- Seasons - This doesn’t have to be four seasons necessarily, but should at least be a cold season and a warm season or perhaps a wet and dry season. Seasons provide a sense of time and change and make the world itself a character. It gives the player something challenge them that is greater than any single foe. The player can learn to deal with inevitable change by gathering materials, dealing with change light patterns, altering their exploration habits, and so on.
- Less enemies - The thing that has really struck me as extremely non-immersive about the last two Bethesda games is just how violent and dangerous they are, to a comically unrealistic degree. The vast majority of characters and creatures a character meets are blindly violent towards them. Beyond not making sense, this also wrecks any sense of real danger or dread that the designers may have intended. Enemies quickly become nuisances. Instead, games could have more indifferent, mundane, and fearful NPCs while having fewer but exceptionally dangerous and sinister enemies.
- Age - Let the players grow old and die. This builds an obvious motivation for getting certain things done in a certain amount of time. This can be dealt with by a set aging process or, even better, periods where large amounts of time could pass at the player’s choice. This was done fairly well in Fable 2. Then, the players could come out of elderly retirement for one last adventure, etc. This sets an even larger sense of scale and adventure for the player. Granted, the designers would have to account for such changes. They would have to plan out an 80 year or so period of major world events and generational transitions of NPCs. Even a mildly implemented version of this would be interesting.