You're welcome to go back.
It's not the same. Abyssea destroyed it.
It was absolutely the worst part of my experience. I enjoyed Prommies more than I enjoyed the leveling grind.
To each their own, I never said it was a requirement for everyone. But there exists a myrriad of MMORPGs out there right now for those who wish to solo through a shallow leveling curve and the real game begins at levelcap. What's wrong with requesting an MMORPG that doesn't adhere to that design philosophy for those of us who don't enjoy it?
The social aspect of the game is not gone, it's just voluntary now. Being able to solo is no longer an option reserved only for select jobs or playstyles. They changed that in FFXI too.
It's a matter of expectations. I never went into FFXI expecting to solo, I knew that was a social game orientated at group-base player development. Solo play was limited to other actions, upon which I also found enjoyable.
But a MMORPG does not always have to include a soloable leveling curve, that's just the current trend. The aspects of multiplayer online can be sprinkled throughout the game wherever the developers like.
I personally like them to be along a lengthy leveling curve, not an endgame dungeon-based gear grind. The end result is that after X amount of hours your character is Y more developed. In FFXI that was levels, in WoW/Lotro/SWTOR/etc that was item strength. It just comes down to personal preference.