Originally a response posted under the thread "HoT = Dark Souls ? Casual Gamer perspective.". Though since I took the time to write this up, I think I might as well start another thread here and see how people feel about it.
Late for the discussion, and I do not mean to criticize, but I think the "Dark Souls" single-player-game analogue tells something.
For me, the entire HoT experience was about having a group of people (be it friends, guildies or random pugs) working, exploring, fighting and surviving together in a hazardous area toward common objectives. The contents never seem to me intended to be solo-ed, and the difficulty actually promotes collaboration between players—just look at how much more often someone puts on a commander/mentor tag in Heart of Maguuma compared with in other areas, or how much more often someone request for help in map chat.
And while this is all gonna sound like "it's not a bug but a feature", do hear me out.
The expansion is supposed to be the anti-power-fantasy after the huge fiasco the Pact just experienced during the initial stage of their expedition into Maguuma, where you end up having to navigate yourself through debris, wreckage, and uncharted territory of dense tropical vegetation. You are supposed to feel powerless. The expansion is the GW2 version of Vietnam War, where the military might and air superiority ultimately fail, and you as a soldier on the ground alone with a broken command chain (or rather, at least in the story, the second-in-command with a shattered force) have to figure out everything yourself. That means, to communicate, to organize and to coordinate and work with whatever of the army is left—or in effect, marking yourself on the map and speaking up in party/guild/map channel a lot.
And to further add to that: the VB night meta (and also the daytime meta before rework) is in my opinion one of the best community content in the game. Yes, compared with other contents, it takes massive effort to coordinate when everyone basically scatters all over the map. Heck, it might even take a guild just to do that. But there is also beauty in it. In fact, all HoT maps have the same vibe.
And despite the difficulty, players make progress too. I do not mean just that you gradually learn new skills and traits along the struggle, but in a greater sense. For example, in VB, players have 5 outposts to guard, each with multiple camp sites around to be defended. Everything requires organization by the community. In AB and TD though, things are getting better and players are separated into only 4 divisions for the meta events. In DS there are only 3 lanes left (though originally planned to be 4 and later cut to 3 due to budget and schedule limitation). The effort ArenaNet put in to tell the story via all possible means to me is just a rarity in all MMORPGs, and as long as one gets through the initial stage, they can definitely appreciate it.
All these being said though, I did have friends who could not stand the frustration and quit the game entirely. So in another way I can feel the pain. HoT was certainly not the best daily recreation after work, considering just how much frustration it can bring, but probably something to be emerged in for several dedicated hours, say during the weekend, to properly experience it. After all, this was the first time ever in GW2 that the open world feels dangerous, and the content was definitely not designed for players who prefer to solo everything they encounter. However, it still seems to me that to further reduce the difficulty—be it the mobs, the navigation, the hero point or the boss fight—would only destroy the vibe that the game tries to tell through every mechanic and interaction with the players as part of the storytelling.
So, please, don't make HoT maps any bit less hardcore. It is supposed to be this way and should remain as it is.