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Well...I kind of feel they did. Back at Games-com 2010 when we first heard about heart-quests they were introduced as a way to lead players around the map, to help them find the events. That all sounds fine, but my problem is that hearts are everywhere while events are not. At least that's my impression from playing the BWE's. I feel there should be alot of different events happening in an area and only a few hearts to help players who need it. In reality there are a lot of hearts in any given area and the same few repeating events. I would have liked if they had cut out many of those hearts and put those resources into making the event system much more diverse.
To me hearts feel very much like your boring standard mmo-quest, while events are fun as they evolve and players band together for a common goal. But my experience from playing the BWE maps running around looking for content, there was always plenty af hearts to keep you busy, but the events could be few and far between. And the few that did happen were usually the same repeating. You can't roam too far as you can only fight mobs 3-4 levels above you. I atleast found myself grabbing all the xp I could get so I could move on to a new area, which meant doing the hearts. So while hearts are meant to be optional they are really not in my experience, as events only give so much xp.
Arenanet have said a few times that you can play the game the way you want to. You can just do personal story, events or explore. But in reality I find you have to do it all to get the xp you need. And I don't really mind those three things, but I do mind the hearts. Especially as I don't think the event system is all it could/should have been. In many areas there are not enough events and they often feel linear and not very dynamic. Some events are great as they branch and have a real effect on the world for a time, but imo they are just very few.
We have only seen a few of the beginning maps and I hope events will dominate the maps much more later on. That hearts are only Arenanets way of easing new players into the game and there will be fewer as we progress. I mean, if we see the same heart/event ratio in Orr I will be a bit disappointed, like there is some wasted potential with the event system. But we'll see soon enough.