The combat in Guild Wars 2 is like a blend of traditional tab targeting elements and action game inspired elements. Tab targeting is a staple of MMORPGs and even Guild Wars 1 had it even though it’s not really an MMORPG. The action game elements might be similar to Devil May Cry, Dark Souls, or even Resident Evil 4 if you’re playing with ranged weapons. I say similar because Guild Wars 2 is still an RPG at heart so you don’t really get that twitchy gameplay or that over the top action. I included Dark Souls mainly because of GW2’s dodge mechanic being very similar in that how its use is limited by endurance. Making the game too action focused would alienate certain players and I think in GW2’s case take away from the synergy in group situations. I will get back to this later. My position is on GW2 actually having a lot of combat depth but it’s just not instantly recognizable.
First of all, people need to stop focusing on gear and builds and start thinking about combat in terms of the fights themselves. The stats are normalized so every profession will each benefit from certain stats like power, vitality, and toughness. They should still be important but shouldn’t be the deciding factor between victory and defeat in a fight. Traditionally, you would have stats that benefited certain classes/professions but not others. Such stats included intelligence, defense, and agility. Certain builds in this game would no doubt benefit more from specific stats. This was all done to take the focus away from builds/gear and move it towards player interaction.
What the game lacks in depth in stats it certainly makes up for by providing much more involved fights than what players are used to in traditional MMORPGs. You could argue that it’s really just about moving out of red circles and dodging telegraphed big attacks. However, not all red circles are made equal. For instance, you have the instant damage spikes by Subject Alpha versus the persistent AOE that the last boss of CM path 2 leaves on the ground. Of course, there’s Giganticus Lupicus who in addition to red circle AOEs does shadowstrikes and the occasional projectiles which are both dodgeable. That’s just the enemy side of things. You really have to react differently to different abilities. Sometimes you can simply walk out of a red circle while others if there are multiple red circles overlapping in a small area you have to dodge. Managing your endurance often becomes crucial in keeping yourself alive.