Generally, wave energy resource assessment and characterization are performed based on an entire wave spectrum, ignoring the detailed energy features that belong to wave systems, i.e., wind waves and swells. In reality, the energy is separately possessed by multiple wave systems, propagating at different directions and velocities. Therefore, it is the wave system that is the most fundamental unit of the wave energy resource. Although detailed analyses of wind waves and swells can be conducted via wave system partitioning, operational assessment methods that can reveal the detailed wave energy characteristics of wave systems still deserve further development. Following a two-step partitioning procedure, this paper presents an improved approach to the characterization of wave energy resources based on grouped wave systems. Wave systems classified as the same group are consistent in terms of propagation direction, velocity, and other characteristics of wave energy, but these characteristics between the groups are obviously different. Therefore, in comparison with the traditional method, the new approach can reveal more comprehensive and more detailed characteristics of the wave energy resource in terms of (i) wind-sea and swell components, (ii) directionality, and (iii) wave conditions; details that represent valuable information for the improvement of the performance of wave energy converter devices and the optimization of the layout of device arrays in wave farms.