One of the things I find discussed quite often is the use of instancing in games. Some people like it, some people hate it, and there is every shade of gray in between. The problem with no instancing is that places can get crowded… you go out to kill orcs and find that all the orcs are being killed. The problem with too much instancing is that it can seem like you are the only one there… messing around in Guild Wars with their version of instancing, in the city there are people, then I go outside and am usually alone.
Just spit balling here… but what about a “directed instancing”, where you have an area that is an instance designed for a few dozen people/groups each unit performing different tasks. The idea would be that before leaving “town”, you or your group has to select a task. Once you leave town, the task is locked and you zone out into an instance that all but guarantees that no one is performing the same task you are, but may be populated with people performing any one of the couple dozen tasks the area supports. You might head into the forest to kill orcs and run across a player chopping lumber, another hunting bears for meat and skins, a group searching for a missing child, and a raid about to siege the wizard tower at the far end.
Would that work?