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I never played GW1 and I didn't play GW2 at all during beta. I did very little research into the game and it's mechanics. I prepurchased the game based on:
1) ANets reputation and manifesto
2) Lack of Trinity
5) Art Direction
I do enjoy the game quite a bit, and criticisms of the game shouldn't be seen as disliking the game.
EDIT: My experience is on a Charr Warrior
The character creator was great and unexpected. I'm hoping that I'll be able to alter my character at some point as I was eager to get into the game.
Character Movement and Combat:
I had to set the camera movement to the max and I'm still not 100% happy with the mouse movement. I believe I'd have to modify the OS setting at this point to make it faster. I like having FPS style movement of the mouse where a short flick rotates my character 180 degrees quickly.
My biggest peeve at the moment is the character jump. It jsut doesn't feel right to me, although I haven't had too much trouble getting to the vistas. I just don't feel like the character jumps soon enough after I hit the key.
The dodge mechanic is interesting but I haven't had to use it yet. I don't think it would do a lot of good in WvWvW, from my brief experience. 1v1 or Arena is likely where it is most handy, and I assume later in the game for PvE.
Other than the dodge mechanic, it feels very much like other MMOs.
Questing and Dynamic Events:
I definitely love the fact that you don't have to manage a quest log. When you are in an area with a "quest giver" it automatically appears on screen with your progress. When you leave the area it no longer appears but your progress is saved. This is great.
Dynamic events behave in the same way, except that there's also a designation on the map to tell you where it is. At times I get the notification for a DE but don't know where it actually is due to either being too far away or in an area I haven't explored.
The dynamic events really aren't anything special, atleast the ones I've seen, but they are definitely an improvement over finding NPCs with exclamation points on their heads.
I love the fact that nobody tags a mob. If you contribute enough to the kill you get EXP and loot.
I also like the fact that resource nodes allow multiple people to harvest them.
I was only there for a level and a half, mainly because I finished the starting area and felt I was behind too much in levels. It felt like a zergfest, but I enjoyed classic AV in WOW and that was as well. Their engine is far superior to that of LOTRO and SWTOR in handling lots of people. But my rig certainly struggled at times. Being a melee character made things difficult when either attacking or defending a gate. I felt gimped by not having ranged attacks. (Edit: I wasn't aware that warriors could be effective from range when I wrote this.) My next character will probably be a ranger and so if that's my main issue, it's easily rectified.
I'd say this is the weakest, but also the least important part of the game. The voice overs aren't anywhere near the quality of SWTOR and I've been skipping a lot of the dialog. This is far from the focus of this game and so I don't really mind. I'd say they are about on par with the LOTRO epic quest line.
In the end, it's still a very enjoyable leveling experience. My hope is that either each race has a unique path (series of zones) to level in or that we are given choices of where to go (such as the two continents in starter WOW).