TLDR Version : Zelda BotW has a very nice environment/weather system that I think could be looked and built upon for any MMORPG that tries to implement such systems. Oh.. and MMORPGs need to come back to their roots of having mutliple mechanics and rules and intertwined at various levels, which, for some might only be "tediousness", but for others, it's what makes the game feel more "worldly".
When I read about weather/environment effects, I immediately think something like in the latest Zelda (BotW). The system is pretty nice in my opinion and could easily be used (and built upon to add even more effects, etc.) in an MMO. Hope you guys at VR give this one a playthrough just to see it in action.
For people who did not play, weather/envrionment has an impact on various levels.
1st, the temperature: Going on snowy mountains is cold (and gets colder the higher you go..), so it requires you to dress with warm clothes, or wear cold resist jewelery, or eat/drink some cold resist food or potions (or a combination of many of these for harder to get locations).
All these things can have different levels of effect (and duration), but
these give you options, and that's always a good thing (if you have'nt
found the gear yet, you can always craft potions or food, etc.).
Same kind of thing for volcanic areas where things get so hot that you not only need resists, but any flamable gear you have equip will catch fire..
Another nice touch is in the deserts. During the day, it can get really hot (not as hot as in volcanoes, so gear does not ignite.. but hot enough to require some warmth resistance stuff). You can drop the temperature level a bit if you seek shade (nice detail here too!). At night though, it gets cold, and you need to dress accordingly.
2nd, the movements: Walking in the snow, the sand, etc. is not as easy as walking on paved roads. So these can slow you down if you don't have the right "boots" for the situation. Same for swimming. Water currents exists and have an impact. Also, you can't climb some surfaces when it rains, because it makes them slippery. Wind also has an impact on throwing distances, etc.
3rd, special effects: Like stated for the volcanic areas, flammable gear could ignite in these environments. You can also attract lightning if you wear metal gear during a storm, etc.
4th, weather dependent fauna/flora: Some creatures and plants can only be found in certain situation. ex.: Some plants only grow in the coldest areas, while some insects only come out at night, or some animals can only be found roaming the land when it rains, etc.
Anyways, I'm sure you see how that goes, and all the potential behind it! That's the kind of things I want from a "weather and environmental" system.
What is needed to make this work though (and what Zelda BotW shines at constantly giving you) is "options". Have many different ways to work around the problems, both with their cons and pros. Having options also gives the possibility to "tune" the difficulty of reaching certain zones by requiring more or less of each.
For example, the "easier" zones could require a single item of low quality, while the hardest to reach would require you to have the highest elemental resists on all your slots, added to the best food and potions. Allowing every other combinations of number and quality in between for various other places throughout the game.
Anyways. Playing Zelda just made me think about how MMORPG used to be before the "main streaming" occurred. There are rules and mechanics in Zelda that existed before in mmorpgs, but have been lost to "make them more accessible" or to "remove the tediousness" or to give anyone access to everything, but all these rules and systems that intertwine with one another on various levels are pretty much what made MMORPGs what they were in the first place, and what needs to be back (at least in some of them..)!