I've enjoyed the expansion quite a bit. The new maps are easily my favourite so far and I'm having an absolute blast playing Revenant (my new main). The Elite Specs, for the most part, add a lot of new and interesting gameplay to the existing classes. I will say that the story, while better than the original game's, was pretty disappointing in that there really wasn't that much content. As someone who really likes the lore of the game, it frustrates me when Anet takes such a limited scope that simply adds new story threads instead of expanding on an already rich lore base. There is one mission in particular where you go and find some Elder Dragon research. The information you find out is so underwhelming that it makes that entire chapter feel like a complete waste. Having said that, the Characters are a lot more compelling (or at least the ones who are focused on). Canach in particular stole the show for me.
Other random thoughts:
-They have done a very good job balancing the specs. I honestly thought it would be a complete shit show, but at least in PvE, every class is in a great spot. The balance isn't as great in PvP, but that could just be due to people not being used to fighting the new skills.
-The launch was amazingly stable and the expansion.
-The final boss, while mechanically interesting, is unfortunately overshadowed by how buggy it was and (to an extent) still is.
-The raid. This is what we've been asking for. Truly challenging content where the difficulty is in the mechanics and not in just getting one-shot. I've only beaten the Vale Guardian, but I can honestly say that the fight is easily the most fun I've had in the game.
-Even though the Mouth fight is tuned a little on the easy side, it's still WAAAAY better than the fight against Zhaitan.
-Gliding is one of the most fun things to do in the game. Old maps just don't really compare for me anymore since they lack the verticality and gliding (not that I don't enjoy a nice stroll through Queensdale every now and then).
-The new enemies are a lot more engaging and challenging than the base game's enemies. If you run full glass cannon, you need to be mechanically good. I've seen a lot of people complaining about the expansion being too tough, but I wouldn't be surprised if most of these people aren't running a single defensive stat.
-Having just said that, I think the Chak Garent is tuned too difficult. It seems like the scaling for the fight is a bit off. It's mechanically interesting and not even that hard in that perspective, but it seems like its health scaling could be looked at.
Honestly the expansion has been a time sink in a bad way (been playing the game since launch). There're too many stuff to do outside of the expansion thanks to the new update on everything else like the Fractual and pvp etc. I only just got round to doing the stories in the second map in the expansion!
Even then the new maps are just like Silverwaste (one big event map) but it's more annoying and longer. Don't get me started on the grind to get the new items in those maps! Man I missed the old map system that you started on before reaching Orr (stable enviroment with uneven plains).
Also the masteries system is pretty much any other mmorpg expansion levels in disgised seeing how you have to earn more experiences to level it up. Heck the players levels are now showing their masteries level now to those who bought the expansion!
Granted the plus side is the new specialized as I have changed most of my characters into the new spec. Also while I want to played more Fractual, its heaven that they changed it to being one level for one map so I have more flexible time toward it now. Lastly the Revenant has been great despite not having a proper condition removal (only Mallyx and one trait for it).
What does grind mean to you? I'm genuinely curious because I see this more and more as a complaint that often just means "I don't have this item or skill instantly therefore it's a grind". Grinding to me means that you're doing the same thing over and over. You can grind if you want, but you don't have anyone to blame but yourself.
The mastery system is nothing like an increased level cap. Yes, you gain mastery progression through experience, but other than a few, easy to earn points, none of it is required to access 99% of the content.
I too am playing Revenant and you actually have condi removal trough the Jalis heal. I actually find myself using Jalis for the higher level Mai Trin fractals since she applies so many bleeds that I simply can't survive them without it. I don't think we should have more condi removal because it's really our only weakness. We already have some of the highest damage, best survivability while going glass cannon, and extremely high mobility. We can't have it all!
I know people are pretty split on the Silverwastes style of map progression, but I personally love it. However, I'm glad they only went all out with it on Dragon Stand because exploration would be significantly more annoying. Even though I say that, Dragon Stand's meta event is pretty amazing IMO. I just wish the Mouth was tuned a bit harder.