I am sure I am missing a lot, I just can't get into that level of character development, especially the lost items.
I love the paralogue battles, almost as much as the main story. I have been hitting those pretty hard. The game is still very good, and frankly I find it well designed, to your point it allows for customised play.
I am guessing my style of play probably mandates normal mode, it probably would not be effective on hard, which is fine.