Like I say, Dark, I never had your issue, not really.
Oh sure, I probably levelled past a mark or two, or failed a few quests, but I've never had the Lasler issue, and I can confirm that you're booted out at level 20 now instead of 15. This is way, way more than enough time to do all the marks there, and you're also led there much more deliberately. The marks have been sort of built into a quest framework that means it's nearly impossible to miss them. Rune Forest is the same, though thtere might be one or two that are a bit more hidden there.
I agree with you about Alter Aeon though. It's very quest-driven - or can be, for the first while - and I prefer that to hours upon hours of hack-and-slash. AA is still hack-and-slash but at least there's a goal to it in most places. Little mini-dungeons you plough through to get to a boss so you can finish the quest.
But yes. Generally I can confirm even as recently as a year ago that it's better than it was in, say, 2009-2010. Were I you, I'd give it another go, Dark, because while the grindy aspect is still there to some extent, it's not quite so prevalent at earlier levels, and the quests/marks you can do before level 60 are quite interesting. A couple are kind of nasty though, so watch it. In particular there's an area where you absolutely must look ahead and watch your step, because there's a mob that auto-kills you if you step into the room with it. I hate that area, but it's interesting, and there's a good in-game reason for it, so it's copable.
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