About being able to retaining people more. I personally started during the beta start and there was a lot of activities with the guild and thinks so I did keep attention much longer. Still even before 80 I had moments of “what shall I do?”. On alts I had that much more and so leveling alts for me was even slower. What manly kept me players was the guild. So I can understand that you might have a problem retaining other people.
Making levels more rewarding is for sure a correct way of thinking but locking out skills might not be so much because GW2 already has a very limited set of skills compared to other mmo’s. I do know what I am missing and it’s what many of my complains where about.
However that said one of the thinks you might really want to reconsider are traditional quest. They will keep you going, especially if they have some interesting story’s. Good quest chains will draw you in them and before you know it you are a few levels up and a few maps deeper in the game. There also give you more of a connection with the world because you learn the NPC’s. How I see NPC’s but there are literally that for me.. npc’s. Quest make then ‘that child who found that item that I did bring to the owner who then gave me a balloon to give to that child as thanks’. An extremely limited example but now I know at least 2 npc’s more as person and know something about them.
With the current system you do a quest and move on to the next quest and move on to the next quest. It’s way more a checklist. Same for all the PoI’s, Vista’s. Special nice places in the game don’t become nice special places you come across while leveling, they become checklist you walked to, to the get PoI for your map-completion and so leveling and discovering becomes striping of a list of task in stead of really exploring and discovering. So that well can get old very soon.
Lastly many of the drive to work towards that next level are missing. In other mmo’s even when I am not in a quest-line or ‘discover mode’ I might have seen this guy with that nice mini or mount or ‘item’. (an experience thats already missing because you can see all mini’s (icons) fro the start. If you ask me you should only see the ones you unlocked… Anyways.
Then it rurned out you can get that mini by doing a quest at or near your level so thats what you are going to do. Or get that mounts by dong something specific or you can create that fun item with a craft and need a recipe you can get. By doing all those thinks you keep playing and leveling. Mutch of those elements are non-existing in GW2 or are just not fun. 90% of the mini’s are just grinding gold or buy gw2 gold making getting them just boring in stead of a type of end-game that starts at level 1.
I have been very critical about many of these thinks since about 6 months after released and posted a lot about it on the forums and while I think you do see sort of where the problem is (no good and or fun reason to go into the world and do thing) and try to move into the correct direction (the collections are a good example here) I don’t think the dumping down and locking out levels is the best. Besides as long as the core problem is still there (well anybody who ever read my topics knows what elements knows what I see as the core problems) there will likely never be enough you can do.