Well I suppose it'd be fair to say all MMOs are a grind to some extent. It's how they manage that grind. I loved the SOE MMOs so much because the world was varied and the classes all so unique. That covered up the grind by giving the player more variation.
This is why I dislike the current MMO trend of set paths through the game. There seems to be little deviation in your levelling path from character to character. EQ, EQ2 and WoW (to a slightly lesser extent, but much more than games of the current decade) had such a strong variation in possible levelling paths that there was often somewhere new to go with an alt. Lake Rathetear was one of my favourite zones in EQ mainly because so few people went there. It was off the beaten track, but it provided somewhere different to level from the norm of Commons or Karana etc. When I reached level 50 with my ranger in EQ I used to take her to Western Wastes and kite the beasts there. For a ranger this was a hell of a journey. I'd have to find a port to Cobalt Scar and run through the nightmare that was Siren's Grotto (get charmed in there and you were toast). Alternatively I faced a long run through many zones, including the giant fortress of Kael Drakkal. The fact that that choice was available took away the thought that it was a grind. Yes, I was grinding levels, but I was on an adventure.
Worlds feel to me to have shrunk and become more compact, funnelling players through 'chapter after chapter'. It's all become more about being max level as fast as possible and less about the journey. I hope Ashes can change this trend and offer some of the old depth that MMOs had.
But, yes, you'll never get completely past the grind that MMOs promote. That is also down to the player, though, and the way they level. Level too fast and it is going to feel like a grind. The more you feel you need to reach that next goal, the more it's a grind. As I say, I feel that's a symptom of the way MMOs have changed. They promote this push to level fast.
Edited by nidriks, 19 February 2017 - 05:34 AM.