Dynamics, dynamics, dynamics!
I played some LOTR: Battle for Middle Earth 2 with my cousin last night. And I again experienced something I had never experienced before, despite having played the game frequently for over a year.
This time, the fresh experience was seeing multiple battles with three, and even four, dragons in the same fight. Some were on the ground, torching buildings and armies. Others were striking from over head. And still others were battling each other in the air.
I realize now that those dragons were dominating my attention almost completely while they were on the battlefield. I had other heroes and regular units battling there or nearby, but I ignored them while the epic monsters bit and clawed at each other overhead.
I've seen and played RTS games, including BfME2, which give the player control over a "hero" character or unit in addition to regular troops. And that's fun. But I think it would also be fun to merely plan an army's attack and then relinquish control of that army entirely, or almost entirely, while controlling the hero in battle.
As I recall, the original Rainbow Six game did this on a small scale. But it feels very different controlling one character in the midst of an epic battle with many types of units in conflict. The second Star Wars: Battlefront game perhaps comes closer by allowing the player to be a Jedi in an epic battle, but that game lacks the variety of an RTS game like BfME2 as well.
Those games also don't offer RPG-like character development. Hero progression during battles in BfME2 is limited to unlocking pre-selected skills. If a game focused on a hero moving through a war, then the time between battles could be given to the player to choose the hero's skill advancements, weapons and armor, etc. That war, by the way, could be dynamic, rather than scripted... ala the War of the Ring mode in BfME2.
In any case, I'm basically saying I'd like to see some games focused on that thrill of being a special, customized character in the midst of epic battles involving a wide variety of allies and enemies. Many games have attempted some aspect of that, but I can't think of one off-hand which put it all together: an epic character, customization, NPC variety, and huge battles. Do you know a good game like that?