Doesn't need changes
Tested to see whether it handles perl and python scripts correctly: it does.
In setting it up to my liking, I changed almost every setting away from default, just like I do with xchat. Handled it flawlessly, with a couple of things noticeably improved over 2.8.8.
My vote is it's time to move this at least into testing when it can be done. And whoever decides such really should consider removing 2.8.8 from the 7.1 repo and replacing it with hexchat before release. This from a dedicated xchat user. It's exactly the same, except for where it works smoother, adds a truly needed small feature, or fixes a bug.
EDIT: As noted below, the following is a bad idea
As a test, backed up ~/.config/hexchat and removed the files, then recursively copied the contents of ~/.xchat2 there. Though it didn't keep my preferences, it did keep my servers and channels, my nick, my passwords, even the scrollbacks, and connected automatically to freenode, just as xchat was set to do. Had no problem manually setting up the preferences.