Before I jump into where I see issues I want to say I am optimistic that
the approach Ashes is taking will combat the problem of bots. Simple
systems are easier for bots and complex systems are harder for bots. If
any change Ashes makes helps drive down bot activity then it may be
worth keeping. Note: "we'll just ban the bots" is not a plan and has not worked to solve the bot problems for any MMORPG or other type of game... ever.
The main changes that Ashes is layering on top of their gathering system are surveying and variability based on world conditions (time of year, node status, etc). Surveying will be a skill players improve that helps them survey the landscape and identify resource nodes and details about those nodes. This combines with the nodes being variable based on world conditions; complimentary systems to drive engagement for gatherers.
My first concern with complexity comes from surveying. Instead of going off what a player sees it seems like players will be encouraged to "stop and smell the roses" so-to-speak (i.e. survey first to find the good nodes to then harvest). I like but don't like this concept. Sometimes (actually most times for me) players just want to smash rocks, chop trees, and not have to think about it all too much. Adding in a pre-system to gathering feels like it takes away from that feeling that drives a player to want to chop down a tree in the first place.
Surveying also has me worrying more and more about bots. Is surveying go to be fun enough in itself for a player to want to do over and over (and over and over and over and over - as is the tradition with MMOs)? I think there is real risk it just becomes something either a player "sets and forgets" while they get a coffee refill or worse it becomes a reason to encourage botting even more as in theory it will highlight to a bot the nodes to go harvest. I need to see more from the system to tell me this will be fun and engaging for players otherwise it will fall into bot-category in my opinion.
The variability based on world conditions does have some promise to combat bots as resources will not always be in the same spot in the same area in perpetuity like they are in games like New World. It will also reward players that stay knowledgeable on the state of the world and what is going on. Combined with the "open world PvP" (which I honestly don't think will stick, but for argument we'll assume they do) this could really set gathering as a job players can be known for.
However, I question how this complexity may discourage players from just sitting back and enjoying the actual activity. There is something to be said for the simplicty of New Worlds gathering; see a rock - hit a rock - get smaller rocks and maybe a gem. See a tree - hit a tree - get logs and maybe some sap. Maybe the blue glowing tree requires a higher skill level to chop and it tells you that when you approach. No pre-scanning an area, no needing to break through a top layer to see whats underneath, and really no wasted time or movements. Players just chop one tree to the next and it is ever so satisfying!
Sometimes simple is just better. What do you think?