I understand why you left, but with the cadet bonus they have now, you can literally buy any mech purchasable with c-bills once the bonus ends, so you still have to start off with trials, but after playing those matches my brother told me how happy he was to finally have a mech of his own. If you don't purchase an assault like he did you should be able to start upgrades on the mech immediately, but you still have to play a good number of games before you can afford another mech and further/more expensive upgrades.
The way I do things, buying and building a mech is 75% of the fun to the game, and when i'm done upgrading I usually buy another mech to build up and start playing that until shortly after it's finished being built. So for me having to grind out the money isn't a real issue, as it feels more legitimate to being paid a soldiers wage in war, and it keeps me from running out of mechbays too quickly
Other people that like to do that may find it difficult, because you do have to pay real money for extra bays, and that is more than a tad annoying for people who can't/won't spend actual money on the game.
One thing I have to say is that the prices for the mechs if you buy them with real money are ridiculous; paying close to - if not exactly - $50 for a Boar's Head is just nuts, but people are willing to pay it so power to em lol. So even if you do decide to dump money into the game to get a quicker start on things, it can cost quite a bit.
The clan mechs were extremely OP when they first put them in the game, but they got knocked down to everyone else's level a while ago, and hopefully that level of OP'ness will not be seen again in the future.
PGI are straight up money grabbing tools in most cases, but I find the game enjoyable myself, even if there are a great many improvements that could be made, and I agree it is hard to really get a good grip of the game at first. At present I have 15 mechs, all but 5 bought with the in-game currency; the 3 I paid real cash for were the Timber Wolf chassis' bought in a singular package, the other 2 being gift mechs for buying the Timber Wolfs. Other than that I only buy mechbays, which I still have another 5 to fill lol. (they were on sale so I bought a bunch of them while they were cheaper)
Not every person likes every game, but I can definitely understand why so many hate this one. I still enjoy playing MWO myself, but I hope the Mechwarrior franchise will make a proper comeback with games more to the old, campaign based gameplay, with multiplayer as a side-dish.