Crafting is much better than it used to be, though still not great.
The success/failure ratio still feels a bit random to me, but I, like you, took a lot of time off and I am sure the experts around here can tell you more about how to reduce the randomness.
The biggest change, to me, is the speed and streamlining of the crafting menus. They run a lot faster than they did on launch (the lag has been cut from probably 6-8 seconds for the menu to open to almost but not quite instantaneous), and when doing crafting Leve's, instead of having to dig through the menus a message pops up after finishing a recipe asking if you want to do it again.
Also, the game now saves the last eight (I think?) recipes that you have made, so if you are grinding you no longer have to add all the ingredients every time.
As for non-crafting stuff... battle feels better to me now with the auto-attack, they have added side quests (which have been minimal at my low levels, but the ones that are there are interesting and entertaining).
Probably the best I can say at this point, is that FFXIV now feels like a game and not a chore you don't want to do after work. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but it is definitely heading in the right direction.