What I do has a lot to do with the timing or amount of time in the game.
Upon entering, first thing is exploring. What is here? What is dangerous? What is the goal or what is it the developers want me to do? And how can I do it differently? <—- Players are the worst code and will find a way to break things.
Once somewhat established, I am then going to do a combination. I will try to hit goals based on available time. This could be leveling, gathering resources for crafting/house etc. The exploration becomes secondary. Example: You need berries from the oka plant located above the clouds to the SE of Village Zulie. What I need is this berry… the exploration is trying to find it.
The passive, casual, conversation occurs when I am doing something that is automated or mindless or grindy. A lot of crafting is, have the ingredients and then press make and it makes as many as you have ingredients for. This is fine, a bit boring, but it does allow for chit chat and socializing.
The same can be said for grinding out a resource or pitching something you are selling.
Once you are very established, it really comes down to the measuring sticks all players typically do. So getting the rare/impossible item, the biggest house, the most money, the most kills… the shiniest stick.