Space missions are finished so quickly, I could see myself doing a Ground mission or two before a Space is completed.
Plus, M.A.C.O. Team Commander still needs grabs. I can imagine the frustrated men at anywhere still needing the Optional Objectives for the ground missions.
Due to the fact that you will still need to actually do the STF's to get the marks (like you had to to get the EDC's and techs) it will be exactly the same as it's always been with two fundamental, and in my opinion advantageous differences:
1. Because you can 'just buy' what you need, as you point out, more people will have the sets which means at least if people don't have a clue, they will have the necessary equipment (instant remodulator and arguably the best non-fleet gear for STF's)
2. Because you won't need to wait for the stuff to drop, you won't feel that need to do the STF's over and over again in order to get the shield or whatever because, as you say, you will be able to 'just buy whatever you wish'. You will do them for fun and not for the gear, which is an entirely different experience. This, I guarantee you (being someone who has all the gear and all the optionals) will take away all the irritation you might feel when doing pugs. Incidentally, I would also like to point out for the record that ALL my optionals for Space and Ground, Normal and Elite were achieved in public groups - yes, even CGE and IGE.
I do have to agree with you about the rewards. The ground rewards should definitely be higher.
Not really. It's just that the enemies are quite durable. And they hurt. A lot.
If that isn't FUBAR your definition of FUBAR needs a check. STF ground combat bears absolutly no playstyle similarities with the pre-STF ground combat or the STF space combat. Both the latter two are slow paced with a great deal of emphesis on careful use of the right ability and the right boff build.
STF ground combat is a super twitch reflexes shooter with littile if any emphesis on carful anything. It's simply spam your best attacks as fast as possibbl until one side is dead. Eve abilities that you do have go on the back burner becuase the lifespan of the enemies, (if they don't kill you first), is s short the overall effect is svererly muted. Their there, but compared to good gear and being able to twicth reflex dodge/swiotch target/hit hypos and sheild charges their very minor.
Tbh, getting one-shotted by elite tac drones through my mk XII maco set does get old after a while.
And if the previous half of your post wasn't a sign things are FUBAR, this definetly is.