Agreed. And on a tangent this is part of why I'm in favour of ditching ability scores for PC races. It's not unique and it's not that impactful.One extremely impactful, unique, and thematic feature would be worth more than tons of generic features.
Like many ideas it's not a bad one - but it's all in the implementation.Picking a race could be more interesting if such a decision actually had more influence on the player's choices and options beyond character creation. For example:
Players choose their own traits and abilities based on the race they have selected. This would eliminate the need for defined sub-races to telling us how one elf culture may be different from another elf culture, yet there is still no difference between elves of the same sub-culture.
Agreed. The problem with dragonborn is in part that the breath weapon is a bit meh. The Fizban's version is a lot better because it costs an attack not a full action so it's not simply a bad choice for any melee combat person to use other than under extraordinary circumstances or at really low level. Even what they get isn't good.Sometimes, it's okay for a race to be really simple. Using 4e as an example, Humans were special because their features were powerful but simple: any single stat could get +2, you got a bonus feat (the only race which had this), a bonus at-will attack (or Heroic Effort later), a bonus skill training with no restrictions (e.g. not just a class skill), and a small bonus to all non-AC defenses. Nothing fancy, but something plenty of characters could leverage very well.
Turning to 5e, I think the default Dragonborn give us an excellent baseline for a not-quite-sufficient race. They've got exactly four things: +2 to one stat (Str) and +1 to another (Cha), Draconic as a bonus language, resistance to one chosen element, and a short-rest breath weapon. Thing is...that resistance is kinda bland and minimal as far as features go, and the breath weapon isn't much better.