I did a lot of riding when I was younger but was away from the sport from 2004 - 2011. Coming back, things have definitely changed. In 04, we were hiking up for 1 hit wonders, hitting drops to flat and riding stair gaps. Now it seems the focus is more on flow and a continuous riding experience. I think the difference is that gravity biking has gone away from its extreme sport status. In 2004, we were "extreme" and needed a 45 lb. bike to do what we did. Now, a lot of what we used to do is stuff that normal people do and has become part of a riding experience that includes technical climbing and normal trail riding. Freeriding is associated with the extreme days. Now we just ride bikes.
We needed those 45lb bikes because 'small bikes' back then were light, twitchy and generally shit for anything but climbing; they also failed horrifically sometimes. Most of us preferred to carry an extra 10lbs of bike rather than have a bike that climbed well but tried to murder you on everything else. We needed the extra poundage to reassure us that the gear would survive a lot of the moves that were being tried for the first time. Many of those bikes got their strength from extra material not improved design (the Banshee Scream being a prime example).
Then we had a few technical evolutions and trails moved away from dorps to falts. I remember a big leap when I switched my Monster T for a 888 and then again to a Fox 36. Suddenly a 33lb Specialized Enduro was as good a descender as the FR bikes from just a few years before, only now it could climb! Ride continuity became increasingly possible thanks to lighter bikes, dropper posts and more flexible armour.
We've been referring to 'Enduro' as 'Shore XC' for years. Medium bikes for big climbs and still hitting most of the features on the way down. This is about as inclusive and versatile as mountain biking has ever been.
There's nothing better than an Orangina after cheating death with Digger.