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I prefer the combat pre 1.2 as it was slower and a lot more fun despite the ability delay, however it is so close to WoW, really tight and it makes me wonder why it was never made into a huge deal, the next WoW that it could have been.
I really thing it comes down to the world design, how linear and enclosed it is and how it is essentially a hub game. WoW made this massive open world with seamless transitions between zones and it was amazing for the time. That is what people play MMOs for generally, sadly though with SWTOR at the time of release the same complaints kept cropping up from people, it was always world design.
You feel like you're travelling from small game level to small game level, there is barely any open world PVP and it just feels like you're loading the next level of a single player game. It is a shame because they actually packed a lot of grouped encounters, but the world design just went against that...
The best experience I had was on Tatooine with the Balloon ride to get the Holocron. It was basically the only interesting bit of content in the game designed around it being an MMO, I can bet though that Bioware have taken it out or made it a lot easier to get by now. You had to wait for ages for the Balloon to come so you could all get on it, only it was a hot PVP zone and you'd have fights for it. Really this was the only worthwhile PVP objective in the game... It was so fun to also pretend to be friendly to an enemy, wait till we got on it and then push them off for lols.
There was this amazing town Anchorhead on Tatooine that was fully 3D, you could run all round it and on top of buildings, I think it was the only one in the game like this. I just think if only this was the main trade hub, if only the city was connected to the rest of that world, it would have made for great PVP. Sadly though they cut it off with a Taxi ride to the planet and again showed me why the game failed.... there was just no reason to play it as an MMO, it was just a Single Player game.
The worst thing they ever done was the Fleet Stations, it removed everyone from the world and put them in this hub that doesn't exist in real space of the game, you cannot travel to it, you just instant warp. So all people ever did was stand in the Fleet Station and grind instances or battlegrounds..... well you might as well delete the planets and call it Diablo or something. I hated how you travelled from planet to planet too, they should have made space a much bigger deal, but sadly your ship just felt static, like your ship was on a set and space was just a green screen.
This is why people quit, there was no MMO there, it had all the mechanics of one, was amazingly well crafted, but sadly no structure to hold it altogether. It is a shame because it is such a well made game, probably the mechanically since WoW, just they got the world wrong.