Simply as the title says.
Lets use gems as an example.
Its like seeing someone try to buy full lvl 10 T3 gems in LA currently, its such a stupid idea as you get gems every day which build up over time, your not meant to get full lvl 10 gems in two weeks. Prices are dropping in the AH daily, and maxing out your gems is complete and utter overkill for content required, its the same as pushing IP over 1400 currently, there is no reason except to show off.
Now replace gems with honing, your going to rush your honing to 1400 for example and have the same complains as you did at 1340, your just doing the same content for weeks on end. 1400 gives you acess to all the content in the game, but so what? At 1302 you had acess to almost all the content in the game aswell, when you hit 1340 did you have some kind of revelation that the content is so much different?
Just do your dailies and hone with what you get, you do not need to be buying mats off the market if your not grinding out gold, by only focusing honing your character is going to be build like a paper plane, sure you can do most things but once some actual difficult content comes out it will crumple.
You dont need to be playing alts for 8 hours a day.
You dont need to be swiping for mats.
Streamers, Youtubers make people feel like honing is the end all be all by constantly showing off progress through rage honing. Honing is your entry level into content, people click on videos and streams of people rage honing, its gets clicks so content creators keep doing it, your dailies and weeklies alone are enough to hit 1370 currently and if your not there you wont be far behind unless you are focusing elsewhere such as adventure tome.
Argos isnt going anywhere, hard Abyss dungeons are not doing anywhere, Yoho and whatever the last guardians name is, also isnt going anywhere, by rushing you experience this content quicker thats all, lets say it takes five weeks for a F2P to hit 1370 or 1385, once you hit the IP your just gonna say “Is that it?” when you do the 1370 content.
You can choose to rush through a limited amount of content or play at your own pace and enjoy the game. This game is not P2W, you can put in the hours and effort and get the exact same gear as the average spender (Not counting a whale spending thousands of dollars, this is a whale not your average spender) If you want to hit 1370, 1385 or 1400. If a whale spends thousands of dollars on min maxing accessories and getting their weapon to +1490 they are just wasting money for no reason and your not about to be killed by them during your chaos dungeon and lose all your gear like in Albion Online for example.
Yes there are benefits to hitting 1370. However seeing someone run around with a 1430 gearscore, what are they gonna do with it, there is no content at that Ilevel out yet.
Honing is seen as the end all be all for some reason when its only one type of character progression. Honing is a marathon not a sprint, and sadly most of the playerbase thinks that the only thing in lost ark is sprinting for IP.
You can rush your honing to 1400 IP and do argos phase 3 and guess what? You dont get anything special compared to 1370 Phase 1 argos, just more of the crafting materials, between hard mode abyss and argos you can craft a full set of gear in 1-2 weeks and slowly work on getting your full argos set by doing phase 1 each week.
Lets say you do rush 1400IP to do argos phase 3 while ignoring your other progression and use party finder, guess what? You wont be accepted.
Sure you meet IP requirements but your gear would be terrible, if you just hone by doing your dailies you build up your gems, your tripods and your engravings.
Your getting stats from Card sets, card pokedex, roster level, tripods, gems, runes, stat potions from rapport / tower.
You also have your engravings, 3/3/3 is enough for all current content including argos, 3/3 is plenty for hard mode abyss dungeons however 3/3/2 or 3/3/3 is quite easy to hit at this state in the game for well under 10-15k gold.
You can spend money on crystals for gold and mats but its nothing but a waste of money, just invest the time early and profit off the whales who are spending thousands on the game.
By spending enough time efficiently and using alts, and pushing IP you can hit 1400 by now F2P, people have done it, not many but they have. Once you hit 1375 is is very easy to hit 1385 with the high honing rates.
This game rewards effort, if you put in the effort and hours you will keep up in content. I don’t consider a game like this P2W. Sure you CAN spend money on the game but so what? You will just hit 1400 a few weeks earlier by spending $1000 and run out of endgame content.
Lost Ark has currency exchange so you can obtain blue crystals in the shop as a F2P, this means you can buy leapstones off mari shop each day for very cheap prices, you can also buy battle items chests to save time if you dont like gathering for example.
I consider a game P2W when your locket out of content altogether unless you spend significant money and can never catch up F2P no matter how much time and effort you put into the game, wether this be by paywalls or abysmal resource sources, lets say you can only get 50 greater leapstones per week through doing abyssal dungeons or spending money and 1340 gear is impossible to obtain without saving ingame resources for years or by spending money, there are no other ways to obtain them outside events, people would just quit the game and Leave, these are P2W mobile games which people DO play and people compare Lost Ark to.