By now you probably know that GW is set in a fantasy world, charges no monthly fees, and makes extensive use of instancing, which I discussed in my beta impressions of the game.
Graphics and Interface
The current crop of mainstream RPGs all have spectacular graphics, and GW is certainly no exception. Spell, shadow, and water effects are everything you could ask for, and you're likely to find yourself stopping to enjoy the view in places as you explore Tyria. Character models are remarkably smooth and the animation is impressive.
Although the landscapes are gorgeous, your movement through them is relatively limited. You cannot fall or jump off a bridge, and you are more or less guided to your destination by invisible walls.
The GUI has improved significantly since beta. Windows and shortcut bars can be moved and resized quite easily. You can also draw on the mini-map; a cool feature which facilitates party organization. It would be nice if you could see your party members energy (or mana) in the party window instead of just their health. The combat log has also gone missing.
As far as game controls are concerned, they're not perfect but they are easy enough to get used to. I disabled the option to move by mouse because a left click is also used to select and attack enemies. By default, if you try to select an enemy with the mouse and miss, you will run to the place you clicked, which can get quite annoying. I was disappointed to see that there is currently no way to properly customize mouse controls. You might have to play with the options for a while to find a setup you're comfortable with.
GW does have collision detection, so you can't just run right through other players while in the play areas. This makes forming a blockade around your party's healer, for example, a viable strategy. Unfortunately, when you attack you also automatically move within range, so if your enemy moves you tend to end up chasing them around.
Humans are the sole playable race in GW, so the key decision you have to make is which profession (or class) to play. There are 6 professions, from which you get to choose a primary and a secondary profession. It's worth some thought because you are only allowed a total of 4 characters.
Character customization is a bit limited. If you don't go the goth-like Necromancer route, you're basically going to wind up looking like a supermodel.
One of the most novel things about creating a character in GW is that you are given the option to start with a character that is already at the level cap (20) which can only participate in PvP arenas. Your other option is to start at the bottom with a roleplaying character and advance through the game's PvE (player versus environment) content.
The skill system is another unique feature of GW. Although there are hundreds of spells and abilities in the game, you can equip only 8 at a time, and you must be in town to change the skills you have equipped. This creates an element of strategy in planning which skills will best compliment those of the rest of your party before going into battle.
While GW has already established itself as one of the better RPGs to focus on competition between players, the PvE campaign is also very solid. Instancing all the game's quests and missions has allowed them to create an epic storyline which includes major changes to Tyria.
In many ways, GW blends the epic linear adventures of single-player RPGs with a readily accessible online community. Towns serve as lobbies and marketplaces where you can meet other players, sell your loot, and form a party, which can then explore their own mirror of Tyria. You can teleport instantly to a town at any time by selecting it on the world map. There are no separate shards or servers, so it is a truly global game and playing with people from other countries is easily accomplished.
You can also fill out your party with computer-controlled henchmen. They clearly aren't as good as skilled players, especially since there is no way to give them orders, but it beats tackling a quest shorthanded.