Choice in videogames has about as successful a history as games that will “make you cry”. 99.9% of the time the claim is BS, and that other .1% you had something in your eye. Point being when some marketing guy says their game features deep meaningful choices that really impact your game, he is talking about your lightsaber turning red/blue. Or at best some NPC dying that you would never see or hear from again anyway.
Off the top of my head, the only game where I ever felt choice actually mattered, and where I actually stopped to thing about a situation was in The Witcher. And surprise surprise, The Witcher also ranks right up there in terms of story and setting, while really staying away from the traditional crap like shiny hunting or a character skill tree that’s so large even the devs can’t remember half the skills. The game was about story first and foremost, and it actually delivered (waiting on a Steam sale for Witcher 2).
A game like Dragon Age is full of ‘fake choice’, where every quest seems to have multiple solutions, but the end result is just different loot or some placeholder NPC switching up one line with another. Not that it really mattered in DA, the game was still fun and its story was good-enough to see it to the end. I’d just never put it anywhere near The Witcher in terms of moral choices and tough decisions.
On the MMO front, this situation is even more ridiculous. Name one NPC you actually remember and care about from an MMO. Exactly. They are stationary loot dispensers and task-masters. Trying to make NPCs matter in an MMO is perhaps even worse than trying to get me to cry in a single-player game.
Now, depending on what MMOs you have played, you might remember certain players or situations between guilds. Currently EVE has just such a situation going (btw, is this Tobold trolling EVE, or EVE trolling Tobold?), but the reason the situation is complex and people are invested in the outcome is because its player-driver, and the end-result is uncertain. Maybe the Goons really are evil, or maybe they are just trying to improve EVE. You can’t Google the questline to find out, and the answer has more impact than a red/blue tint to your lightsaber.
Whether you love or hate EVE, you can’t deny that something like this is 100% more interesting than what guild beat raid X three hours after a patch. And no, you (yes you) will never be in the shoes of someone like The Mittani, while you most certainly can be a ‘hero’ and slay Arthas. But while slaying Arthas might get you the same achievement millions of others already have, being just a cog in The Mittani’s machine has infinitely more impact on that world. The ‘choice’ to kill Arthas is not a choice, while joining/opposing The Mittani very much is.
The other major advantage an MMO has in regards to choice is how long the impact lasts. In a single-player game, you can always reload and pick a different option, or start a fresh game and pick a different path. In an MMO, the results are more permanent (unless they are instanced…). You can’t ‘reload’ a bank heist, switching guilds, or the result of a major conflict. Both sides remember the results, and will make decisions going forward based on those past results. This, in part, makes those choices ‘matter’.
At least as much as internet sandcastles/spaceships matter (a lot).