First off, you can disable auto-attack for your 1 key ability, you can enable it I think for every single key, or at least 1-5, but also have it all disabled. Secondly, there are the types of skills you talked about from GW1, there's blindness, which lowers the enemies chance to hit, increasing your survivability chance, interupts via knockdown, stun (which also disables them completely), or knockbacks (which put them out of melee range so that if you're a range player fighting a melee enemy you have the advantage of hitting them so more while they can't hit you till they get back in range).
You can trap an enemy in place so they can't move at all, or cripple them to slow them(for the same effect as knockbacks, kind of), as well as bleeding (which does damage over time so if you're unable to attack but applied bleeding that can save your life by finishing the enemy off while you're disabled), and fumble, which reduces the enemy's damage by 50%.
All of these debuffs can be applied to you, they're called "conditions". There's also boons, which are positive effects, some increase your defense, some damage, some heal you over time. I know the shield allows you to block your opponent, while dagger air elementalist can put a shield around them that stuns enemies that hit them, and I know there's more I can't remember right now. So, where's this lack of depth you speak of?
Also, from my experience, while elite skills make you more powerful and increase your health, depending on the elite skill, they're definitely not "FREAKING NUKING THE WORLD WOOOOOOO" type abilities. More like, "I'M NOW APPROXIMATELY 50% MORE POWERFUL RAAAAAAAAH!!!!" abilities.
And I did play Gw1 years ago.......for like, 30 minutes before uninstalling and never playing it again. I don't remember why, this was back when I was a teen playing wow, but I remember hating the fact that I couldn't jump. I think something just felt off about the combat in that game.
Just because things have the same name it doesnt mean they are the same in both games.
Ok, you can disable auto-attack... how does that change anything? really, i cant see the diference, is it because you have to press 1 three times?
in GW1 blind was a completely diferent mechanic, sometimes for the worst, others for the best. In gw1 blind caused the enemy to have 90% chance of missing the attack, it was active for a given duration, not that long, and it was countered in several ways: condition removal, condition transfering, equipment mods that reduced applied condition times and ofcourse waiting it out. this added depth.
In gW2 blind gives a 100% fail chance, and ends after the attack fails. so people just autoattack through blinds, because its a bit irrelevantm unless with certain skills that use a blind field (engie smoke bomb for instance) theres no counter to blind except cond removal, but it doesnt even matter because autoattack clears it. also, on bosses its a mere 20% fail chance... basically useless in pve outside off big balls of mobs farming.
cripple: cripple is basically the same in GW1 and gW2, not much more to be said.
in GW1 poison applied degen, 4 pips which correspond, if memory serves, to 8 hp loss per second. there were several skills to use poison, but one of the most notable was a ranger skill called Apply Poison, the poison duration scalled with the atributes, usually around 10-13 seconds, and it was an invaluable tool to apply presure to a team, keeping a team poisoned was a great way to win games. In pve poison was also widely used on degen builds to great effect, including farms (ranger fow forest farmer for instance).
Poison did not stack (no stacking of conditions or any other thing in GW1)
In gW2 you have a condition that stacks in duration, give some damage, also not that much, but hinders healing. which is a great feature of gW2 poison, usefull in pvp... as for pve... not relevant at all, if we take into consideration how conditions work in gW2.
GW1- same as poison.
GW2- Stacks of white numbers, same problems, has the advantage of how easy it is to apply.
Now lets get to the juicy elements that REALLY suck in gW2 and excelled in GW1 - interrupts (ill put knockdowns here to.
GW1- Interrupts were a MAJOR part of the game, particularly in pvp. Interrupt a B-surge... invaluable to your frontline. Rupt a diversion, GJ, mesmer wasted energy and we caught a possibly very damaging skill. You could interrupt with a knockdown, but more important than that, there were builds that specialized in keeping enemies on the ground (and they had counters, because the game had such mechanics that no build was invincible). There was also this condition called Daze, very very powerfull, very costly to use and most of the times very hard to land, this was an anti caster condition, making every spell fail if the caster was hit whille dazed.
GW2- Asside from interrupting other players heals... i see no advantage... you cant really tell what the hell the other guy is doing, ok it has a long activation.. but what is it?
PVE.... does it matter? nope, not one bit.
Confusion: there was no confusion in GW1, there were hexes that caused damage on action, depending on the action, Empathy caused damage on attack, Visions of regret caused damage on skill usage, etc etc. Confusion is indiscriminate. Its not worst or better, its different.
Now for the Boons.. they are interesting for the most part, a bit of a side effect of gameplay than actually planed execution of well timed effects to skillfully change the way of the fight.its ahrd to explain where im trying to get. let me go the other way around, in GW1 boons were obviously enchants, ill go with the easier to explain, Reversal of Fortune. it was cheap to cast, fast to recharge and a life saver or energy destroyer, it lasted for 8 seconds on the guy you casted it on, meaning it was possible to perma mantain in anyone. What It did was converting the damage that would be taken into health gain (limited according to atribute points). But, if a monk spammed it... it would lose the battle for sure, because he couldnt mantain the energy... so... monks had to chose when to use, on who to use and wether or not they actually could use, bear in mind that the monk could have up to 7 guys relying on him. In gW2 it doesnt matter if you cast protection on the party or not.. it doesnt recycle fast enough, the agro mechanics suck, and if a guy gets downed you can rez him up in no time. EDIT: And there is no freaking downside of using it, eliminating choice and strategy, its IRRELEVANT!
abit too long i guess...