In Starcraft, objectives different than “kill the opposition”. Harvesting money to use in the invasion of the next stage, being able to destroy the enemy’s nuclear or spaceship facilities and take them out of commission etc.
In Fallout, the dialogue choices, which felt quite open. Being able to attack anything that moves. People minding if you try to take their items. Being able to beat the game just using your big mouth.
In System Shock/Thief/Deus Ex the stealthiness possible.
In the Elder Scrolls games the open-endedness (also in Might and Magics, in a different way).
Stage/Map editors in games.
The timed actions in the Mario rpgs.
Environments that don’t depend on your character e.g. the cities in GTA
Dynamic Environments - Not just people moving around in short predetermined paths, but actual bustle, schedules and night-day passing. Weather is optional, but couldn’t hurt. Really helps with immersion. Radiata Stories pulled this awesomely well. Stuff happening independent from your actions would be cool too, like characters doing quests off-screen and the like, making it so you really get the feeling that you are in a living world.
Visually Interchangeable Equipment - Probably a minor detail, but I’m extremely obsessed with this. I hate equipping a twenty-ton platinum armor and the mighty Generic Ultimate Sword of Doom while my character still looks like he’s using the leather armor and the regular longsword from the beginning of the game. Visually interchangeable weapons seem to be getting popular, but armors are not that usual. Also I might have a dress-up fetish. There, I said it.
New Game+ - WHY THE HELL ISN’T THIS MANDATORY ALREADY? Not only that, but 90% of the games that DO have some similar system, somehow have either silly requirements (Tales of Abyss), extremely retarded limitations like “don’t carry over what you have equipped at the moment” (Suikoden IV & V) or are downright useless (Radiata Stories). Also, none of the above carries on the most important element: LEVELS. Just let me play through the story with all my maxed characters damnit, especially if you have missable stuff.
Exploration/Optional Areas – Not absolutely vital, but it helps. I like having the chance to stray from the path and do side quests in remote places that I wouldn’t normally even notice.
Open-ended Character Relations – So what if I don’t like the Healer and wanna screw the Thief instead? Yeah, in the realm of dating-simulation, and I admit I began thinking about this because of Ar Tonelico, but it does help. Look at Baldur’s Gate II for a more dignified example. This also goes for all relationships from friendship to romance. In general, I want to be able to get closer to B person instead of A if I want to. And I want those changes to show during the game, not in the Star Ocean fashion where everyone behaves exactly the same and you only get a thirty-second scene towards the end.
takes notes Yeah, more games need NewGame+ – this might not make as much sense for non-RPGs, though it’d be fun to blaze through the first few levels of Half-Life 2 with a Pulse Rifle, Rocket Launcher, and the Gravity Gun (you wouldn’t be able to use the first two for very long, what with the lack of actual ammo for them, but …)
But I definitely wish more games had level-editors – I’m thinking specifically of Rayman: Raving Rabbids. I’d like to play more rail-shooter levels. And dance levels. And a wider variety of racing levels. And some more “Bunnies Can Only Fly Downwards” levels. And some more – etc. (And to a lesser extent, Rayman 2, especially if you can override “canon” levels or items with custom ones.)
Though if I managed to model stuff very well, and ever got a hold of a way to extract sound files from Rayman4.bf, you could very well see a mod called Half-Life 2: Raving Rabbids …
SE: You probably love Level 5 games then (Dragon Quest 8, Rogue Galaxy) as they have different collectible outfits for your characters. I actually really liked that aspect of them, as it provides at least some variety in what you have to keep looking at.
Encyclopedias (Xenosaga, Star Ocean 3, FF12) - I love having extra information at my fingertips to look deeper into the game world. Xenosaga I did this excellently by completely doing away with all the exposition and putting it all in the database. It made the cutscenes go much more smoothly because characters didn’t have to stand around and unrealistically explain things to a confused person who just happens to be there.
I really liked the conversation system in FF2, ironically enough. It’s the only thing I liked about it. A little more depth would have been great (if anyone played the old DOS game “Mean Streets” or Discworld Noir they’d know the sort of thing I mean).
Battles that do not take up a separate screen. To date, the only non-action RPGs I’ve seen that actually do this are Chrono Trigger and Rogue Galaxy.
TEMPSAVE TEMPSAVE TEMPSAVE. Seriously, why do only handheld games let you come back to what you’re doing later? This should be built in on the platform level. I don’t HAVE an hour at a time during the week.
Miscellaneous character interaction. I think only the Tales and Lunar games, and FF9, really did this well, where your characters would just say cool stuff during dialogue or have silly scenes off on the side. It’s really fun.
FFX-2’s switching jobs in mid-battle was awesome and should be done in more games (though not necessarily all of them).
Puzzles that use tools and magic spells. Golden Sun did this amazingly and Wild ARMs has some great ideas too.
Unlockable cool characters. Valkyrie Profile 2 lets you eventually unlock every single character, even story ones who make no sense to have with you. This would be a great reward for beating bonus dungeons.
The ability to slip from a boring reality into the mantle of illusions of grandeur, to be able to do things never possible in real life… - /FUN/ - (It’s a good feature!)
This one’s a bit weird, but if you’re a platformer fan like I am:
The ability to change direction in the air while jumping, or double jumping, at least.
“Hi, NES Castlevania. You don’t want me to beat you? :(”
3D games don’t suffer from this, just bad camera angles that make you believe you’re not in the exact spot you want to jump in. 3D games also have less bottomless pits/chances for instant DEATH than 2D games. Kids these days.
“Puzzles that use tools and magic spells. Golden Sun did this amazingly and Wild ARMs has some great ideas too.” <-- I hunger for the day someone emulates Quest for Glory for DS.
I agree with most of these, especially the encyclopedia, Temp Save and Puzzles. The first WA game did a really good job of having the puzzles fit in with the dungeons and for the most part weren’t there to waste time. Shadow Hearts games do an excellent job with the encyclopedia.
Good individual scenes is often more important than the plot for me. FF6 plot could have sucked, but because of great scenes like the opera and Celes’s suicide it really stuck out in my mind.
Finally, EXIT AND TELEPORT SPELLS. These help so much and nothing pisses me off more than having to go halfway across the world to get to an inn.
Ah, the memories… Sometimes they had a bottom but that didn’t help much.
As far as I’m concerned stuff like that is the best anti-piracy measure (apart from making an awesome game of course). Having game maps, game arts, good manuals. I think I slightly preferred Lords Of Magic 's manual to the game
Ohh, I have lots of favorites and peeves in this category:
A choice of characters to play. Gives the games more replayability.
The ability to save at ANYTIME. I hate to spend an hour finishing a dungeon level only to lose it due to an interruption such as a blackout.
No stealing stuff from people’s houses. Not only is this morally wrong but it makes no sense, often the owners are RIGHT THERE and they don’t notice. Sheesh!
More equipment with special powers instead of just a conveniently higher level of Attack or Defense than the ones you bought last time. I prefer things like elemental armors or spell-casting weapons.
Like Seraphim said, I’d like to SEE what the characters are wearing or carrying. This can’t be such a difficult thing to arrange, after all characters in FF games who change Jobs also change their costumes in the process.
More realistic Outer Worlds, with things like weather, night and day, hidden treasures or (especially) less linear paths to take.
Visible enemy encounters (except in the World Map): I prefer to slaughter all the monsters in a room and THEN look for treasure or traps, I hate to be attacked by an infinite number of foes every few steps.
Programmable combat: If I don’t feel like repeating the same combat moves over and over (especially against common monsters I’ve fought several times already) I want to record a strategy and just let the characters carry it out by themselves. The Lunar games had a feature like this. Also, I like it when there are variable field conditions that affect battle, like weather or usable objects. Changing weapons in mid-battle also makes sense.
Dungeon puzzles that MAKE SENSE! As much as I love the Wild Arms games, for example, I cannot help but shake my head at how many complicated things you have to do to cross nearly every dungeon room, especially if it involved powers or items that you just happen to have got. Those Ancient Dungeon Builders must have not only been addicted to puzzles, but prophetic as well!
More tactical Boss battles. For one thing, let them actually do things that make sense, like dispelling our protective spells, and not random things like healing themselves when they aren’t hurt. Oh, and I like it when I CAN use Status Effects on them. I understand that they’re immune to instant-death attacks (or they wouldn’t be any challenge) but if I go to a lot of trouble to get an ability that only causes, say, blindness, I want it to WORK on the bosses too. Again, helps make those fights less the typical “just use your strongest attack and heal” boss battles.
Control over who joins my party, except in certain plot-driven scenes. I like to choose who will be in my party, specially if I find a character too obnoxious.
Minigames that are ENTIRELY optional! This is my biggest RPG peeve: I HATE it when I get to a part that requires me to use skills I don’t have in order to continue (like in FFX2). You should always be able to beat an RPG with typical combat and dungeon-crawling. Other stuff is enjoyable but should always be optional.
Anime-style graphics. Preferably 2d. It isn’t like I don’t enjoy other styles, I just prefer this. Oh, and detailed sprites- no “Super Deformed” ones!
A conversation system. Something more than just “hit X and the character will say only one phrase to you.” Maybe a choose-the-right-question (or answer) kinda thing. Dialogue is very important to me; it’s what makes a game a story and not just an adventure. The ability to talk to your Party members (beyond what the story requires), like in Breath of Fire III, is very cool too.
More variable abilitities for characters to learn, instead of just learning a specific set by leveling up. I can accept that some characters are better at some things than others, but they all should be able to learn, say, magic or martial arts, if I want them to. (Typically I have each character master different things, but I like to be the one who decides who learns what.)
Like Cid said, I like spells and abilities that can be used outside of battle. It’s really odd to have a mega-powerful attack but get stuck because you can’t open a door. Can’t you just blast it open?
Along with this, I’d like to see more games packed the way Infocom packed their text adventures. Go browse the underdogs and take a look at the manuals of Trinity, Bureaucracy and Wishbringer. They just don’t make stuff like that anymore
That was the worst part of a fantastic game. I remember I rented Startropics back in the day, and I couldn’t get past that part because I didn’t have the letter.
Then I bought the game used, and I still didn’ t have the letter (although I had memorized the solution by then).
And even if I had bought that game new, I like to keep my stuff pristine, so I wouldn’t want to have to dip the letter in water, ruining it, just to solve a puzzle.
(incidentally, now I have two copies of Dr. J’s letter…>_>)
Anyway, one feature I really like in games is score-attacking in games… which works better for arcade-type games and stuff… not so much for RPGs…
Oh, and also, I like to be able to go anywhere I want in a game, whenever I want. Or at least be able to go everywhere at the end of the game. I hate games that have points of no return, and I hate dungeons that sort of crumble after you beat them, so you can never go back to pick up an item you missed or something.
Little quirky things like that (such as Dr. J’s letter in Star Tropics or the dispatch number for Meryl in Metal Gear Solid) interest me - minus the unfortunate mishap of not having the letter.
Although in the case of MGS, it’s pretty hard to somehow lose, damage or otherwise destroy the back cover of the game… unless you rip out the cover or something… but why would anyone want to do that? O.o