Not sure if it is helpful, but I am getting the game to freeze up at the loading screen numerous times as well – this after I select a friend and click to join their server. I’ve seen other comments suggesting it has to do with joining friends and not joining solo, in terms of causing the loading screen freeze. I do not have tons of purchased items, so I don’t think inventory is the cause in my case. To be clear, when I say freeze up on loading screen, I’m talking about the screen with the LOADING text at the bottom that has the line moving back and forth. When the freeze happens, that line stops moving entirely for several minutes and I am forced to use task manager to force the game to shut down.
The freeze on loading is going to be a different issue than the two that the OP mentions in their post. Unfortunately there’s a lot of things that could cause that symptom and it’s possible for a lot of the freezes that people are reporting to be different things.