My ideal MMORPG would be an open world sandbox, with a fantasy setting. Something more old school. Tab-targeted combat. No instances. Not fast-paced, flashy or action-based. A large map, with ample room for exploration, and big enough to accommodate player housing without becoming cluttered, preferably without fast travel (to promote exploration and more localized elements). A game that caters to various playstyles, but is not focused on one. No quests of any sort, but rather underlying systems that promote character interaction and give players a sense of agency. A plethora of elements to perhaps help foster immersion and encourage natural roleplay. In essence, anything that makes the world feel more alive. A player controlled economy with a robust crafting system that utilizes a host of resources that can be gathered in the world, much of it localized to certain areas. No starter zones or tutorials. Essentially, a game that fosters a sense of freedom, with room for various playstyles to come together; PvE, PvP, Crafting, etc. Looking for more of an experience I guess, than just something to play, kill the bosses, get the loot, etc. A world you can get lost in (figuratively and literally) and truly become your character.
World: A rich and vibrant world, with many small touches that really bring it to life; changing seasons, various biomes, region-specific mobs/resources. A diverse ecology, with as much AI behavior as is possible/feasible.
Style and Graphics: I prefer beautiful graphics, of course, though they need not be cutting edge or hyper-realistic. I rather like a stylized approach, and it does not matter if it is isometric or 3D. I find the graphics in Pathfinder: Kingmaker to be very warm and inviting, and feel that the world has a lot of character. Similarly, I love the graphical style of LOTRO, dated as it is. Embers Adrift is stunning, and it is the graphics and general look and feel of the game that initially drew my attention.
Progression: Skill-based as opposed to level-based. Slow skill gains, and slow pace in general. Classless, but with certain checks in place- such as not being able to use magic while wearing heavy armor and certain types of weapon- to preserve the old school “D&D” fantasy aesthetic. Limited overall skill cap, whereby a single character can only master a certain number of skills, to encourage specialization. One character per server, to prevent mules, and other similar elements, as well as to encourage investing in one's character and help establish a more balanced economy.
Payment model: Purchase the initial game and a monthly subscription thereafter. No microtransactions of any kind; PTW, cosmetic, or otherwise. Possible Game-related issues aside, there is just something off-putting about the FTP model, in all its incarnations, at least for me. I prefer one set fee for everyone, so the field is level. All items either found on mobs or player-crafted.
Content: No overriding narrative. No static quests. Rather existing dungeons and other areas, with a high degree of randomized elements. Inclusion of various systems whereby characters can interact with one another as well influence the world. Likewise, the game should be challenging and require interaction and cooperation.
But again, this is my dream MMORPG. While Embers Adrift is not going to tick all of these boxes, I find the concept intriguing and the world beautiful, and look forward to its release.