Well it is true that we had it so much harder in terms of farming but in terms of DPS, it was easier for damn sure.
Stealth was OP, storm was more OP, fire was way too OP, bleed way OP, CV triggering thousands or a lot when hit and having many many nerfs, etc etc.
Arena is very watered down tbh that I think it would suck if it waters down even further. I think it's very well balanced. Immortal build does take a while to defeat though but it's good that not everyone can make one so easily and that it wasn't shared. It would probably eventually get watered down but other than the immortals, the meta is very balanced. Cheaters are an issue but I slice them like butter (unless they have access to immortal build or something).
I can beat virtually everyone but not everybody.
If we talk about before arena, then the story is fairly different. Gold farming could net you 10M gold a day aka 100M of today back then , crystals took forever to drop and no converting legends (only source was vendor for high rarity crystal or converting with feats). I mean I know the struggles. Although when obsidian comes out the first time, they drop too easily until the nerf and thats when crystals take long time . There was also no tier rarity per 100 floor.
Dps was fairly easy and survival also. Survival meaning Leech (which acted like sanctuary but also acted as a way to help you never die given some HP, Bloodmagic was much more powerful than now in terms of damage I think , poison was ouright broken in DPS dealing, deadly arts was once overpowered , etc. Even though less affixes and more powerful stuff in game, overall farming would take months or even a year to make a really high quality build and a farm build would take however long.
Mythics being fairly easy helped but elixir was like hell to look for and other ultra rare mythstones as some were even rarer than obsidian so Converting was an option. Then there was the time when mythics using 4 slots even after it's done instead of just 1 slot after it's achieved using the 4 slots and some other handicap such as not so easy 100% ED or 100% WD legend affix. Rare legends took forever to look for (Nadroji, Mutiny, Insolence, Malestroms ).