A mode of co-operative play that is becoming a standard feature in FPS games these days is one where your group have to fight off wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies. Gears of War 2 has Horde mode, Halo ODST has Firefight.
LotRO’s Skirmishes have a similar sort of feature but it’s not quite what I’m after: it’s a fixed number of waves, and the waves of mobs don’t get progressively more difficult as such, they simply have a random chance to have a lieutenant spawn with each wave, with the final wave spawning a boss mob. I can’t think of a comparable example in any of the other MMOs that I play, let me know if there are any examples that you are aware of.
I think this could be quite a fun mode of play in MMOs. A party of up to five players spawn at a point which they have to defend; increasingly more difficult waves of mobs attack, with short breaks between each major wave allowing the players to regenerate some health and mana (standard potions and food wouldn’t work in this game mode, but there would be potion and food equivalent items placed at strategic locations around the map that players could gather, if they wish to risk leaving the safety of their defended position). A timer begins its count at the start of the game and the longer a group of players manages to stay alive the greater their reward; once all players are dead they are returned to the exit point where a chest with the loot they earned based upon their survival time awaits them.
Thinking in terms of World of Warcraft – in order to avoid the standard AoE-spam tank’n’spank that exists in the game at the moment for most five man dungeons, it might be that the non-elite mobs in a wave can be controlled with taunts and standard aggro generating techniques, but that lieutenants and above are immune to such, they can however, be restrained with various crowd control abilities (this is based upon an idea that tigerears mentioned recently when we were discussing tweaking the existing five-man dungeon content to remove some of the AoE spam, Rohan recently touched on the same idea too).
There are all sorts of other game elements that could be incorporated: turrets that can be used to thin out the waves of mobs as they approach the defended position, for example; objectives around the map that give powerful buffs and other effects, but which require a significant amount of risk and skill in getting to (and back from) them.
Do you have a non-dungeon-crawl mode of game-play that you’d like to see in an MMO?