Just wanted to say this has been a really interesting read, and I've learned a lot from this. As an inexperienced player, I have to agree with @Deioth's points on the new player experience.
It's been great reading the responses from the more veteran players, to know that passive training and high quality gear isn't as crucial as it may seem at first.
The real problem here, that should be reiterated, is that to the new player it DOES seem crucial.
Thinking about this in the long term, one could argue that these problems could be ironed out with knowledge stemming from a more solid tutorial phase, and community guides and tutorials for how to play (which don't really exist considering how frequently the game changes).
This however, shouldn't mean we neglect the psychology of a big chunk of new players who will never even get that far. I can easily see players, after realizing their progress is time-gated, losing interest in the game. Not to mention this kind of contradict's the hard-core nature of this game, but that is a different discussion which I'm going to mention, and then run.
Though, if I were to improve upon this metaphor it more feels like I'm being hoisted up said cliff by a pulley system controlled by the devs, and I don't actually do any climbing (yes, this is not the case as what has already been mentioned, but again, the feels man, the feels).
I do welcome some passive training, but it can easily feel like a child at a carnival where you want to ride the big ride, except that guy is there blocking your path, telling you: you need to be this old to ride (versus the common height requirement). Also, this is an opinionated point, but I don't believe ANYONE wants this to adopt mobile game mechanics to the current level.
Conclusion, I do agree (or accept) there are some great points made by both sides, but I have to lean on the side that the system needs to change. I like a lot of the suggestions mentioned to combat the passive training problem, though I don't FULLY agree with all of them. I'm not going to write a book on my own thoughts at the moment. I trust Artcraft's direction so far, and I know they want to make the best possible game (it's in their own best interest as well, and they have been super receptive to the community so far).
So I'll leave at at that. This is a problem. Hopefully it will be further revised.