Thanks for this post. I like the concept behind passive training, but in every iteration of the passive training trees in this game so far it has just felt really... wrong, but I couldn't quite figure out why or how to make it better. I've never played another game with passive training so I didn't have any other reference for how it could be done right - or even just differently.
Having to basically max out every skill in the entire passive tree just doesn't feel engaging or like I'm actually making any choices, and I can see it being extremely frustrating when the passive training speed slows down to its 'intended' speed at launch. I haven't had enough time yet to experience the more de-treeified version of the passive trees to make a judgement on it. Again, I like it in concept (the tree version felt REALLY bad), but I'm not sure its enough to mitigate the other issues described in the OP.
I'd also like to bring up the idea of a partially passive, partially active system. Basically actions you do in game can add to the speed of your passive training, but only to a certain degree. I'm not sure how exactly this would be implemented, I know its an idea the devs have floated before, not sure if its still something they are considering. It would help new players get up to a base level of competency faster by helping them get through the early parts of the passive skill nodes, and also provide more of a sense of progression early which I feel is really lacking right now, while still allowing for longer term progression from passive training only. I logged into Test 2 days ago and still havent accumulated enough points to get past the very first node in the combat basics tree, a rather boring node for low level gameplay I might add (anti critical strike) - a useful skill for anyone, but one who's effect I won't actually feel as I put points into it while fighting mobs and other low level players. I get that the leveling and talent system is supposed to provide some early game progression as well, but frankly even with the accelerated speed of leveling right now, the leveling experience feels extremely bland and I don't find the talent trees to be very interesting either (perhaps even less interesting than the passive trees).
Final point I'd add is that many of the individual nodes just feel really underwhelming and sometimes even just confusing. -3% critical strike? 5% movement control defense? These don't seem like stats I'm particularly interested in as a brand new player, yet they are in the very first parts of the combat basics group. 100 resist all? 300 organic resistance? How am I supposed to gauge the relative value of these stats again each other, and more importantly to others like 5% hard control intensity. Some of this comes down to lack of experience with the game mechanics I know, but these are all stats in the combat basics group, the one almost every player is going to start in, and there is no reference for how useful any of this stuff is. How common is hard control vs movement control vs attack control? How badly do different debuffs affect my particular class or playstyle? How common is organic damage? Do I have more problems dealing with classes that do organic damage or cold damage? How useful is crit damage vs crit resistance vs physical resistance? It doesn't feel good to look at these skill trees as a new player and have no idea what to aim for. Perhaps the slow accumulation of passive training points will alleviate this, as you'll be a week or two in before you even have to start making any choices and somewhat more familiar with the game mechanics by then, but as a new player just looking through the passive trees trying to see whats there and plan out a build, none of it makes a lot of sense and my instant reaction is 'blegh I don't even want to think about this right now' rather than 'wow I can't wait until I start unlocking all these cool stats'. Right now I'm looking at this and thinking "Oh look in 2-3 weeks I can invest some points into a skill that can drop that 3 second root down to 2.85 seconds... yay", and that doesn't get me invested in the progression system at all.