For answering this, I feel like I need to make a proper review – where I can set review guidelines/standards before reviewing it etc., and I may do that down the road. For now, here is my quick response.
Graphics: With HW came Direct X 11, and the graphics improvements were great. That said, there are some really weird textures with the DX11 client. This results in things look amazing when far away and really bad when up close. There is also a pretty small amount of ‘substance’ (i.e. blades of grass, 3D rocks etc). I’d say the improvements were good, but not great.
Story: The initial story from 50-60 was amazeballs. However, since reaching 60, the story has been pretty meh. 3.3 had some really awesome cutscenes, but nothing from 3.1-3.3 storywise was that interesting. It was a pretty big letdown after 2.4-3.0. So, the majority of it (3.0) was awesome and then it tailed off.
QoL stuff: Patches recently have been coming with lots of QoL improvements, especially 3.3. While they aren’t all improvements that I specifically want, they’re welcome additions to many I am sure. It’s great that these QoL patches are constant, rather than loaded only with the expansions.
Features: Heavensward failed to shake things up. There was no revamp of systems, nor were there significant systems added. These are things one often sees in an expansion, which helps the game feel fresh and interesting. Possible additions/changes could be things to talents and traits, or could be a revamp of how FATEs work. The sky is really the limit on this one, and it is sad to see the result so close to the floor.
Patch and Dungeon Formula: Adding on to the above, the incredibly predictable patch format (and even release date) is not something that I enjoy. It removes a sense of mystery and hype, and makes a lot of the content feel stale very quickly.
Alexander: IMO Alexander has been a pretty big failure. I dislike the move to creating normal and savage, while leaving out a middle-ground. I find the reward structure is very unsatisfying and the lack of interesting achievements just makes that worse. The story has been fairly meh and a tad cliche, the mechanics (mostly) are pretty lame and the fights are not fun. That said, I do really enjoy A5S, but find A6S to be the least fun in raiding I have ever experienced.
Crafting: a portion of the game I do not partake in, so I don’t have any opinions on the matter.
Dungeon design: I am not sure if it is that things are not being shaken up, or if the devs have become more lazy, or are designing dungeons to a different audience than myself, but something is really wrong with HW dungeons. I really dislike Dusk Vigil, The Aery, Sohm Al, Arboretum, Pharos hard, Hullbreaker hard. I feel meh about most of the others, and was only really impressed with Antitower and that other new expert one I always forget the name of.
Trials: These are pretty split for me. I loved Bismark, hated Ravana, loved Thordan, hated Sephirot. I find Nidhogg to be in the middle. I dislike that these are so choreographed (particularly seph and ravana).
Zones: Most of the new zones are gorgeous, and it is really sad to see that for the most part we don’t go to them. Since reaching 60, I find that I travel in the maps very rarely, and I find that a bad thing. That said, Hinterlands, Forelands and Sea of Clouds are amazingly beautiful, so good job on this one!
Flying: This was pretty cool at first, but doesn’t really serve much purpose. I think that maps being connected at focal points really takes away part of what I really like about flying in WoW. I also think there need to be more !fly areas.
Diadem: Huge failure, of which I could see moments after entering it. I am not sure why they thought this was a good design, or how it made it past their quality control team.
Aquapolis: Fun, but it just takes something that you do in the gorgeous maps and puts you in a dull instance, so I don’t really see a huge point to it.
24-person raids: This one is simple. Void Ark sucks, Weeping City is great.
Job Changes: While I appreciate the added change to skill cap, I found this was done in a way that ultimately ruined jobs more than made them fun. I also disliked the homogenization of jobs. I get that they want to keep things balanced, but personally, I’d rather have flavour than balance (note that I emphasized personally). IMO, HW ruined BLM, BRD, tanking, DRG and made SMN, WHM, SCH much better. NIN is fairly similar to before with an added positional (one that I dislike, but is insignificant enough that I digress), and I never had MNK 50+ to comment.
I thought there were other sections I was going to touch on, but am drawing a blank. I may edit this later with them. For now, I shall conclude with, “I find that Heavensward has been a mixed bag, which ultimately has disappointed more than impressed. That said, it’s still a well made game that is providing me with many hours of entertainment.”