Under new Management. This is what I have to describe what has happened to this game. Yes you will have to deal with rng crafting endgame. But you are talking about 8 months to a year from now before you are even prepared to use crafted gear. There is land on just about every server and its available to be claimed. You cannot be attacked in the housing area unless its wartime. There are tree's everywhere waiting to be harvested. Its like they replaced the team running this game and made it better. The cash shop has been trimmed down a lot to help with p2w. I enter the game and do not feel hopeless because I cannot find any land and I do not feel the wall is suddenly hitting me at max level like it once did.
You cannot play on any of the fresh start servers. Do not even try.
You cannot really enjoy the game without being a patron.
You don't have to jump in and drink the koolaid. Just login to your old character and run around a bit and see if its working for you. Check out the empty spots in housing areas and read up on obsidian gear which is the first set of gear you will begin to upgrade for about 8 months and once thats done you will start on crafted gear.
Are you onto something or just on something?