I’m not a big racing game person. Sure, I played my fair share of Mario Kart 64 back in the day, but beyond that, I’m just not that into that kind of high-speed, track-memorizing gameplay. So when Guild Wars 2 introduced roller beetle racing back in 2018, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Recently, however, I was mapping Gendarran Fields on a new character when I ran across the race adventure there and figured I would give it a shot. After struggling to get bronze, I took a quick look at the reward vendor, and quickly decided that my Holosmith needed those cool goggles and scarf.
Your afterburner is a speedometer
If you want a more objective way to see how fast your beetle is rolling, rather than just “this feels faster,” check out the booster on the back of your beetle’s hovering saddle. The warmer the color, the faster you’re going. Because the afterburner glows so brightly, especially when boosting, you may want to turn off postprocessing effects, which tends to wash out lighting effects like this one, making it hard to see the color. You can find postprocessing dropdown box about three fourths of the way down on the graphics options menu.
“Disable Conditional Mount Movement Ability Input”
While you’re in the setting menu, look for this checkbox. For the most part, using spacebar to long jump with your raptor or hover with your skimmer is convenient. Yes, you can use the V key to do these things, but the spacebar is something we’re used to using frequently, and feels intuitive since most of the movement abilities are some variation on jumping up or forward. However, with the roller beetle, spacebar can be a boost if your endurance bar is full, a short hop if it is not, or a trick of you’re in the air. Sometimes, you think you’re going to boost, but you end up jumping a bit, which can mess up your speed or turning. Similarly, I’ve sometimes tried to do a trick as soon as I left a ramp, and ended up wasting a perfectly good boost because I timed it too early. That’s where this option comes in handy. It disables boosting with the spacebar, and makes spacebar always either jumping or tricks, leaving boosting to only be activated by the V key. Depending on how strong your muscle memory is for boosting with spacebar, this disambiguation of inputs might help or hurt, but it’s worth trying. The Disable Conditional Mount Movement Ability Input checkbox can be found at the bottom of the General Options menu.
Another settings change that might help make racing more intuitive is action camera. This toggle is kind of like always holding down your right mouse button, so your character turns wherever your camera is pointed. You will have to bind this to a key to use it (I use C personally, but you may have another preference). It’s very helpful for jumping puzzles too!
Drift as little as possible
Drifting by pressing the C key will help you take corners tighter, but many players don’t realize just how much speed they lose while drifting. There are usually at least one or two hairpin turns in the Central Tyria races where you simply have to drift to avoid crashing into something, but other than that, you’re better off simply slowing down and/or leaning into the turn with your strafe key. You will turn tight enough, and actually lose less speed in the process. If you do have to drift, you can almost always get away with simply tapping C, rather than holding it through the whole turn, which will decrease the impact on your speed.
If you need practice learning to drift, by the way, I recommend heading to the beetle race in the Mad King’s Raceway, which appears every year with the Halloween event, which just so happens to have gone live today. It has a lot of hairpin turns, presenting a lot of opportunity to get a feel for how drifting works.
Try to stay grounded
While this is generally just good life advice, in the context of roller beetles, try to avoid hitting little bumps that might make you bounce. Not only do you lose a little speed for hitting them, but also your beetle loses most of its ability to turn or accelerate while in the air, so if you’re using a boost, it will be wasted, and you may miss a turn.
Only do tricks if you’re sure you can make it
With the Big Air mastery, players can do tricks while in the air to rapidly regenerate the endurance bar, shortening the time until the next boost. It’s a great way to cut a few seconds off of your lap time, but if you hit the ground while showing off, you will be penalized more endurance than you could have gained, so be sure you have enough time to finish the animation before hitting the ground. This might take a little practice, but it’s worth it.
If you’re still on the fence, perhaps you, like me, will be tempted by the rewards. For completing all of the Central Tyria races with a silver ranking or better 15 times, players are awarded the Racing Scarf, a shoulder piece with dye channels for three different stripes, unlocked for all three armor types. Completing all of the races at least once with a gold rank awards a golden racing scarf, which, despite being labeled “golden,” can be dyed any one color, and is much shinier than the normal version.
Completing race adventures each day, or competing in the race events which start every half hour, will award racing medallions. The race prizes vendor, located at the start of each of the Central Tyria race tracks, will exchange these medallions for racing goggles and racing helmet skins (the helmet, by the way, looks like a tiny roller beetle shell!), a mini roller beetle, and various endless tonics that will transform the player into a variety of cats, dogs, bears, chickens, and (clearly the best) dancing choya. A separate tab sells various track pieces that can be placed in guild halls to create custom raceways. I know there are some dedicated racing guilds out there that make great use of these, but I feel this is a good place to remind you how much I would love to have individual player housing in this game!
Roller beetle racing is a really unique, non-combat side activity. The various mount races introduced with Path of Fire were fun, but beetle racing takes the skill and speed involved to a whole new level. I would love to see more tracks, either added to existing maps or in upcoming Icebrood Saga and End of Dragons zones. And it seems I’m not the only one, as players have been making their own crazy races in guild halls and even in the open world with creative use of squad markers.
I hope these tips and tricks helped someone out, and maybe inspired someone to try racing for themselves. If you have any tips that I missed, please, share them with your fellow race fans down in the comments!