One thing I feel is really lacking in pretty much all MMORPGs is actual player skill. With their simplistic auto-attack or even button/click feat based scenarios there is very little room for the player to really control how good their character is at fighting. Even in games like City of Heroes where there isn’t really an auto-attack, your skill is hamstrung by the limitations of the game mechanics, which in CoH is the recharge time and choice/placement of expansion slots.
FPS games are all about skill. Well, except when the game allows scripting/macroing. People who used the rocket-jump scripts in Quake were cheaters in my book, people who did it without a script were talented. But that aside, every player runs the same speed and has access to the same weapons, and what separates the players is how well they use the guns and know the maps.
However, in making combat more skill based, I don’t want to lose the players who actually prefer auto-attack. So consider this…
The default configuration is auto-attack. You equip a sword and run up to the monster and hit attack. Your weapon will do average damage, perhaps with a random chance to score a critical hit and do double damage. This model is enough to play the game. You won’t be the best in the world, but you will do alright. Then, on an option screen, you are able to select several levels of skill based control. For example, you can choose the “fighting style” method which presents your character with a list of pre-set sword grip and fighting styles. Each style has advantages and disadvantages, base-lined on the auto-attack, and you select them and use them. Then on the furthest end of the scale is “complete control” where your joystick controls your sword arm and your keyboard moves your feet, you gain the ability to move the sword in whatever way you choose to hamstring opponents or stab at the eyes, but you also have your damage affected by your movement because “strafing” around a target you’ll have much less power than if you plant your feet and put your whole body into the swing.
It would obviously take alot of effort to work out all the details, but the gist is that you allow the player to decide how much skill they want to use in the game. The less skill they use, the move “average” their character is; the more skill, the more chances for heroics.