I was giving to a friend of mine that just got into the game a walkthrough about the options found in the General Options (default shortcut: F11) and I realized that this subject is actually rarely mentioned in this sub. Considering a lot of people are getting into the game right now because of the recent sales and expansion announcement, I decided to share this with you in the hopes that someone else benefits from my experience.
Note that these are personal settings and, while I tried to provide good reasons and explanations to my suggestions, they’re nothing more than that and the final decision will always be yours. You should play the game the way you want to!
PS: English isn’t my main language so there will certainly be little slips here and there. If you find something particularly offensive/messed up, just tell me and I’ll fix it asap. Good read!
Profanity Filter: None
I recommend disabling the censure in chat unless it’s a children’s account or you’re really sensitive. It tends to overdo its job and sometimes lead to difficulty in understanding perfectly fine messages.
An extremely useful feature, specially if you’re in a time zone other than the server’s or doesn’t have a clock near your computer. It enables a clock with the server/local time in your mini-map, simple as that.
There’s really no “best” option here. You may want to tweak it accordingly to what you’re doing at the moment!
Worth noting: if you select “Hide events and personal story”, the guide shows only map completion elements. A life saver, once you are looking for that last PoI and don’t have the slightest idea where it is!
AoE Loot On Interact
Recommendation: Enable it. It makes you pick all nearby loot when pressing F, specially useful in big and fast paced fights like WvW and some PvE content. I really see no reason to turn it off.
You can have AoE on interact AND another button for AoE looting. It still is a “might as well” situation, having both is the best option. Pretty useful when you’re surrounded by a lot of interactables AND loot!
Recommendation: Enable it. It makes loot with more than one item go straight to your inventory, instead of opening the interface to see its contents. Sinergizes perfectly well with the option above.
Show All Enemy/NPC/Player Names
It’s really situational and a matter of preference, but I usually recommend to turn Players and NPC off as both can overload your screen pretty fast in well-populated areas (note that, by default, holding Left Alt let you see both Player’s and NPC’s names momentarily, so the info is still there when you need it). Show Enemies, on the other hand, I usually leave enabled; the reason I do this is to have a better idea of how many enemies I’m fighting against, as well as recognizing them at first glance. Disabling all of them provide a nice immersion to the game, though, as well as some surprises!
Disable Closing Windows with ESC
By default, ESC removes your target, cancelling your auto attack. Enabling this option makes you able to perform this action while having your inventory (or any other important screen) open, without dedicating a key to remove targets, which can be useful in specific contents. I leave it disabled most of the time, though.
Show Skill Recharge
Recommendation: Enable it. It does create some extra clutter in your screen but, even if you already know all your cooldowns and mastered your class, it gives you a clear and faster way to see when they end as well as when you’re being affected by chill (which makes cooldown numbers blue).
Simple Party UI
This option is actually composed of two options: it makes your party portraits smaller, as well as hiding some of their less important boons. Enabling it may be a good idea for smaller resolutions, altough it also removes the easiest way to see if your party members are in the same overflow as you. I’d love to see this option split!
Show Simple Condition Floaters
Recommendation: Disable it, unless you’re a number lover. It enables the old condition floaters, which in my opinion are much worse than what we have now!
Invert Camera Y-Axis
I’ve never really felt the need to invert mouse axis in any game, but well, it’s there if you need to. Entirely a matter of taste.
Enable Camera Shake
Recommendation: Disable it. I’m actually one of the few that truly love this effect, but damn does it make your screen tremble wildly during zerg fights… Disable it for better awareness and to potentially reduce motion sickness.
Use Free Camera
It makes you able to walk around looking in any direction without requiring your left mouse button to be pressed. Another matter of taste here, but I tend to leave it disabled since it’s useful to reset your camera with a simple step when needed.
Recommendation: Fast with Range Indicator. It makes you aim ground-targeted (AoE) skills while holding its key, and cast it when released, providing a much better experience compared to the original click to aim, click again to cast. Both your fingers and your keys will appreciate that! The reason I recommend it over Instant Cast is that it provides both an easy way to check your skill’s radius (though it can be misleading sometimes!) AND its maximum range. If you’re used to both, though, feel free to go ahead.
Double-Tap to Evade
Recommendation: Disable it. Seriously; you will jump off cliffs and die many times because of this and ending up hating yourself or, at best, throw your precious stamina away just by moving in small steps. Dedicate a key to your dodge (by default V; I recommend Left Shift though) and get used to it as fast as possible!
Disable Area of Effect Rings
Recommendation: uncheck it. Disabling AoE Rings provides you more immersion, but I couldn’t honestly get in combat without it. It gets really hard to recognize effects and radius without those helpful borders.
Double-Click to Attack/Interact
I see no harm in leaving it enabled, but to be far I very rarely use it, just because F works so well (and spoil other MMO, believe me!). It can also be useful for people used to other games.
Right-Click to Attack/Interact This option used to make you change/lose targets when releasing your right button after moving your camera, which could be very very annoying. I believe it’s now fixed, but I honestly see no reason at all to leave it enabled. Feel free to decide what’s best for your playstyle.
Stop Autoattacking on Target Change
Recommendation: Enable it. You can screw yourself up if you hit tab and your next target has an aura, retaliation or other kind of nasty effect that will make you regretful for attacking it without checking first. Better safe than sorry!
Recommendation: Disable it. I know, I know, it does make your life easier. I admit I leave it on in PvE sometimes. The reason I recommend you to leave it disabled though is because many, many skills of GW2 have a movement attached to their action and you lose a big chunk of their functionality when you use autotargeting, as your character will simply use it in whatever is closer. You won’t always want to do that! Well-known examples are Ride the Lightning (Elementalist’s Dagger #4 while attuned to Air), which can be used both as a gap closer as well as an escape plan, and Fiery Rush (Fire Greatsword’s #4), which has a completely different effect when used against a selected target. That’s a huge enough reason, but I also recommend leaving it on as a method of learning how to better pick your targets (specially in PvP!) during fights against multiple opponents. It also synergizes pretty well with the two options above.
I want to point out that there’s also a keybinding to temporary lock your target; this disables autotargeting when held down. If you bind and make use of this button, you can leave autotargeting on and then use this key to disable it on demand. This has the tradeoff that you need to hold down an extra button when doing certain actions, but it lets you keep autotargeting, which is extremely useful in most situations.
Promote Skill Target
Recommendation: Disable it. Pretty much like autotargeting, and disabled for the same reasons. Do your best to pick targets manually as needed and avoid screwing yourself trying to use a skill only to realize you have an enemy you previously attacked targeted and see your character shadowstep/leap/rush in its direction.
Melee Attack Assist
Recommendation: Disable it. Its purpose is to help you hit melee attacks by impeding you to walk through your enemies, but can lead to a very awkward “unresponsive” feeling in which you hold your movement keys and your character doesn’t respond to you. Also one of the main reasons it gets disabled is that, sometimes, you actually WANT to walk through your enemy to make him miss its attacks or get into a better position. Some very specific skills, like Whirlwind (Guardian’s Greatsword #2), also benefit from being used “inside” your character as it makes all the created projectiles hit him, increasing your final damage output.
Another matter of taste; I personally think “Enemies Only” is a nice mid term.
Standard Enemy Models
Recommendation: Enable it. It makes all characters on ranked PvP matches look like humans wearing cultural armor, which are tremendously easier to “read” (as in, see and recognize animations) than small Asura, for example. Feel free to disable it once you get more comfortable with the game.
That’s it, folks! I congratulate all those who got this far into this post, as it’s a pretty long one. Since it’s meant to help people, feel free to suggest/comment on the subject but please keep it constructive. I hope it helped you, and welcome to the game!