This is so true: If a race/lineage's culture is dependent/influenced by their racial abilities, you can get some awesome and diverse cultures that aren't possible through replacing them with humans.
This is one of the ideas I hope for in one of the new official D&D settings. Going hard on the base racial tropes to make the core races feel more separated from humanity.
My feelings exactly
I wonder, however, if the newer generation of players will allow racial mods to ever creep back in. Or will we hit the Singularity - where every PC race and class are so similar, everyone plays a martial that can cast spells and has darkvision.
Wasn't that 4e?