Is this a Pay-to-Win game? What about Hero Gear?
Everything in Sins of a Dark Age (including Hero Gear) was designed to NOT be pay-to-win and it will never be a pay-to-win game. Here are some of the reasons why Hero Gear is not pay-to-win:
1. We don't sell Hero Gear.
2. The total power that can be applied via out-game customization (e.g Hero Gear), which is primarily gated by level, is a controlled percentage of total in-game power and the game was balanced accordingly.
3. Everyone has the same number of attribute of points they can bring in (at a given level) and this is a larger fraction of the total out-game power so even if you aren't matched in Hero Gear you are still on roughly a level playing field.
4. Hero Gear power does not correspond with rarity. Higher power Gear tends to be more accessible (accessible in terms of rarity). Higher power gear tends to cost more Gear points to offset that power. Higher rarity Gear tends to be a more situationally useful choice rather than strictly more powerful.
5. We want each piece of Hero Gear to be its own effect or mechanic not just slight variations that are more powerful or more efficient than one another. A player who is more invested might have a bit more flexibility but their numeric power should be equivalent to everyone else's.
6. Low level players are given handicap bonuses proportional to their level disadvantage so that people who have worked hard to level up and collect gear don't lose use of their attribute points and gear.
7. Finally, skill is a major factor. Higher skill should almost always trump lower skill regardless of power from Hero Gear or other out-game customization.
You can find more information on the Hero Gear here: Hero Gear