What if you got all WS's and abilities at level one, but they were virtually useless. Through leveling, you would basically get "merit points" that you could use to upgrade your character. For WS's, points could be used to add damage, accuracy, critical chance, and some could add status enhacements/effects. Such effects could be things like poison, stun chance, temporary lower def, etc. Abilities could have their effects enhanced, like increased enmity from Provoke, longer stealth time from Invisible, greater accuracy gain from something like Sharpshoot. Casting time could be reduced and duration could be increased also. You could also use the points to build up specific attributes, such as STR, MND, etc.
I thought this could be potentially awesome. On one hand, if I want to go full-on DD I can put points strictly into one WS and max it out, with adds to STR and DEX and max any DD abilities I wanted. This would give me tons of damage potential, but I might be suscewptible to attacks (low eva or def maybe) and my pool of WS's that actually do real damage would be constricted, by my own choices. If SE puts in a really good Skillchain system, then I could raise a few more WS's more evenly. If I don't want to be a one-hit powerhouse that gets one-shotted then I can create a more balance setup. Gear wouldn't necessarily need to change, as it would only build upon whatever stats your character already has. An all-STR and little/no-DEF DD could have a little more survivability if he had enough DEF added through his gear.
I think this would give everyone the most flexibility in creating their characters and would produce some really unique builds, since everyone is given the same stuff up front and it's up to you to build that stuff up on your own. Yes, we would do what all MMO players eventually do and start figuring out the "cookie-cutter" builds. Could be cool to be able to get a group of friends together and create some really specialized characters though.
Edited, Dec 9th 2012 2:00pm by IKickYoDog
My initial response to this, is that I'd like it,because I like customization and flexibility. I would add that, along with the backend enhancements that you mentioned, there would have to be graphical changes to reflect said enhancements, at least as far as the WS animations are concerned. Think of spell tiers, where the animation for Stone V is way more particley awesome than Stone I. They could apply something like this to weaponskills.
Like you said, the cookie cutters would still eventually prevail, but that's going to be a problem no matter what, at least until combat becomes more skill-based. But then you have the problem that GW2 tends to have. The action is too fast for meaningful social interaction. For me, this isnt a huge issue, as I don't generally need a huge social component at this point in my gaming hobby. I've become a lot more casual of a player. But it does make the game less sticky for people who aren't me.