Newcomer experience after 500 hours

It does make sense, but the reality is - nothing changed in Patch 13 in terms of progression. So, what you described was also my experience and everyone else who dug into the game.

I know precisely what you’re describing. My burnout with the game happened around 500h. It took some good pals and playing only premades to run that number up to 800h. At that stage I had some more gear and missed only a few T4 blessings.

The challenge was gone long-since by then and the only joy the game offered was running increasingly dumb and memey builds with the pals, to see if we can still pull it off… Which is where the crafting drove the final nail in the coffin, as you describe above.

Good on you to describe your experience with the game! I advise something similar to:

…and find some good pals!