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Okay I see the comment a lot, and i don't mean just here. But i see it a lot that people will state that the game isn't doing anything differently from the standard MMO, and i'm going to try and make a list of everything the game is doing differently so people can see as it may not be entirely apparent at first sight. Note this isn't about innovation so just becuase a feature i'm listing is in some remote MMO doesn't mean it doesn't belong on this list. Note things like auto attack and fast cooldowns don't meet this list because quite a few MMOs do this.
I"m going to split this up in sections.
Combat: The big one,mind as well start here.
Duck and cover: yes two classes get this but it's still a new way to do combat. How it works is that you select an enemy then hit the duck and cover button to roll behind cover. While you are behind cover (provided the cover is high enough) the enemy will basically hit the cover instead of you causing you to take no damage. But if you come out of cover to say...take a shot at the enemy, you are at risk of getting hit yourself. This provides a different way of combat from the straight up tank, the blasting of a mage or the use of invis to get behind the target. Think cops and robbers type thing.
CC immunity bar
If you continue to get hit by CCs either by other players or NPCs you will become immune which is different from other games where the CC immunity is more basd on stats and if you are not skilled in resisting the stat that the enemy is using there is a good chance (especially with players) that you can be locked down becoming completely ineffective.
Heavy use of pets
Most MMos tend to have one or two pet classes here everyone is, and they are highly customizable from anywhere from looks to AI control to types to being able to equip them to the same complexity as your main character. Thus spliting your character into two seperate parts.
Lets move on to crafting
Companions are involved in crafting. Their abilities tell who is better at crafting certain items better then others thus providing a bit more complexity to crafting then normal. Most games have the character actually crafting. Some are more complex but in most cases the game requires you to gather mats, the blueprint then hit craft and voila you have the mats. Rarer is when their is a timer on said item allowing for a more realistic crafting time as it takes time to put things together.
This is a differnet way to go about crafting, it's been done before but not often enough to feel stale or done to death so it sort of fits. Crafting takes time (as i outlined above) to do. If you gather the mats and the blueprints. When you hit craft you have a timer until the item is complete. THe player doesn't really have any control over the item but it's a middle road between player control and just hitting the craft button and getting the item. Think Fallen earth here.
While not completely new, it's different from most MMOs i've seen where you either get the item or you don't. Here appearntly you can get a better version of the weapon. (this one is debatable on the list, so far 3 MMOs have been listed)
Lets move on to character customization, this one i'm going to have to split into parts because theres a good bit here.
Light and dark allignment
Your allignment has a few effects on character customization. Note this is as far as i know purely cosmetic so it doesn't change how well your character does.
Light/dark allignment changes your skills: this gives your character a more defined look as your skills change as you slide up and down the allignment changes.
Armor dependant on your alignment: some armor is dependant on your allignment, such as some armor requires a certain ranking of light/dark to equip
Your face for force users changes based on your allignment allowing for a different look for your charcther if your really dark sided your face distorts and looks...well evil.
NPCs react to your dark and light allignment
Some dialog options close off based on your allignment
Equipment is based more solely on what mods you have in your weapon and armor rather then the equipment itself, equipment more solely bases on how many mods are allowed in said equipment that will then depict your stats from there.
The mods you have in your weapon/armor depict your weapons sound and color (ala lightsaber colors or blaster fire)
These two basically (assuming you can take mods in and out at will) allow for you to make any weapon you want provided you have the original, even take a low level weapon and armor such as if you like the brown robe from level 1, you could improve it to the stat where you can use that same brown robe for end-game.
This is probably the biggest change and departure and where all the focus/innovation is coming in.
Voice over, as much as people might like to try and deny or say it's a passing phase theres a differnece between just text and voice acting. Most games have some voice acting and some not, but no game has the level of voice acting this game does. Thus it's a very big depature on how they do quests.
Interaction with npcs, such as talking back and forth with them, even being able to hit them.
Choices in quests allowing you to take different versions of the quest which result in different experiences when you play out the quest, and even different rewards. Most MMOs have you simply doing a quest for said reward, however here what you do in the actual quest when taking progressing and turning in change how the quest ends and what rewards you get.
Pursasion is an optino in questing, allowing you to attempt to get the upper hand by using a stat you invested in to get better rewards that might not be available to one who doesn't.
multiplayer dialog, to my knowledge this is an innovation but people are free to correct me if they've run into this before. But allowing a person to affect someone elses quest via dialog seems a pretty big depature from how normal MMOs do it where you can either do the quest and complete your own or help someone else do theres but the interaction stops when they go to turn in the quest, not so here, group interaction is not only allowed but encouraged as you get rewarded for doing group dialog and interacting in others quests.
This allows you to not only turn in quests remotely but allows you to join in others peoples quest even if your not close but are still on the same planet. Far as i know the way this is implemented with being able to make decisions in others peoples quests without having to actually be there hasn't been done before.
Being able to influence your companion from light to dark or dark to light
Influences your crafting abilities.
Getting quests from your companions if you talk to them enough.
Companions are able to go from loving you to betraying you even to crying in your ship if you are a total jerk to them.
Dungeons (aka flashpoints)
Changing dungeons based on choices in the dungeons
Players can get access to alternate paths and different bosses if they of the right class
Different loot at the end of flashpoints based on the decisions made in the flashpoint
As mentioned above there is a CC immunity bar that everyone must be aware of and it's visable which gives for a more tatic route. Also this keeps players from being stun locked by another class merely because they lack the resistance to overcome said CC.
Warriors and healers can actually preform the desired role they want in PvP they did in PvE as they get rewarded for doing said role.
Warrior taunt works in PvP by making it undesirable for people to attack others besides the tank as their damage is severaly reduced.
Exploration in this game give you several rewards including,
Datacrons (which give permanent stat boosts): This isn't normal as i think only one other game did this and it was more of a grind thing where as these are more of a reward for exploration
options for dialog with your companions: Again this is tied in with the companion but getting to certain exploration areas can give you new oppertunities for dialog with your npcs as they comment on the areas
codex entries: Your lore background
We finally get to the misc category which is basically everything i didn't feel fit into th other categories or wasn't enough to warrent a whole new category
Codex entries: This is where you get all your lore from anytime you run into some you can easily look back at this codex to get a refresher, this can include anything from a temple to a boss to companions or items which tend to be quite descriptive.
No loading for instances: When you do eventually enter a instance in the game there is a green barrier which indicates an instance, this is completely instantanious and does not require loading, so you can go into your instance do what you want walk backwards walk forward enter someone elses instance, do their thing then back up and walk forward back into your instance all without ever hitting one loading screen...ever.
Cheoregraphed combat: This one might be cosmetic but most games have you just swinging away as if you were swining at air. EQ2 was the biggest offender i've ever seen of this where you have literal gap where you can clearly see that not only are they not synced with each other but not even close but still hitting each other. In this game you can actually clash swords which makes things more beliveable.
Obviously this list can be amended as new things that are done differently (not innovative, lets not confuse the term, just done differently from the norm aka the standard) then most other MMOs or it comes out that things on this list are a normal part of MMOs (hopefully i've done my research and that won't happen much)
Help me Bioware, you're my only hope.
Is ToR going to be good? Dude it's Bioware making a freaking star wars game, all signs point to awesome. -G4tv MMo report.