@Miraglyth I'm not exactly so certain that the Japanese version got a headstart in their grinds as the players on that version were the first to get hit with content that effectively nullified their content (being those Atlas EX/Lightstream users who watched their weapons become the "normal" damage for the newly released Ultra Hard content at the time and the higher-end Heroes watching the class get shredded and punished on the content that came out afterwards). The global players got a much bigger headstart (alternative grind options, buffs/balance patches already applied when relevant, and as a result much of the hassle the Japanese players experienced already being stripped out).
The biggest example I can think of before Episode 6 is during Episodes 4 and 5 when the requirement to reach Level 80 involved having a New-Type thirteen star weapon relevant to the class upgraded to +35 during a time where weapons didn't guarantee dropping at +35 as a grind limit/enhance cap. You also had the other issue where you couldn't just go to the Player Shop to buy a thirteen star or fourteen star weapon because they were not yet eligible to be sold on the Player Shops at the time. The twelve star units were a no-brainer due to the Level 75 gift (Stella Wall units) but that particular grind was what pushed me into playing a Hero rather than a Gunner/Fighter because my Gunner reached Level 85 but my Fighter was stuck at 75 (due to me not playing Fighter with a botched skill tree and not getting a thirteen-star New-Type weapon at the time with a grind cap of +35). The Hero (and all other Successor classes) definitely have stop-gaps between levels that force you into completing client orders to unlock the rest of the levels but they were painless breaks in comparison to what the original classes had to deal with and even by then Sega updated the leveling mechanics so that this Level 75 class trial was removed from the original classes altogether so everyone can easily unlock the Level 75 Class Bonuses without the grind it used to have.
On top of that, players from before Episode 4 got to see their entire line of equipment become redundant or outdated when the introduction of New-Type weapons rolled out with much less grindy and more accessible upgrade options. Every weapon was guaranteed then to have a Special Ability Factor/Special Augment Factor for affixing purposes, every weapon can upgrade from +0 to +35 (assuming the grind cap allows for it), and you had absolutely very little trouble of risking failures or downgrades like you did with Old-Type weapons when the risks got higher and higher as you raised your potential's level. While very few of these Old-Type weapons still matter (such as Helen Bathina), the majority of them effectively became weapon-fashion fodder for transmutation passes and in the case of the global version most of these are non-existent outside of specific areas. I recall seeing them in the Challenge Mode but you can get one in-game (Sprue Col-C) for normal use. My point here was that global players having New-Type weapons right off the bat already trivialized and decimated most of the Episodes 1-3 content regardless of whether or not we are talking about Nemesis/Raven weapons. It was not until Episode 4 when the content we had suddenly started to put New-Type weapons on the edge when the newer fourteen star weapons and Nemesis/Raven weapons began to shine and simultaneously fade faster. When Episode 5 dropped I definitely remember there being quite a very strong crowd of proud Nemesis affixers who spent quite a bit of their resources on their godly affixes who ultimately would face the fact that Nemesis/Raven's New-Type variants were ultimately catch-up weapons on the Japanese side meant to pad the way for Atlas EX and Lightstream weapons or something that could stand up to them such as Jupiter Tullus and Rykross Staff.
I do like the gesture that Sega is willing to give players the end-game equipment as a reward as it gives access to it for players who aren't willing to or cannot play through the grind and also gives players who already have them more options for gearing up. For classes who uses multiple weapons or for the sake of gearing up multiple characters it is highly convenient when the drops needed for the Cras/Liberate/Lightstream/Atlas EX (though Atlas EX doesn't actually need it due to the Val -> Atlas upgrade requiring that) weapons are all locked behind extremely rare drops that are typically either found via titles or are near-impossible to drop in normal means. I don't quite know either if I prefer a grind that is determined on chance and randomness or if I like the idea of a guaranteed reward but you can calculate just how much time and resources you would need to get it as a result in response to stopping handout equipment and freebie end-game equipment.