Last August 29, during the Pax Prime event, it was announced that new players can now play Guild Wars 2 for free. Although there are some restrictions on free accounts, you can still definitely enjoy the core game and experience Guild Wars 2 for what it is. You’ll still be able to do dungeons, fractals, craft armor and weapons, craft your legendary, do pvp, do wvw, etc, and explore the world of tyria!
But why the restrictions? During the announcement, they said they must implement means to avoid those people who will bot or game the system for gold, or spam other players with spammy websites. This is certainly very understandable.
On the Guild Wars 2 official site, they list down what specifically what is restricted for free accounts.
|Free Account||Core Guild Wars 2 Account||Heart of Thorns Account|
|Character Slots||2||5||5 or more*|
|Heart of Thorns Maps & Content||No||No||Yes|
|Central Tyria (Core) Maps & Content||Starter maps only until character reaches level 10
Lion’s Arch unlocked for each character at level 35
|In-Game Mail||Can only send to mutual friends
Can’t send gold or items
|Yes (accounts created after August 28, 2015 require SMS or app authentication to send gold and items)||Yes (accounts created after August 28, 2015 require SMS or app authentication to send gold and items)|
|Guild Bank Access||No||Yes (accounts created after August 28, 2015 require SMS or app authentication to withdraw)||Yes (accounts created after August 28, 2015 require SMS or app authentication to withdraw)|
|Whisper chat||Except for mutual friends, can only whisper in the same map, one new person every 30 seconds||Yes||Yes|
|Squad chat||Unlocked for each character at level 30||Yes||Yes|
|Looking For Group||Unlocked for each character at level 30||Yes||Yes|
|PvP Chat||Team Chat always available
Chat in PvP Lobby unlocked when the account reaches PvP rank 20
Emotes, Map and Say chat unavailable during matches
|WvW||Unlocked account-wide when one character reaches level 60||Yes||Yes|
|Daily Login Bonus||No||Yes||Yes|
|Gem Store||Items unusable by free accounts (such as glider skin) are unavailable||Yes||Yes|
|Currency Exchange||Gems to gold exchange available, gold to gems exchange unavailable.||Yes||Yes|
|Trading Post||Can buy and sell items from a selected list.||Yes||Yes|
|Forum Posting Access||No||Yes||Yes|
Personally, I really don’t think the restrictions are a big deal if you are new to the game and trying things out to decide if you should purchase the expansion (with the core game). When I started to play the game when it first came out 3 years ago, I really didn’t even bother with some of the game features. I didn’t even know most of them back then. I would say if I played the game again for the first time with the above “restrictions”, I would still be able to enjoy the game. Daily Login Bonus didn’t even exist back then, and I never bought anything from the gemstore until I was done with my first few characters.
Here are some thoughts on the restrictions.
- Character slots – you get 2 for free accounts. Personally, I didn’t even create another character until I leveled my first one,which was a ranger, up to 80. Only after I felt I wanted to try something new did I want to create a melee class the 2nd time around. By that time, I had a good idea on how the game works.
- Bag Slots – this is probably what you will most feel “restricted”. 3 bag slots for a low level 1 character is fine. But if you decide to play a lot, you’re bags will definitely be filled up (lots of loots in the game) and you’ll long for more bag slots. You’ll start with bag slots with 4 bag spaces each. You’ll probably then move to 15 space bag slots(because its the cheaper option amongst the higher bag slots with 10+ spaces). If you want more spaces, you can have bag slots with 20(upgrade) spaces, but you will need to spend some gold.
- Revenant Profession – well this comes during the expansion. So we are all equals until then. 😉
- Starter maps only until lv.10 – this is fine. When I played the game, I certainly remained in the said starter maps. You certainly don’t want to be exploring high level maps as you will get one shot by mobs there. By the time your level 10, you can still be on the starter maps exploring. Note that each race has their own starter maps, with recommended level of 1-15. So if you’re done with your race’s starter maps you can go to another race’s home world.
- Lion’s Arch restricted to level 35 – Lion’s Arch served as a “hub” in the game and is the “center” of the world map. A lot of players park their characters there and chat with map. Lion’s Arch also has everything in it from merchants to crafting tables to trading posts. However, you’re race’s home world will also have everything in it! So you can craft in your home map because it also has access to the crafting tables and trading posts. The only thing Lion’s Arch has are special merchants (and maybe the jumping puzzle) which you wont bother as a new player because they sell items that need currency from previous events. So you’ll definitely be fine not visiting Lion’s Arch until then. It’s not like your home world will not have people in it.
- Can only send to mutual friends and Can’t send gold or items – As a new player, you won’t have anything much to send right?
- No Guild Bank Access – this is tricky. Now that the game is over 3 years old, guilds can afford to put starting items for new players in the guild bank. However, when most of us started playing the game, most guild banks were empty. I certainly benefited nothing from the guild bank during that phase and don’t remember getting anything from it aside from occasional food items (which are cheap). So you’ll be fine too! You have to understand that the guild bank can be a means of exchanging/storing items by scrupulous players without using the mail function. So that’s why its restricted for free accounts. Also from my experience, new guild members don’t tend to touch the guild bank.
- Whisper restrictions – unless you are a spammy gold seller or know a lot of people, you won’t whisper players a lot as a new player.
- Looking For Group restriction up to lvl30 – This could certainly help newbies as you can post “Need help starting the game” groups. But then again, it can be used by gold sellers too to spam the LFG tool in game.
- PVP Chat – for new players who really want to learn the pvp mechanics and wanting to seek help from other players, having restricted pvp chat certainly does make you feel barred. However this only is on the PVP lobby (or map chat). So if you have a party member or friend who you want to seek help from, then you’ll be fine with the chat restrictions.
- WvW until lv.60 – This is a bad thing and good thing. The bad thing is that WvW is fun and it’s sad to learn you won’t be able to get to enjoy it until lv.60. However! If you are very new to wvw and just decide to run into big fights, you would be dying a lot and it could be bad for your team. This is because you might “rally” (make your downed state enemy stand back up), and you don’t want that to happen! So by level 60, (or even 80), if you decide to join blob fights, then you would be better geared, be better familiar with your skills and know how to escape or leap in times of emergencies or “oh shit” moments! If WvW were unlocked right of the bat, there will be scrupulous players who will create accounts on the opposing team’s server just to mess with them. Even on not-free accounts, this is experienced by some servers where a player would sabotage the opposing team by capping the siege building limit, or upgrading towers with the least priortiy upgrades, etc.
- No Daily Login Bonus – there were no daily login bonus back then and we all survived. The bonuses are nice and would certainly help, but you’ll be fine without them during the beginning and most of the items you get are “occasional” items, which means you’ll be using them on certain occasions and you end up just saving them for that very moment you need them (I still have lots them bonuses not used). You’ll get some crafting mats on daily bonus, but again, theses can be obtained by just playing the game.
- Gold to gems unavailable – what you would want to buy in the gemstore would be account upgrades like bag slots and bank tabs (unless your into fashion, then outfit and cosmetic stuff). However, the gold to gems exchange rate is kinda high right now and as a new player, acquiring that amount of gold would take a while. Maybe by the time you decide you want to something in the gemstore, it is already enough a time for you to decide if the expansion is worth purchasing.
- Trading Post items are selected- I don’t know what the selected items are, but I have spent a lot of time buying and selling items in the trading post. However, that did not occur when I was familiar with the game already and already knew what to do with my gold.
- No Forum Posting – meh.
What is the Takeaway Here
Treat the free account as kind of like a trial mode to decide if buying the expansion (which includes the core game already) is worth it or not. Although just playing the base game is not a bad thing, the expansion adds several game features to address end game content (Not to mention you will be free of restrictions). They made the base game free to introduce people to Guild Wars 2’s gameplay, or help those in the fence before to try the game without any risk. Now that it is free, they can play the game and experience the it before the Heart of Thorns comes out. Then they can decide if they want to purchase it which includes the core Guild Wars 2 game (so they’ll be paying once). I played a lot Guild Wars 2 and don’t regret paying for it even though it is now free.
Join A Guild
Also, if you decide to try Guild Wars 2, try join a guild. When I was new, I was alone exploring the world and it got boring at times especially when I did not know most of the gameplay avenues. Also it did not help that maps became empty because it was server based (a recent patch however introduced the megaserver system which puts players from different servers in the same map, so this made maps lively and filled with players). Not until I became active in a guild and started chatting a bit did the game become more fun. You’ll be able to embark dungeons with your guild mates, do guild missions, or do jumping puzzles and dying won’t be a problem but would just be a laughing matter because you are with your guild mates!
Where To Find Guilds To Join:
- An official forum posts about guilds who are open to recruitment can be found here: https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/community/lookingfor/Guilds-Activate-Recruit-Mode
- There also a subreddit for guild recruitment.
- You’ll also occasionally see people advertising on map chat about their guilds.
- Or maybe ask players you meet in game if their guild is open for recruitment. Tell you what, most guilds like new members. If they see you in game without a guild [tag], they might try to invite you in their guild.
What Server To Choose
Free To Play
Again, even if its labeled free account, you can still certainly experience the core gameplay avenues of Guild Wars 2. You can still do dungeons, fractals of the mist, craft weapons, armor, or even your legendary. You can join all events, do jumping puzzles, world bosses, PVP or WvW and explore the world of Tyria!