I look at this from the “Play how you want” perspective, which is why I don’t like the new leveling system. The new system feels like your riding on rails, showing you the sights. But the whole time, I want to get off and do my own thing.
Take the Personal Story. Before the new system, you could do the personal story at any level. Basically, you can do it whenever you wanted. The only restriction being whether you wanted it to be very hard (below recommended level), average difficulty (at recommended level), or very easy (above recommended level). Now that first option has been taken away. I understand that having to take leveling breaks between the story could be jarring. My suggestion would be to keep the story chapters under the new system, but let you start them whenever you want. So the first chapter would still be recommended for level 10. However, you could try it at level 5, but receive a warning that you are below the recommended level.
I mostly dislike the unlocking of abilities. Being under 80 was already a huge liability for many types of group activities (dungeons, world events, guild events, etc.). Now it is greatly worse because you will be missing key skills and traits.
The worst part of it is that you can’t do the experimenting at earlier levels that you could under the old system. I relied on leveling to learn my classes, but not through a forced tutorial. I liked trying out new weapons and traits. The more time (earlier levels) I had them, the better I understood them. In fact, the only drawback with the old system, imo, was that you used to have to pay for trait changes, which reduced experimentation and learning. Dropping those fees was a fantastic move by Anet.
My suggestion would be to return weapons, skills, and traits gained at level up to the old system. Any new traits and skills added to the game can be acquired through activities or by purchase like the new Grandmaster traits. This gives level 80s something to do to gain them (though they should all be available in sPvP for free).
All the other unlocks with level seem a little arbitrary and cruel to me. I’m not high enough level to use the trading post? Why? Underwater combat at level 7. What if I go underwater before that? I must be punished. I hear I have to wait until a certain level to do jumping puzzles. I love jumping puzzles.
All of this creates a long, boring ride to level 80. Before, when you started GW2, it opened up a world of possibilities. Now everything is handed/told to you during your ride. When you do get to 80, you feel as if you’ve already seen and done all there is to do. If there was more, they would have told you and held your hand through it, right?
Others have asked whether they would recommend GW2 after this update. My primary reason for recommending this game was the freedom it offered. There was so much you could do and explore, and running around the world felt great. Now, I would be embarrassed to make that claim to new players, because they won’t experience that wonder and freedom.