It's 1AM - the sky is dark and cloudy, the walls are cool and gray. And yet I feel protected in these fortress walls.... SE needs ARR to capture that same kind of magic. Ul'dah never really felt like home to me, even though it was the only placed I ever lived in 1.0.
Yes: ultimately that's what I'm most concerned about. I couldn't care less about their graphics or what-have-you, I just don't want all things like hippity-hopping players (admittedly a small concern), ubiquitous "!" NPCs, easily available instantaneous transportation, generic quest hubs, and 5-second battles to undermine what could have seemed like a world. If I can spot almost all of the underlying mechanics -- such as knowing monster levels, quest levels, quest goal locations, monster behaviour, relative instance difficulty, &c. -- within the first few minutes of playing, then your game will never elevate itself above a simple, straightforward MMO in which I go through the motions; it will never be a world. And, as you mentioned, the walls will never feel a though they're keeping me safe.