First off, let's get the technical stuff out of the way. We know that there will be no monthly fees at all. This was a main element to the success of the original Guild Wars, and ArenaNet knows not to mess with that. They do say, however, that there may be expansions or mini-expansions instead of the campaign or chapter model they've followed thus far.
The hardware requirements will increase slightly with the sequel, yet ArenaNet realizes that fencing off your game to only those with the latest and greatest machines is not a good business practice, so in true Guild Wars style, the new game should still be accessible to those with machines more than 1 or 2 years old.
The current world of Guild Wars is that of instanced maps in every area except the cities, where no fighting goes on. This will change with GW2 as players can interact with each other in a more persistent setting, similar to more traditional MMOs. Instancing will stay in certain areas though, such as dungeons.
Also, the game mechanics themselves will change dramatically. GW always followed a more Eastern method of controls using click-to-move in a linear environment lacking the ability to jump, climb or swim. GW2 promises to add all of these features and remove the clicking movement. As we all know, once you can jump, you simply can't go back.
With GW1's level cap set at 20, it let players focus on other aspects of the game besides grinding to get the highest number next to your name. This was an important feature of the game, but was often misunderstood by people who thought that the game was "short" because it only had 20 levels. It is said that GW2 will certainly have a level cap higher than 20, with speculation of an unlimited leveling system. In either case, it seems to contradict the original intentions of the low level cap in the original game, but the reasons for raising the cap have not yet been given.
We may be used to only creating characters in human form now, but with GW2, we will be able to choose from a total of five playable races. These races are Asura, Charr, Human, Norn and Sylvari. As with other traditional RPGs and MMOs, the different races will have certain advantages and disadvantages.
The current system of Heroes and Henchmen will be reworked into a new companion system. Apparently, these new companions will be similar to the Heroes we have today, yet there will only be one available to a player at a time, and they will not take up a party slot. If a player chooses to leave their companion behind, they will receive a comparable buff to themselves in return. In addition, a sidekick system has been mentioned, where lower-level characters could play with their higher-level friends without disadvantage to either player.
We'll still have the same PvE and PvP aspects of Guild Wars in the sequel, and they'll still try their hardest to keep us interested in both simultaneously, but with GW2, they may be trying a bit harder. A new feature called World PvP will allow players to enter this battle zone and participate in an on-going battle at any time they'd like. This is intended to be a more relaxed bridge between PvP and PvE, whereas in the original game, the gap was widened by exclusivity in guilds and rank elitism with arena grouping. It is said that victory in World PvP will reward players with anything from improved drop rates, higher regeneration or other bonuses.
Traditional, structured PvP matches will still be in place for those players who enjoy that, but having more options tends to be a welcome improvement to the old system.
Hall of Monuments and the Lore
The setting of GW2 will take place 250 years after the end of Eye of the North. All of the lands are drastically changed as a result of ancient dragons that rose from their slumber to devastate everything, including mass migration of certain races and the complete isolation of many continents from others. The two Canthan factions of Kurzick and Luxon have been defeated and reunited under one banner. Palawa Joko has raised an undead army strong enough to completely dominate Elona, destroying Vabbi in the process.
Instead of there being one main linear storyline in GW2, it promises to have multiple story arcs, allowing players to participate in more of a sandbox-type play style.
The Hall of Monuments and its connection to the storyline is extremely interesting and key to tying the two games together. We're first introduced to the Hall of Monuments in EotN, where players can use it to showcase their achievements. This showcasing will continue into GW2, working as a slight alternative to allowing your original GW1 characters the opportunity to carry over to GW2, which will not happen. All achievements performed in GW1 will continuously be updated to show up in your GW2 Hall of Monuments. This is an ingenius way of keeping players in the original game, to help build the prestige of their GW2 characters and their family line.
With this info in place, we anxiously await the next wave of news ArenaNet may throw at us concerning their highly-anticipated sequel. We know that they've not done us wrong in the past, and have proven to be the development team to watch in the future. With the reasoning they've stated for developing this sequel, we hope it breaks as much ground and kicks as much butt as their original creation.
So can we have some more news, already?!