I expect this to be closed soon. But, I wanted my thoughts known.
This is a bit off-topic and on-topic. You've been warned.
What I'm reading basically is that people solo now instead of grouping and the OP doesn't like it. Also, the game has been re-worked since release to be completed solo due the lack of lower-level players. Here is where I am going to de-rail and bring up another MMO game - Neverwinter Online. I have been playing this for the past week or so. Not that long actually and it is so much better in some ways and awful in others. The good -- combat is far easier and grouping isn't as much of an issue. The quest areas are small enough that someone is bound to be nearby doing the same line as you and you're never truly alone until you enter a dungeon instance. You also have - this is really cool - A.I. companions. For the most part, they stink. However, they assist well enough to give you some breathing room when needed. You also don't have to waste hours in crafting halls. That is also A.I. driven with timed activities. That part isn't so cool. In LoTRO, we bang out a few items, raise are crafting skill, and go on our merry way. In that respect, crafting is done better in LoTRO. On the other hand, I can get out of the crafting hall and actually go play the game.
The things the hard-core fans love are also the things that have become LoTRO's downfall. You like having the vast landscape like Bree and the Lone-Lands. That same vastness keeps the players separated and less likely to form groups or assist one another. You might say that is what the LFF chat channel is for. It doesn't matter if there is nobody in the same region as you. So, you will recommend the Global LFF. You may find more than 180 players using the channel and maybe 3 or 4 in the same area; just not for the same reason as you. LoTRO is far from group friendly. It has become a "top-heavy" game. The majority of its player base have high level toons and mostly run end-game content. There is no desire to help out low level players. Notice I state help -- not run the gambit for them.
Survivability of an MMO relies on new blood. If you want that new blood to stick around, there has to be other gamers to play with. An MMO without players to group with, level characters, assist, or complete deeds with isn't really an MMO. It might as well exist locally on the PC and be a solo adventure game with a one-time fee and all content available. This is why I have only paid $20 for the Mithril Edition. This is why spending more money for the benefits of the VIP 1-month subscription is hard for me. As someone who has grinded away on Dwarrowdelf and established 17 characters via more than one account, I can tell you I'm drained - not burned out. I'm disheartened by the lack of fellowship play. Many of the deeds were designed to be completed using fellowships. 180 kills is not so bad when you have 6 players and good respawn rates along with densely populated mobs.
To Turbine's credit, they have tried to make their game less of a chore so the player can enjoy it more. The problem is chore was a core component of the original design and now they are stuck with it. To get rid of it, they would have to start over at ground zero and rebuild everything. That might not be such a bad idea. Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks for reading. I apologize if I'm a bit in-coherent. I can only hope you get the gist. I believe LoTRO is a good start to something great. I like it. I've had fun. But, there's something missing. And I'll still play -- just don't know how often. As long as I have to ride a horse forever to get to new quest zones, fight the same enemies regardless of zone, tackle it alone, and feel generally confused about what to do next or where to go, I don't think I'll ever get back to the original zeal I had for unlocking account services that had me grinding for those elusive TPs.