Guild Wars 2 PvP guide: getting started on the road to victory

There's more to being successful in Guild Wars 2 PvP than mastery of your class: it's just as important to know how the maps work, how to earn points quickly, when to push and when to back off. I've played a lot of PvP over the course of beta and I recently spoke ArenaNet about the techniques that will help good teams to stand out. Below you'll find general tips as well as an overview of each of the three maps that will be available when Guild Wars 2 launches.

These are principles that apply to every PvPer, regardless of profession or build. They apply whether you're playing with an organised team on voice chat or jumping in with strangers.

For more on the game's competitive side, be sure to check out our interview with systems designer Jonathan Sharp .

PvP tips

Points mean prizes

Each of the three launch maps are played in Conquest mode, a race to a certain mount of points. Points are earned for capturing areas of the map, killing the enemy team, and completing other, map-specific objectives.

Whatever your plan, you should always be keeping an eye on the point tally. Winning fights and chasing down kills is important, but not if it allows the enemy team to rack up a territory advantage. Good teams will keep track of their options for earning points in a given situation and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Sometimes, that's coming together for a coordinated team fight. At other times, it means staying mobile and denying the enemy kills. I've covered each map's tweaks to the point system below.

Finish them!

Run out of health in GW2 and you enter a downed state where you can't move or dodge and you're limited to four class-specific abilities. When you're downed, you need to kill an enemy or be revived by a teammate before you bleed to death. In PvP you can execute enemies by running up to them when they're downed and pressing F to smack them with a giant flag. It's a straightforward mechanic, but it's also one of the most important things to learn when you're starting out in PvP.

Finishing moves have a warm-up period and so are relatively straightforward to interrupt: using a stun or knockback move is a great way to save a teammate from execution. Likewise, working together to make sure that a stomp isn't interrupted is how good teams rack up points. When you're playing with strangers, the temptation is for everyone to rush in and get the kill for themselves. Like in Dota, proper teamplay requires more discipline than that - and in public games, that's going to mean being willing to step back and keep an eye out for enemy interrupters.

It's also not necessarily a good idea to try and finish a foe straight away. If you're in a team fight, it sometimes makes more sense to concentrate on enemies that are still on their feet and mop up points when the smoke clears.

PvP Map guide

Forest of Niflhel

Each of Niflhel's three capture points are easily defensible, with multiple elevations that allow ranged characters to prevent sneaky territory grabs pretty easily. Bonus points are awarded for killing two boss NPCs - Svanir and Chieftain Utahein - that spawn in the top right and top left of the map respectively. These bosses are soloable, and respawn on a three minute timer.

The reappearance of Svanir and Utahein is announced with a sound effect and an on-screen notification, and this is often a cue for both teams to rush them down. Going for the bosses is a good way to earn points if the enemy is turtling, but in many ways it's like going for Roshan in Dota. If the enemy know you're doing it, you're vulnerable: so be vigilant, and pick your moment carefully.

Battle of Kyhlo

Fights in Kyhlo can get scrappy quickly: it's made up of narrow streets, and all three capture points feature chokepoints that can be tough for attackers to break through. The central clocktower is a little more accessible, particularly if you can get up to the windows, but it's so big that you're always in danger of being flanked. If your team can hold the clocktower, however, then ranged players are able to call enemy movements and support fights from a safe distance.

The key to cracking Kyhlo is making proper use of your trebuchet. Each team gets a massive catapult that can deliver huge amounts of damage anywhere on the map, and also knock down obstacles to open up new routes. Trebuchets can save teams caught in losing battles by knocking back attackers coming in for deathblows, and make angles of attack unattractive with sustained covering fire. If you're on the receiving end, remember that you can dodge an incoming trebuchet blast to avoid the damage.

Disabling the enemy's trebuchet is also a valid strategy. Each catapult is out of range of the other, but it's possible to wreck them if you get in close: though this does mean ignoring the battle for control of the map. If your trebuchet is destroyed, you need to pick up and deliver a repair kit to restore it. You can't use any weapon abilities when you're carrying the kit, so let your team know that you're making the attempt so that they can protect you or distract the enemy.

Playing public matches, I've been struck by how few teams take advantage of the trebuchets. When games descend into disorganised team fights, skilful bombardment can turn the tide in your favour.

Legacy of the Foefire

Foefire is a throwback to Guild Wars 1's PvP mode. It's a large map, with three capture points arranged in a line in the centre. Both teams also have a base, similar to keeps in world vs. world. They're defended by NPC guards and have large doors that need to be bashed down, and inside each one is a lord that can killed for a hefty points bonus.

Controlling the midfield is the secret to Legacy of the Foefire. While it's tempting to go after the enemy lord straight away, controlling at least two of the central points will earn you a slower but surer victory. Given the layout of the map, it's pretty difficult for a team to get to your gates without you noticing, particularly if you're communicating and maintaining a presence throughout the midfield. Staying mobile while coordinating with your team-mates is key.

If you're looking for people to PvP with, get in touch with our Guild Wars 2 community. They're based at , and will be playing on Gunnar's Hold on release day. Guild Wars 2 week continues tomorrow, and be sure to check out yesterday's interview with Ree Soesbee and exclusive Twilight Arbor dungeon footage .

Chris Thursten

Joining in 2011, Chris made his start with PC Gamer turning beautiful trees into magazines, first as a writer and later as deputy editor. Once PCG's reluctant MMO champion , his discovery of Dota 2 in 2012 led him to much darker, stranger places. In 2015, Chris became the editor of PC Gamer Pro, overseeing our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports. He left in 2017, and can be now found making games and recording the Crate & Crowbar podcast.