Preface: This is via a comment by Tidal. Anything highlighted is something that stood out to me. Parentheses stuff are my own words.
“I’ll say they made two huge mistakes with this game that pretty much killed it. And both are related.
They made this vivid, vibrant world with no loading, and then proceeded to do everything they could to make it lifeless. (Gamespot’s 2003 review also noted this.) They never improved the general mob A.I. except in the instance of casters. Every camp consisted of mobs standing still waiting to be killed. Changing the caster AI eliminated some good camps, and I get the feeling that the only reason that happened was because the backlash from the caster change was so harsh that the decided not to update the AI of other mobs. That’s only speculation though. Anyone remember the prison yard of Qeynos Prison and how choatic that was? Mobs generally milling around at random, smacking people? (Mainly the lowest level mobs, prisoners.) Well the rest of the game wasnt like that but should have been. Once people figured out how to pull, the threat of dying left, and so did the excitement. It truly became a grindfest. (While it is very true that the game became a grindfest, I would attribute it more to the lack of quest content. At the same time, being a healer was pretty much the most boring role in the game because there was literally no chance of dying.)
The changes they made to characters for the sake of “this was not the intention of our design” had the effect of pigeon-holing characters in a certain role and taking away the reward for skill. Warriors found a way to group together without a healer and get xp, but it took a bit more skill with quick small group heal. So they changed it. Bards found a way to tank and hold aggro against almost anybody. However their aggro was AoE and pretty much required precise pulls. So they took the aggro away from the songs and took away plate armor for Bards and Rangers. (How early on was this? I know they had a few sets still available to those classes but I was under the impression it had always been this way.)
It may not seem like the two are related, but they are. If mobs were more alive and smarter, tanks would have less control over who took the critical and their taunts would be invaluable for crowd control. Bard songs drawing aggro would have been more of a risk because while it would be effective against one mob, a bard isn’t made to tank 3 or 4 mobs. (I met quite a few warriors that weren’t either…)
Combine more frequent death with the removal of XP boosts. Then add on CM gain time and all of a sudden, you’re not looking at so many bored characters with accounts full of 60s with nothing to do. (Nothingtodo was my character’s name.)
One more mistake. No PvP server or Group vs. Group option. (Agreed.)”
My take: The grinding and the repetitive scenery/mobs/gear were probably the biggest flaw to me. Wandering mobs existed all over in the forests, plains, deserts, and swamps. But since they weren’t stationary, they weren’t viable XP camp sites. I remember getting destroyed trying to get my lionwere infection. Yet, at the camp sites, you are right. There were maybe 2 pats in in the entire DFC Citadel.
Thank you to Tidal for the comment. This is the second one from readers that I have posted and I think they are a great addition to people’s memories or opinions of the game. After all, I wasn’t the only one that played the game… so keep ’em coming!