If emacs was built on top of a decent ui-toolkit, with nice widgets, like checkboxes, buttons, menus, scrollbars (i do not know how to use emacs' scrollbars). With panes (windows in emacs' terms) resizeable with mouse (one more pain point: I need to resize them maybe once per month, and I never quite remember how it may be done).
UI of emacs is bad, it is terrible. It missed completely 30 last years of UI progress.
Also, finding the documentation and definition of a given symbol under the cursor would also get more complicated.
Having everything in one global namespace has its perks.
I'm sure, if today (or twenty years ago) GNU Emacs would be written, Guile might be chosen as implementation / extension language.
Ensure that etags is compulsorily bundled with emacs, I am remembering that in a few distro's etags missing despite installing the emacs package.
Change the default scrolling mode.
You _can_ use dired like midnight commander.
See the tutorial http://emacsrocks.com/e16.html
My understanding is that Exuberant Ctags provides an etags binary, as well, and you're likely to want to use it as it supports more languages. Maybe Debian (and its derivatives) can make use of the "alternatives" system to redirect etags to the "best" installed version. Or the one the user prefers :-)
I've never noticed a difference between evil-mode's behavior and vim's, while I usually get extremely frustrated with Vim plugins for IDEs.
Can you tell me what differences you've run into between vim and evil-mode?