Getting to a point of complete self-sufficiency as a new player in AO was certainly obtainable. I define self-sufficiency as being able to craft your own tier three gear, weapons and tools, and being able to farm tier three and four mobs on your own. Therefore, you only rely on the AH for one mount. Becoming self-sufficient in a sandbox MMO is imperative for your enjoyment. I found that AO currently has a perfect model for new players so that once they become self-sufficient, they may venture into more high risk, higher rewards lands at their choosing.
This is crucial to the health of the game, which I will mention more in Softcore vs Hardcore and Long Term Feasibility. Once my girlfriend’s brother became self-sufficient, even he enjoyed the game much more. Knowing that if he made a mistake, he was more than capable of picking up where he left off. Even he ventured out into PvP lands with us. Bravo!
However, the only downfall to self-sufficiency is the ability to farm silver, given that tier three gear requires silver (or gold). A new player may not choose to buy gold immediately, and it honestly only took me a day or so to get to their three (premium and non-premium accounts will change this behavior entirely with Albion Online Power Leveling). That is too early for most players to decide if they want to invest in a free to play game. Therefore, SI will have to monitor the starter zones silver per hour drops carefully to make sure there is enough silver to go around for new players to support themselves during that time. Although, as mentioned earlier, if SI did reduce durability loss, new players can use the little silver they have farmed to sustain self-sufficiency. Therefore, they venture out into riskier areas when they feel they are ready.