A hero is an NPC who can be added to a party to act in place of a player. Heroes become available through specific quests, usually in Guild Wars Nightfall or Guild Wars Eye of the North (each can also be unlocked for PvP using Balthazar faction, but there is no longer a practical reason to do so, except for Training Arena). Although similar to henchmen, the player can customize a hero's skills, attributes, and equipment. A player may also control the skill activation, location, and default behavior of the hero.
Heroes are required for the storyline in Nightfall and Eye of the North PvE content.
To add a hero to a party, it must first be unlocked or earned.
- PvP: A hero can be unlocked for a player's account by using Balthazar faction points or after any character unlocks the hero during PvE storyline.
- PvE: A character unlocks a hero by completing specific, storyline quests.
- Acquisition notes
- In PvE, each character must complete the requisite quests to unlock each hero.
- Heroes unlocked via Priest of Balthazar are available for all PvP-only characters on the player's account; however, heroes can no longer be used in PvP (with the exception of Isle of the Nameless (PvP) and Training Arena).
- Unlocking heroes also unlocks a number of skills for the account (specifically, those the hero begins with).
 Adding to a party
- Heroes are sorted by profession in the selection drop-down menu and party search window.
- A single player can add up to seven different heroes to the party, dependent on the party's maximum size and how many others are in it.
If a hero of the same name is added twice, only one of the NPCs gets the unique name, any others are renamed to another generic name. For example, if Koss is added to a party twice one Koss would be renamed to "Sunspear Warrior;" the Koss which retains the name is used for quest and mission dialogue.
- See also: Hero armor
Players can customize heroes in four ways:
- By choosing the inventory used by the hero, specifically runes, insignias, and weapons.
- By choosing the skills the hero uses.
- By customizing any offensive weapon, so that it deals 20% more damage.
- By upgrading the armor of the hero.
Inventory can be changed in much the same way as you change your own character's kit: open the inventory panel, select the hero's portrait, and drag the appropriate weapons and/or double-click the desired runes/insignias to apply them to the hero's paper doll. For some heroes, their default weapons cannot be placed into storage.
Open the Skills and Attributes Panel, select the hero's portrait, and update the skills and attributes just as you would for your own character. You can also save and use skill templates for the hero; however, similar to PvP-only characters, heroes only have access to skills that you have unlocked on your account, including elite skills. Similarly, they cannot use PvE-only skills.
Heroes can use weapons customized to the character that controls them, but not those customized to any other character (not even Mercenary Heroes named after that character). By default, heroes come equipped with weapons customized in this way. Mercenaries are like any other hero: they can only use the weapons customized to their owner, but not to the character after which they were named.
Hero armor does not need to be crafted or replaced. It is set at a armor rating suitable for the hero's level and automatically increases in armor rating with the hero level. The armor cannot be destroyed by salvaging, so any runes or insignias put into the armor will always be recoverable.
 Not everything can be customized
Not all aspects of the hero can be customized:
- You cannot change the primary profession (except for Razah).
- You cannot alter the color of the armor.
- Heroes cannot wear costumes.
- You cannot alter the hero's name or their animal companion's name.
Although you can create mercenaries with your choice of each of the above, once the mercenary exists, they act like ordinary heroes; you can no longer alter their primary profession, armor color, costumes, or name (unless you delete that particular mercenary and start over).
 Monitoring and controlling
Basic information on a hero can be accessed when outside a town or outpost using the hero control panel. This panel can be used to set combat mode and control skill usage of the hero. Clicking on a skill in a hero's skill bar will instruct the hero to use that skill as soon as possible, on the currently selected target, if applicable. Holding down the Control (Ctrl) button while clicking will call out the skill you are using to the chat window.
The hero control panel can be opened and closed from the party window by selecting the button to the left of the hero name. The panel can be moved by dragging it to its new position. The state and position of the panels are saved by the game client.
You can see on the hero panel:
- the hero's name and picture.
- the hero's health and energy.
- a means to select and see the combat modes of the hero.
- a small skill bar for this character. This displays skill activation and recharge.
- a crosshair icon that can be used to lock the hero's target. If the hero is holding a bundle, this icon causes them to drop it instead.
Directly under the panel, you can see the hero's Morale Boost or Death Penalty and any conditions, hexes, enchantments, chants, shouts or other skills affecting that hero. Ctrl-clicking these effects will also call it out to the chat window.
The compass for a player controlling a hero features four flag controls; one for each of the first three heroes and an "all heroes and henchmen" flag. Any heroes beyond the third can be flagged with the all flag. On the party window each hero is given a number to the left of the name, this corresponds to the numbers on the compass.
A player can select the flag control from the bottom of the compass by clicking once and click on the compass area, Mission Map or on the terrain to instruct the hero or heroes to move to the location given. The heroes will return to the player's location when the player removes the flag by double-clicking on the flag control or clicking the red "x" on the compass control.
The general behavior of the hero can be controlled by selecting one of the combat modes available on the hero panel: fight, guard or avoid combat. Generally speaking in fight mode the hero will actively and aggressively seek combat, in guard mode the hero will stick to a specific area (if flagged) or stick near the player (if not flagged) and attack if attacked or told to attack, and in avoid combat mode play a defensive role and will neither attack nor activate skills that target foes, but will use skills that target or affect allies.
The hero's AI determines when skills are used, but the routine can be interrupted by clicking on a skill on the hero's skill bar in the hero control panel. By clicking on a skill, the skill is prioritized and a green check mark appears on the skill until it is activated. The hero will not use any other skills until successfully using that skill which can be a problem if there is no target or he cannot reach the target. When activating the skill the hero will attempt to use it on the selected target, foe or ally, if appropriate.
The player can prevent the hero from using a skill automatically by shift-clicking on the skill icon in the hero's skill panel. This does not prevent the player from activating that skill manually.
 In PvE
Heroes play an important role in the stories of Nightfall and Eye of the North. As the player progresses through the storyline they perform quests which grant access to heroes. Often a hero needs to be included in the party to access or complete certain quests or missions. Heroes can often have special dialogue in quests and missions, especially if they are compulsorily involved, and may sometimes chip in with comments when they are in a party even if they are not required for the mission or quest.
Some heroes obtained in PvE may not start off at the maximum level and need to be included in a party and gain experience just like a player character. Heroes will also gain experience if they are in the party when experience is rewarded for completing a quest. Similar to henchmen, heroes take a portion of the loot.
 Kitting out
Fully equipping all available heroes in PvE is an expensive exercise.
While maximum equipment for heroes is not strictly required for PvE, it does offer benefits to players willing to invest. A full set of well-equipped heroes is useful in PvE, especially in hard mode, where a well-designed team with complementary skills can vastly improve the player's chances of successfully clearing an area for the Vanquisher title.
 Easy leveling strategies
These suggestions are for Nightfall heroes only; all heroes in Eye of the North already have level 20 at recruiting.
- Heroes can enter hard mode without being level 20; take advantage of this when doing faction farming.
- Heroes can use Junundu before level 20 without any health or energy penalties; however, their armor ratings will be lower, and they will deal less damage with skills that are affected by armor.
- Use scrolls to help improve the amount of experience earned per kill.
- Repeating the quest A Show of Force with the above strategies will result in very fast leveling of heroes.
- Add the heroes you wish to level up into your party before accepting quest rewards.
 Cheap equipment strategies
A hero with sub-par equipment is better than a hero with no equipment at all. Some of the following methods allows you to sacrifice something other than money to have heroes ready for battle.
- Free equipment
- Live off the land, waiting until you find items via drops; this costs nothing, but is riskier, since it extends the amount of time you are fighting with poorly-equipped heroes.
- Use promotional weapons. (You can use the same item for as many heroes as you like by repeating the /bonus command after equipping the previous one.)
- Collector weapons are essentially free, if you have collected the requisite trophies.
- The Bonus Mission Pack can offer a small series of free weapons early on.
- Low-cost alternatives
- Develop only a few heroes at a time; this limits your flexibility, but ensures you always have a few well-equipped heroes.
- Share equipment across heroes and across characters. Weapons can be swapped for free, but runes/insignias cost about 16 per swap.
- Buy cheap runes/insignias: most armor upgrades cost 100, so if you cannot afford the best runes/insignias, buy the cheapest.
 Recruitment by region
| Acolyte Jin or Acolyte Sousuke|
(optional, mutually exclusive until campaign completion)
| Margrid the Sly or Master of Whispers|
(mutually exclusive until campaign completion)
|Vabbi|| Goren or Norgu|
(optional, mutually exclusive until campaign completion)
|Realm of Torment|| Goren, Acolyte Jin, Margrid the Sly, Master of Whispers, Norgu, Acolyte Sousuke|
| () Razah|
(optional; starts off as a Ritualist, but can change profession)
|Eye of the North|
|Far Shiverpeaks||Ogden Stonehealer, Vekk|
| Xandra, Kahmu|
|Charr Homelands||Pyre Fierceshot|
|Tarnished Coast|| Hayda|
|Requires Prophecies and Nightfall|
|Requires Factions and Nightfall|
|Kaineng City|| Zenmai|
|Requires Prophecies and Eye of the North|
|Far Shiverpeaks|| Keiran Thackeray|
|Kaineng City|| Miku|
| Initiate Zei Ri|
|Requires Prophecies, Factions, and Nightfall|
 Selection strategies
Selecting which unlocked heroes to use for your party can be tricky, and it is made harder when you have to choose between two mutually exclusive heroes to recruit. There are two basic strategies: choosing by profession (to help balance your team or learn skills) or how quickly you can unlock the heroes.
 Choosing by profession
Here are some things to consider:
- Starting skills matter in the beginning. There are three cases in Nightfall where you must choose one hero over another resulting in four outcomes with duplicate professions. However, these heroes will have different beginning builds. For new players (with few skills unlocked), it can be wise to consider the two builds before selecting:
- Acolyte Sousuke vs Acolyte Jin:
- Vekk/Zhed vs Acolyte Sousuke: Zhed specializes in Water Magic and Earth Magic, allowing defense through snares and wards; Vekk specializes in damage-intensive anti-melee Air Magic; and Sousuke specializes in damage-intensive area of effect Fire Magic.
- Pyre/Margrid vs Acolyte Jin: Pyre has Savage Shot; Jin has Kindle Arrows; Margrid has Apply Poison.
- Master of Whispers vs Margrid the Sly:
- Pyre/Jin vs Margrid the Sly: If you have Jin or Pyre for another character, Margrid might be a better choice (to pick up the extra skill)
- Livia/Olias vs Master of Whispers: Both Livia and Olias focuses on Blood Magic and has some Death Magic (notably: minion skills); Master of Whispers focuses on Curses, with some Blood Magic.
- Goren vs Norgu:
- Jora/Koss vs Goren: Both Jora and Koss uses Swordsmanship and Tactics, each providing Bleeding; Goren uses Hammer Mastery and Tactics, providing a conditional knock down.
- Gwen vs Norgu: Gwen specializes in Domination Magic and Inspiration Magic; Norgu specializes in Illusion Magic, with some Inspiration Magic.
- All Heroes vs Razah:
- Acolyte Sousuke vs Acolyte Jin:
- Be aware of the capabilities of the henchmen available and customize your heroes accordingly. For example: Aidan lacks interrupts, Nightfall monks do not have hex removal, and there are no minion master henchmen available in Elona.
- Balance in a party is generally a good thing; for a new account (with few skills unlocked), balancing often means choosing heroes from different professions. Later, as a more experienced player, you can find good reason for overlap (e.g. Discordway teams use 3+ Necromancers).
 Choosing by effort required
An alternative way to consider selecting heroes is how quickly you can complete the necessary quests to unlock them.
- Quick or effortless acquisition
These heroes are unlocked early in the storyline:
- Nightfall: Koss, Dunkoro, Melonni, Tahlkora, and either Acolyte Jin or Acolyte Sousuke
- Eye of the North: Gwen, Vekk, Ogden
- Core: M.O.X.
- Moderate effort required
These heroes require more effort, but can be obtained well before completing most of the storyline.
- Prophecies: Olias
- Factions: Zenmai
- Eye of the North:
- Significant effort required; no shortcuts
These heroes are available late or after campaign completion; they require considerable time investment, with no possible shortcuts:
- Eye of the North: Anton (requires following a long quest sequence)
- Beyond: Keiran, Miku, Initiate Zei Ri
- In dialogues, hero almost always refers to a heroic person, e.g. the player's character.
- Heroes gain attribute points at the same rate as a player character, except they receive 15 additional points at level 10 and at level 15.
- The 29 standard heroes are almost evenly divided across professions:
- One each: Variable profession
- Two each: Mesmer, Ritualist
- Three each: Warrior, Ranger, Monk, Elementalist, Necromancer, Assassin, Dervish, and Paragon
- Most of the heroes are human; the exceptions are:
- Jora - Norn
- M.O.X. - Golem
- Ogden Stonehealer - Dwarf
- Pyre Fierceshot - Charr
- Vekk - Asura
- Zhed Shadowhoof - Centaur
- Razah - protomatter from the Mists (Although Razah is not considered human in lore, the game treats it as a human for all game mechanics; in particular, it will transfer disease to humans.)
- When zoning into an outpost or town, the following dialogue will appear in team chat if any hero in the party has over half of their total attribute points unspent:
- <Hero name>: "I have <number> unspent attribute points. Open the Skills and Attributes panel (<key assigned to "Panel: Open Skills and Attributes">) and select me to spend my attribute points and increase the effectiveness of my skills."
- The October 29, 2009 update removed heroes from PvP (with the exception of Isle of the Nameless (PvP) and Training Arena). According to Andrew Patrick, removing the ability to have heroes in the party for Zaishen Challenge and Zaishen Elite "was an unintended side-effect of removing them from other PvP formats." (source)