1) Making the game accessible to casual or new players is crucial in the modern MMO era for long term success. That doesn't mean the entire game needs to or should be catered to casual players, but the design of the game can't be a stone wall that turns away the curious and only admits those who are committed to excellence on day one.
2) The flashy graphics: They are a bit over the top when you get a lot of people together in an area, but I think that players want combat that feels dynamic and impactful and flashy graphics and sound effects help create that feeling, so I think they're here to stay. That may not be how it was on FFXI, but it's how the Final Fantasy series in general has gone, so it's still very much in character. Just one of those time where you have to put on your dark sunglasses and "deal with it."
3) "Who doesn't love competing for HNMs?" Yea, is this a serious question? Who DOESN'T love that? Uhhh, 99.8% of the population of FFXI doesn't love it. It's a terrible design in every single way. It gives RMT a valuable commodity to try to monopolize, provides massive incentive to hack and bot, etc, on top of just being a frustrating bottle neck for most players. I don't know a single person who liked killing pop mobs or waiting at a spawn point with 15 other people hoping they could get claim on a mob before it even visually appeared, but knowing that they'd probably lose to a JP or hacker every time.
4) Ease of advancement: I actually agree with this somewhat. The nice thing about a game where you accomplish things easily is that you get those rewards up front and that makes you feel good about yourself, but in the long run, it creates other problems like a feeling that the game is hollow, as well as a need for an incredible amount of content to keep the hamster wheel going. From what we can see so far, gear choices in FFXIV do look extremely boring and vanilla, and the entire concept of end game character advancement is the very shallow and unsatisfying WoW style of tiered gear sets. I do think this is a problem for many people, though there are others who will be endlessly entertained by the notion of exchanging their sword of awesome +1 for a sword of awesome +2, and later, a +3, +4, etc.
I don't see anything like FFXI where you have major milestones in the development of your character, from getting a chobobo to getting an airship pass to unlocking your subjob or your first advanced job, to getting your AF, gobbie bags, etc. All of that stuff took a lot of time, but it was important, permanent stuff that you would never replace or outgrow, and it made it feel like you had really accomplished something, even though in the end it's all 0s and 1s, and not real.
I think any good MMO does need moments of "Finally, I accomplished it!" that aren't all gear centric, especially in a game like this where gear is clearly meant to be replaced at regular intervals. So far FFXIV doesn't have any of that, and it's a problem.