I started playing during launch and I agree that the throttling mechanic felt all too familiar when you first bump into it during the tutorial missions, but I appreciated the fact that it slightly curbs binge gaming and lets you enjoy the content at a slower pace. (My last major MMO investment was three years of WoW, which left a sour taste in my mouth, so I may be a little biased here)
The barrier of entry might seem a little steep for most modern players, but with a week or two of daily play and some research using their wiki, you can easily break into Tier 2 and start becoming "self-sufficient" in being able to make enough Crowns to buy a stack of CE. I love that the game puts the pacing in my hands, having to schedule crafting and ration out Mist Energy for the day, and setting specific objectives for myself rather than being pulled this way and that by roller-coaster quest lines and the endgame raid rat race.
One key factor in this is gear scaling: high-level players still have a slight motivation to retry low-level content due to the game dynamically adjusting the stats on their gear to suit the Tier they're playing on. This way, helping low-level players and buddies still presents a challenge; and if you decide to tackle Danger Rooms, you still have the advantage of non-numerical benefits such as increased range, status effects, and Unique Variants on your high-level gear to help you push through. Hunting for Danger Rooms and Arenas in the Arcade is a viable—I'd say better—alternative to farming Firestorm Citadel ad nauseam.
The Rank Mission system is smart in that it primes players for regular Clockworks runs, but is not required for progress in the game, so you can use either Ranks or the Arcade, or combine both for your grinding and learning.
They've changed the tutorial missions slightly since then, however, so I think they may be a little meatier since you or I last played them. (I've played them only twice, at launch and when the Missions system was introduced)
The Guild Hall expansion was a very recent addition in the last month that has everyone, myself included, very excited, as it adds a number of features that can greatly enhance gameplay. Shared Storage finally gives me a place to stockpile all my shards and scrap metal while other players (especially the new ones I've introduced to the game) can get the materials they need; the Mist Well converts CE into Mist at a net plus, allowing groups of players to play together longer.