play the Elite Specializations during the leveling process (they’re only available at level 80). That being said, if you manage to collect some hero points, you may reach a decent build really quickly. Now, we’re going to briefly talk about how to allocate these early points to each of the professions. Remember – you can freely change your build when you’re not in combat. There’s no need to worry about locking yourself in a specific playstyle.



The most powerful element in terms of power DPS is definitely Air. Unlocking the traits like Ferocious Winds and Raging Storm early can provide a significant damage increase – especially if you’re using a melee weapon like a dagger or sword. Arcane is an excellent secondary specialization, with traits like Arcane Precision and Bountiful Power. As far as the utility skills go, we recommend rushing towards Glyph of Storms and Signet of Fire. The only ranged weapon available to Elementalists is the staff. It provides more safety and range, but less damage.

Air Elementalists also have the option to get a lot of movement speed boosts in their build. The trait called One With Air, and multiple skill options can help out with that. By doing so, you will sacrifice some of the combat power, but you’ll be able to reach all the points on the map quicker.



As we mentioned, Mesmers rely on Illusions (especially the damage-focused Phantasms) in their open-world builds. The most important specializations to develop early on are Dueling and Illusions. Traits like Phantasmal Fury, Phantasmal Force, Fencer’s Finesse, and Superiority Complex provide a lot of extra damage. Dual swords are a great main set of weapons – if you can, get a pistol/focus or a greatsword in the second bar.

In general, you want to get as many Phantasm skills as possible. Phantasmal Disenchanter and Phantasmal Defender will definitely be worth it for two utility slots. Signet of the Ether is by far the best healing option for this setup.



There’s no better leveling build for Necromancer than the power minion master. It utilizes Death Magic and Spite as the main specialization trees. Rushing for the Death Nova trait is the most important part, as it unlocks a lot of the build’s power. Besides, you’re going to want to Awaken the Pain and Putrid Defense + Deadly Strength combination.

We recommend using the dagger as your primary weapon with an off-hand warhorn. You can also bring a scepter or staff as a ranged option in the back bar. However, most of the time, you’re going to fight in the frontline, trying to utilize the Death Shroud mechanic as much as possible. You want to get at least a single summoning skill in the utility slots. We recommend Shadow Fiend and maybe one more if you feel like they’re necessary. Just remember, unlike Necromancers in first Guild Wars and multiple other games, this GW2 profession doesn’t require corpses to summon the undead.



First of all, if you’re planning on creating your first GW2 character, we can’t recommend Engineer. The sheer amount of skills (with various kits and tool belts) makes this profession quite difficult to navigate. As far as the leveling builds go, you should probably go with Explosives and Firearms as your main specs. They offer a lot of damage-boosting traits, like Explosive Temper, No Scope, and many other viable options.  

Rifle allows for dealing high amounts of single target burst damage, often killing your target before they manage to reach you. You should also think about using the Grenade Kit and Bomb Kit in your utility slots. The kits are a crucial mechanic for Engineers, and you’re going to have to learn using them sooner or later. These two can provide a power bonus when you fight against multiple foes, where rifles won’t be as capable.



The best Ranger leveling builds utilize power damage and the strength of their animal companions. The main specializations are Beastmastery and Marksmanship. As for weapons, we recommend a melee setup (greatsword or sword + axe) as the main one, with a longbow for pulling and some specific situations in the secondary slot.

Traits like Hunter’s Gaze, Farsighted, and Potent Ally provide a lot of extra damage. You could also decide to go with the Beastly Warden if you want your pet to act as a tank. As for the utility skills, we recommend “Sic ’Em!” and Signet of the Wild.



Thief is a unique profession that doesn’t rely on cooldowns. Instead, their abilities consume a resource called Initiative. Because of that, they can perform incredibly strong burst combos and delete their targets. The main damage-focused specializations are Critical Strikes and Deadly Arts. Your main weapons should definitely just be double daggers, but you can use a pistol in the secondary weapon slot if you need the extra range.

Traits like Dagger Training, Executioner, Twin Fangs, and Practiced Tolerance make your combos even deadlier. Assassin’s Signet and Signet of Agility are some of the best choices for the utility skill slots.  



Overall, Guardian is a pretty defensive class, especially without access to the Elite Specialization. That being said, you can still make a decent power DPS setup with Zeal, Radiance, and Virtues. Zealous Blade and Unscathed Contender are some of the examples of valuable traits.

You want to make sure that your skills provide Aegis and deal some damage. Symbols and Spirit Weapons have innate synergy with Zeal, so you can consider going for some of them.



The Warrior profession utilizes a unique resource called Adrenaline to perform devastating burst skills. The power DPS leveling build is based on Strength and Discipline as the most important specializations. Peak Performance and Berserker’s Power provide a ton of extra damage. At the same time, some of the Discipline traits bring valuable utility.

As a Warrior, you want to make sure that you have two useful weapon sets. A lot of Discipline’s power is associated with weapon-swapping. We recommend a greatsword in your primary slot. The secondary one offers multiple viable options. Bull’s Charge, Signet of Fury, and Signet Might are examples of helpful utility skills.



A Devastation and Invocation setup with dual swords as the main weapon set is by far the best leveling build for a Revenant. Traits like Unsuspecting Strikes, Notoriety, Incensed Response, and Roiling Mists provide a lot of additional damage, mostly based on critical hits.

The utility skills are determined by the legendary stances that you’re using, so there’s not much to talk about here. You’re going to want to stay in the Assassin as much as possible. The best secondary option is the Legendary Dwarf Stance and a hammer in the alternative weapon slot.   


Leveling Methods

Now let’s talk about some of the activities that you can focus on while leveling. We recommend combining a few of them to make the whole process less exhausting. Before we jump into them, we should clarify something. The Edge of the Mists method doesn’t work anymore. It has been nerfed, so you can‘t level your character in WvW right now.  


Map Completion

Completing maps is always a good idea for a new player. It provides excellent rewards – in terms of both experience and loot. Besides, it’s a great way of engaging with the game’s storylines and exploring Tyria.

In order to complete a map, you’re going to have to visit important locations: waypoints, vistas, and points of interest as well as complete all the renowned hearts and hero challenges. While you’re running around the map, trying to complete the map, you can always engage in combat with random monsters, especially if they’re a part of a dynamic event. It will slightly slow down your map completion, but these tasks will make sure that you receive a bit of extra experience and loot. You should kill the neutral mobs (the ones with names in yellow). There’s a hidden mechanic that makes these mobs grant more experience, the longer they live. If you’re lucky, you can get extremely worthwhile gains for almost no effort. Remember to have Nourishment and Enhancement active, if possible!

It might not be the most efficient leveling strategy, but it provides decent experience gains as well as fun and engaging gameplay. This way, you’ll also unlock a lot of Hero Points that will accelerate your character’s progression by unlocking new skills and traits. Map completion also applies to cities as well as the hunting zones. Exploration is a fun, but time-consuming process, since some of the maps are really huge! 

The starting city of a GW2 character is determined by their race. For Charrs it will be Black Citadel, Humans start in Divinity’s Reach, Norns begin their journey in Hoelbrak, the capital city of Asuras is Rata Sum and Sylvari spawn in The Grove. All these cities are connected by a portal hub in Lion’s Arch. If you want to get some experience and other rewards without having to fight anyone, you can start by fully exploring your home city, then taking the portal to Lion’s Arch and doing the same there. After that, you can work your way through all the remaining cities. We recommend interweaving different activities and types of zones to explore as much as possible since it’s the most enjoyable way of leveling.  


Personal Story

At level 10, your character will gain access to their Personal Story. You will keep unlocking new chapters of it every time you get another ten levels. We recommend doing it as soon as possible. If you’re an entirely new player, you will get some worthwhile gear, play through a great storyline and get incredible amounts of experience. While you can’t get to 80 only by doing the Personal Story quests, they provide amazing XP rewards for relatively little time that you have to spend doing them.



Crafting is another tool available to players during their leveling process. For the most part, the GW2 crafting system has its own separate experience (some crafting disciplines can level up to 500 when the main character professions have their level cap set at 80). That being said, leveling up a crafting discipline will also grant you some regular experience. The XP gains in GW2 are mostly based on percentages, so you’ll always get the same number of levels. Getting a crafting discipline to 400 will always grant you 7 levels, so you can use the two available slots to get 14 levels in total.

However, it’s not the best method for new players, since leveling up a crafter is a bit expensive. You’re going to have to buy a lot of materials from the Trading Post and use them to create basically worthless items. In general, if you have a supply of gold and you want to get to level 80 as quickly as possible, you can use crafting to get the last 14 levels, but we don’t necessarily recommend this method.

If you don’t care about the crafting Discipline that you level and you’re only interested in the extra levels, make sure to go for the cheapest one available. The market prices of certain materials can change over time, but the cooking ingredients tend to stay relatively inexpensive. That’s why Chef is almost always a great choice for this situation. It will also provide an easy source of food that can allow you to keep the Nourishment effect at all times.



Dungeons are a great way to have some fun and play with others during the leveling process. They’re not the challenging instances that they used to be back in the day, but you can still learn some useful stuff about playing in a group. Now, most of the hardcore endgame players focus on high-level fractals and raids, which makes dungeons friendlier to the casual player base.

Similarly to the map completion, dungeons can provide all kinds of great rewards besides just the experience gains. You will also get to explore some of the beautifully designed instances and face many memorable bosses. Dungeons are available both in two modes: story and explorable. Clearing each dungeon at least once in both modes unlocks a fantastic repeatable achievement called Dungeon Frequenter. We recommend starting to work your way towards that goal as early as possible.

Currently, Guild Wars 2 features eight dungeons: Ascalonian Catacombs, Caudecus’s Manor, Twilight Arbor, Sorrow’s Embrace, Citadel of Flame, Honor of the Waves, Crucible of Eternity and The Ruined City of Arah. Every time you enter a new dungeon for the first time, you will have to complete the story mode first - it will take you through the main quest and storyline of that instance. Only then you’ll get access to the explorable mode.


GW2 Leveling Guide

As you can see, there are plenty of great experience sources in Guild Wars 2. A healthy combination of map completion, personal story, dynamic events, and dungeons will make leveling not only fast but also enjoyable. Optionally, you can also throw in some crafting and other mechanics to accelerate your progression even further.

Besides, make sure that you’re running an efficient early game build and using some consumables (at least the cheap and accessible ones). If you follow these key guidelines, you’re going to have a great time leveling a new Guild Wars 2 character! You might earn and save some money along the way too! Of course, if you choose to team up with a friend and progress at your own pace, it's perfectly fine too. There are multiple paths to level 80, just some of them will take you there faster than the others. 

Guild Wars 2 is a 2012 hit MMORPG developed by ArenaNet. The game has multiple assets, including the amazing design of Tyria and its multiple memorable regions, as well as wonderful storytelling. GW2 has received two expansions: Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire. The base version of the game is free to play. Make sure to browse our blog and find more interesting guides! Share some of our guides with your friends and help us expand this community!



Can you level up through PvP in Guild Wars 2?

Unfortunately, you can’t. There used to be a way to level your character in WvW Edge of the Mists, but it’s not working anymore. It was an extremely quick and easy method - that's exactly the reason why ArenaNet nerfed it. 


How long does it take to level up to 80 in Guild Wars 2?

Following our tips, you should be able to reach level 80 in 20-30 hours of playtime. There's a possibility that it requires more time to get if you focus on exploring the world and farm, instead of optimizing the experience gains.


How can you get Tomes of Knowledge in GW2?

Tomes of Knowledge are sold by Miyani and other Mystic Forge Attendants for 20 Experience Writs that you can get as rewards from Daily Achievements. They’re also available as parts of the PvP Reward Tracks.

How much did you like the article?
Average rate: 3.5/5 (15 votes)

TittoPalladini • 4 April 2020 Personal Story helped me a lot during leveling. Decent gear and XP boost Reply
Comment You are responding to the comment posted 4 April 2020 by TittoPalladini.

Entity • 18 April 2020 On full dmg build leveling is not that hard. Took me five days to max my first char Reply
Comment You are responding to the comment posted 18 April 2020 by Entity.

Zimwa33 • 3 May 2020 No reason to rush anything as a new player. It kinda beats the purpose - GW2 is about the world and stories. If you're already making alts, you probably have a bunch of tomes, so whatever. Reply
Comment You are responding to the comment posted 3 May 2020 by Zimwa33.

Morek98 • 9 May 2020 LOL the yellow mobs tip is crazy. Who would even try to level up by killing the neutrals? Why they even have this mechanic? Looks like a secret strat for power levelers :D Reply
Comment You are responding to the comment posted 9 May 2020 by Morek98.

B4pB0pB33p • 20 May 2020 Leveling in GW2 is actually pretty interesting. At least I didn't get bored since story was entertaining Reply
Comment You are responding to the comment posted 20 May 2020 by B4pB0pB33p.


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