Now with Lin Ming, for one, he does indeed have an overpowered item with the Magic Cube, but it acts like a gacha or roulette for the entirety of the Sky Spill World, or at least the vast majority. Also while in the world, he used the cube like, only 6ish times as a gacha/roulette. This shows that he used his own power or inheritances he gained through his own power.
Next, he has no spiritual teacher at all and all of the knowledge was things he gained, but sure, there was Demonshine, but when did he appear? He appeared around ch 500, so that means for almost a quarter of the series, Lin Ming was alone, with no support, from anyone other than living people that couldn't be with him at all times.
Finally, this is one of my favorite parts about him, his background, it consists of his parents that just own a normal mortal restaurant, thats it, no strong family members, no accidental blood ties with someone powerful, just normal, mortal parents. This stopped so many cliches from existing but still had great progression in my opinion.
Now onto his goals, his main goal, from the very start was not to chase after some beautiful, strong maiden that broke her marriage with him, not a revenge story, or any other cliches start to get the plot moving. All his goal was, was to reach the very peak of martial arts. Sure, this sounds lofty and such, but its such a normal and direct goal, he has never strayed away from his primary goal, it perfectly encapsulates the idea of getting back up when beaten down, how many times has he done this, way too much times to count. But thats they beauty of it, its simple but still stays strong, he doesn't need to look for a new goal once he finishes his first, he creates his goal as the very peak, and works his was slowly throughout the story with many other goals that all build up to his primary goal.
The final thing i'll talk about is the romance aspect of this series, I very much agree that the first two felt rushed and under developed, but the latter two were almost perfect to me. Lets start with Xiao Moxian, we first meet her as a competitor in the Universes tournament, she is shown as a top contender and multiple people kept conjectures on how she and Lin Ming might end up together, due to her having 50% God Beast blood as a Dark Phoenix. But for a long time, until the Asura Road, nothing occurred. The Asura Road was an amazing arc, as it showed Lin Ming's true inheritance if you will, but along with this, Xiao Moxian followed him throughout the entire thing. I loved that even though we didn't get to read all of it ourselves, they spent 9 years together stuck with each other (cliche I know, but every story has its cliches), but afterwards they spend 24 years together as if they were mortals, I love this so much as most Protagonists get there lovers within a years time, 3 years is also possible, but also during this time, the lover either plays hard to get, damsel in distress, or isn't there the whole time. But they act as mortals, without needing to worry about the world around them, which I absolutely love. For Sheng Mei, we still don't know whats happening with her, since she kinda backstabbed him, but the dynamic is quite nice, as no matter what you say, she isn't the worlds greatest talent, as I believe that Xiao Moxian is just as good as her, or just a bit less, this is due to the almost impossible fusion of a human and God Beast, that even passed done the ability to go through 9 Nirvana's.