As with almost all MMOs, and even regular games, there is a starting area that serves like tutorial zone. Not much can happen, and it typically feels like the much dreaded line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to get to the fun of driving. Guild Wars 2 definitely shatters this stereotype, as the starting zones are very fun and really give you a good feel for the world you are in.
In this guide, we go over the starting zone, how it works, and why it’s so important in Guild Wars 2.
Your First “Quest”
When I say “quest,” keep in mind that I’m using it in the loosest sense of the word. When you first zone into the world, you will see someone with a green starburst over their heads. You walk to them and they will either give you very brief description inside of a cutscene on what to do, or they’ll just tell you what to do. It may be to get people to a safe location from the centaur attack or to kill a beast and take a trophy to demonstrate your worth.
This is the very first leg of your Personal Story that will continue all the way through the leveling process, on to the end of the game.
You may also notice the area on the mini-map has striped lines around it. This indicates that you are currently in an instance separated from the normal world of Tyria, even though the map may be in an area you can access normally. If you happen to be leveling with a friend, do not be off put if you are not in the same special instance, you will rejoin each other once you finish this initial leg.
Your First Skill and Weapon
Your character will start off with a basic set of armor and a weapon with one spell you have access to. The starting weapon will vary from class to class, but it will typically be a one-handed weapon. The skill you have access to can be auto-cast whenever you start attacking an enemy. Find an enemy in the area and target them by left clicking on them. Press your 1 key (don’t click the icon) and you will begin attacking the enemy.
You will notice with each kill that you will begin to have part of the next spell for that weapon highlighted. As you continue using this weapon, or any weapon with unlocked skills for that matter, you will gain access to new skills. If you hover your mouse cursor over it, you will see how much of this skill you have unlocked. You unlock it only by killing creatures while you have this weapon actively equipped.
You may also notice that you have a rather handy little skill hanging out to the right of your health orb (positioned next to your weapon skills). This is a healing skill. Every profession gets a healing skill to start with, and they can later invest in others using skill points. There is no dedicated healing profession, so everyone must look after their own health and ultimately take responsibility for failing to do so. At the beginning, you will rarely use this healing skill, but within five levels you will be relying on it quite a bit.
Your First Cutscene
After you finish the very first leg of your Personal Story, you will find another person with the green starburst above their heads. Once you talk to them, a cutscene will start with your character talking to them and receiving the next leg of your Personal Story. These cutscenes are not mandatory and can be skipped, but I highly discourage that since the voice acting is very high quality and the story told through these scenes greatly enhances the gameplay.
Your First Boss Fight
Eventually, you will come across a large boss that must be defeated to move forward. This Boss fight is an open world boss that anyone can participate in as long as they are in the same special instance of the world as you are. You will probably have access to a few abilities now, and you will be well equipped to handle the boss. However, it isn’t like the typical boss you may be familiar with in other MMOs, where the boss will focus on one player and mercilessly pound on them until they die. Instead, you will have the aid of at least one powerful NPC, potentially some soldier NPCs, and other players. The boss will randomly attack points on the ground and/or swipe at a large area rather than focus on one player.
The boss and any minions he summons will hit hard, and you must actively avoid attacks either by moving out of the way or using the dodge ability (which by default is triggered by double-tapping any movement key. You can rebind this in the Options menu). If you are hit, you can heal using the heal skill you received when you first started playing. If you happen to lose all of your health, instead of dying you will go into a downed state where you will have access to four abilities that includes an attack and a bandaging ability, but you will be unable to move from this location. You will continually lose health in this state unless another player comes and revives you or an enemy you have been attacking nearby dies, after which you will rally with about a third of your health. Your best bet if you find yourself in this situation is to target a nearby minion or enemy with low health and repeatedly attack them with the  skill until they die and you rally.
The boss will have multiple points that you can target and attack. Keep attacking the boss until all targetable boss parts are completely dead. You will then get a nice cutscene, and your very first boss encounter will be over.
In the next part of the guide, we will cover the all important game mechanics and some esoteric knowledge that allows players to become nearly immortal – DODGING!