Endgame raids have never appealed to me. Not sure why. I like teaming. I like cool boss battles that require more strategy than "spam your powers until the bag of hit points is depleted." I have some respect for the amount of organization and planning it takes to coordinate and execute a successful raid -- especially those guilds that blaze the trail and form the strategies that others will copy later in the game.
Also, I don't like endgame PvP. As a player, I don't seek out PvP. I like PvP and think its inclusion spices up a game. I always roll on PvP servers and I participate in "world PvP" when it presents itself, but I rarely wander into special PvP zones and I don't spec my characters for PvP.
Add these two things together and you get a player for which the traditional MMO endgame does not work. When I play WoW, EQ2 or CoH, I play knowing that there truly is nothing to do once I hit the highest levels of a game. Now, this is not that big a deal. Tthere are a lot of games out there. But I do wonder what fraction of the MMO population feels the same way I do -- they love the low and mid-level game, but the high level game leaves them cold. Reroll or quit.
(BTW -- As I type this, my eyes are drawn to the ad for "Sword of the New World". You know, the one with the cute, white-haired woman decked out in skin tight scarlet and white leathers, wielding dual pistols. Does she have a freakishly long neck, or is that just me?)
So, I am looking for a new endgame -- something not based on massive raids for uber loot or meaningless PvP grinds. What would this endgame look like? Here are some thoughts:
The endgame must advance the character (or player) in some fashion -- This is a no-brainer. I am pretty sure that all endgames are desgined to do this now. Some games have raid loot. Others have alternate advancement points. Any new style of endgame would have to appeal to my drive to advance my character(s) in a meaningful way.
The endgame should feel epic -- I would hate to reach the upper levels of a game only to find that I am doing the same "kill, gather, fetch, deliver" quests that I was doing at level one. I want to carve out star empires, fight dragons, put the big beatdown on some nasty demonkind.
The endgame should feel important -- Once you reach the upper eschelons of a game, you should feel like an important character in the game world. Of course, you are but a cog, playing amongst other cogs who all have max level characters... how many heroes can this game world have? Still, I think it is important to make the endgame feel as though it has an impact on the game world.
Note that there is a difference in my mind between epic and important. I think today's endgames do ok on the epic part. After all, you are fighting something so nasty, it takes 40 heroes to kill. Even so, I don't think they feel very important. The difference between winning and losing is usually the difference between probably not getting a nice piece of gear and definitely not getting a nice piece of gear. Try again tomorrow night.
I'd rather not respec my character for the endgame -- Perhaps this is a dumb requirement, but I don't like the idea of playing a character for x number of levels and then having to totally change the character to be effective in the endgame. I am not a roleplayer, but I do get attached to my characters and their particular fighting style and set of powers. I want to play my character in the endgame, not some optimized template I read off the boards.
It would be nice if the endgame did not end up becoming a canned fight -- By "canned", I mean that once someone figures out a winning strategy, they publish it somewhere and everyone that follows simply repeats that single winning strategy over and over and over. I am not sure if this is possible, but it would be cool to see an endgame where the winning strategies could not be perfectly catalogued and replicated time after time.
I will continue this line of thought later, but I think those are my basic requirements for an endgame I would personally strive to get to. I am interested in what everyone here thinks. Look for another post in a bit describing some possible new endgame implementations...