Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty. Most modern mmo's seem to be designed to remove players from the world and put them swiftly into the next zone or a hub town.
For me the fault lies mainly with: -
- Mechanics such as dungeon finder and ubiquitous fast travel and a swift rate of levelling via linear questing which result in hub-towns.
- Game design that makes each zone feel like a series of tasks to be ticked off a list, rather than a world to explore and become immersed in.
- Level (or level-range) specific zones. Why can't a single zone cater to many different levels? Or at least have a few quests in them that would draw higher level players back to the starter areas? And if a game were designed in this manner, why would we need distinct, walled-in zones at all in place of an open world?
- Levels. themselves. Without traditional levels (although alternative advancement would be required such as skills, trading, crafting, building, achievements, aesthetic items etc etc) the entire map could be used by all of the players all of the time.
Personally, I would love to see a game that was less about leading the player along a linear path in the mythic search for xp, and more about having a world to explore and become immersed in.