GW2 Attributes

GW2 Character Traits were discussed back in March, 2011 and since that time both the trait system and the GW2 Attribute system have been overhauled followed by some serious fine-tuning to replace the previous profession oriented system. The end result is a more flexible character-building system which is easier to understand, more logical, and allows improved combat and character progression in Guild Wars 2.

The new attribute system is designed to work in conjunction with Traits to give players the opportunity to make meaningful choices and create unique characters that suit their individual playing styles. Where Traits are more about manipulating the skills themselves, Attributes are characteristics that players can invest points into in order to increase their effectiveness. Unique Guild Wars 2 styles

There are four base attributes, each automatically increasing whenever your character gains a level. They may also be increased by item and trait customization.
The four base Attributes are :

  • Power - increases attack damage.
  • Precision - increases critical strike chance.
  • Vitality - increases health.
  • Toughness - increases defense / armor.
Depending on the Guild Wars 2 profession you play and how you choose to play it, you can invest in the Power attribute to deal more damage up front or you can invest in the Toughness attribute to survive longer in a battle, dishing out more damage over time. Both strategies are valid and both have definite strengths and weaknesses depending on the situation you're in and the role you want to play with your GW2 character.

Similarly, while Power and Precision both increase your damage output, choosing which one to invest your points in isn't just a matter of making a simple mathematical choice of which will allow your character to do more damage. Precision is a trickier but more combination-friendly attribute which produces more reliable effects and conditional damage.

From a defensive point of view, Vitality and Toughness both reduce damage inflicted on your character, but in different ways.


This attribute is raw damage, perfect for Guild Wars 2 players who just want to hit hard. A longbow-wielding Ranger who invests in the Power attribute is looking to do more damage with each hit even if his target dodges a few projectiles.


Attribute points invested here may mean you deal less raw damage per second, but many triggered effects happen only when you score a critical strike. A longbow-wielding ranger who invests highly in Precision is aiming to use the increased chance of secondary effects to apply pressure to his target.

Same GW2 profession, different set of attributes to suit a playing style, different damage effect.


increases your overall health pool, protects you from armor-ignoring effects such as conditions and allows you to absorb a large blow and still slink away to recover.


Reduces damage from small hits, helping a character deal with pressure by giving him more time to use a defensive skill or to heal but it is less effective than Vitality in absorbing the big blows.
Izzy Cartwright, Guild Wars 2 game designer, gives a great explanation of how a player can make attribute choices which complement their playing style...

"A Guardian could favor raw Power so his Orb of Light does more damage, or he could go higher in Precision and use a trait that causes burning with every critical hit. Going this second route, the Guardian could also wield a weapon that caused a short cripple with critical strikes. Now, with a high enough chance for critical hits, his Orb of Light will often snare his target, setting up a following attack, and apply burning, making up for the lower raw damage."

To increase the diversity of Guild Wars 2 builds and the number of offensive play styles, one profession-specific attribute for each GW2 profession, three offensive attributes and two support attributes have been added. However, unlike the four base attributes, these new attributes do NOT increase when a character levels up, and can only be gained by investing points into trait lines and through customized items. Each profession-specific attribute provides a unique benefit to that profession.
ELEMENTALIST Intelligence Reduces the recharge time of the four elemental attunements.
ENGINEER Ingenuity Reduces the recharge time on all tool-belt skills.
GUARDIAN Willpower Decreases the recharge time on all virtues.
MESMER Guile Reduces the recharge time on all shatter skills.
NECROMANCER Hunger Increases the size of the necromancer's life-force pool.
RANGER Empathy Improves pet attributes.
THIEF Cunning Decreases the recharge time of the steal ability.
WARRIOR Brawn Improves the damage of warrior burst skills.

  • Expertise : Improves the duration of all conditions inflicted by your character.
  • Malice : Improves the damage done by conditions like bleeding, poison, confusion, and burning.
  • Prowess : Improves the damage multiplier on critical strikes.

  • Compassion : Improves all outgoing heals that your character does, including self heals.
  • Concentration : Improves the duration of all boons applied by your character.
Guild Wars 2 game designer, Jon Peters, explains the thought process behind the new attributes...

"While we were looking into how comparable these new attributes were to precision and power, we found that power was far more valuable than any other attribute. The scaling was exponential, so if a player maxed out power, it would make 200 power equal to about 500 precision. We adjusted the scaling of power to be linear, and then raised base weapon damage for everyone.

We also added the new healing attribute to take some of the pressure away from toughness being the most important defensive attribute and to create an additional option for GW2 players who wanted to emphasize a support role. "

The addition of these new attributes provides an even deeper level of individuality to Guild Wars 2 as players are able to customize the way their characters deal damage, with the ability to construct builds that give classic big-hit power, reactionary critical effects, high spike-damage critical hits, or deceptively strong conditions while still being competitive with any of them.

Items and Attributes in GW2

For items, the previous attribute system was more about skins than it was about stats, which limited the ability to make interesting items. Let's face it, getting a drop with "Attribute +1 / 20% Chance" didn't exactly send the heart racing did it?!

There's a huge improvement in Guild Wars 2 with the item system attributes as items will have the ability to raise not just one attribute, but several, and by a meanigful amount! For example, a Rare Ruby Ring gives +40 Power; a Gold Topaz Ring gives +33 Power and +25 Vitality; and a Pearl Ring gives +25 Power, +25 Vitality, and +25 Toughness. GW2 attributes explained.

Combined with base Attribute points, the item system enhances the flexibility of players to create unique characters with the option of maxing out one attribute or speading the points across all their attributes.

With so many options to choose from, what Attribute choices will YOU make for your character in Guild Wars 2?

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