I think I'm personally one of the most opinionated and arguably most inflammatory people on the forum. I've been here a real long time, to get banned from the forum you basically have to be an incredibly awful human being with no capacity for remorse.
The thing I want most is NPCs I've read every Mondoid and Thursdoid I'm still waiting, I'm skeptical that NPCs are going to be some form of Skynet AI but I hope they'll be adequate and I'm certain they will be iterated upon until they are. Vehicles are huge, natural degradation of the world makes it feel more alive (er...dead?) and better weather will make it feel more real, the game's construction system has undergone huge changes especially involving quality of walls and such. We have electricity and all kinds of other things we didn't have way back when. I think it's disingenuous to say the world feels more dead when the world itself now reacts to the player more than ever and is in fact significantly more dynamic.
NPCs are a huge deal, but that's why they've taken so long. I rarely ever bother to ask questions about NPCs anymore and choose to just do something like: https://theindiestone.com/forums/index.php?/search/&q=NPCs&page=1&author=EnigmaGrey
and usually the answer is quickly found.