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TL;DR SWTOR is an extremely unpolished version of WOW with a storyline and voice overs. This game might be good if the year was 2004, not 2012. MMORPGs are pushing away from the theme park EQ model and into a whole new era marked by exploring new player-empowering systems, combat, pvp, and group story lines.
I see MMORPGS as having two eras according to game play:
1. The UO sandbox era (1997-1999).
2. The EQ, two faction, theme park era (2000-2011).
We are beginning a new era right now moving away from the theme park, tab to target before spamming 1-9, quest grinding, two faction instanced PVP, and limitations on player freedom. Example: The old mindset is to limit player freedom to solve issues. Players keep killing each other? BAN PLAYER KILLING! Players keep stealing from one other? BAN STEALING! Open world PVP is imbalanced? INSTANCE PVP! The new mindset is to empower players with the tools needed to solve their own problems. Players keep killing each other? Implement a player ran justice system! Players keep stealing from one another? Implement a detective class/skill and jails! Open world PVP is imbalanced? ADD ANOTHER FACTION!
SWTOR is a $100 million release at the very tail end of this close minded era, unwittingly failing to realize they released all the same things players have been experiencing in an MMO since 2004 (2001?) and a single player storyline that has been experience over and over since the early 1990s, one could argue even the 1980s.
If SWTOR wanted to do something revolutionary to MMO's, they would have improved upon Asheron's Call group storyline and made their storyline involve both small groups of people and entire server populations. Instead SWTOR makes their storyline single player and clearly not anywhere near as good as Bioware's other single player games. Boring lonely storyline is boring and lonely.
SWTOR is WOW combat. Tab, target, push 1-9. Games are done with that and moving to new combat systems, mirroring FPS games. If you don't know what I mean by this, check out the combat in Darkfall Online, TERA, and Guild Wars 2. Once again, SWTOR built a combat system based entirely on WOW/2004 which is built from DAOC/2001. It's been eight-eleven years of this shit, we're done with tab target 1-9.
PVPers know what I mean by two faction PVP. It's been at the point where we've avoided games with only two factions since 2007. DAOC knew in 2001 that only two factions would lead to imbalanced open world PVP and proved so by adding three factions which concluded in extremely balanced open world PVP. WOW can never have open world PVP, RIFT cannot, SWTOR is trying with Illium, but on EVERY server it's always the faction with the higher population that rolls the lower population faction. WOW fucked this up in 2004 and have been paying dearly for their mistake, losing huge chunks of the PVP market. Don't even bring up Warhammer Online... You'd think SWTOR would know better in 2012 than to repeat this same mistake, especially since the PVP Dev head is the same ass clown who ruined Warhammer Online. "I've ruined two major MMO's PVP systems the same exact way now derpa derp derp derp." Other game developers who actually take five seconds to study PVP and how to implement both open world and instanced are realizing this and adding in three plus factions or none at all. Imagine Alterac Valley with three plus factions or just an open world battleground with players fighting for control points (forts, castles, towers) and you'll begin to realize what these idiot developers have been holding back from us.
SWTOR has the same class system as WOW. One class with three talent trees. Only thing different is that maybe in six-eight months they will change it so you can have a one time switch to a sister class. Yay!! Wonderful! The same... exact... shit. At least try something new. How about spending experience points on skills (Shadowbane 2003)? Or getting talents improved upon by how often that talent, ability, spell is used? The system is SWTOR is old and clunky, based on WOW 2004. At least WOW continues to improve their talent system. Cataclysm allowed players to get a custom spell/ability with each tree, though the trees were much too linear and apparently will be fixed with the Pandamania expansion.
SWTOR is wholly unpolished. No customizable UI even though it's 2012 (this is rumored to be changed with the upcoming patch, four months too late), instance encounters are bugged to hell/bosses getting stuck and script triggers failing to trigger, horrid auction house UI, being stuck with only one talent build, can't compare armor for companions with mouse over, have to regroup after queuing as a group for PVP, no instance finder (single server or multi-server), can't drag items onto your characters picture to equip (both in game sprite and picture on the inventory screen), etc. etc. The amount of polish lacking from SWTOR is absolutely disgusting.
I haven't even looked at the crafting system very much, maybe someone can fill in this for me. It seemed pretty shit all around though.
No world to explore, much like WOW. SWTOR is based on completing quests and the single player storyline and because of this, much like WOW, there is no world to explore. Players are just running from one quest to another. There's no point in exploring, no reward in being curious about what's behind the waterfall or where a cool monster spawn is at. You'd have to play Ultima Online, Minecraft, Darkfall Online, Mortal Online, or Shadowbane Online to really understand. And no, adding a few hidden datacrons is not enough.
New MMOs are abundant in 2012 trying out new systems, combats, open world and player empowering systems. Archage, DF2.0, Mortal Online keeps chugging along (probably needs to sell it to someone who cares about adding more coders), Guild Wars 2, Firefall, Planetside 2, etc. etc. It's the new era of MMOs and all SWTOR did was release a bunch of shit that we've all experience before, improving on nothing. A shit version of WOW, but with lightsabers and voices.