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I remember a lot of people complaining about the "zoning" in EQ. I believe DAoC (I may be thinking of a different game) alleviated zoning to a large degree, but you could still tell when you crossed a zone line. They were definitely successful at eliminating the loading screen if not the need for "zones".
World of Warcraft did a great job at being zone free. You could run from one end of a continent to the other with no zoning or loading screens. Sure, they had instances and zoning from one continent to the next, but it was the largest "unzoned" land mass I had seen in an MMO.
Are MMO games getting back to "zoning" or are the new games and upcoming games contiguous, for the most part?