I was reading Shroud of the Avatar review which in my view is pretty spot on (By the way congratulations on the reviewer, finally someone who makes real reviews instead of free advertisement). But I was more amused by the many user comments claiming that Old School concept is now outdated taking SotA as the obvious example.
Well, whoever thinks that SotA is what Old School is all about didn't understand what Old School games means to many of us (Certainly Richard Garriot didn't have a clue). Old School is a play-style where hard challenges, time invested and social interaction ALL matter, it is not just about the "Old Feel".
Pantheon should not make the same mistakes some Old School games like SotA are making, we don't want a carbon copy of 1998 games, we want a modern interpretation of older MMOs with a fresh twist. A good start for Pantheon is the choice of not having an In-game Shop, which is the only modern feature an Old School game should do without. Apart from that I believe Pantheon should enbrace many of modern features that make playng a MMO less tedious. In particular they should focus on two elements:
1) The UI Seriously, I don't understand why developers keep ignoring this fundamental feature, getting the UI right can make or break a game. All I can say is that the reason why I don't play EQ today is because I can't handle the cumbersome and clunky UI. Same reason why I could never get into FFIX. Put it simple, I want to fight Mobs, I don't want to spend my time fighting with the UI to get the most simple thing done. I noticed that Pantheon UI looks almost the same as the original EQ UI. I suggest Visionary Realms to update the UI to something more modern, something more Plug 'n Play, when I play I want to forget the UI is there.
2) Combat I am a fan of Slow Combat which is what Pantheon is aiming for, so far so good. But Slow Combat doesn't have to be boring and repetitive. I always want to be on the edge of my seat when I fight a mob, I don't want to be on autopilot, combat should be engaging and reactive, it should be about using the right skill at the right time. Taking EQ, EQ2 and Vanilla WoW as a blueprint it's a good start but I believe we should not stop there, why not adding some Action Combat in the mix, at least for Melee Classes? Of course I don't want to turn Pantheon into a mindless click fest, maybe just limit Action Skills for special Combos to use once in a while to spice up the Combat (something like Black Desert or AoC combos would be great). I also believe that VR should not understimate the importance of good Combat Animation, the visuals alone could make the Combat look more exciting.
These are so many areas Old School games can improve without betraying the Old School concept, such as crafting, economy, social features. I am not asking VR to reinvent the wheel, I still want a strong EQ feel. I just hope that they are not stuck in the 1998 and make full use of modern technology and features to revive a play-style that really never evolved since 2004.