Istaria, times have been quiet for far too long, even with unique race selections. Luckily, that longstanding silence has been broken with the game's newest content update, a major patch that delivers a complete loot overhaul and several changes to the game's underlying mechanics. Techniques and Technique components have had their drop sources adjusted, Junk Loot has been added to the game, and a brand-new item type known as Broken Items has been added for crafters to repair and improve.
The loot system revamp is only the least in a long list of changes, including numerous alterations to enemy distribution and large-scale reworking of several quests. The patch notes also mention specifically that this is the first update of the year, which seems worthy of speculation -- after all, there has been a call put out since October for players willing to take part in alpha testing. It seems quite possible some major changes are en route to Istaria, which should make the year interesting for players.
[Thanks to Joseph for the tip!]