While I realise that from the 150/200 or so skills per profession in GW1, even with a dual profession system, only a small portion of them were actually used in the most viable builds. But due to the large amount of skills, ‘balance’ changes were almost always interesting as skills faded in or out of the meta.
Also, due to a large amount of builds usually involving 4 to 5 skills (including an elite), there was the option to gear 3 to 4 skills to your individual preference or play style. And where there were specialized builds (all 8 skills were needed), they usually involved an entirely different play style (f/e BiP builds) that were a challenge to learn and offered a nice change of pace, and were only needed in a few specific maps.
The amount of skills and the build options in GW2 are really saddening, objectively speaking there are roughly 4 builds per profession, which are cut apart and mingled together. Due to ‘balance’ choices, only 1 or 2 of them are actually viable, and within these builds there is absolute no freedom to do your own thing.
The reason for dumbing down the skill system was said to be done due to a lack of understanding from players, in regards to the complexity of the game. Same was said for conditions and buffs.
But I would argue that the current system in GW2 is even more complex, yet, the complexity isn’t an interesting one based upon build choices. It is complex due to the large amount stat combo’s and trying to figure out which one would benefit your build the most.
Now look at the conditions, GW1 had 10 of them, GW2 has 12. I will say that the amount of ‘Boons’, which can be compared to ‘enchantments’ in GW1, has received a considerable reduction, from 261 enchantments, down to 9 boon effects. I am sure I do not have to explain how this made the boons less interesting as a play style. The same can be said by removing the 264 Hexes that were in GW1, because ‘yes’ in a sense they can be viewed as ‘conditions’, so the reduction was there, from 274 individual hexes & conditions down to 12 conditions.
Design problem with both of them the human mind can only process about 7 different things at a time; preferably you subcategorise anything that comes above 6 (maybe even 5). So having 12 different conditions is cognitive bad design, it doesn’t make it one bit easier than having 274 different things .It would have been cognitively better to subcategorise in something like: Conditions (5-6) , Effects (5-6), Curses (5-6), Hexes (5-6). Obviously the same can be said by boons, subcategories like Boons (5-6), Enchantments (5-6).
While I acknowledge that the large amount of damage types in GW1 may have been confusing (fire, ice, shadow, physical, etc ); doing away with them entirely made the game increasingly more boring, and to some cheap gw2 gold less believable. Burning a Lava creature is one of the most laughable things in GW2 and somewhat of an insult to the RPG genre as a whole…
Here the same cognitive limit applies (as with conditions & boons), limiting this feature to 6 would make it easier to comprehend and process. F/e limiting them to elemental types (fire, ice, earth, water, physical) and resistance to them would have been enough to provide an interesting and believable system. Add to this Defiance and you have a system of 6…
Where the system in GW1 consisted of ‘7’ stats, 1 being the profession specific stat, and 6 (2x 3 – 3 for each of 2 professions) typical stats, with corresponding runes. With a corresponding restriction to the min-req. on weapons. Staying within the cognitive limit (or close to it at least).
We now have 16 different stats, where some of them are also a ‘hidden’ combination of 2 of them. Not only runes provide stats, but also the armour, and the weapons, as well as traits. Well I have already pointed out how the GW2 system is more complex in a boring sense, and more confusion than GW1. This is the how and why in my views.
E . And the worst part of all this is, the system above is to me what made GW1 the game GW1 was. Because you could place this system in any other plane (aka. on Mars instead of on Tyria), and in a completely different lore setting. With or without PvP, or guilds, with bigger groups or smaller, or w/e. And the game would ‘play’ the same. … so to me we lost a lot of the essence of GW1 in the design of GW2, and this is the main gripe I have with the game… plus, that where GW2 has been dumbed down in various area’s it hasn’t become cognitively easier to understand, and where the complexity at first was in the interesting part of the game (skills) it now is in the uninteresting part (stats).