As more and more MMOs release, our options grow. That said, most MMOs utilize the same basic features, styles, and mechanics. Almost all of them feature combat, RPG progression, questing, avatars, classes, etc. These are the things we usually judge when choosing which MMO to play. We will say to ourselves, "Hmmm, I won't play that because it doesn't have this or that feature." or "Oooh, I'm definitely playing that because the game has these specific qualities!"
What are your top 5 MMO must-haves? Do you only play fantasy-themed MMOs? Does a thriving player-driven economy make your list of requirements?
My personal list includes:
1. Polish and a general lack of bugs
I know -- I chose the wrong genre if this is my top must-have! Unfortunately, I get really annoyed paying an initial box price and then a monthly fee to support incompetence...
2. Meaningful PvP
"Meaningful" is a loaded descriptor and includes things like progression through PvP (gear and XP), ranking, consequence, and obviously a story- or design-driven purpose/reason for it all.
3. Class variety or variety within my class
Warhammer Online has 24 classes which are a little bit different from each other. That's cool. World of Warcraft has 10 classes but allows you to specialize through numerous talent combos. That's cool too!
"With great age comes great responsibility." I had plenty of time to game/grind when I was in high school and college but now I'm pushing 30 with a family, job(s), and a house. I don't mind working for something, but please don't insult me with tedious design that makes things difficult for no good reason.
5. Interesting and diverse PvE
I'm a PvP-junkie first and foremost, but I still realize that variety is the spice of life. I enjoy PvE a lot more when it isn't mindless, repetitive, lazy, and generally grindy. For instance, I enjoyed WoW 1-70 but the raiding endgame and daily quests weren't my idea of fun.