There is a very nice Article from a guy who played GW2 PvP. It's not only interesting for PvP players though since it shares a lot of interesting information about the gameplay.
A lot of people who played the demo on convention didn't get how to play the game. They stand in front of the enemy and try to do a rotation. Many mmos have burned this into our brains: you do best when you learn your rotation by heart and thats it.
In GW2 the skills are mostly situational. You have to watch the battlefield and react to the things that happen. You won't have to stare at your buttons, to find the right moment after global cooldown to hit the next one. Nearly every spell can be cast on the move, it's much more action oriented. There are no stats which let your character block incoming hits. You have to dodge actively, because you actually see a hit incoming.
let me try to explain why I find the combat so different by examples:
Until now there was this standard that you couldn't really evade enemy attacks if you were in line of sight. (with the exception of a small number of invincibility spells). If shots were fired at you, the only thing that minimised the incoming damage were numbers. So you had to prepare before the fight, equip good enough gear, to survive attacks. Sometimes you couldn't even hide behind smaller objects, the projectile went easily through the object and hit you anyway.
- This is different here: every profession has the ability to dodge, 2-3 times in a row, until the dodge-meter refills automatically. While doing this maneuvre you are invincible for a moment. It has nothing to do with your gear or numbers. It's your skill on the battlefield which decides if you live or die, not your "skill" in gear-farming and mathematics.
- Projectiles hit objects. Players are actually objects, so you can't hit someone with a projectile, who hides behind an other hostile player. This is huge imho. It hasn't anything to do with numbers either. You can actually help your friends who get bombarded by an enemy ranger by standing in front of them. I would call this "ranged tanking"... even if there are no dedicated tanks in the system any more.
edit: you can see how most enemy-attacks are very avoidable by movement.
- You can attack areas on suspicion without aoes. There might be some cloaked enemy nearby, so you can do attacks without the need to target someone. All your spells can be cast without a target. Don't want to spend your precious Aoe to find out if a thief hides in the corner... simply attack the corner.
Then let's talk about weapon swapping. A weapon in GW2 defines half of your skills, it defines your playstyle. These changes can counter enemy playstyles if done properly. You can swap from a very offensive playstyle to a defensive playstyle in a second, 10 seconds later you can switch back to your offensive playstyle. So it is up to the player to read a situation and change accordingly... and this happen during a fight. If you are annoyed about this stupid ranger who attacks you from afar: swap to your ranged weapons and counter him from a better position.
It's totally viable to use bow & sword with the same equipment, since the stats: strength and agility got reworked into one stat: power. All your weapons will be fully viable.
certain skills have a second function: they work as starters or finishers. You can do combos if you do a finisher to the position someone (or yourself) casted a starterskill. The most common example of a starterskill would be the firewall from the elementalist. If you see this firewall, you can now interact with it by using the right finisher. A ranger would simply use his standard-shot as a finisher. He shoots through the wall and his arrows turn into fire-arrows which set enemies on fire.
Those combos are, from what I have seen, ways to supplement your build. They aren't stronger than any other skill, they simply do something different. A thief might be a weak supportclass, he has some supportskills but not nearly as much as other professions. But when he uses finishers, he is able to be a great supporter too. His leaping death blossom (a kind of summersault spinning dagger attack) into the right starter-field removes conditions (debuffs) from nearby allies. So these combos really encourage you to observe your surroundings, other than looking on the UI for some energypoints or Addons like SliceAdmiral or RoguePowerBars etc (yeah, I played WoW too).
get some insight about the system:
here a little example:Guardian Weapons & Equipment
The Guardian has access to a large variety of weapons, both martial and caster based. While being in the unique position of both a caster and melee fighter the Guardian must make the tradeoff of losing his ranged combat ability. The Guardian struggles especially in long to mid range combat and closing the gap is the key to victory.
Mace: Defensive with great team support. Every third hit of the True Strike chain provides a small amount of self healing. Symbol of Faith provides both melee punishment and team healing while Protector's Strike can be used to shield allies and knockback surrounding enemies, disrupting certain attack chains and combos. With a lot of defensive options the mace provides a great hold out set to survive greater numbers until team assistance arrives.
Sword: Offensive with a hint of anti ranged. The sword shines in closing the distance and providing a ranged defense with the ability to counter attack. Sword of Wrath is a very basic attack but can hit multiple enemies and has a surprisingly large arc, great for punishing bad positioning. Flashing Blades allows you to close the gap, dealing both damage and blinding the target if you land close enough. Its low recharge makes it very useful against enemies who want to keep you at range.Zealots Defense blocks all ranged attacks and sends a large volley of attacks back at the target, with Virtue of Justice in passive you can trigger burning multiple times with just one use. Using this skill at longer ranges may allow the enemy to avoid your attacks. A point blank shotgun approach will yield devastating damage.
Hammer: Area damage and area control. The hammer excels at big area damage with nearly all it's skills. Every third attack from Hammer Swing places a damage over time symbol on the ground in a moderate area. By using Ring of Warding you can both trap enemies inside the ring to deal massive area damage with Mighty Blow or keep certain enemies out protecting yourself and allies. If there are too many enemies surrounding you or an ally, you can use Banish for a large area knockback and damage. Purge Conditions is there for support and area burning if needed. The ability to help your allies and remove movement debuffs is not to be underestimated.
Staff: Support and area damage. The staff is more focused on helping the team than most of the other weapons. Line of Warding is the real stand out skill from this set. It allows you to control movement through choke points and keep melee enemies off of yourself and team. Placing Symbol of Protection in front of a line of warding can keep confused enemies in the area of effect for longer periods of time. Martyr will help keep the team clean while boosting your combat potential dramatically. The staff also has one of the largest area damage skills in Wave of Wrath which creates a huge fan like wave covering the near full 180 degrees in front of the caster. The second area damage skill, Orb of light, can be detonated after cast and if used well you can detonate right after already hitting your target getting a large spike of damage and hitting twice. The staff shines in it's team support but may not be the best choice for solo engagements.
this was only a little portion of Jaden Stones analysis, there are more weapons for the guardian, and he analysed most of the other classes as well. You might want to take a closer look: Teamquitter - Guardian analysisSets and Combinations
Unlike the Elementalist, the Guardian has two weapon sets allowing for 10 total weapon based skills. While the Elementalist has access to more overall skills, the Guardian gets greater control over what he can bring and combine to suit his play style. After swapping weapon sets you are locked out of doing so again for 10 seconds, so making the correct swaps at the right time can be the difference between life and death.
The Sword/Shield combination makes an excellent all around combination for one set. It offsets the weakness of dealing with ranged opponents, provides moderate team support, and above average damage. It's a real pain for a ranged character to engage and deal damage before the Guardian closes the distance and takes the fight to his own terms.
The Scepter/Torch combination is a very high damage and low defense option. By using the immobilize from the scepter you can unleash the torches true potential and stack large amounts of burning on your enemy before they have a chance to get away. These two are also great for punishing melee so they combo well with the Sword/Shield set to have both a strong anti melee and ranged build at the cost of survivability.
Alternately, the Mace/Focus is a very strong defensive combination which can combo well with the Scepter/Torch to add much needed staying power to a fight. The Mace/Focus allows you to chain blocks and provides damage absorption and healing.
The Staff would be another great recommendation to go with any of these. It's a real stand alone weapon that provides a number of great abilities without over-specializing. You can add the Staff to any set and it wouldn't be considered a bad choice. The Hammer on the other hand, I would avoid bringing into competitive PvP as it feels like a WvW or PvE weapon at the moment.