Just like any other game out there, starting out can be daunting. Let me help you with that with some pretty basic things to help get you set up for success. Mind you, this will be a guide that covers topics that can be found in expansions, so don't worry if you haven't gotten them yet. You can use this for other parts and even for later!
First and foremost, take everything in stride. Don't rush to get some things, blowing past a few of the finer details in the game. Overall, the game is meant to be enjoyed at your pace. When it comes to making progress and leveling, I find that doing the story helps tremendously with progress as well as doing some basic map exploration. This guide is meant for those of you who want to get the "biggest bang for your buck" at some points, so don't feel compelled that you MUST get everything here mentioned. I am also a fan for story and lore, so I wasn't in a rush to hit level 80 asap. There is a LOT to experience while discovering areas in this game. If you're a previous Guild Wars 1 player, you will definitely get to see remnants of the past throughout the world.
There are 3 main things I highly recommend all new players to get when starting the game, even for free accounts: inventory space, gathering tools, and some means of salvaging. Let me break it down for you.
|20 Slot bag vs 8 Slot bag (for reference)|
This can be a bit of annoyance when you're first starting out. Don't get me wrong, the game does an okay job getting you started, but if you're out there killing everything, collecting everything, and you have 0 idea what is good and what isn't, the space starts to dwindle. Not to mention seasonal events that give you items to which you don't know if it's worth keeping or not. If you're not 100% sure about investing in the game, bag sizes are the safest thing to invest in. You can find inventory bags from 5 slots up to 20 slots straight off the trading post. Obviously the higher the number, the more loot it holds. In my experience, a good investment would be at least a 15 slot bag. It'll take you from the beginning til the end without breaking the bank. It might take you a little bit to save up the 1 to 2 gold when you're just starting out, but if you sell things to vendors, you'll get it pretty quickly. If you have a little more available to spend, an 18 slot bag will be sufficient enough. I wouldn't spend any more gold on bags past the 3 gold max because you can actually craft 20, 24, 28, and even 32 slot bags later. I've been playing this game for the better part of 10 years and most of my characters have 18 slot bags. I did purchase bag slot expansions for my main character long ago and I honestly feel like I could have spent those gems elsewhere. With that said, I wouldn't recommend purchasing any bag expansions unless you are absolutely sure you need them.
NOTE: If you are playing on a free account, you may be limited on what you can buy off the Trading Post (TP for short). If you have other friends who were the ones that introduced the game to you, they might be able to assist you in purchases off the TP. I don't think inventory slot bags are in the limited list, but I could be wrong.
|20 Slot bag and 18 Slot bag|
|List of various Gathering tools|
You'll come across these at some point in time, whether your story rewards it or you come across it from a vendor. Stick to level-related tools. These are generally tied to the zones in which you will be exploring as is, so don't worry about what ones to buy from the start. Overall, the higher the level of the tool, the higher the items you can gather. There might be a point in time where you try to gather a node and you end up getting a poor quality item (usually says something like "Ruined something" for title and has a brief description that you need a higher quality tool). Generally that means you need to get the next level gathering tool. If you have gems to spare, you can always invest in unbreakable gathering tools. In my opinion, unbreakable gathering tools should be a goal to aim for but I've known players who refuse to purchase them. My reasoning is that you will never run out of a gathering tool while out there in the field, let alone hitting a high level gathering node with a subpar tool. If you are in the market for unbreakable tools, I'd wait for a sale to happen because gems. A while back, the game introduced Glyphs as add-on mods to the tools. I can't say whether it is important to get these early on in the game or not. What I can say is that it is a nice passive way of gathering something extra while hitting those nodes. I put the wiki link down below for the list of various glyphs.
|Unbreakable Gathering tools|
|List of various Salvaging tools|
These things are super useful when it comes to inventory management and just grinding out the gold. In all of my time playing this game, I've used 2 of the generic salvaging kits: Basic Salvage Kit and Master's Salvage Kit. Everything else an NPC offers is meh. What a salvage kit does is break items down into crafting items. Crafting items can get deposited into the crafting materials storage while the non-crafting items can be sold for copper/silver. This helps with inventory management. Yet again, if you have gems to spare, I highly recommend the Copper-Fed Salvage-o-Matic from the trading post. It costs 3 copper pieces to use per salvage, but just like the unbreakable gathering tools, you won't run into inventory issues while out in the field. I did purchase the Silver-Fed Salvage-o-Matic long ago and honestly, it wasn't worth the investment. I'd spend the gems elsewhere for that. Sometimes you can get a Black Lion Salvage kit
If you have gems to spare, some nice things I'd recommend (BUT NOT REQUIRED) would be a few extra shared inventory slots (I have 8 total, I feel like 5 would be a good amount), a storage expansion (increases the amount of crafting items in your bank by increments of 250 aka a stack), and a bank tab expansion (I honestly don't know how many I've bought but they have been a huge help to my collection hording). Be sure to keep an eye on sales in the trading post because that's where the best savings happen.
Heart of Thorns was the first expansion that Guild Wars 2 had. With it came a feature called gliding. This feature is super useful when you're out there exploring the world of Tyria. You can easily unlock the basic glider feature by playing through the first 3 parts of the Heart of Thorns story. Should take you about 15 minutes in total. Once you complete Establishing a Foothold, boom glider. You can go back to the main core story and continue your fight. Be warned that some of the original instances don't allow for gliding so be sure to check distance before taking a leap of faith. From what I know, the purchase of End of Dragons provides the basic gliding skill, so I have no idea if you can skip this part entirely or not. You will need to go to Heart of Thorns and work on Mastery Points if you want all the cool things a glider offers.
Path of Fire was the second expansion that Guild Wars 2 had. With it came mounts which changed the game for the better in my opinion. To make traversing the world easier, I highly recommend getting the raptor mount. All you have to do is play through the first chapter of the Path of Fire and boom, raptor mount. From what I've been told, the New Player Experience that was introduced back in 2022 automatically unlocks the raptor mount once a single character reaches level 10 (or the next multiple of 10). End of Dragons allows for a player to talk to Strigidae in New Kaineng City, free of charge. As with all other masteries in the game, you will need to acquire various Mastery Points for improving the mount.
End of Dragons was the third expansion that Guild Wars 2 had. With it came the Jade Bot. This little doodad has been super helpful for those of you who are out there, grinding out the gathering materials for either monetary reasons, legendary reasons, or just crafting reasons. There is a LOT to be done with the Jade Bot, so much that I actually have a guide going over it already.
I know this is kind of long and a lot of reading, but hopefully this information comes in handy.