It is what is ... as with Fate and Torchlight ... that is what the game is. Warcraft us only a grind fest if you let it be I personally choose not to rely on the AH its much more fun getting drops for yourself Any game is a grind if you play it too much as well.
... but honestly... will you enjoy the game with self-dropped gear ? Once a week you'll find a legendary - and than it's 50% any other class or 90% worse the current one you got. If you say something else, you play too much.
But, afterwards you cleared inferno... what else? Grinding inferno through and through, capture some keys, slaughter some ponies... And it is pain in the ass, to play that game solo... and with other players you will be a loser, compared to any other...
D2 - you can Lvl higher (90 were pretty high - of 99 possible), craft a lot of shit with the cube (where you require some gems and stuff) and years ago, rare-sets weren't that easy to get, even through trade - where I liked the trading system much more, than the AH-System... so all you need is gold... or, in other words... run as often as possible through the hardest difficulty and slaughter enough... D2 - you need to get something value, a 4 socked shield - etheric, indestructible unique with etheric, Elite-Set... or gems... a lot of 'em.
I play the game as and when I feel like it. No game is made to be played 24/7 and my main char is only paragon 12. This isnt the kind of game that you play all week every week of course that would bore you silly. There are many games that once you have done it you have done it.. thats it and this is that kind of game to be honest you can just pick it back up and start again when you feel like a blast on it. As for playing with others I have people I know from other games and I play with my fella to gain the co-op achievements for some fun so I dont have an issue with that area but I guess I am probably lucky in that respect. If you do not find something fun then it isnt for you but that isnt the fault of those who made it. As I said before ANY game becomes a grind if you do it over and over and over. Blizzard says that you should take breaks for a reason This is the kind of game you pick up and play inbetween other things it isnt made to be a game you slog out. I never played D2 so I cant comment on comparing the two but I think that is where many people go wrong. They expect the new game to be just as last game because it is what they loved but this isnt D2 and never will be. If you want D2 youll have to pick that back up and play instead. Me I love it but like I said it isnt a game I could sit and play day in and day out 24/7 then I would truely want to hit my head on the keyboard lol. I know others play it non-stop which I personally dont understand!!
I can see your points though if I understand correct that there is little "work" to achieve things in D3 and more "grind" to get where you want compared to D2 and therefore no sense of achievement and nothing to keep you captivated beyond getting to level 60.
Heroism. Simply it is. One of the best features - each set-item become stronger with more parts weared of the set... and a set boni in addition, so a set was much more value than the current way it is... chest (up to 4), arms(up to 6!), shields (up to 4) and Helmets (up to 3) had sockets - with runewords - about 33 different runes - increasing in value... to name just the important differences.