Been playing this game for a while and I think I'm amongst a lot of people here agreeing that there should be at least some reward for killing mobs, other than health and unlocking...more mobs. But I understand the goal of the game being about exploration instead of mindless killing, and in that sense, the exploration should be the activity required to gain your upgrades.
Unfortuantley, I'm coming from playing a lot of dungeon crawlers with RPG aspects (so bear with me if I'm diving too much down this road,) and with the random generation and near endless continents, unfortunately that's the kind of game I'm seeing here, even if that wasn't the game's intent. I want to explore because of the excitement to find what kind of goodies I can find in all these rooms, not because I wanted to see new lands. The problem is, this game has enemies too.
I have to be frank, regardless of why some people would call random generation "laziness," I think any game that has it is pure genius in order to keep people playing your game. It gives the feeling that the game is never done, there will always be something new to explore. It may not be interesting, but it's something. But the ones who hate it, are usually expecting the generation to be miraculous, making them want to go WOW at the geometry, and always say it's repetitive when they find out all the layouts are repeated or generic. But as I see it, there's virtually no way it can't be repetitive. But a computer needs building blocks, it can't create those blocks on the spot, only a human can. (Of course, I'm no programmer, maybe I'm wrong) 1,000, 100k, 1 million, it doesn't matter how many "blocks" the game has. Unless you dedicate every patch to creating more (and I'm sure no one wants to do that) eventually, you're going to see a pattern.
Metroid, what this game is obviously inspired from, didn't have random generation. Forgive me for forgetting area names, (it's been a long time since I played Metroid) but I remember lots of elevator like-shafts with doors all alongside the walls. Whether you personally like that level design or not, it's still unique. Having unique and interesting level designs is a must if you want your game to be about exploring, making them fun to navigate through simply for the act of navigating, but it's only feasible if you don't plan on your game lasting any more than 20 hours or so. AVWW is meant to last forever, so you can't do that. I'm not trying to fault the game for choosing random generation, but since this very game mechanic makes the exploration dip down a bit, you got to balance out the other activity of the game: combat.
But what's the difference between killing an enemy for the loot that it drops, or destroying an enemy because he's guarding it? Really it's nothing. I think what we're craving for is some kind of loot or at least something of value from enemies that we can't get from anywhere or by doing anything else.
After reading all the posts, I still think the currency bit is the way to go, but the trick is what would that currency be and what exactly would we be buying? Also, how would it balance the game out so it doesn't detract too much from it's original intent? (Exploration)
I think this would be the most basic reason for currency, as enchants are basically RPG equipment, but since the game's lore is of being right after a world-wide cataclysm and people are working together to survive, it doesn't make any sense for anyone to charge for anything. So instead of charging some kind of made up money, a gesture that would no doubt be considered selfish in a time of rebuilding civilization, people are simply asking for the crafting components required to make them. The problem is if the components are existing materials in the game that can be found through exploration alone, it wouldn't solve the problem of killing monsters having no value.
There would be two ways to do this, a quick way, or another way that caters to the game's Terraria-like (I'm assuming this game was an inspiration too to an extent?) item crafting. Regardless though, both methods have cons. The easiest way to to do this is to have all monsters give the same material that would be used to create enchants. Something that all monsters have, like monster "souls." (Which of course I know doesn't make sense for robots, but this is just an example.) Essentially, this is the same thing as cash. The problem with this is that it might make players see $$ in their eyes whenever they see monsters, and can lead to grinding for cash.
Another way is for each monster to give some kind of material related to them. (Robots give metal, espers give, I dunno, essence, and rhinos would give up their horns.) Effectively, the "body parts" from mobs act as individual currencies, used to create enchants and nothing else. The problem with this method though is such an method would require time.
As far as the enchants themselves available? They would be 10 or so randomly generated enchants, (like Diablo) but not necessarily of any better quality than enchants you could of gotten from enchant charges. (Although a in-game lore reason as to why the stock would keep changing I haven't the foggiest idea, it would still seem like he's a merchant who keeps getting different stock.) The reward in this is although getting enchants in this method requires more work and a form of currency, the player has more choices of what enchants to get. (Also, enchant charges should give less "charge" per pickup if this store were to be implemented....or remove that one room which is a giant maze that has like 15 or so enchant charges, I always thought this room was overkill TBH.) This provides another choice of how to gain enchants, leaving the player to decide if he would rather procure the enchants by blasting enemies, or exploring, leaving no game activity more viable than than other. The enchants from the store would of course be improved as the tier increases on that continent.
An alternative to the above would be to have the enchant charges give you, instead of an enchant, an item that can be inserted into an enchant that boosts it's effects. This would provide a way reason for the player to focus on "both" activities (combat and exploring) albeit maybe forcefully so.
Someone earlier mentioned this, but instead of dropping from enemies, these can be consumable "potions" sorta speak. Temporary effects, things like 10% HP increase for 5 minutes, or 5% increase chance of enemies to drop a particular material when killed.
Yes, I realize this may alienate the whole permadeath thing with no way to heal other than killing enemies, but it's just a random thought. Why not have Metroid/Mega Man energy tanks in the game? As it is, any person is going to choose whatever combat difficulty he's comfortable with, which means they're probably not getting hit and leaving a lot of health orbs behind. With energy tanks, whenever your health is full, collecting health orbs will start filling up a tank little by little. The amount it can heal can be mitigated, by say for i.e. having energy tanks NOT purchasable and instead be very very rare finds, making them consumable items, or setting the healing consumption rate only to half. (Filling a tank by 2 HP would only heal 1 HP when consumed.)
While not necessarily a gameplay enhancing option, this is for us trophy gamers who take pride in defeating things for the sake of defeating things. Plain and simple, have an in-game statistic counter. Espers kills, robots kills, total enemies killed, etc. (The statistics would also display player deaths, missions completed, and other random stuff.) Each world would have their own statistics for that player.
Oh man, I just spent 2 hours doing this. Time for sleep. I'm sorry if these suggestions are going out of hand.
EDIT: Okay, maybe scratch the buff store, just found out that's what the guardian scrolls are for.