Heart of Thorns is outstanding. And it's frustrating. It's fun. And it's a grind. It's got a ton of content. And you can't do half of it.
My basic thinking, though, is that most of the negatives will be gone soon enough. Or Soon(tm), if you're a leisurely player like me.
ArenaNet's done better than most MMO companies with its philosophy of not making you grind excessively to have fun and enjoy the good parts of its game. Not increasing the level cap or introducing a new tier of gear in Heart of Thorns (and forever) was a great decision.
But the reason MMO companies do that sort of thing in general is because they know they have to give you a reason to play the expansion, other than just “ooh, shiny new zone” – and usually to play for a very, very long time. Enter the leveling/gear grind. Nobody would complete content multiple times if they weren't required to in order to get the best stuff.
Guild Wars 2 doesn't outright require that you do just about anything to field a properly statted, max-level character... but you still want to to get the shiny loot. ArenaNet knows this and so that's why they went with having so many things in the expansion gated by masteries and, to an extent, the various currencies you accumulate in the different HoT zones. It's slow and sometimes tedious right now, but I know that it's just a temporary hassle, so I'm trying not to get too bent out of shape about it.
Grumble in the jungle
I won't just say, “Hey, be patient!” We waited a long time for an expansion, and we understandably expected it to be near-perfect right out of the gate. By “perfect,” I don't mean “bug-free,” this being an MMO and all, but with as much time as ArenaNet should have had to get the systems balanced and feeling right, we at least expected the initial experience to be 100% enjoyable. After playing so long and being able to do whatever we wanted with our characters, having to work to unlock seemingly basic functionality felt wrong.
That's what happened with the elite specializations brouhaha. Playing with fully skilled characters in betas didn't help, but even without that, I think we would have been less than happy with the time investment required to get our elite specs totally filled out. We're not used to having incomplete trait lines, not at level 80, and not being able to jump into our elite specs almost from the get-go, made for a lot of unhappy players. At the very least, the advancement lines should have been engineered to let us get one trait of each tier and some utility skills unlocked as quickly as possible, so we at least had everything “filled out” and didn't have to feel gimped while we tried to unlock the rest.