GW2: Crafting Answered!

Overview of Gathering
There are 4 major types of things you can gather in GW2:
- plants/herbs; depicted by a green bush type of node (for cooking)
- ore (for most weapon/armor crafting)
- leather (for light armor and ranged weapon crafting)
- wood (mostly for ranged weapon crafting/artificing)

While you can gather plants, ore and wood from nodes via tools (axes, sickles, pickaxes), you typically get leather from salvaging (via salvage kits) other items.

Like any MMO, gathering is important as a way to get the materials you need for crafting (duh, but it needs to be said). Otherwise you will need to spend alot of money buying it from the auction house. Both crafting and gathering skills are important as they upgrade your gear, have recipes that contain consumable buffs (to increases stats or experience gain), can be used to sell on auction house (for more money), and have achievements related to them. One of the best things about both crafting and gathering in GW2 is that you gain experience for it; if you max out a crafting skill, that will net you 10 levels. There are 80 levels in the game and 8 crafting skills, you do the math.

 Is gathering/crafting needed? 
If you want to gain levels faster, then yes. If you want to have more money.. maybe you don't want to craft. GW2 employs an interesting model for crafting; instead of buying a recipe from a merchant for the sole purpose of leveling your skill, you combine certain pieces of materials to form new recipes. If you're a very much a trial-and-error type of person, this will be for you. If you're the exact opposite, you'll hate crafting. If you want recipes, there are many websites with exact recipes.

Why are there so many materials?
Because there are many different kinds of weapons/armor/items that can be created. A crafted item can have many kinds of stat boosts (strength, vitality, toughness, precision, etc) and to make certain items, you need those specific materials. Depending on the level tier you're in, there are higher level versions of it. Ie. In tier 1, you may have 'tiny claws' while in tier 2 there will be 'small claws' while in tier 3 there will be 'claws.' Each type of claw providing greater boosts in strength.

Crafting in GW2 is different than other MMOs in that if you have the money, you can have every crafting profession; you can have 2 of 8 active at any time, but to switch, it costs a certain amount of money, depending on how many levels you have in it.
I've been told that Legendary weapons (the strongest weapons in the game) can only be used if you have the necessary crafting skills associated with them. Maybe they're bind on acquire. If you are hardcore and intend on getting Legendary weapons, then you'll need to invest the time/money to craft, otherwise you won't need to worry about it.

Remember: gathering can take up alot of your bag space (for cooking in particular), so always ensure you click on the gear icon in the top right of your bag window and select "Deposit Collectibles." You collectibles is a hidden bank in the sky that stores all your gathering mats that is share between all your characters and accessible from any crafting station.

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