The way the game is setup actually forces you to focus more than you might be realizing. Not sure how far you have played, but Tier 3 gets slow and Tier 4 is downright grind central. If you get bored or disappointed in what you are playing, sure you can switch. Now you have to do that same grind to get Tier 3 or 4 in that equipment. Crafting is also a crazy grind.
The grind might not really be a bad thing since the game wants an economy that works and you probably have to have the item destruction for crafting to work and you probably need crafting to be a huge grind or everyone would do it. Not sure the progression to bigger better weapons needs the same grind though since you are still limited by funds to buy gear or crafting to make it.
Have you bought your island, mount and started farming yet? more grinds.
I think the intent is to have players "find their way" in the game and do what they want to do. This can mean any number of things. If you are in a big guild, things can be theoretically organized to have different players specialize and then others contribute as they can. In a small guild you'll still likely have to pick and choose what to specialize in. It boils down to focusing on what kind of gameplay you like. If you enjoy gathering and crafting, yes there will be a ton of gathering and crafting to do to advance to higher tiers. But hopefully you're doing that because you like it. If you just want to kill stuff, you can focus on just killing mobs and then use silver to buy equipment upgrades. PvE in a group is much more efficient, btw, so if you were only soloing that might change your impression a bit. We grouped up last night for like half an hour and I got from Tier 3 to 4 in healing. I thought it was going to take me weeks but with the group it just flew by and it was a ton of fun. So part of it is the learning process. If you recall early SB it seemed like everything was a major grind, but we eventually figured out more optimal ways to do things. Not that I anticipate "afk leveling groups" but I do believe as we experiment and learn we're gonna get better. That's part of the fun for me.
I will say the game definitely has an "old school" vibe, and you can see influences from Shadowbane, Guild Wars, Star Wars Galaxies and probably Ultima Online. There's little hand holding and no traditional questing so you have to make some significant choices. That said, it still feels fresh to me and honestly it's the most fun I've had in an MMORPG in a really long time. I'm also really looking forward to being able to play this game on an iPad (maybe even on the phone?); for me that could be a game changer.