And no one is forcing you to play with other people since there is a lot of stuff you can do alone (Many events, heart quests, personal story, crafting, exploring, jumping, puzzles).
The PVE is awesome on this, the dungeons are stupidly hard which stops you dashing in head first.
Just get it.
You will probably be disappointed. For me it's just something to do while I wait for Mists. I did think the game was going to be better than it was, but I have learned how to deal with disappointment.
I think the worst thing is how corny and unheroic the personal story is.
You get a thumbs up, pat on the back and a "way to go" from your label every day, looking boy
Hey, looking boy, what you say looking boy? I get a "hell yeah" from Dre, looking boy
I work for everything I have, never asked nobody for shit. Get outta my face, looking boy
1. How long (playing time) does it take to get to level 80 (that is max level, right ?), if you just "play along", doing just the sideline activities (like vistas), hearts and DEs that you accidently stumble across without too much exploration/research (and I know exploration is fun, I love Gothic 2, one of THE best single player RPGs for that) ?
About 4-5 days /age(/played in wow)
2. I heard there are 8 dungeons, but each has a story mode and 3 explorable modes, basically making it 32 dungeons.
How much truth does this claim have in it, are the different versions really a lot like different dungeons, do the bosses, trash mobs, secrets and areas change, for example (I don't expect fully different dungeons, of course) ?
There are 8 dungeons, each dungeon have Story mode(4-5 bosses on easy mode) And each dungeon got 3-4 different dungeons in them. This means you have to choose which side dungeon to play and then you have to restart the instance to be able to run another Explorer mode. Different bosses, different story etc so its quite different and true
3. Is there an alternate progression system upon reaching level 80, or maybe even before that (similar to Warhammer Online or the new Diablo 3 paragon system, for example) ?
Not really, you can craft your way to 80 and its quite viable. Same with explore, tho you have to kill a few mobs to reach some places.
4. Are there vanity items/titels to collect, how many variations are there and how hard are they to get - I heard something about specific cultural outfits that you can appearently wear as an overcloak and dye them, basically like Transmogrification in WoW (sorry for the comparison) + the dyeing option ?
Most items are vanity items, stats have some importance but its totally viable to choose just about any item. Also transmog(re-skinning) excists for any item you want to use as skin.
5. Some people claimed that the combat system/dungeons/dragon fights felt a little chaotic and/or penalizing melee combat - a friend of mine has some low level characters (he plays all classes at once) and assured me that ranged attacks from melee centric classes were not weaker than their melee versions (for example bows were not weaker than greatswords for warriors in terms of raw damage), so it wouldn't be a disadvantage to go melee in dungeons - my friend doesn't have first hand dungeon experience, yet, though.
This is somewhat true, and its too early to say if its really so. It is adviseable to have one of your weapons as ranged as some bosses will basicly rape you if you stay close the entire fight. Holy trinity is gone so you have to be viable when it your turn to move away from the boss or youll just be a liability.
6. Does the game feel "PvP centric" to you, for example, are you of the impression that balancing or a wide variety or skills are only focused on the PvP-side of things ?
I havnt really liked PvP since Asherons Call 1. but i LOVE pvp in gw2. The PvP game is totally different and compartmentalized from PvE. The only place where your PvE progress have some difference is in WvWvW(skills, gear etc) But in battlegrounds and sPvP(tournaments 8vs8 etc) It dont matter, skill matter and class combos. So, Pve is different from PvP. Youll get full gear+skills once you go into PvP. Even in WvWvW youll be "boosted" til 80 but youll only have the skills you have so far gotten.
7. I heard there are no "better" items as rewards at max level, just altered versions that are of the same "power level" than the gear you first get when you reach max level - are there exceptions from this rule, how much can these stats differ in one direction or the other, 10%, 40%, 95% ?
There are different stat items ofcourse, but youll have to choose what you like the most(glass cannon, mixed, tanky etc). How much better they are is really unimportant, they are better no doubt. But its such a small difference that your PvE progress wont hurt if you know how to play.
8. Some people claimed that leveling up crafting was "a chore/grind" and that the auction house (I suppose that's meant with "trading post", no clue, though) was under maintenance a lot ? Is this true, if so, to what extent ?
The Auction House was down ALOT at first but is now up the most of the time. This sucked but i put crafting on hold and now got almost max levle in my both crafting skills. And yeah it is abit grindy atleast for me. But if you get instant progress how long does it take for you to get bored with it? Grindy to some extent is good.
9. How are the crafting rewards at max crafting level ? Can you craft "unique"/hard to get stuff, that "rewards" you for maximizing your crafting skills ?
There are two types of "crafting". The ones you do yourself with your own skills and the mystic forge. The Mystic Forge is something like the horadric cube in diablo 2, you put 4 different things together and youll get an item. The recipe's for this havnt all been discovered yet. The items you can craft at 400 max level are quite good, there is only a very very small difference from the absolutely best items.
10. How does the "juwels" payshop system work ? How expensive are juwels, can you get them ingame/trade them, are there things that you can only get via juwels (think I heard about rare dye and/or character slots) ?
In essence you dont have to pay for anything in this game except the game itself(initial purchase) if you can grind enough gold to get gems. Im unsure how future expansions are but right now you can buy digital deluxe upgrade if you only bought the regular one for gems. And you can buy gems for ingame gold since people are selling gems to get money. Its a little like the EVE trading system, you are heavily dependant on others to sell for good price.
11. I heard you couldn't create new characters on certain realms for a time after launch and characters were counted towards your total number of character slots, even if you created them on different servers ? Are there server transfers, if so, are there restrictions and does it cost anything ?
You have 5 character slots in total, can buy more via gemshop so its np. The server you choose got one big restriction, its the one you represent in WvWvW. Other then that it wont matter, you can join guilds, play instances, pvp with friends on other servers. There are server transfers(gem shop so essentially gold cost)
Hope this helps