Thanks for the info guys. Can you answer a burning question before I buy?
My biggest gripe with 1.0 was how bland and boring the world was. There was essentially no small towns, no NPC's looking like they are doing anything, big open fields with floaty crystals, copy and pasted tile sets. Has square really taken the time to re-do the world? The world design was my favourite part of Guild Wars 2. It was amazing how interesting the world was with awesome features everywhere and then you go underwater and its an entirely different world. Truly amazing... unfortunately the game mechanics of GW2 are iffy and the writing/voice acting makes my ears bleed. Any thoughts on this guys?
Oh yeah man, definitely. It's a really brilliant, beautiful, and fairly interactive world with *tons* of quest-giver NPCs (granted, a lot of them are boring fetch quests, but....). It looks great, it's definitely not a lot of copypasta tilesets. There're some dramatic distinctions even within regions (compare Bronze Lake to the LN areas just outside of town for example) and a whole lot of cool scenery in general.
Voice acting's pretty good overall, but the scenes with spoken dialogue are *extremely* minimal. You'll very very rarely hear spoken dialogue, instead it's mostly on-screen. The writing is fine, and a few of the voice actors are actually pretty cool. I find the Merlwyb character design and voice acting in particular to be pretty awesome. The number of characters with voice actors is also pretty slim though. I don't think I've heard a single mithra or galka (ok, fine, miqote or rogaedyn) character speak yet in game.
The scenery is also, at this point, pretty accessible. With people having reached cap within a matter of weeks, there's definitely an opportunity to go everywhere and see everything soon after you pick it up. I'm not entirely happy with this fact, I wish it were a bit better paced, though I have a strong suspicion that new content will be release on a fairly regular basis during the first year or so so as to keep things moving and keep players engaged. The challenge level on a lot of the later (level 30 and beyond) boss fights is spot on for the party size you're told to use, and some of them are pretty exciting. Getting to level 30 is also very accessible, with the boss fight difficulty slowly ramping up and requiring more experience, skill, strategy, and teamwork.
Overall, it's worth the investment and I've had a lot of fun with it.