The tier 2 transition captures a tendency to flee forward by removing standard features as an exercise in progress (modernization and refocusing by cutting code) without providing alternatives on FreeBSD. These issues led me to switch to NetBSD as my daily driver years ago, but really struck a chord in this case.
Generally you hear the reasonable suggestion that release engineering and security updates take resources, so efforts will focus on new hardware and i386 can be maintained by any interested contributors on an independent release schedule. Except that there are no dedicated port maintainers, automated testing, and publicly discussed goals for tier 2 on FreeBSD unlike NetBSD. Try finding any standard instructions, places to ask questions, or build routines for ports on PowerPC or Sparc64 on FreeBSD.
Then you hear the alternative that, of course, one always has emulation (bhyve or binary compatibility) for older releases.
In fact, 32 bit binary compatibility on FreeBSD for roughly any pre-9 release on i386 and amd64 has been broken in the sense of failing completely with basic distribution binaries for over a decade. That's a real shame that killed my interest in jails and will likely never change when i386 goes away (around release 15 I suppose). Bug reports on the compat issues were dismissed as non-critical and closed without testing the partial changes towards resolutions. Again, completely unlike the open discussion and willingness to review issues until resolution or full removal of the related systems with NetBSD.
I really appreciate that NetBSD maintains excellent backwards compatibility going back to the first releases. I test and build with older releases/toolchains on fast recent hardware all the time. I personally always thought ABI backwards compatibility was a major value add of the BSD centralized development model. And yet we cannot run old binaries and we keep losing traditional tools in base (telnet, ftp, etc.) on FreeBSD.
And then we have emulation. Bhyve has no ability to emulate any ide/isa devices or the types of PCI scsi controllers and network cards needed to run old releases. You can't passthrough newer devices either. Qemu would be an alternative, but is not accelerated unlike with nvmm/haxm on NetBSD. Your only option on FreeBSD is VirtualBox at this point.
FreeBSD is still a good server or desktop system with a large set of packages for routine work, but I don't understand their roadmap anymore. On 4-8 it was clearly adding core subsystems to take advantage of modern hardware without breaking legacy compatibility on servers and desktops. Now it really seems to be chasing power saving and newer video drivers for laptops, with some extra lockdown, profiling, and tunable sysctls for the enterprise server crowd.