I have being playing MMOs for quite some time now and have gone through plenty of games. Currently playing EVE Online (since '06) and have always wanted a land based( i always thought sword and shield but this is good too) game that offered the freedom and immensity that EVE does.
Its my understanding that currently the "Prelude" is the chance for players to build their communities and shape the world. I like PvP but hate 'grief'ers so it makes sense to let people pitch a tent without having some douche coming along and kicking it down every single time. On the other side of the coin, games need strife and conflict and eventually players should be able to attack each others cities. If this is in the future of the game then I think I would happily contribute my $40 and $15/month fees.
Not a comparison of the 2 games at all but an example of what i hope the future of the game holds:
This video is 4mins of your life but shows what player driven content can be. This is the EVE universe map and the colored areas are player controlled. This vid shows daily changes to the map over the years.
I had the same mindset as you, trying to get a jump on the PvP competition. Well, I sure got that jump, I'm very high level but simply have nothing to do yet. Like I said, the game isn't there yet.
You can build a city, raise your skills (all skill gains give hit points so even characters with crafter stats can still be OK in PvP) for PvP that doesn't exist yet, explore the land that has zero points of interests except some of the cool looking cities others have built or attempted to build and then quit. You can also hunt animals for resources for armor, but animals are very rare (think much rarer than darkfall or skyrim) and obviously the armor has no use yet, except for attacking harder mutant animals if you can't kill them without armor (I can)