When the NDA for TR dropped, I was not very kind. If you'll recall, I said Garriott had lost his touch, and I even said he was full of shite when he claimed TR was going to revolutionize the MMORPG.
Now, to be fair, I still think that the comment about a revolution is shite. It's PR spin. It was said to make the game sound more attractive to people looking for something outside the norm. Because TR, aside from a few innovations (cloning system, pseudo-FPS combat, and the Logos system, etc.) is by and large a traditional MMO.
The Bane dropships are fancy ways of displaying enemies that pop into an environment. Quests are more often than not, collect this, or kill that, or deliver this. The skills range from healing to DoTs and even stealth and melee options are available. But while the way these things are done is not a giant leap forward, they're steps in the right direction.
The combat, which as I stated in my Beta review is the most intriguing aspect has only gotten better. Cover and movement now matter when fighting your opponent. And while it's not the skill-clicking fest we're used to in our MMOs, there's hardly any way of denying that it works well and offers something far more visceral than combat in WoW or LotRO. There are still dice rolls going on, your level and gear still factors in, as does your class skills, but far more important is your ability to recognize weakness in an enemy and exploit it. Said weakness range from certain damage types (incendiary, EMP, virulent DOTs), to the mobility of a target, staying out of range, etc. And the ability a player has to find these weaknesses, exploit them, and reap the rewards is what makes combat so intriguing.
All of the above were things that were either not present in my beta experience, or if they were it was poorly balanced. I remember a time in beta when just surviving a run-in with a few Bane soldiers was a feat, now I find myself taking on 10 at a time with the right weapons and use of my head. I've died about 3 times in 9 levels, compared to at least 3 times a level from the same time in beta's worst stages.
Also, as Hudson stated on his blog, the game's largely solo-friendly. And where it's not, there's more than enough folks willing to lend a hand if you ask. Or at least offer advice. For game that takes so much attention to playing, people sure are chatty. The general and newbie channels are always flowing with conversation, much akin to CoH. I haven't joined a Clan yet, but I think I might after I've made my 3rd tier choice at level 15. I can see partying being a hectic bunch of fun and I'd like to try the Clan Warfare, TR's current form of PvP, where Clans can declare open war on each other and members of each clan can then kill the opposing clan members on sight. A little against the idea of "Allied Free Sentients", but hey everyone has someone they don't get along with right? Why not kill them? :)
I haven't played too much with crafting, so I have no thoughts to exercise there. I'm rarely one who enjoys it, but it seems like more of a way to avoid spending money on ammo and consumables than anything else. Lastly, the Outpost battles that take place randomly between the AFS and the Bane are a riot.
At any given time the Bane may attack an AFS controlled Outpost (think town or city, where players go to recharge, get supplies, quests etc), and if they succeed all quests, supplies, travel portals are cut off for players until they retake the Outpost. On top of the fun of this sort of ongoing battle, there are rewards to be had for lending a hand. As Hudson said, higher level players often come down to one-shot some of the enemies in order to get the tokens needed for said rewards, but it's not too big of an issue that I can't get my own. Looking forward to logging in tonight to see if Landing Zone OP was taken while I was away.
I guess what I'm getting at is that a lot of the things that I found wrong with beta at the time of the NDA being lifted have been fixed or at least partially so, and now I find that the game is quite enjoyable. Is it the best MMO on the market? Probably not. Is it the best sci-fi MMO? I'd have to say yes, for my tastes. I never got into EVE, Planetside, or SWG. But this little cross-breed between RPG and FPS has me very enticed to play right now. How long will it last? I have no idea.
But since getting into the free-trial on Saturday night I can't bring myself to play my druid in WoW, I don't care about Hellgate, and even Mario is taking a slower pace towards saving the Princess. So last night, around 6pm I went to trade in some games and put money down on Pirates of the Burning Sea (my store still doesn't have their pre-order boxes). I got 30% extra on my trade for trading in 4 games, and an extra 10% for being an "Edge" member. My total in trade for 4 games I haven't touched in months came to $65. $15 or so went to Pirates, the rest got me TR. I'm a weak, weak man. But when something's fun, I find it hard to ignore.