Links are still extremely important. Google, without doubt, still uses its PageRank formula.
The issue is, they're harder than ever to create because everybody (including people who have little knowledge in SEO) know your motivation is to find and create links.
My rule of thumb is to only find links for traffic. Whether it be nofollow or dofollow, I'm happy regardless because the link might bring traffic (and conversions). Avoid websites with no genuine traffic like the plague, regardless of their "DA".