Its a usual problem with this type of games!
One of the most important resources in a MMORPG is Time. And those people who play for 16 hours per day while also pushing a META/Hardcore mindest will always be on top!
I played several MMORPGs over the last 15 years or so, and it always came down to "top players" building their toxic little chambers and striving for superiority.
I seriously have no clue how AGS thought a game like this could work on a Grand Scale! Most big MMORPGs like WoW, FFXIV, TESO etc. dont even bother all that much with PvP anymore, since they exactly know that catering to Hardcore Competitive Players in this Genre is not going to end well!
Hell, even AGS themselves realized this in the Alphas and Betas, hence they cut down the pvp and made it optional on the open world to avoid the "I am hardcore and you noob, so i kill you all day scrub" making the vast majority of players quit.