In my games, I like to try and set things up so my PCs can feel like big damn heroes and like they matter. This comes across in a number of ways, but effectively I am aiming to set things up so that if they play their cards right they can have those big damn hero moments.
I want them to feel like bad asses as they jump in and save a comrade or more in a battle. I want them to have that emotional pull as they leap back into danger they just barely escaped because someone was left behind. I want them to have the NPCs look up at them in wonder and awe, the weight of their previous actions elevating them to a status of Hero.
I want them to feel like they matter.
On the low end scale, I want to capture the way Ace Combat 5 made me feel. This is one of the better videogame stories I remember playing through, but the stand out moments for me is how the game makes you feel you matter in the story. You show up to battles with ground troops bitching about how impossible the mission will be. There's too much resistance. Too much air support. Then they find out you are the one providing their air cover and suddenly the tune shifts. Defeatist becomes "We have
Now, to be clear, I'm not forcing things into this shape. The PCs don't have to engage. The story might not go this way. But if they play into it? If the dice fall right? We can have those moments. And that theme of letting my players be heroes also governs a lot of the stories I tell. They're stories where the PCs always have hope of making a difference....