In no particular order:
1. Relationship Values
I like it when video games give you chances to deepen your bonds with other characters. Getting to know your party members better is often the best way to learn things about them that you otherwise would not.
Favorite Examples: BioWare games, recent Persona and Fire Emblem games, and in Harvest Moon.
2. Dialog Trees
Related to the above, dialog trees can be a lot of fun. I always like opportunities to impress my personality upon a game (those poor games). Dialog trees can impact a game’s story, characters, and endings. They can also affect what items you get and which areas you will go to. A nice addition to dialog trees is the integration of quick time events as seen in the Mass Effect series from 2 onward. These force you to make instinctual choices.
Favorite Examples: BioWare games, the Fallout series, Telltale’s games
3. Multiple Endings
I like these for similar reasons to the above tropes. What could be better than your decisions shaping your ultimate fate in a game? Of course, you run the risk of it not being the fate you want…
Favorite Examples: Shin Megami Tensei, Silent Hill
4. On-Rails Shooting Sections
(Possible?) Hot take: I like these when they pop up in third-person shooters and action games.
Favorite Examples: Metal Gear, Resident Evil, Uncharted
5. Training Modes That Teach You All of the Moves
These modes in fighting games seem to be unpopular with some, but I rather like them… until I get about halfway through a character’s move list. Then the combos start to make me crosseyed.
Favorite Examples: Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken
These can be fun to mess with for a while, especially to recreate characters from other sources, or to see what kind of twisted creations you can make…
Favorite Examples: Soulcalibur, WWE games
7. Randomized Dungeons
I like these in action-RPGs and roguelikes because they add some variety to the game.
Favorite Examples: Dark Cloud, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon
8. Skill Trees
Skill trees may only offer an illusion of freedom, but I’ve loved them ever since I played Final Fantasy X. The more freedom, the better.
Favorite Examples: FFX, Tales of Xillia 1 and 2, Xenosaga III: Also sprach Zarathustra
What are your favorite game design tropes?