In addition, each character type isn’t limited to their class role. While warriors tend to fight up close in melee fashion, they can also equip a gun and play as a typical DPS role. Same thing goes for magic users – with the right set of skills, they can battle up close without getting pummeled. On the healing front, every character has the ability to heal others – again, depending on the user’s skills. While most skills are determined by a character’s race and class, other skills are granted depending on the weapons that they choose. When you equip a sword and shield, you eventually gain 5 different sword-fighting skills (you start with one skill, then eventually unlock the other skills). If you then switch to two axes, your skill sets change – some of those skills become better or worse for damage or healing, etc. Finding the right mix of weapon sets and skill sets is part of the fun of the game. Note – when you equip a new weapon type for the first time you start out with just the basic skills and have to level that weapon type up all over again. However, if you switch weapons within the same weapon type (like upgrade from one sword to a newer one), you don’t have to re-level the skill. This is just for things like switching from a sword to a mace for the first time.
Another frustration with MMOs is the feeling of “the grind” – that in order to level up your character, you have to constantly “Kill X boars” in order to gain enough experience points (XP) to move up to the next area of quests or get better stuff. GW2 handles the grind in a couple of different ways. First, when you are presented with a new area, a hollow heart icon on the map shows you where you can help out non-player-characters with quests – but instead of the quest-giver assigning you one task, you are presented with several different options. For example, at one area, you can help a farmer by fighting the bandits who are attacking her crops, or you can feed her cows, water some corn, etc. Doing these things build up a progress bar – once you’ve done enough of those tasks, the heart icon fills up, giving you extra experience points and a chance to purchase some items from the quest-giver.
If the heart-shaped icon quests feel like a grind, there’s still ways to gain XP without doing those missions. A lot of times, dynamic events will begin within each of those heart-icon areas, and kills/work done during the event count towards your progress within that area. I’ve entered areas where I haven’t even met the quest-giver, yet I get the credit for that area because I participated in events.