The new XI is a lot different from the old one. The old one was more grindy and more irritating yes, but it brought people together as a whole and it taught people how to play their jobs the right way. Now everyone I see is gear-gimp or just gimpy in general and everyone bandwagons BST/DNC now so there is no real strategy to the game anymore unless your doing VW/VWNM's. CoP and even Dynamis can be solo'd now where it used to take a full alliance to run Dynamis. The new XI also promotes a lot of leeching (which can be done pre-Abyssea) starting off in Gusgen Mines. Here's how the new way goes Level Burn ----> Skill Up ---> Gear Up ----> Endgame. That's all your really doing now. Which is nice that it's faster but it does take some of the fun out of the game, since I met a lot of cool people through leveling up in the Dunes, Quifim Island, Garlaige Citadel, Yuhtunga Jungle (Yaay mandies!) and many of my other favorite leveling spots.
Now it's just ---> Gusgen Mines to 30 ----> Abyssea (If you want to leech) or Crawlers Nest to 60-65 ----> Bostaunieux Oubliette to 75 ----> Abyssea to 99.
Players can also now "pay" for leveling. Now I understand this method if you don't have a lot of free time (due to work, children, etc) and you want to catch up quickly but if you're someone who's not doing much and is just too lazy, that is just sad. What I do approve is though, the old way is still kept but only in different areas, like the areas I posted above. There are no more Quifim parties (sadly) no more parties in Garlaige Citadel (thank god) and no more parties in Valkurm Dunes (R.I.P. Valkurm) it just boils down to who you know and how bad you need to get to 99. I've seen someone get to 99 in a day from leeching.
Also people don't like to really help outside of their shells due to how much XI has changed. I also do believe that everyone I've met on XI has told me they "skipped" over AF1 and AF2 and just aim for Endgame AF3 when AF3 requires more help than 1 and 2 combined. You need 8 Seals for each piece of gear, albeit the body being 10.
So that brings you to a grand total of 42 Seals. Which are only done in Abyssea, and if your someone who's coming back and your not skilled then you can kiss those seals goodbye. If you skill burn that leaves you in even more of a mess, due to the fact that you have to get gear to conpensate for how gimpy you end up and how underskilled you are going in Abyssea. Now mind you the skill up process varies due to what weapon you use but it's still just as bad when your struggling to get seals and can't find a Linkshell that will run them with you.
In hindsight I don't like the new XI, but then again that could be my old 2005 Veteran speaking for itself. I'm more or less waiting on the XIV release on PS3 which will either make or break my decision to leave XI for good, despite then expansion.