Looking at what you said “don't like grinding, and badges”etc, I would wait for the release of Guild Wars 2 in less than a month.http://www.guildwars2.com
The current MMO industry is “dying” (they all lose players) at the exception of “Eve online” which is pretty niche and has a strong learning curve.
I tend to compare the MMO industry to “Web2.0” which became so popular because of
1) “Social” feature (anyone can interact and be useful to anyone)
2) “Write” feature (anyone can write something persistent without being a developer).
Currently the MMO market don’t have either 1) or 2) for players and is seven years late on what people now take for granted in the online world.
To be more precise,
1) progression is still vertical-stats-gear based and strongly divide players depending on how “time rich” they are and not on their skill or social abilities. These MMOs can only be social for “time rich” equivalent players.
2) Players actions have no impact on the persistent shared world (so no “write feature” either) mobs and bosses respawn endlessly, landscape don’t change.
The good news is that as the industry is bleeding, some studios are beginning to take the risk to evolve rather than copy WoW (which will always be profitable thanks to nostalgia and few other factors).
I find Guild Wars 2 interesting because the game don’t divide players: it is “Social proof” in the sense it has an horizontal progression system and a world wide stats scaling (all zones will always stay relevant and grant XP/rewards whatever the player level, group play is rewarded, PvP opponents will never be overpowered in comparison to another one, gear is mainly aesthetic, it is skill and social based).
There’s also a little bit of “write” in the “World versus World” feature which is a huge battle zone between three servers for two weeks with various objectives. I would say Guild Wars 2 is a MMO 1.5 (in comparison to MMO 1.0 we are still stuck in). Hopefully Minecraft will inspire real “write” features in MMO soon pushing to MMO 2.0.
Guild Wars2 is not perfect too. It currently don’t have the polish of WoW, I’m not a fan of the ingame painty art style and battles are a little noisy (difficult to distinguish different spells in groups). That said I’m sure it will have a strong impact on the industry even if it stays niche.
If you like FPS a lot of interesting horizontal progression MMO are coming too like PlanetSide2 and Firefall.
All in all I expect the MMO market to hugely increase in the coming years once current developers (or more likely new developers) take care of 1 and 2.
A video (a little hyped) but which gives some reasons why Guild Wars 2 is different in its design:Guild Wars 2 - Top 10 Reasons to be Interested