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I have not played this game in 4 years but I am wanting to come back to it.. My only concern is of course the lower levels. Can the 1-65 game be solo'd? I know a druid/necro/Mage can but waht about warriors? What about the 65+ game?
I recently returned after a 5 year hiatus so my experience should be similar to yours. Soloing is mostly a non issue now. Even if you are playing one of the least solo friendly classes you can use mercenaries to support you. I don't have access to mercs but I've soloed new characters up and the leveling curve is much less punishing than before. I've also been soloing a couple classes in the 60-65 range with no trouble either (using the new defiant gear drops).
I can't offer any advice for post level 65 though, that's where I've stopped to accumulate some AA points.
I have also returned after being away for about 5 years. Like the poster above me, I have also went 100% AA now that I`m lvl 65 (I have 118 now). The new armor drops make leveling so much easier now. My old Teir 1 Planer armor is totally obsolete with the new armor sets now. It`s awesome stuff, and cheap too. The drops are random from any mob. I have soloed so many mobs that use to kick my ass since I`ve returned. I love what has been done with equipment since my return.
I don`t have a Mercenary, but I will probably get one. The Tank mercs are just freakin insane good from what I`ve seen. The Healer mercs give some sweet buffs and (from what I hear) heal very good. The healer is what I will get for my Monk. My only experience has been with a tanker though; and I was very impressed.
Thanks a lot guys, you've made my decision that much easier.. I look forward to returning.. Now my only question is.. What server should I choose that has the healthiest population?