1) GW2 is an awful example for a myriad of reasons. I think it can be done much more functionally. I'm not saying no roles. Roles are good. I'm saying "not built and designed around a trinity". For example, tanks can perform the role of tanking by tackling, snaring (hamstring), stunning (shield bashes) or otherwise deterring an oncoming attacker by making it physically more difficult to target a caster. You can perform the role of a tank without having it be trinity mechanics of "press taunt, mob sits there hitting the tank forever".
Initial progression doesn't matter worth a damn, either, because it's often overtuned and most guilds sploit' their way through it. A great example is once again, the most recent raid game, FFXIV. All the big roadblock server firsts who finished the first round of endgame content exploited to do so. It was thought that before they adjusted the difficulty, it was mathematically impossible to win some of the encounters without exploits.
Heroic tiers are another issue in themselves, because like you said, they're often released on a completely separate timetable. I don't think this has been done very well, either. The problem with 'heroic' is that it basically turns normal mode into babby mode so that timmy Q scrublord can see all the content the game has to offer without being at all competent. In my ideal game Timmy Q wouldn't have made it past level 25 in the first place.
To elaborate a bit more: I think the trinity model was required at first because we went from no player cap on raids, to 70 man raids, to 40 man raids, to 25, and now 10 man encounters are trendy. I think smaller encounters let you tune things better, and lead to less chaos.
But what I want to see is smaller numbers (15-20) but more interesting play. think of a competant pvp encounter. It's usually much more frantic and skill based than the average raid. Players use all the tools at their disposal, and play intelligently. You can't sleep your way through pvp. I want that in my PVE encounters.
PVE has basically been 1999 every year, with a little bit of encounter scripting thrown in when the devs feel frisky. So it's just become naggy/vox again with some gimmick scripts to learn when the mob hits 70%, 30%, and 5%. --- Irony is a maginot line drawn by the already condemned
Not enough originality, and a lot of them seem to mess up important parts needed to make a good MMO. People want sandbox games now, but the downside is that they are usually slow and frustrating timesinks with terrible communities. EVE online is still growing in popularity, even though it didn't improve much over the years. Just shows how there's a market for these games, but no quality game is available.