There is plenty of healthy debate about WildStar bringing back 40 man raids. This is also connected to a broader raid difficulty discussion. I will share my raiding experience and opinion. (Since you asked)
EQ – I was on the testserver and as such, raids were a server wide event for the most part – there was a third party board where people would ask for participants, and “hold” raids. Such a friendly environment! Someone would post they were doing a certain raid, at a certain time, and the rest of the server would respect and leave that raid/mob alone – or ask to tag along. There was no instancing. I only participated in a few here Naggy, Giants, and Plane of Sky. Raiding wasn’t the game back then – it was just part of the journey. Because there were no raid limits everyone was welcome – even if you weren’t max level (although appropriate level still).
DAOC – Does killing stinkin’ Hibs and Albs counts as raids? We did do Relic raids, and a lot of them (also on the testserver – Pendragon) but there weren’t really any PVE raids per se that I participated in.
WoW – 40 man raids of Molten Core and Blackrock Spire. I LOVED 40 man raids. Yes, it was a nightmare to schedule. Yes, you carried 10+% of your raid team sometimes. That level of teamwork, organization and persistence was an experience on its own. Notice I said “loveD”. After working on those for a lengthy time it was refreshing to learn they were moving to a more guild-friendly 25 team. At this point, our guild split up and we formed our own 25 man raid team and went a raiding.
Except Karazahn got in the way. A 10 man raid gating gear for 25 man raids? whhaaaaaaat?
And this is the point where I say – can we ALL at least agree, that to be sensible, all dungeons and raids should be a derivative of the base of grouping?
5 mans to start
10 mans to gear up
20 mans to raid
40 mans to heroic raid
80 mans to – well, no thank you!
Or at least a smart derivative to not break up teams. I hated 10 man entry raiding because the next step was 25 man raiding. This meant you couldn’t have two separate teams work towards that equal goal, and meet at it. You would have to run 3 teams (and sit 1/6 of your team on raid night) or run 2 teams with 25% subs – slowing the progression of gearing and practicing. This never made sense to me.
This can be done off of your base decision. If you want 4 man dungeons, have the next step 8 (or 12) and then 16 (or 24). This allows teams within teams to prepare and not be left out. I never understood what sense went beside WoW’s decision to do 25 instead of 20. Perhaps they felt it would be more “epic”, (which, I would argue is a shadow of epic comparison to 40 mans, and not really much different than a 20 man). Perhaps they had technical limitations that leant towards 25 (which also doesn’t make a ton of sense) or sinisterly, perhaps they wanted to slow the progression and make guilds and individuals make hard choices. Either way, that was the only option. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when that decision was made. Among many other decisions.
WildStar is on the example path I have above (without the 10 man step) , and I like that. 5 man teams can run and improve into a 4 unit 20 man raid team, who can join up with another internal/external 20 man raid team to tackle the top content. No one is left out.
I appreciate the re-insertion of challenge into the group content (pre-release claims) and I am content knowing this game for me is about the journey – I don’t expect to raid, although I hope to prepare myself to fill in on a night where I may be needed. I love group content and mastering 5 mans and the like – that will still be a big part of my playing experience. I am one of the few who absolutely loved WoW Cataclysm (the 5s and 10s and yes, 25s (that should have been 20s)) and it will be very interesting to see how a WoW-trained world will respond in the face of actual challenge and adversity. I expect the backlash to be pretty large, and we’ll see if Carbine changes their course.