I dunno if you’re supposed to, but I sure did, so that’s what I’m going on. Also the idea that the Painted World is “secret” seems like hyperbole. It’s possible to miss, but I found it with no guide. When I fought them they weren’t hitting for 90% of my health but it was over 50%. It took me over 12 goes to get them, I remember that.
Also, if it’s really that hard, couldn’t you just summon someone? I didn’t for O&S, but I did for some dragon-thing later (earlier?).
I’m guessing you just refilled your flasks a lot less or died a lot less than me though - obviously both respawn mobs, and even if you die more, but keep successfully reclaiming your souls (as I did), you’ll be higher level - quite a bit higher potentially. Also I bet you got all the stuff for your weapons really efficiently, and didn’t spend time trying to kill Black Knights for their weapons and stuff, which I sure did. But by the time I got to O&S, I hadn’t ground any souls (I did later).
Personally I’ve been playing Final Fantasy 14, the MMO, which is really quite delightful. It’s vastly more laid-back than WoW. Not just the player-base, but the actual gameplay.
World of Warcraft is based on a 1.5 second “GCD” - which is a “General Cooldown” for those not familiar, meaning taking an action puts most other actions “on cooldown” for 1.5 seconds, which means in general, you’re taking an action at least every 1.5 seconds in combat, realistically more often because of “instants” and off-the-GCD (i.e. truly instant) and so on. Sometimes you’re taking several actions a second (It’s much faster paced than most non-MMO action games, actually, in terms of APM, even if it’s low next to MOBAs/StarCraft). FF14 is based on a 2.5 second one, and has far fewer off-the-GCD actions, and it also has damage come in and go out at at slower rate - so monsters take a lot longer to kill people. This doesn’t seem like a huge difference on paper, but in practice it is. It gives you much more time to time, or even chat or do emotes or w/e whilst doing stuff. It takes 66% longer for things to happen, which is, amazingly, really a good thing.
Everything else about the game is less frenetic as well. Quests are mostly about going places and talking to people instead of running around practically one-shotting dozens of mobs as quickly as possible (which is how WoW and most MMOs tend to be - ESO is notably a bit more like FF14 - GW2 sort of is but also sort of isn’t). And the writing is initially a bit clumsy, but by like level 30-something, has become more clever (in an admittedly somewhat manipulative way, but that’s Final Fantasy for you) than any MMO I’ve played (and most single-player games), with the possible exception of SWTOR, and it has actual shocks and twists and emotional moments you actually feel, which is, for me, almost unheard-of in an MMO. There is a huge amount of go there, now go here, now go there, but people promised me it was setting up good stuff, and rather surprisingly they weren’t lying or engaging in hyperbole. The story has steadily better, and turned into an actual Final Fantasy game (in a good way, not a crummy one like FF13).
There are other things about the game that are pretty unique too, and just really good.
For example, crafting is actually fun and rewarding. This seems like a bizarre thing to type. I have no idea how they managed this, but crafting is basically a minigame that’s kind of turn-based and sort of tactical, it’s really weird but it works, and items actually sell in many cases (particularly if you don’t follow a crafting guide, which you don’t need to - if you do you’ll make items which are being overproduced because of the guide).
The group sizes are more sensible, with 4-person dungeons and 8-person “raids” (which are more like more serious and impressive dungeons than anything you might normally consider a “raid” in MMOs).
People can, and do, play musical instruments in-game, and they play them really well, despite the clunky-as-hell interface. This is just wild and really helps make the place feel lively and like an MMO in the old sense, not in the current “single-player speed-quest to max level, then go in dungeons full of angry jerks” deal that WoW and others do.
They also have very different (and somewhat Japanese-seeming) policies on being rude or pushy, such that a huge proportion of WoW players would just be banned, for stuff that, in WoW, they consider day-to-day and perfectly fine (like screaming at people in chat in dungeons - in FF14, that’s totally bannable, in WoW, it’s not even an offence in most cases).
Whole game seems to be designed around like three principles:
Make a place for people to have fun in a respectful way.
Tell a good story, and a very Final Fantasy story.
Relatively easy/slow gameplay and a lack of extreme challenge is a good thing, not a bad thing.
No other MMO I’m aware of is designed anything like this. Guild Wars 2 can give the false impression it is, but it’s endgame content is extremely challenging, in a quite a nasty and extreme way, and the community is vastly worse in GW2 (with virtually no enforcement against bad behaviour, either).
Currently there’s a vast influx of WoW players though, and it remains to be seen if FF14 will survive that. I really hope it does, and it seems like most of the people arriving are people who felt like WoW had become a game for jerks, but hopefully it stays that way, and New World will pick up the nastier people.