I only read about half this thread, so do forgive me if I am repeating an idea already posted.... Let's say that raid bosses have unique mechanics that offer them significant resistances to certain types of damage. As you progress through the various "tiers" of raid bosses, you gain access to weapons that help to lower these effects. Perhaps you get items that have unique effects to strip buffs, for example. While this would offer you the ability to use it outside of raids, it might lack the stat bonuses granted from non-raid items making it into something very cool, but at the same time not necessarily more awesome by default. You could even make an argument that only raid reward gear should offer active effects (while having lower stats) and only crafted gear should offer the absolute highest stats (save for named ultra-rare items, of course). The trick would be to find a way to reward equal amount of effort invested with relatively equal rewards, while still giving both raid focused players those "1337" rewards they crave. Having a belt that procced 5 seconds of total damage immunity when you reached 25% health with a 2 minute cool-down would be an example of what I mean. Yes, your item would do something for you that a non-raid player would not be able to do, however it would have less STR and AGI than the kick-ass crafted belt someone made after maxing out their crafting skills, with both having relatively similar DEF. This would also encourage players to mix gear from various sources, rather than one being out right better than the other... without absolutely gimping a player who only wanted to play through one type of content and nothing else. Someone asked how you can make solo content as difficult as raid content, I think. That is actually not that difficult, so long as you make sure it is actually solo content. You could walk up and challenge the local boxing champion to a fight, for example; making both of you him immune to everything else until either you or he are at 1% health. If there were enough champs scattered around to offer you a basic end game set of gear, you could balance most of your max level content around the player having it. This same idea could be applied to group battles, where you and your friends enter into an arena to try and fight the Emasculator 9000, which is balanced around a party of 5. Either one boss per arena with them being found in larger settlements, or have it so that there was only a single arena located in each faction's capital and you had to defeat an ever more difficult encounter to continue to earn rewards.