Playing the FFXIV beta has reminded me of some things I loved, and some things I hated, about FFXI. And that made me think about other games as well. Because I suspect that certain features I love probably aren't universally praised, I'm curious to see where other people stand.
1. Mass transit. I vastly prefer the concept of groups of players traveling together to individual flight points. Even if it means it takes more time, I think it's healthier for the game to not have everything be instant gratification. Boats/Airships got me talking to other people. Flight Points had me afking a lot.
2. Fame, instead of reputation. I have no idea if FFXIV uses a similar system here, compared to the reputation systems we see nowadays, but I actually vastly prefer it. I like that there isn't just an experience bar you mindlessly fill until you're done. I like that pleasing one group could piss off another. I like that fame requirements were never stated in game, so it wasn't a specific goal. It needs to be revamped, of course, but I think its a great system. I'd break cities into fame wards, where your fame would spread quickly in that ward, and more slowly into the rest of the city. I'd add multi-faction npcs that you could please or piss off. But as long as they keep the system where you can max everyone, but that's hard to do because some of them hate each other, I'm good.
3. Being able to talk to NPCs. FFXI did this well, WoW more-or-less didn't bother. TOR created more meaningful conversations with the NPCs you COULD talk to, but the rest were just there. GW2 added more, but not really enough to make it matter. I liked that I could run around the city and talk to so many different people, and that their comments changed as I progressed.
4. The job system. It had plenty of faults, but being able to really focus on developing a character, instead of developing a class, was WAY better (to me) than any of the class systems. It made me care about my FFXI characters more than I've cared about any character in a game since. And besides being really poorly balanced, there was still some beauty and value to the subjob system. Particularly if you were playing one of the jobs where there were actually options.
I'm not saying any of these were the epitome of game design. They're just concepts I really enjoyed in a MMO that I would like to see continuous improvement of.