Originally Posted by Pants
Sandbox games are awesome, I like them a lot. I like RPGs because I like leveling my character up and making tough choices about how I want to go about it. I like getting better gear as I level up and I like progressing through an epic story. Oblivion failed to deliver on leveling and itemization, the story sucked too. I could deal with a flat story as long as you give me a reason to keep going (ala Diablo II). I could deal with a weak leveling system and weak itemization if the story is awesome (see Mass Effect), but I can't deal when all that is missing. I lost all interest in Oblivion once I was max level with the best possible gear and I knew there was no more advancing. The story wasn't enough to make me want to keep playing.
I guess maybe that's why I liked WoW so much. It was endless character progression (first by leveling, then with loot) but the game also gave you a sandbox world which was like on ocean compared to Oblivion's puddle.
I'm sort of the opposite. I can handle crappy sandbox gameplay and progression if the story is good enough (Morrowind, which I played for hundreds
of hours...) but if the story sucks and the combat is boring and the environment is brutally repetitive (Oblivion, and for me Fallout 3, which started great (best character creation sequence ever IMO) and then completely went in the pot - although I did like it more than TES4) I'll check out...
So for me, I think it's primarily about story (most important) and then gameplay (combat, primarily). I can grind away endlessly if the combat is fun. Character progression I'm kind of OCD about, but it's not what drives me to play.
I will play some other genres if I like the story, too, most recently Dead Space and Dead Space 2. Both of which were awesome.