GW2 Beta 2 Day 2-3
Didn't get a chance to post yesterday. I did a little bit more of ranger, and then the rest of it was all guardian. So at the end my characters were: Engineer/11 (didn't touch this character at all except to raid the coffers), elementalist/9 (actually to 8 and then the last level was due to crafting), ranger/14 (that appears to be the threshold for the lowest level green drops which I wanted to test out), guardian/30 (reached 30 at 5 minutes to the end of beta and got my elite skill--whoo!)
If you're going to be soloing, then you'll need to be advised that it's going to be really challenging to do quests/areas near your current level. If you're really "leet" then you may be able to do it (nothing feels more awesome than to barely survive being mobbed or beating a elite mob on your own). But you're better off levelling up and then going back to it. It gets easier once you're like 5 over the level of the area.
It also gets easier if you're not soloing. Difficulty drops by...not half, but at least 1/3, with one additional helper. Group of 3-4 should do most things easy. Group of 5-7 might actually get more challenged due to mob/event scaling. Groups of 10+ is going to zerg almost everything. This is why I found Snowden Drifts (Norn 15-25 area) harder than Kessex Hills (Human 15-25 area), and Gendarran Fields (25-35 area) even harder... there were more people in Kessex than in Snowden, and almost no one in Gendarran. Hopefully the population problem will sort itself out after official release. If all else fails, sometimes you can abuse NPC's to help out if you do things right.
In order to over-level myself before I could do any Gendarran Fields, I also ran through both Norn lower level zones on the guardian as well. That's full completion of Wayfarer Foothills (Norn 1-15 area), and almost full completion of Snowden (sans some bugged quests and some impossible mob dens that I couldn't solo and no one was around to help). It also was helpful to pick up the easy skill points for my elite skill once I hit 30. However, I don't think that would be necessary for post-release if you take into account of the personal story quests. The personal story in the beta only goes up to about level 15, and that's where the most of your XP comes from. So with personal quests and full completion of your race's zone, you theoretically shouldn't need to go to another race's zone for leveling. However, it might still be a good idea to jump over and just do some of the lowbie skill quests if you're aiming for a tier 2 elite skill (30 free points needed... I had 20 free points when I hit lvl 30).
Also, general rule - personal quests give you the most XP and some good gear; heart quests give you the most cash and nothing else, dynamic events given decent XP & karma, unlocking new locations given about 2/3's the XP of dynamic events, and full area completion will award you some green items/cash shop items and decent cash/karma. It's always worth it to do a full completion of the map if possible, IMO.
Crafting & Gear Impressions:
So I'll need to amend my wild guessing from the last post. Did some further testing of the crafting system these two days and now I have some more educated guesses. XP
Merchants - by this I mean the weapons & armor selling NPCs - will always adjust their wares to be of your level, one tab with weapons just under you, one tab with weapons just over you, with all weapons at each 5 level mark. So for example, if you're level 12, they'll sell level 10 and level 15 gear. If you're level 27, they'll sell level 25 & 30 gear.
Crafting - the level of the gear is actually independent of your actual level. It seems to be purely dependent on the recipe and your crafting level (which is a different level than your actual level). The base recipes that you're automatically given when you get your crafting skill will always craft level 0 items. The first round of recipes you can discovery with an insignia on it is like level 10. At crafting level 25, you unlock a second tier of insignia and those will craft gear of level 15. Presumably crafting even high level gear will then also require different ingredients (iron ore/ingots instead of copper, for example). You can actually have a mule character with a high crafting level, making items which are higher than the character itself. I got my ele to level 25 in tailoring and she was able to make level 10 & 15 gear even though she's level 8. That's the mechanics of it... more on my opinions of the system once I get my thoughts organized.
Greens - Just like in GW1, green items are high quality gear with random high level mods on it. I've only see them drop as weapons. Most commonly, they are given as area completion rewards, or dynamic event boss drops (bigger the boss, the more likely the green drop). Occasionally, I seem to get them from normal tough (veteran) mobs as well, but I can't swear to that. In both cases though, you're not guaranteed to get a weapon that you can actually use... so typically they just go straight to the auction house (right-click sell).
It still seems like the human areas are the better designed and most polished. The norn starter area is better than my first impression from last BWE, but Snowden had a lot of problems with quests that don't trigger or get stuck. Same with the Charr starter area (I only went through on the guardian for the skill points, but I also saw at least 2 dynamic events which got stuck and wouldn't progress/complete). I really hope the Asura & Sylvari areas will be more like the human areas in terms of polish when they release it.