We still don't have a release date for this thing, let's remember. We haven't even got a date for the beta. The content tap has all but been turned off in the live game. There's precious little for fans to focus on other than the carefully-managed flow of information - I would hesitate to call it "news" - that aims to open a window into our collective future.
The latest additions to HoT's "Pending" folder are two posts on the official website, catchily titled Specializations, Part One and Specializations, Part Two. Between them they go into considerable, if repetitive, detail on the Specialization system that arrives with the expansion, whenever that might be.
|So old school...|
I would say that it puzzles me, why just about every single MMO I've ever played has to go through this constant unpicking of the seams, this endless re-upholstering and refurbishing. I would, only it doesn't. It's exactly what's happened around me in every job I've ever held for more than a few years. People can't leave well alone and no-one ever got on in life by saying the guy before him did a great job that can't be bettered. Not even if the guy before him was him.
It's annoying, all the same, this ineluctable desire to fiddle with things that are working perfectly well already. There's every chance the new Trait system will be fine and I'm sure we'll all get used to it in a few days. There's almost no chance, however, that it will be radically better than the old system. It certainly won't be such an improvement that, a couple or three years down the line, someone won't feel the need to change the whole thing up all over again.
|Shooting for a round thousand by HoT. And that's just on one character.|
In practice most of the changes and additions will, I'm sure, appear in the finished version, in some form very close to what's being described. The lid of the box wouldn't be open otherwise. Whether they are very similar or strikingly different, however, as players we won't be in any position to judge the effect on our enjoyment until we experience these changes in play.
Often it seems MMO players find it all too easy to get worked up into a state of near-hysteria about proposed changes to games they love. Sometimes they seem to be able to reach a rolling boil of outrage about changes to MMOs they've barely even heard of. In the end, most of those changes turn out to be less invasive, less destructive, less interesting than anyone imagined. Barely noticeable in fact.
One of the reasons we still talk about the NGE is because it was an exceptional case, where a change to systems and mechanics really did make a huge difference to many players' ability to enjoy the game, or even go on playing it at all. I can think of half a dozen of those, maybe, in a decade and a half.
For the while all we can do is read, watch, listen and wait. No point crying over milk that's not yet been poured, much less spilled.