SE does not understand opportunity cost, but the best hope at this point is to wait for the magian trials for armor to be released and see what they offer. If people can cap out 25% haste easier then they will actually give new gear a shot.
This is a really good point. Merits made the single biggest difference in my bard upgrades, and they're completely unrelated to gear. They just require tough choices about what you're going to use as a "main" job (potentially HUGE opportunity cost if you want to play more than one job at a high level). I wish with all my heart that SE would increase merit skill caps in things like magic skill and combat skill. As much as I like being an easily identifiable bard specialist, I'd love for my RDM to be better than laughable in endgame.
My biggest gripe with opportunity cost comes into play with the group dynamic, too. FFXI really really rewards an aggressive, leadership-oriented playstyle. Part of the opportunity cost in the game actually includes cultivating relationships with some people while alienating others (i.e. picking one endgame shell over another). I'd like to see the game community become a little less clannish in some ways. It's not easy to find a middle ground between committing to one group for the sake of progression and also enjoying the company of a wide circle of friends.
Maybe it's just me, but I know I missed out on some fun because groups adopted a protective "LS members only" attitude during events. It was worse because I couldn't blame them for being unwilling to let a "stranger" join a group, even if it was just for a good time. Very sad.
If the gear-progression system involved say ... limited stat-upgrades based on key items (for say, defeating an NM) that could be applied to any gear over a certain level? ... heck YES I'd be interested! I might actually be able to do creative things with my old gear. SE's "randomness is its own challenge" attitude toward drops gets old pretty quick.
I'm pretty interested to see how armor magian trials turn out. I will be dead shocked if we get useful stats. Shocked. At the very least they could give us ways to turn our current endgame shinies into useful Abyssea shinies. I have sentimental attachments to some of my signed gear, danggit. I hate to think of it becoming useless.
Cannot wait to see how increased level cap screws with mechanics, too.