Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath. There are a couple of mechanics I’d like to see transferred over into more games.
Wanted: Dead or Alive: Stranger is a bounty hunter. You get paid for bringing I’m Outlaws. You can go the easy way and kill them or take them in alive for a buttload of extra moolah. I’m honestly surprised this isn’t used to better effect in more games. The game has a really great level layout to aid this. Every level is a self contained, open ended playground that let’s you pick how you want to engage. Games like Hitman and the first Assassin’s Creed game do a decent job of this, but there’s just something special about being a bounty hunter rather than a hired killer from an organization or a mercenary from a PMC. Kinda the mom and pop shop of paid death dealers. But then again I’m a sucker for games where your goal isn’t “I must find the truth about a thing” or "I must avenge my father but instead is just “Well I gotta make rent somehow.” Stranger’s initial motivation for his quest isn’t some noble goal of ridding the world of outlaws: it’s medical expenses.
Changing perspective changing gameplay: Sure, lots of gameslet you switch between 1st and 3rd person views, but when they do the gameplay remains virtually unchanged. But in Stranger’s Wrath changing perspectives completely changes your controls. You can go from a shooter to a brawler with the tap of a button. It’s a really cool thing I wish more games would explore.
“Live Ammo”: All the ammunition you use is not bullets or arrows, but small animals that you catch in the world. You then launch these critters at your enemies from your “double barrel wrist crossbow” (for lack of a better name) with different effects. For example, ChipPunks will taunt/lure enemies, Thud Slugs will knock most enemies out cold, and Fuzzles will rip them into little bits and can be laid as traps. Made for some fun dynamics.
Another game that I think could use more copying is Brütal Legend. Sure, driving around in a heavy metal fantasy world swinging it with greats like Ozzy and Lemmy is fun enough on its own, and I want to see more of that universe. But one of the coolest things they did was mix RTS (Real Time Strategy) with hack and slash gameplay. Warcraft 3 did a tiny bit of this with the hero system, but I’m Brütal Legend you aren’t just an armchair general hoping he gets enough vespine gas to supply his army. You’re a battlefield commander. So when ■■■■ hits the fan you can jump into the fray and use your ax to solve the problem rather than laying there helpless. I think more games could stand to mix things up like that.
On the subject of Strategy, Star Wars Battlefront 2 (the PS2/Xbox one, not the PS4/Xbone one. Games really are the industry with the shortest memory in the world) had the coolest damn game mode ever: Galactic Conquest. It could be played solo, co-op, or versus, and it was great fun.
Essentially, it’s a turn based strategy game like Risk or Civilization, but rather than battles being decided by dice rolls they’re decided through a Conquest match where you and your friendmies fight to the death in real time. You get to use passive buffs or tokens to help bolster your forces, build extra fleets, and choose to blockade a planet from space as well as the ground for extra defence.
The only games I’ve seen come close to this are Total War (and even then that’s just turn based into RTS) and Shadow Lords mode in Killer Instinct. I’d love to see more modes like this, where you can boost yourself with equippables but the battle is still a test of reflexive skill.