One of the reasons why people play RPGs in general is because they get excited for the next level or next piece of gear that they can equip. The satisfaction of seeing your character grow is one of my favorite parts of an RPG. That being said, before I stopped playing a 2 months back I remember being so disappointed in this game that everything was equippable at level 1. When I dinged to 18 or so I spent almost 5 hours running around getting ingredients for the level 19/20 axe, I can't really remember. When I finally got that axe and equipped it, I felt no difference really and became depressed about the games gear mechanics.
One of the best parts about FFXI was seeing how much your gear improved your performace. It was very easy to see when your Weapon Skills shot up 100 dmg than what they were previously and suddenly you realized how much that grind was worth it. In FFXIV there seems to be very little attention to numbers and in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really feel like gear plays a huge part in determining your performance as other RPGs.