In PoE you can buy most uniques for currency that drops very early in the game. It take zero effort and zero time investment. Trading is an essential part of PoE and it’s your choice that you don’t want to engage in it and thus you’re the one gating items for yourself.
so you finished act 10 and then completed the atlas? Or do you mean “I played through the first 10 acts” - which are the introduction section to the actually meaningful stuff?
I might be biased,because I have around 1,5k hours in PoE,but I never found obtaining any uniques a problem and even when I did- because there are a FEW that cost quite a lot of ex- then I went with substitutes and the build still worked.
Also,the fact that you DID want to try those “gated” things is actually the matter at hand.
I don’t really care how hard they would be to acquire,hell,you could get “blueprints” for them at levels 5/10/15/20/25 for all I care,I just want reds that affect playstyle.