I played to level 50 but didn't do that much crafting (up to level 40 set), I'll go full out in the EU
did you play archeage? lol be honest
when a game presents sandbox elements, it's up to you to make of it as you will.
there's no true sandbox per se, because sandbox is what you want it to be.
do you want to be a farmer? go ahead. a mercenary? pirate? sure.
there are a lot of things you can do in the game that aren't part of its 'features' and that's what makes the sand in sandpark.
also, combat level doesn't matter a whole lot, because the game is focused around /group/ play. 2 level 30's can easily beat a 50 that isn't decked out the whazoo with crafted gear.
there's a wolf in my heart
A theme park game's features craft the experience for the player.
A sand box game's features allow the player to craft the experience.
Classes: ArcheAge and Rift both allow to mix and match many talent trees for unique builds. ArcheAge offers 120 combinations. Rift offers 336.
PvP: ArcheAge and Rift both offer open world PvP where you can gank who you like. ArcheAge does allow same faction ganking, which stays in one level 30 zone on each side. PvP usually involves ganking back and forth until enough people show up to have a South Shore style brawl. Fun, but not sandbox.
Housing: Both Rift and ArcheAge offer player housing. Rift's is instanced but offers much greater customization. ArcheAge's is non-instanced but is area specific. Essentially meaning you can see it other people stuff but it doesn't really mean anything. It just adds an illusion of sandbox.
Crafting: Both games feature a collect and craft system.
Trade: ArcheAge trade runs are essentially quests that allow you to drop your quest items on death. It adds a bit of risk, but not really sandbox.
Questing: Both are linear experiences.
Leveling: Both rely on questing and grinding. You do gain experience from crafting in ArcheAge but leveling like that is veeery inefficient. More so if you don't have a decent combat level to access the better quality gather areas. It comparable to the guy spending 4 months leveling his WoW Panda to 80 doing nothing but gathering.
In either game you can hop around and roleplay but both games are about the same when it comes to restrictions.
I am not saying ArcheAge isn't fun, it's fun. So much that people don't realize they're playing a theme park game. So really there's no point in arguing about it. The game works.