And what’s really a shame is that the story missions that come after that open world grind are definitely a bit more memorable, with a few different setpieces and interesting plot developments. I think they were looking to put something in like Destiny does in some of their campaigns, with pushing you to get to know the freeplay (patrol in Destiny), and breaking up the pacing in the story.
But there’s a few problems with that - freeplay is poorly designed right now, with no real ability to coordinate with randoms, communicate, and intentionally find the events that you’d want to do. The other issue is that it’s throwing way too many checkboxes for you to fill in at once. If they had broken this up to have you occasionally tracking down one of these tombs, and doing these trials at a few different points in the story, rather than all at once, I think it would be way more palatable.
It all just reeks of something thrown together over the past few months, because they were told they had to ship by the end of this fiscal quarter by EA (conjecture, but seems like a reasonable guess). The bones of a really great game are there, but they just made so many baffling and slapdash game design decisions (particularly game flow and UX) that just keeps getting in the way of itself.