I would conclude that most MMORPG players are not passionate about the genre nor understand the community aspect of it. In other words, they're "not true mmorpg gamers". This was partly due to the influx of players that WoW brought into the genre and the accessible game that WoW is.
Sure, there were asshats and elitist in old school mmorpgs but as a WHOLE the communities of MMORPG's to my knowledge were not as toxic as communities we see today. Not saying all new school mmo players are toxic but a good portion of them are unfortunately.
We have to remember that the genre was founded on D&D and single RPG players who were looking for an innovative approach to gameplay which involved a massive world with a massive community, hence the acronym, MMORPG.
I think players who have a passion for the RPG elements and gameplay respect the genre more and thus have a better understanding of community. I am not touting that old school mmo players are saints, far from it, but with my personal experience, the communities now and then are different.
My conclusion is lack of respect for the community aspect of the genre. One can argue solo gameplay is another deterrent for a toxic community or at least promotes it. I personally feel that a 60/40 ratio of group to solo gameplay would help wean out the toxic players. Having a server reputation is a means of negation for that. It helped in Everquest.
It seems like questing is the primary means of gameplay for PVE content in most MMORPGS. Frequently as players we experience the super themepark approach where the zone is littered with quest hubs and quest markers for NPC's. Content becomes this linear experience where players bounce around to quest hubs. The lack of initiative to explore wanes away from the player to be motivated to explore further in the world.
The two contrasting examples I can give are Everquest and World of Warcraft.
Everquest - Had a more sandpark approach, where players predominantly explored the zones and finding new named mobs or found a small cave or a dungeon. Players can pick and choose what zones they wanted to explore and level in, there were no specific path. There is no linear approach to questing, simply Everquest didn't have the model we have today.
World of Warcraft - There were some zone choice of where a player can choose to level in but typically when they enter a zone they're directed to follow a path form quest hub to quest hub. A very contrasting approach to Everquest.
For me as a player, I feel like the quest hub does eliminate the need to explore the world as you're directed to go here and there on your own accord. Questing should be something that you stumble upon and find hidden away that could lead to interesting rare treasure. I think quest hubs omit the sense of danger in the world because it creates an expectation already.
I do know that there are players who do explore no matter what, but the thread is merely about, do quest hubs eliminate your desire to explore and does it give the perception of a smaller world?
So I found a hidden gem on youtube, from all of the classic Everquest music. It brought back a ton of nostalgia. I have to say that overall Everquest's score was the best. I found it really fitting the game and the tone of the game. What made Everquest's music immersive for me was the ambient wildlife. You could hear the bugs, the birds, the howls ect. I think the only thing it was missing was wind.
I have to say that I would rather prefer ambient music over zone music most of the time because to me it helps with immersion. However, I think if you're deep in the wilderness ambient music is most warranted or if you're near a settlement or a town perhaps music would be warranted.
Post your favorite zone music/soundtrack that relaxes you, helps your immersion and/or brings back nostalgia so others can enjoy.
Also tell us do you prefer zone music or ambient or a little bit of both?