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sPvP also has a button on the GUI, it is placed immediately to the right of WvW. It -- unfortunately -- cannot be bound to a hotkey.
I had a very different experience while leveling. I consistently out-leveled my story missions when doing zone completions on my guardian. However, I also went out of my way for group events and gathering modes, both of which give a significant amount of experience.
Also, not to nitpick, but: your traits and utility skills do more to define your role than your weapons. Using engineer as an example, a rifle engi can be a bunker, power burst or support in sPvP. Which the engineer actually is depends on their traits and utilities (and amulet, but it's less defining). I typically play pistol/pistol engineer, which can be control or condi dps. The reason for P/P is that rifle has fewer conditions than pistols. Deep alchemy traits combined with elixir utility skills give group support and slipperiness. Deep invention traits and skills would make me tankier and more control-oriented (pistols have an aoe root and blind that helps with that). I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea: weapons are only one piece of what defines a build. That's really good, because engineers only have 4 options for weapons (not counting kits, which are also utility skills).
1. I didn't have this issue, mostly due to complete unfamiliarity with GW1. This was more a failure of marketing/differentiation than game design.
2. I'm not sure what you mean by this. Yes, if two characters equip the same weapons they'll have the same weapon skills, but that only sets half of the bar. The remaining 5 skills can be set at will.
3. Not being able to reorder weapon skills was an odd choice. It didn't bother me, but I can empathize.
4. The story had highs and lows. Some parts were good (the death of "Mr Apples", as my exgf called the order of whispers helper character, was well done. Less so for other helpers) others were atrocious. This was a more major problem for me. I really enjoy the story bits, so the painful parts are just that: painful.
5. Maybe it's because I'm a PvPer and explorer, but I have no idea what you're talking about.