Tyrian Fashion Week: Looking Your Best in Guild Wars 2

I don’t usually do game guides on this blog. The truth is that I pretty much suck, and even if I didn’t, there would still be far better sources of advice out there. However, there is one thing I seem to be good at (probably because it takes no skill): stylin’.

My warrior in Guild Wars 2 showing off his armor dyesThis is especially true in Guild Wars 2, where the customization options are so vast. I have on more than one occasion received random compliments on my characters’ gear, and I’ve learned all (or at least most) of the little secrets and tricks to look good at all levels.

So welcome to my guide on how to look stylish in Guild Wars 2.

Finding the look:

There’s a general perception that Guild Wars 2 is very lacking in variety in its armor models. I don’t agree. The variety is there; it’s just not readily obvious.

Sure, if you just play normally and wear whatever gear drops, you’re going to come to the conclusion that there are only two or three looks per armor type, but if you do a little digging, you’re going to see there’s a lot more out there.

My mesmer showing off her gear in Diessa PlateauLesson one: when at a heart vendor, preview everything. Most hearts tend to have the same exact models of gear, but once in a blue moon, you will stumble across a goldmine. For example, there’s a heart in Harathi Hinterlands that sells rare barbaric-themed models for every type of weapon in the game for just a small outlay of karma.

Secondly, cultural armor can be a fantastic way to make your character stand out. Each race has three sets of cultural armor — available at levels 35, 60, and 80 — available for gold in their home city.

The final tier is murderously expensive, but the first is cheap enough that you should be able to buy at least most of a set right at 35, and if you pinch pennies, you might be able to afford a few pieces of tier two at level 60.

Note that you cannot under any circumstance use the look of another race’s cultural armor.

There are also three tiers of cultural weapons per race. These are bought with karma, and they’re not cheap, so save up your jugs of karma from the daily achievements.

The dye screen in Guild Wars 2Again, you can’t use another race’s cultural weapons, but the tier one usually uses the same models as the random drop weapons from that race’s zones, and those are available to everyone.

There are also some “cultural” weapons that are not tied a specific race. These can be found in Lion’s Arch and the fortress of Ebonhawke in the Fields of Ruin.

Over the course of your personal story, you will have the chance to join one of three orders — the Vigil, the Durmand Priory, and the Order of Whispers — and each of these also has unique sets of armor and weapons available at level 80.

But by far the best source of different looks is the trading post. All of the BoE world drops and crafting sets are there for the taking. Just grab some pieces with crappy stats on the cheap and transmute them onto your own gear.

My Norn thief showing off her stylish pimp hat in Guild Wars 2The only problem here is that you can’t preview gear on the trading post. Hopefully that will be fixed at some point, but in the meanwhile, other players can be a great resource. If you like what someone is wearing, ask them what it’s called. GuildWars2Guru also has a large number of threads of people showing off screenshots of their characters, and these are a great resource.

Once you know what you’re looking for, getting new looks off the trading post is a breeze.

Fun with transmutation stones:

If you care about how your character looks, you’d better learn to love transmutation stones. These allow you to combine the appearance of one piece of gear with the stats of another. Note that the item whose appearance is taken is consumed in the process.

Transmutation stones are mainly available through the gem store, but if you’re like me and don’t want to spend a lot of money — be it gold or cash — there are options.

My Guild Wars 2 thief in HoelbrakThe best way to get stones is through map completion achievements. They’re not guaranteed drops from the achievement chests, but they’re pretty common. If you’re experiencing a shortage, a quick way to get some is to do the achievements for the major cities.

The level 80 stones are even harder to get, but luckily, you won’t need very many of those. Also, if you use level 79 exotics — which are only marginally less powerful than their 80 counterparts — you can use the standard stones.

Daily achievements also have a chance to drop stones, but it’s not that common.

I recommend conservation. Don’t equip a new piece of gear (and waste a stone giving it the look you want) unless it’s a significant upgrade. Certain items — like boots — don’t make much of a difference to your character’s overall look, so don’t bother with those.

If all this sounds like a bit of a pain, it can be, but transmutation stones earn their keep with their sheer versatility. It is a little known fact that you can use stones to equip the look of any gear below level 80 regardless of your character’s level. With the 80 stones, there are no level limitations at all.

My mesmer in Wayfarer Foothills in Guild Wars 2My level 20 mesmer looks great in her level 60 gear.

There’s even a trick that allows you to wear the gear of an order other than the one you joined. Get an alt into the order with the gear you want — they only need to be about level 25 or so — and use them to buy the items. Then, transmute the looks onto white quality gear and put them in your bank. Finally, log onto your main, collect the white items, and transmute the looks onto your gear.

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a trick like this, as it seems like unintended behaviour, but it’s been so well known for so long that I have to assume ArenaNet is okay with it.

Prepare to dye:

The final step to completing your look is choosing the right armor dyes. This is another case where getting what you want seems difficult, but with some cleverness and determination, it’s actually quite easy.

My warrior showing off his gear in Kessex Hills in Guild Wars 2Pretty much all your dyes will come from the trading post. Random drops are unreliable, as are the packs from the cash shop. Most of the primary colours are murderously expensive, but if you dig around, you can usually find a colour and shade that looks almost exactly the same but is a fraction of the price.

For example, white and celestial dye usually cost multiple gold each, but fog dye is extremely common, usually only costs a few copper or silver, and looks just as good.

Black is by far the hardest colour to come by. The only shade of it I’ve found that even comes close to being affordable is iron dye. This is what I used for my mesmer’s black and gold “Wasp Empire” cosplay.

There are literally hundreds of dyes in this game, so ultimately the hardest thing is just knowing the name of the colour you want. The threads on GuildWars2Guru are again a good resource, and you can also get surprisingly good results from just typing random words associated with the colour you want into the trading post search.

My mesmer shows off her Wasp Empire cosplayI’d recommend getting a few different shades of whatever colour you want. Some pieces of armor tend to distort dye colours oddly, and even if they don’t, a few different shades can add some nice depth and texture to your look.

The dyes are ultimately what makes the customization options in Guild Wars 2 so vast. By allowing you to change the colours of any piece of gear, it provides an infinite ability to mix and match sets and create unique looks. Using only one set is for lamers.

For instance, I once saw a fellow who’d combined items from the winged and embroidered sets to create a non-robe, Arabic-inspired look for his mesmer. It was really different, and he looked fantastic.

So let your creativity run wild. With so many options, you have no one to blame for looking ordinary but yourself.

(Also, I apologize for the low quality of the screenshots in this post. My computer always makes things much darker in screenshots than they are in-game for some reason.)

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