The Survivor title is one of only two titles whose progress may be forever halted, thus making the title unattainable for that character (the other being Defender of Ascalon). To obtain the title, one must earn a certain amount of experience without dying (the /deaths command must remain 0).
In order for a death to count, damage or degeneration must take the character to 0 Health. Thus, most forced deaths do not count against the title, although some (especially death during the final cutscene of the Vizunah Square mission) have been bugged in the past. The best advice is to simply avoid all kinds of "death" whenever possible (skip all cutscenes, don't walk into the Sulfurous Haze, don't use /resign, etc.). Other deaths which do not count include:
- Deaths during the Bonus Mission Pack missions, as you are not actually playing your character during these.
- Being "knocked out" during the Dwarven Boxing quests is not a death, simply a long knockdown. However, should you fail to refill your energy with STAND UP! before the end of the count, you will die.
Note that you do not lose your Survivor progress if you die, but you will be unable to progress it any further.
The experience levels for the various tiers of the title are as follows:
Title Experience gained without dying: Average hours of play (based on 1) Survivor 140,600 Indomitable Survivor 587,500 52 Legendary Survivor
The Survivor title is achieved at level 20. The higher titles seem to be gained near "virtual" levels 50 and 100, although Legendary is off slightly to align with the "leet" aspect. After achieving the last tier of the title, the number on the progress bar will continue to update until you experience your first death.
While these numbers may seem daunting to achieve, there are ways to improve both your survivability and speed.
Practice makes perfect
Nothing will improve your ability to survive better than playing the game before attempting the title. Battle tactics and build strategies improve, thus enemy mobs die faster. You also begin to memorize skills enemies use and the best way to counter them. You also learn to recognize a losing battle and how to react before falling dead.
If you want to survive, know what you're up against. Learn how each mission operates before trying to take your Survivor through. Many explorable areas and missions have tricks and traps that can easily doom an unsuspecting character. With practice, you'll notice missions that you used to fail over and over are no longer as hard. Read the associated wiki pages to pick up tips and tricks others have found to make missions easier and try them with another character until you feel comfortable with them.
Leave an escape route. While it may be tempting to logout when it looks like death is near, your character may be sitting on the server for a few seconds helplessly being attacked and perhaps killed before the final cutoff message is processed. Also, most players do not appreciate their team mates quitting. Learn to leave plenty of running room, perhaps killing enemies you might otherwise be able to avoid just to make sure you have somewhere to run in a later battle. With practice, you'll learn to recognize when things are turning for the worse and when to pull back.
Note: Calling targets will make you the prime focus of the enemies initial attacks in most PvE situations. This can prove especially challenging for players who use henchmen rather than other players as party members, as you have to initiate combat. If you are the target caller, you will need to target foes, and pull back immediately after the first hit (leaving team mates to absorb the melee assault, and minimize the damage you take from casters and rangers). Preparation is not an option; it is a necessity. Leave yourself a clear escape route, and be prepared to use it at any given moment. A safe way to call targets/aggro is to use any longbow so that your henches/heroes will move in while you are still more than one aggro bubble away from the mobs. Be mindful of teammates' positions, and hold your retreat once you are out of the main fight, to provide some support for your team mates, henchmen and/or minions. This approach may not be acceptable to many players in your group, so it is a good idea to confirm your intentions with your team before venturing into combat. Alternatively, It would be better to simply avoid being in a group that requires you to call targets.
- Calling targets using Ctrl + Shift + Space [attack/interact(do it) button] will not make you initiate combat, as it does not automatically do an attack. If using henchmen, depending on your distance from the enemy, they will run in and attack the target.
The monster AI is very predictable, and you can use that to your advantage. In addition to target calling there are various other things that make you a more or less lucrative target in the eyes of the monsters. Having high armor and high HP usually makes you a less salient target, as does some form of health regeneration. However, having the highest HP in the team makes you the primary target of necromancers with Grenth's Balance, an extremely dangerous skill for survivors. Also, health regeneration from an enchantment is easily drained, or even worse, shattered. Hence skills like Mending Refrain are safer for the purpose. Concerning positioning at the battlefield, monsters prefer to use their AoE skills on larger concentrations of opponents. Therefore it's advisable to keep some distance to everybody else whenever AoE damage dealing monsters are around. This may be tricky when adventuring with heroes / henchmen which have a tendency to ball around the player.
Also, make sure the conditions outside the game are right. Playing while tired, intoxicated, when you're likely to be interrupted or distracted by Real Life events, or when your computer has recently started to spontaneously crash, is a proven way of significantly reducing the life expectancy of your survivor.
Choose your companions wisely
If you want to stay alive, you'll need dependable teammates to help you through. Even the best players will fall if not properly supported. You do not know the skill level of most of the players in the game, so if you join a random group, you may be placing your character's life in the hands of someone inexperienced. Thus, it is recommended to travel with a group of friends, guild mates, or alliance mates you trust. Let them know you are going for the Survivor title and thus want to avoid any risky maneuvers. If starting a fresh character, friends may also want to try for the title as well and thus you can put together a group of trusted individuals with the same goal.
For those comfortable with using them, Henchmen can also provide reliable and predictable support. The introduction of Heroes has meant that you can now customize your companions to your advantage. e.g. Olias can be configured as a Minion Master and can provide you with an entire army of minions. While the Henchmen AI is notorious for poor decision making at times, it does operate in a very predictable manner. They always follow the player, follow targets quite well and usually disengage from battle when the player runs away. However, to use them effectively requires a good amount of practice in itself, as you act as a commander in battle as well as a participant in it (see note on calling targets). Henchmen healers also have an advantage over human monks because they have instant reflexes and usually start casting the healing spell that could save your life before a human ally would. Some prefer to use the positioning flags for Heroes and Henchmen to allow them to keep a safe distance from danger. In such cases, party-wide spells such as necrotic orders or Heal Party may still be used to assist them.
Summoning stones provide free extra allies which have the added benefit of not sharing experience with the player.
The Hero M.O.X. is available starting at level 10, and as he comes at level 20, he will likely be more powerful than the henchmen available at the time.
The Kournan quest Old Woman River poses a very real threat to a Survivor zoning into The Floodplain of Mahnkelon from Kodonur Crossroads as you will spawn in the middle of a very large group of enemy Kournans who will immediately start attacking you.
Choose your role
Depending on your profession, different play styles may increase your risk. A front line assassin is at much greater risk getting caught in multiple Afflicted Soul Explosions than the same profession playing a A/R Critical Barrager. Likewise a necromancer with touch skills is much more likely to be overwhelmed by melee foes than a minion master who has an army of undead meat shields. Learn what you can do with your profession to reduce the general risk of dying while still making yourself an asset to the team.
Stay ahead of the game
Do not be cheap or impatient with a survivor character. It is very well in the best interest of a character aiming for survivor title to take their time leveling up, and to have the highest possible armor.
If your character is a few levels ahead of heroes/henchmen/other players in the party, and has a higher armor level, then they will nearly always be at the bottom of the target list for foes. The advantage of level and armor is gone by level 20, but until then, take advantage of it as much as possible.
Never go AFK
While this may seem an obvious point, it should still be mentioned. When in an explorable zone, NEVER go away from your keyboard, not even for a minute. While areas in-zone may appear to be clear of enemies, patrols can come by when you least expect it. Stepping AFK to grab a drink, go to the bathroom, answer the phone, etc. can EASILY bring doom to potential survivors. Stay at your keyboard at all times.
Tips on gaining experience
- Scrolls: These will give you extra experience while adding no more risk to your battles for a moderate cost in gold.
- Elite skill captures: At 5,000 xp each, a mere 20 elites will give you 100,000 towards your title provided you are level 20 at the time you start capturing, which you should be in all four game areas. Note that you can even double that amount during Double XP Elite Weekends. Once you can change your secondary, constantly swap it to capture what you can. You can also earn the skill hunter titles along with the survivor ones. This method can also be expensive so you might not want to capture too many unnecessary elite skills at first.
- Augury Rock (mission): Aim to complete this mission, as it is unique with a 50,000 xp reward. Note: You will not receive the 50,000 xp reward if you have already completed the Nahpui Quarter (mission) in Cantha or the Hunted! quest in Elona. Make sure you read the associated Guide to defeating doppelganger before attempting it with an unfamiliar class.
- Raze the Roost: This quest has a high 10,000 xp reward at the cost of two platinum.
- Befriending the Luxons and Befriending the Kurzicks both reward 10,000 xp, and the work may be done with other characters on your account.
- Reduce your group size: If you travel with a smaller group, you will gain more experience per kill. Keep in mind this may greatly increase the chance of death, and probably will increase how long it takes your group per kill, so only do so at your own risk. This method is seriously not very efficient for working towards your title.
- Hard Mode: Pretty much the same as decreasing your party size. It decreases your chances of living but yields more experience, so if you're confident in yourself, then feel free to try it.
- Blessings: Shrines of the Five Gods are all over the place in both Factions and Nightfall campaigns. Blessings can greatly increase your combat efficiency and survivability, making farming with low party sizes or even solo a more viable venture and paying for themselves at the same time. Take advantage of them whenever you can.
- Quest hoarding: Experience from monster kills is relative to your own level, while experience from quests and missions is always flat. If you delay accepting quest rewards until level 20, you will have slightly more experience than someone who immediately accepts all rewards. However, this may also cause you to be a lower level for longer, thus slightly increasing the risk. After level 20, there is no reason to do this.
- Farming: After all the missions and quests are done, find a place and build you can use to safely gain experience. Methods include performing Repeatable Quests or finding a group of high-level critters you can consistently kill (such as the Mountain Trolls in Talus Chute). This is most likely the most boring method(but you may gain a good amount of gold doing so), so it is highly recommended to find alternate means of gaining experience first.
- Another good alternative is the Luxon repeatable quest The Jade Arena. With practice you can easily gain 2000xp, 400 Luxon faction and 150gp every 2-3 minutes for as long as your patience lasts. The Kurzick have a similar quest called Duel of the Houses, but it tends to be more time consuming, although you might prefer it if you want to build up a stock of amber. Read the guides before trying out these quests for the first time, it is possible to die due to carelessness and poor judgment.
- Quests from Factions: For an easy way to get from level 12+ to 17+, you can complete a number of quests obtainable from Kaineng Center. If completed in a certain order, you can gain a lot of levels in a short space of time. Using level 20 Henchmen makes it easily possible to do the quests without dying.
- Although it may seem to be the opposite, the Fissure of Woe is actually a good place to rack up experience. Even though it's considered one of the more elite areas in the game, an experienced player, especially in a fairly well-balanced group, has a very high rate of survival there. If you don't trust PUGs, get a guild group started, and possibly plan out consistent FoW runs with your guild or with a friend. (2 humans + 6 heroes) Clearing the whole realm can grant upwards of 120,000 exp.
- The campaign you start out in affects how you get the title. For example, in Cantha, you start out 2 missions away from the mainland, where there is lots of easy exp available. In Tyria, you basically have to go through Ascalon and the Northern Shiverpeaks to get to the Canthan mainland. In Nightfall, you may avoid most battles on Istan, and make it to Cantha quickly. You also acquire heroes on Istan, which are far superior to the henchmen available in outposts.
- The guidelines are fairly simple: If you have Nightfall, get your heroes as fast as possible. Reaching Kaineng Center in Factions or Lion's Arch in Prophecies will give you access to the missions to head to Kamadan. These quests are also dangerous as you can face level 20 mobs, Torment Claws and meteor showers so it is advisable to read up on the Sunspears in Kryta and Sunspears in Cantha quest guides and test them with an expendable character first.
- Helping Galen Trask in Sorrow's Furnace with the repeatable Summit Slaves quest will grant you approximately 22,500 experience an hour and is both safe and easy. When choosing which subquests to take from Krak Flamewhip, do not take Fire in the Hole, as it is more deadly than beneficial. Also, make sure you do not take the subquest Wrenches in the Gears before slaying all of the dredge in Sorrow's Belly (where Tharn Stonerift stands).
- One of the fastest (and perhaps safest) ways of gaining experience in the game is by participating in Kilroy Stonekin's Punch-Out Extravaganza!. In normal mode, you can easily gain more than 7k experience in kills and 2.5k as reward, or about 10k experience in less than 10 minutes. This goes as high as 17k in hard mode. The experience gained can further be boosted by the use of scrolls (which drop frequently from Lieutenant Mahgma, a dwarven boss). Keep in mind however that you have to recover after each knockdown by pressing the appropriate skill key or the death WILL BE COUNTED! See below for full details.
- If you are using Scroll of the Lightbringer, you gain around 15-17.5k (NM) 30-40k (HM) xp per run (+2.5k from the quest). Starting from level 20, you can get legendary in under 30 runs.
- Since the game updates on the 6th December 2007 you can now access the Eye of the North once you have reached level 10. Until you reach level 20 you will receive a Journey to the North buff that boosts your armor and attributes. The monsters in the Eye of the North are level 20+, killing these will generate large amounts of XP whilst you are below level 20. This buff will also assist with Kilroy Stonekin's Punch-Out Extravaganza! (see above).
Warning about lag
The survivor titles have been jokingly referred to as a second Lucky title due to the belief by many that you are more likely to lose this title due to lag than you are by lack of skill when trying. Even though the game is instanced, a player can still (and many often do) experience lag in a solo instance with no other players in it. The belief that a solo instance operates solely on your own computer is incorrect.
Lag may cause you to think you have more health than the game server believes you have. So, it may seem to you that you are moving away with 1/4 health, the server may reckon you have been hit by attacks and a few seconds later, you find your character dead. If the game is laggy, account for this in your encounters and fights with monsters and make a bigger buffer of health than usual at which you would consider fleeing from an encounter.
In some instances, players have reported they had a great deal of health while mapping or logging out, only to have a death when they logged in or entered the new map. This is likely due to the disparity in true health and displayed health. As such, you should keep in mind that many types of farming are not guaranteed as 'safe'. Having high health regeneration and other kinds of protective effects, as well as having other party members - especially healers - around may increase the chance that your character survives the time it takes the server to process your logout request.
A computer freezing up while in the middle of a mob can also result in death; even if your health is stuck showing 100% on the screen of the computer that just crashed. For the best chance of success, try upgrading your hardware and getting a reliable computer before attempting this title.
Although you may try to recover your title by contacting arena net after losing it due to lag or a computer crash, generally this will not happen- due to difficulty to prove exactly what happened, and what caused the error. There are very little, to no reported instances of restored survivor titles after this tragically.
Be sure to check to see if ArenaNet is preforming any kind of server maintence, since these kinds of period of server maintence would make survivor title difficult due to lag.
A note on Grenth's Balance
Most enemies tend to target party members with low health/armor, so you'll most likely want your health as high as possible. Be warned, however, because foes with Grenth's Balance will target the party member with the most health, often resulting in your losing two or three hundred health at once.
Equipping skills like Endure Pain, Illusion of Weakness, and Generous Was Tsungrai that can give you a huge health boost in an emergency are a great way to get that little extra that may be needed in some battles. Wearing armor and weapons with +health modifiers often make the difference between surviving and not, especially against unavoidable elementalist and ritualist bosses in missions that can do more than half your health in damage in one shot. Having a monk as a secondary profession if you're not already a primary monk is also a very very good idea. Skills like Protective Spirit can be the difference between life and death though you have to watch out for mesmer bosses who can shatter or remove the enchantment. If all else fails: hit the F12 key immediately followed by Enter to log out of the game rapidly... this method seems to be a touch faster than Alt-F4. Another good strategy is rebinding the logout key to a more accessible button for fast access.
Please note that if you Alt-F4 out of the game your character can still be seen as "logged in" by the servers for over 30 seconds. So it is possible to die after the game has already been closed. Therefore it may be safer to map to a nearby outpost or city, or to your Guild Hall, even if that requires more effort on behalf of the player. The F12-Enter key combination also seems to keep you logged in, but not nearly as long as the Alt-F4 key combination.
The Guild Hall Escape can be more effective than the F12-Enter combination and is probably the fastest escape method. This is because you never logout and don't have to worry about your connection with the server. Lag can still occur, but it is much less than other escape methods. Unlike map-travel you never have to open the map window to travel somewhere (as this can sometimes be to slow when trying to survive). You can have the Guild menu ("g") open at any time and just hit the "Guild Hall" button within seconds (followed by a quick "Enter" if you are in a party with other players, clarifying you wish to leave).
Due to a new feature introduced in the game, if the computer or the game experiences a crash, or the internet connection is disrupted, your character remains on the server for up to 10 minutes, in the same instance, so be mindful of your progress and try to pull as few enemies as possible, to insure that your party will be able to keep you alive until you can log back in the game.
Solo Survivor Guide with GW:EN
A full guide can be found here.
A Narrated Video Guide can be found here.