Ive done it often, and I'm about to do it again. Here's a tip of advice, Yager/6 Foot/Grey Box: Take a look at Planetside. With that statement covered, let me get on to why...
For those that don't know, Planetside 2 can be classified as a MMOFPSRTS (kinda, its unique). You have hundreds of players from 3 unique factions battling on huge maps (continents) to capture facilities and lock the continent so their faction gets a nice bonus. Its a combined arms game that features infantry, armored vehicles, and aircraft. For the purposes of this forthcoming wall of text, I will be looking at how Planetside handles some of the things addressed in the wall of text provided to us by Timo.
Claiming that you want people to diversify their fleets, you have locked several ships behind different ships classes. On top of this, T1 players only have access to 3 of the 5 ship classes. In order to make your classes more powerful, you have to buy a whole new ship (In best case scenario) or go through several ship classes. In planetside however, you start with all 5 classes in the game: Infiltrator, Light Assault, Engineer, Combat Medic, and Heavy Assault (and MAX, technically). This allows you to switch to any class at any time if you feel that one will fit your current situation better. How do they handle upgrading their classes, you might ask? This is done through customization options. You wont have very many unlocked to begin with, but after you unlock one you can upgrade it using the earned currency. For example, I can buy armor for my Heavy to reduce incoming damage. If I keep putting money towards new ranks of this upgrade, it resists more damage. These direct upgrades aren't expensive at the first few ranks, and I can chose to diversify and have more options available or specialize and keep putting money towards a specific ability that I like. This allows players to have freedom, which is generally a well received thing, and it doesn't directly penalize those who chose to go all-in on a particular class.
That's fine, but how does Planetside get players to experiment and find what they like? In all honesty, by giving all of the classes self-explanatory names, players can generally find which class they will like most. However this is not to say there aren't situations that encourage looking at other classes. If you come across a smoking vehicle that is friendly, you may become an engineer to repair it, move on, and realize you like the weapons and how the class plays. If you see enemy vehicles approaching, you may switch to a Heavy Assault to blast them with rockets. If you're finding a lot of dead allies, you might switch to Combat Medic to revive them. Whats the common factor? Getting more XP and more certs (credits). Even if players have not put any money into a class, they can still do these things quite well. Their draw to XP is because they want to make their classes better, and they have the freedom to do so as they see fit. In Dreadnought, we want to upgrade our ships but this is overshadowed by unlocking new ships which are objectively more powerful. We have the desire - but not so much the ability - to play the game how we want to.
"I've seen a lot about how you have freedom. Cant this overwhelm new players?" That is a valid point, and I understand why you all in the DN team want to gradually increase the amount of modules available to ease new players in. However, if they so much as take a peek at the later on tech trees they might be disappointed that a module they thought to be really cool is only available in T4. In addition, modules are somewhat expensive and can dissuade players from experimenting. How does Planetside "ease" new players in? It beckons them to experiment with their ability and suit slots. To unlock the first rank for items in these slots usually costs 10 or 30 certs, which can be earned in 10-20 minutes of play. The low cost makes it so that if someone tries something out and decides they don't like it, they haven't lost much. If the do like it, they can put more certs towards the middle ranks to increase its effectiveness, and then chose to save the 500 or 1000 certs for the final rank to specialize or put this money to diversifying, based on what they like. For the support classes (medic and engineer), they can also upgrade their tool to make them more effective at their primary jobs or unlock items in their ability and suit slot to broaden their capabilities. This experimentation isn't possible in dreadnought because not only are the modules locked to one level per ship, its a grind to get other ships to even have the possibility to experiment. I believe a system that allows experimentation so the player can find something they like is far better than the current "Heres what it does, spend 10 20 minute games worth of earnings to buy it and see if you like it" system we have now.
With all of whats said above, you might be wondering how high level players don't just roflstomp newbies. Part of it is the TTK, sitting at a few seconds (or less) means if a new player gets the drop on a veteran, his ability and suit slots will barely help. In a straight on slugfest, there are certain upgrades that can help those veterans win with a numerical advantage. The caveat? A newbie can spend 1/4 as much on that upgrade line and get 2/3 its functionality. These slots aren't designed to give players a sweeping advantage, they are designed to assist the player in playing how they want to, thus meaning that there isn't much of a power gap (unlike with tiers, but its been stated that tiers are getting addressed again).
And thus brings us to how planetside stays alive. The answer? An absolutely beautiful monetization system coupled with a very unique game. The only thing that real money money (which buys a currency called Daybreak Cash, or DBC) can buy that certs cannot is customization. As well, there aren't any paywalls or obscene grindfests that entice players to shell out some cash to the devs. Rather, I find that people throw money at the game because they really enjoy that the devs didn't go with an intrusive system. In fact, there are several things (like the aforementioned suit slots) that can only be bought with certs, meaning a paid player still has to unlock items and a higher level f2p player will still have that slight advantage from playing longer. As well, the game doesn't have a straight up cert sink where you spend your money and it just disappears like it does with maintenance (which, honestly, just feels bad). The closest thing to it is base building, as there are several structures that cost at minimum 1000 certs. But even then, at least you have something that's useful, and its not like you were forced into putting the money there. Bottom line is, if you want to know how to do monetization, look at Planetside, because honestly, they nailed monetization.
TL;DR (understandable): Don't force players to diversify, encourage them and make it easy to experiment and diversify. Forcing us to go through a ship class we don't like wont make us like it, regardless if new or old. It only frustrates us. Making modules cheap but upgradable can facilitate diversification, and encourage people to try new things - this could also apply to ships in a way other than tiers. Reduce power discrepancies (I know its stated that this will happen), make it possible to upgrade T(x-1) ships to a similar power of a fresh T(x) ship. Make it so that we want to throw out money at you guys, not that we have to in order to bypass a grind or other paywall, because that just doesn't feel good. Ever.