1. Modern quests. First and foremost, I fume at the sight of the yellow exclamation point. Quests have made the transition from a little something extra to the main focus of leveling. I've had numerous conversations with advocates of this formula, and the main defense that I hear is "you don't have to do them". Now, that's true; however, there's so much of the focus on quests that persistent world content is neglected, leaving a quest-less experience a dull one. Obviously, I'm mainly talking about WoW, partially because it's what I have the most experience with, and partially because it has had such an impact on the rest of the medium. It's not just the yellow exclamation point, but much of what comes with it, which leads into number two....
2. Questing hubs. These take the adventure out of an adventure game. Quests used to seem like such a fun thing... an adventure. I can't understand, for the life of me, why quest hubs are appealing to people. You talk to some random NPC, whom has some contrived reason for you to fulfill some mundane task. I'm not just talking about fetch quests here. Some quests go too far and act like your character is the sole hope for the world, like it's some kind of single-player game. And it just comes across as cheesy and uninteresting. How about just putting stuff in the world? Instead of having a quest that tells you to go to some cave to retrieve (or kill) something, why not just have the reward inside, waiting to be discovered on its own? Quests these days are more like chores, and I feel like I just going through the motions to get them over with, or for the reward.
3. Personalized stories. Don't get me wrong, there should be some kind of background or lore to the world, but not some single-player campaign, explaining how you are the hero... just ignore the thousands of people around you. In my opinion, a player should just be a small part in a much larger world. I understand there are people that like some type of narrative, and that's fine, but my issue is that the efforts, time and money going towards those narratives could be put to far better use.
4. Stringent level categories. This is a pretty broad topic. Don't get me wrong, I love RPGs, and the feeling of progression and getting more powerful. What I don't like is the features changing simply because there is a level gap. e.g.: mobs having an increased agro range, your ability to hit, succeeding with spells or status effects, reduced damage. In PvP, if someone has a few levels on you, it's a huge advantage, simply because you can't hit them as well, and your spells don't work. Broadening the level categories would also make world PvP more viable, because there would be a larger percentage of people that could fight each other.
5. Battlegrounds... the world PvP killer. I despise instanced PvP. I've known multiple people that have complained about level grinding, then go and grind the BGs. I don't think BGs would bother me so much if it didn't detract some something more fun. I don't just mean on the killing side, but it also adds a sense of danger and tension to wandering around the world. Battlegrounds take the most interesting and dynamic part of an MMO, and turn it onto Call of Duty.
6. Queuing. Queuing for raids; queuing for BGs. No one even has to go anywhere anymore. My last month in WoW, I hardly saw anyone in the field (partially, because of phasing, but I'll get to that later). Everyone was just in town, queuing for shit. Why even have a world? Why not just a set of instances, where people only to interact to beat on stuff, like the old online game, because that's what it is, a step backwards. I mean, just making it to a dungeon can be an adventure in itself. What if in Lord of the Rings, they just queued up for Mt. Doom and teleported there. A lot of paper would have been saved.
7. Phasing. WoW's big answer for a contradiction they started. It was their attempt to make the world more consistent by making it less consistent. At this point, it's just one more thing that detracts from the persistent world. This is only conducive for a personalized campaign, which I think is silly anyway. Now, even more time, energy and money is being dumped in to a system that qualifies a play style not fit for an online game. Can't a system be constructed where you can actually change the world? I think MMOs should be more like real life, in the sense that people have the ability to change the world, and collectively, change it in a big way.
8. I'm not sure what the official word for it is, but I've really only seen this in F2P games. There is actually a function that will take control of your character and walk you to your objective. Honestly, is this what gaming has become, where you don't even play anymore? I thought that auto-tracking was bad enough, now this. I'm kind of at loss for words.
9. Cooldowns. I think are the biggest cop out in gaming history. They just reek of poor design. They're just so arbitrary. I know what the logic is; it's "well, if that can be used too often, then it's too powerful." Colldowns seem to go hand in hand with characters regenerating almost instantly in between battles; it's because people can't stay out of the action for more than a few seconds without becoming bored and complaining. I'm not saying that you need to wait five minutes between each mob, but at least build it into the system, so if someone doesn't like waiting, then he can spec or gear his character to regenerate more quickly. It would be an advantage, and another way to set yourself apart. On the flip side, you can forgo that luxury and make yourself more powerful in other areas. I'm tired of all of this shallow pseudo-customization. I know that I'm going to get the argument about the strategy behind colldowns. Yes, there is a strategy to them, but I think that a system with more flexibility and customization is more strategically demanding. Between the colldowns and insta-regenerating, you're not really in control of your own resources. If I want to waste all of my potions or blow all of my magic in a last ditch effort to get through a fight, then I should be able to do so.
10. Diablo-esque looting systems. For me, I would much rather be able to customize my own gear to a further extent than having to pick up a random piece of gear every few levels. I tihnk it would be more fun and immersive if most of the sutff that I found wasn't vender trash. Some systems have implemented variations of breaking down not-so-usful stuff into components. Having to constantly upgrade my gear gets tiresome and it begins to feel more like a chore making sure my gear is up to snuff in order to survive in my current level-appropriate zone.