While I miss the "its the character that's cool, not the gear" aspect of Specialties, the new equipment rules really do cover the same territory. The thing I am more upset about is the cultural rewards. I don't particularly want magical items in my games (except for the one-off, special item, like Sting), so I will be working the Cultural Rewards back into the game in someway. Again, I prefer the idea of the character being the important piece. The magical item rules run perilously close to one of the major things I hate about D&D, in my opinion, but the more limited version from the Rivendell book in 1e did as well, so that is not a bad change, just the last of more mundane cool stuff to counter it. I feel the game it taking to heart to much of the MERP criticisms and not standing on its own successes enough. We'll see.
“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will heal nothing.” - Frodo Baggins, Return of the King