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Teleportation skills like Lightning Flash, Blink, and Shadowstep* are extremely convenient and useful, however I oftentimes find myself falling victim to unspoken (or non-specific) limitations.

The known limitations are:

Teleport
Most skills only teleport the caster to locations normally accessible without jumping or falling. Attempts to teleport across a gap or between two elevations usually results in the caster moving to the edge of the current plateau, if the 2 platforms aren't directly connected or the walking distance is too far - in general, the teleport will work if the game can path a non-jumping route to the target location that is not too long.

Also:

Shadowstep
Shadowstepping allows the player to move vertically as long the position can be reached normally by moving on the ground without jumping. Trying to shadowstep up or through obstacles or across gaps will cause you to shadowstep to the edge if the target location is too far or unreachable by walking.

What exactly are the limitations?

  • How long is too long?
    • If there is a flat surface aside a ramp, how far is too far to teleport from directly beside the ramp to the top of the ramp?
    • Does it matter the total distance of the walkable path is or is there a radial limitation from the players position to the "turns" of the path? In other words, would a long but thin path curving above the player stop the teleportation?
  • Are there technical limitations?
    • Are there any issues with teleporting from prefabs (eg. rock formations, broken walls in WvW) to terrain like other games?
    • Are there locations in the game where teleport just doesn't work as an exception?
  • How are gaps handled?
    • Why can I teleport across from the ledge outside of Clock Tower in Battle of Kyhlo to the capture point and back? Does teleport work across gaps like a Mesmer Portal? Or is there a walkable path between these two points (likely not the boxes near the window since you need to jump on them to get out)?
  • What are the consequences of failure?
    • Does Lightning Flash still do damage to the selected location if the teleport is unsuccessful?
    • Will Shadowstep still allow the user to return to their previous location if the teleport is unsuccessful?

* Note: this question is only related to skills that work similarly to the ones mentioned. So, the limitations of Portal or Spectral Recall would probably be out of the scope.

  • I'd be tempted to pose this question in the discussion page of the wiki entry for Teleport, as it involved in-depth game mechanics. – David Yell Oct 14 '14 at 14:22
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    Yeah, but those guys don't have any points to look forward to. – KOVIKO Oct 14 '14 at 14:40
  • +1 to this question, these hidden limitations are especially annoying because many times you execute the skill/action and incur the cost(eg. init cost, skill cooldown etc.) while not getting its benefits which is complete bs. – greatwolf Dec 27 '14 at 23:11
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There isn't a clear distinction between teleports and shadowsteps in Guild Wars 2 because each skill's behavior can vary.

How long is too long?

  • If there is a flat surface aside a ramp, how far is too far to teleport from directly beside the ramp to the top of the ramp?

If the place you are trying to teleport to is within your maximum radial distance, you should be able to teleport there just fine, regardless of the ramp. Ramps that are a part of a wall in WvW are disjoint from the ground, so teleport skills cannot be used to go from the ground onto one, even though you can normally walk onto them.

  • *Does it matter the total distance of the walkable path is or is there a radial limitation from the players position to the "turns" of the path? In other words, would a long but thin path curving above the player stop the teleportation?*

Each teleport skill has a radial maximum distance. The total walkable distance does not matter, just the radial distance.

Are there technical limitations?

  • Are there any issues with teleporting from prefabs (eg. rock formations, broken walls in WvW) to terrain like other games?

If there is a continuous path, ie you could walk both ways between the start and end points without jumping, you can teleport there. For example, if you're standing on top of a pillar, you won't be able to teleport to the ground below. Broken walls in WvW aren't a problem for teleporting, although if one is reconstructed while you're standing where it should be, you can get trapped inside, and a teleport can be helpful for getting out.

  • Are there locations in the game where teleport just doesn't work as an exception?

I previously mentioned certain ramps in WvW not behaving as expected. There are also some places where you can shadowstep through walls, such as the clock tower that you mentioned in the next question. I haven't tested other teleport skills, but Infiltrator's Arrow can allow a thief to teleport from the ground outside into the clock tower by shooting it at the right height.

How are gaps handled?

  • Why can I teleport across from the ledge outside of Clock Tower in Battle of Kyhlo to the capture point and back? Does teleport work across gaps like a Mesmer Portal? Or is there a walkable path between these two points (likely not the boxes near the window since you need to jump on them to get out)?

Teleports cannot cross gaps. You are able to travel from the ledge outside of the clock tower onto the capture point because there is a continuous path down the ramp, onto the ground, into the tower, up the inside ramp, and onto the capture point. This is the same reason you can teleport from the ground below to the ramp.

What are the consequences of failure?

  • Does Lightning Flash still do damage to the selected location if the teleport is unsuccessful?

Lightning Flash is a single target attack, and will only damage your target if you successfully reach them.

  • Will Shadowstep still allow the user to return to their previous location if the teleport is unsuccessful?

Shadow Return's teleport and Shadowstep's teleport function independently. Either one can fail with no effect on the other.

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    This is a fantastic response! One clarification: what is the radial distance of the teleport skill? Is it the full length that the teleport can go in any direction (i.e. as far as the target circle is still green when I move my mouse around) or shorter than that? – KOVIKO Oct 14 '14 at 22:59
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    Yes, for ground targeted teleports the distance is as far as the target circle remains green. For enemy or ally targeted teleports, it's as far as you can go with your target selected and without the red bar appearing below the skill (as shown on the 5th skill here). Untargeted teleports, such as Shadow Return, state their maximum range in the description, but don't provide any obvious indication for how far is too far. If you're out of range for an untargeted teleport, it will teleport you its maximum range in the appropriate direction. – Brian Oct 15 '14 at 2:03

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