One thing that would make things come to life a little more is if things had names. I'm sure there's someone here that's played Dwarf Fortress - Notice how when the world is generated _everything_ has a name? To keep the clutter down it'd have to be a separate layer of text on the cloth map that we could turn off, but I'd love to zoom to the cloth map and find out that there are places like "Mountains of Blood" "Hills of Sorrow" and other things - Names for rivers and oceans, things that would allow the world to seem more real.
When we get notifications like "Our northern timber mill was destroyed!" it could be changed to "The Timber Mill in the Woods of Mourning has been destroyed!" Things that tell us where it is before we even click to go see it.
Also, I've noticed a severe lack of rivers - It would be amazing for strategic battles and for commerce to have rivers, and even better if we could build "river ports" that generate additional money and/or food. Imagine having a strategic battle where your forces are constricted to a single river ford, or a bridge if there's a road over the river.
And one last thing in my ramble - If anyone here has played Avernum or Exile or Geneforge, they can probably back me up - Line of site for tactical battles would make them much more interesting. Having that archer hiding behind a rock to avoid spells, making the decision to step out, shoot, step back instead of using the step out and step back movement points for healing or attacking in exchange for the cover, having ruins with windows for sniping points, making it so that area spells are more tactical than the every day "Blow up everything" spell, because if someone's hiding around a corner you could take the risk of wasting your attack points and making a pot shot by shooting an area affect spell next to a hiding spot - If the person's not there you just wasted points and if they are you just negated their cover.
Then you'd have a use for sight spells where you could reveal areas for single turns, and then have spells that allow ranged units to have cover-piercing attacks.
Right now everything in tactical battles is related to visual appeal and apart from that it's about as entertaining as rolling dice.