this may be way off base as not many people find these games fun anymore but have you tried muds?
what a mud is, is a pure text based games that are more often than not totally free to play with no b2p/p2p advantages meaning no cash shops
muds usually need you to type west/east/etc to move but are generally VERY open world(like skyrim) and are multiplayer (however they are a dying breed of games so only 10-100 players on at any given time
what you usually do in a mud is grind im not gonna lie however since muds are so big you will spend most of your time hunting for new equipment after every new level as well as trying to find bigger and better zones (the mud i play has 5 continents with 20-30 zones on each continent... thats a lot of exploring to do)
that being said i would highly recommend sloth mud and bear in mind muds are very slow starting out but they do get much more fun after you learn how to play them
I think your post sums up the MUD you play, but not MUDs in general..for example, I play Achaea which has 400+ players during peak hours. You don't grind for equipment, because the game economy revolves around player-crafted gear. I also disagree that MUDs are a dying genre, Achaea has just as many players as it did 15 years ago. Just because other less popular MUDs have died out doesn't represent the genre as a whole, MMOs flop all the time.