I'm not sure your subjective opinion of what "high tier game design" means is a universal constant. Designing a three month long game around the assumption there will be people to fight 24/7 is pretty unrealistic.
In my opinion the core model is fine with only two major changes needed:
1 - Cut the grind required to replace items and finish characters down, but not out.
It is most certainly overkill at this point. Leveling is fine. I really don't want to see people instantly turning around spec groups in the space of a day without a corresponding "activity tax" and leveling is a bulwark against that. It means one way or another I need to invest pretty heavily in that new spec group, which means there is a tactical cost that prevents me from simply summoning an answer for any problem foe on a whim. It also means I can translate my choice of wealth or time to completing that goal, and once we have functional harvesting and crafting xp, I can achieve that goal through whatever means I find most enjoyable.
Unless I'm already rich, of course, which is a great reason for me to want to be rich. I should want to be rich. Loot should feel valuable, not optional. I should want to get it, and I should want to prevent people from getting it and I should want to take it from people. When compared against passive xp that accrues while gaining wealth, using wealth to instantly hit those levels should feel like an earned luxury. That should be a state I want to be in because its tactically useful, rather than just because I'm greedy.
The discipline grind is really out of whack at the moment due to RNG, as is the belt slot grind. These numbers absolutely need to be toned down. These are meant to be logistical hurdles, but as is the hurdles are just set at completely random heights which makes the 'safe' assumption that they're really damn high.
That feels bad. I should be able to easily determine, based upon training and available personnel exactly how long its going to take me to equip my force in the absence of interference by my rivals. I should know roughly how many engagements that equipment is going to last us. This should allow me to plan a schedule for these activities, assign tasks, and generally engage in the logistics of war.
The heavy reliance on RNG as is makes planning these things effectively impossible, which inevitably makes a lot of long term strategic play really haphazard. Durability or resource output from harvesting should be doubled from the current values. The core mechanics are good but the values require too much acquisition for too little practical use.
2 - PvP objectives need substantial material rewards, but of lesser efficiency than farming rewards.
All objectives are at a loss right now. You can run a perfect siege, or run an all-night outpost capping group and in the end you're left with some numbers on a scoreboard and a longer grind. This level of loss is acceptable if you're losing every fight, but not if you're winning even a small number of them. Winning should be profitable. It just shouldn't be more profitable than farming. Losing should not be profitable. The act of waging war should be an act of attempting to remain profitable, and the scoreboard objectives should reflect rather than interfere with that goal. Even if nobody shows up to oppose you winning should be profitable. If done properly the allure of so-called 'easy money' should create that opposition. Everybody wants easy money!
This is exactly how EVE works. Its how Shadowbane worked. Its how most strategy games work. it is broadly how most real wars work. We fight over things we need, not just to prove we're more skilled than our opponents.
Winning any PvP objective should pay out roughly 80% of the value of a similar amount of time spent farming. This prevents winning from being an optimal replenishment strategy and ensures that people that lose and decide to go farm for a new group spec or better gear are ahead of the income curve compared to the winners so they can catch up. This also ensures that any player on any team has a really good reason to go risk their durability over these objectives, which means they spend far less time ganking farmers and far more time creating pvp content for other players. By adding real material value to all objectives that is less efficient than farming, you are creating a context for these fights, and a powerful incentive to stop your enemies from winning them.
Ganking farmers shouldn't be the most rewarding primary past time of a geared player. Its an option but the payout and level of action is inconsistant, and is really something people should want to engage in primarily because they either stumblesd across farmers on route to more important objectives, or have taken the time to gather intel that there are fat pockets in the field worth the effort.
By creating a significant material draw for winning objectives, we create conflict over those objectives much more easily. By effectively punishing the losers of said objectives with economic loss we use the thing these players don't want to do, go back to farming, as a deterrent to engaging in pointless or unwinnable combat. Because every fight has winners and losers, and because no force can win perpetually when the losers are gaining at an accelerated rate, we reatain an economy of scarcity based upon the desire to fight rather than the desire to prepare to fight.
Because a player can not simultaneously harvest and fight over these objectives, and because there is a hard limit for these gains (as there are only so many objectives on the map and so many vuln windows) this does not risk an uncle bob scenario. The people you have beaten so thoroughly they've been sent back to farming are outfarming you, but you're engaging in real risk with real reward in a fashion that creates rather than discourages direct conflict with other players. You want to win because it extends the time spent not farming.
You want to avoid losses because you want to avoid farming. You want to farm because you've lost so badly chasing victory would be pointless and unfun. This creates a feedback loop in which players are always making progress toward the intended goal of the game, winning at PvP. If you're winning you want to keep winning. If you're not winning you want to stop the guys that are. If you're overwhelmed you want to beef up so you can go win again, or engage in nonstandard warfare.
The spectre of "uncle bob" looms large over crowfall at the moment, but I think it is primarily a matter of incentive rather than actual skill and numbers imbalance. There is precious little incentive to take the fight to superior forces en masse unless you have a significant and continuous resourcing operation backing you. Thus, only those players willing to set one up are incetivized to do consistantly take the field. If you told people all they had to do to get a big wad of resources was to show up and win a siege, those people would show up and try to win a siege, even if they're fighting a force that usually beats them. The risk feels worth the reward.
Currently the risk of PvP simply is not worth the reward, and when evaluating the three pillars of power, wealth, and glory, wealth is left out of the loop, and in a sense so is power due to its relationship with wealth. Winning in PvP may be glorious, but it doesn't help you amass wealth or power, and I think it is that reason that sees so many players who genuinely enjoy PvP just avoiding objective play the majority of the time.
I don't think those players wants are any less valid than the players who simply want to win to top the scoreboard. War is a thing that people engage in for a multitude of reasons, and the fantasy of war needs to take those various motivations in to account. I want to fight. I just don't want to fight for free. I want to feel good about every fort or outpost win because it padded my wallet, because padding my waller keeps me in shape to take on the next fight.
That momentum is lacking in crowfall. There is no joy in victory, only annoyance. There is no anticipation when arming oneself, only boredom. I should treat those harvesting and farming runs as exciting because I know they comprise a minority of my playtime and I'm preparing for something greater, not as an annoying grind because I know I'll break my gear in less time than it took me to build it.
I think there's a place for all of this farming, but I think it needs to be tempered with the expectation that the core player isn't a trader. The core player is a jack of all trades that is more inclined to do the work than pay someone else to do the work. We need to make sure the less common players, the really dedicated farmers are well provided for, and when we ensure their skillsets are in the highest demand for income, through sheer volume, the ability to selectively harvest, or simply the ability to continue to do it efficiently in later seasons I think we do that. We don't also need to make it half of the experience for people that want to go fight in the great war for whatever combination of power, wealth, or glory most appeals to them.
Soldier should be a valid profession, and with just a few tweaks to how loot is handled I really do think it can be without breaking the rest of the game.