I think the biggest thing to consider is the humidity of the area you'll be hiking in. I'm in Minnesota now, but lived in FL for the first 22 years of my life, so I can safely say that I've done the vast majority of my sweating in very humid, very sunny conditions.
In that type of weather, sweat just does not evaporate like it does in low humidity. By wearing cotton, all you're doing is making yourself soaking wet with very little cooling effect. With a shirt that wicks sweat, you will be noticeably cooler because it will at least give the sweat a fighting chance to evaporate, though you'll most likely still be soaked. There's a reason why football players in FL who wear cotton shirts under their pads will literally cut off every inch of fabric they can. It ends up looking like a sports bra and is simply there to prevent the pads from chafing. I've even seen this done with wicking shirts as well because those sometimes prevent evaporation as well.
IMO the most versatile type of shirt for hiking in hot conditions is a super thin nylon fishing shirt, WHITE in color, and with mesh vents on the sides, under the arms, and under flaps on the back. It's the same as with WP/B rain jackets. No matter how breathable the material, the best way to dump heat and moisture is to vent! The built in vents, buttons for adjustable venting, and collar for added sun protection can't really be beat.
If I knew I was going to be in a desert, then I'd probably go with a cotton or 50/50 type dress shirt simply because I know the sweat is going to evaporate there. I don't have much experience in those conditions, but I can certainly imagine that the evaporative cooling effect would be worth it. Unfortunately I'm used to sweat just dripping off rather than evaporating.