It's been no secret that I've been a bit on the misgiving side regarding SWTOR. I'm excited by the prospect that a truly great Star Wars franchise is in the offing but have been somewhat tepid regarding the news that has been released about it. The news that so much instancing would be used in SWTOR threw me off for a bit as what I really have hoped for was a MMORPG that was completely open, featured strong world PVP (though instanced battlegrounds are fine if they are in addition to that as well), strong crafting and gathering, and plenty of PVE content. We've been getting a clearer picture of the general structure of SWTOR from Bioware over the last several months and I think we finally have a clear enough picture after E3 to understand where they're going with it all. What we seem to be getting is at least close to what I had hoped, but not as open as I probably had hoped for. The PVE side of the game will focus on "stories" -- which is to say quest chains and will be heavily instance.
Each player will have an individual class "story" that they will work through and which will be accomplished solo, although companion characters will play various parts in that as well. As you move through the class "story" you will visit various planets where "planet stories" can also be found. The planet stories can be mostly solo'd or accomplished in groups if you want to play with others but Bioware has said that you don't absolutely need to group to accomplish most of it. If you even want to accomplish any of it at all as none of the stories are required.
Aside from the PVE content Bioware has again reassured us that the "open" portion of the game will contain a crafting and gathering system, described as "WoW like" and will also feature PVP. Thus far we've only heard about PVP taking place in "war zones" however I'm still holding out hope there will be substantial world PVP as well. How strange would it be to walk by an enemy faction player in a city and not be able to attack them? I'd be fine with it if there was a way to flag or not flag for PVP as long as there was at least an ability for those of us who wanted to participate in world PVP to actually do so without having to venture into battlegrounds only.
Of course if you read the official forums -- and I highly recommend that if you do, you do so only irregularly -- this all points to the end of the world. I've been giving a lot of thought myself to how things seem to be shaping up and I'm of the vein that I think things could be fine. What is being described to us in regard to SWTOR game play is much akin to how I play WoW. I'm primarily a solo player who values achievements and content so the fact that I'd be soloing content in the form of my class story doesn't bother me. I already do that now, and in fact I think most WoW players do that when they're leveling a character. Nearly everyone solo's quests and only groups up with others on particularly hard quests. In SWTOR we'll have our companion characters who will take the place of others as needed in solo content, and can supplement groups on those group content quests in the planet stories. And as Bioware has said their will be raiding that certainly fills the end-game content requirement I think most of us hold for the game.
Which just leaves PVP and crafting/gathering. The PVP question has been partly answered and sounds very much like WoW's Wintergrasp or instanced Battlegrounds. Or similar to WAR's system, but leaves open completely how "world" PVP will be implement -- if at all. All in all it sounds remarkably like the general implementation found in WoW if you ignore the fact that the class story at least is played in instances. I don't feed on the mantra that this game will suck because it sounds like WoW so none of this bothers me what so ever. In fact after a lot of thought throughout E3 I'm beginning to look more forward to SWTOR than I think I was previously and don't think the use of so much instancing throws me as much as it did. But the devil is always in the details so I need to see what the plans are for the open portions of the game before I can get a real sense whether this game will be something I try out and shelve or whether this is a game I can spend 5 years or more playing.
So what disturbs me about SWTOR? Less than what disturbed me about it a week ago.