I was planning on returning after F2P, to see how much the game changed, but I was able to buy a brand new Collectors Edition for £17, and redeemed the code today.
I must say I have some mixed feelings. First thing I noticed was that my server is gone. My characters are moved to a new one, where I have lost 6 names out of 8. That hurt a bit.
Logging in with different characters I noticed that there is a pretty big faction imbalance: 2:1 for the empire, based on the fleets populations. No wonder, empire side looks WAY cooler, then the republic does. One fleet has Samurais and Clowns (JK and JC), the other has some pretty nasty looking sith! I'm not complaining, when I left I did not like a singe endgame gear in game. Now the dark side has some cool ones at least. I think this is progress and good, even if it's slow.
I really like the Color Match option. Works really nice. Did not use the GTN, but I read there are some problems with it right now anyways. Crafting seems to be the same
I was literally shocked to see that there still isn't a Hood Toggle. For me aesthetics are very important in an MMO, part of the reason for my leaving was the fact that I could not look the way I wanted, with any of the classes. Due to some crazy restrictions, or missing features. I remember the hood toggle was a huge issue back then, and I remember it was also promised to be put in the game after 1.2 I believe. What ever happened to that? The lack of it just adds to the crappiness of the Republic side in my opinion.
I went to play a WZ with my BH. We've won, of course. I think I died once? And I'm a pretty bad PVPer, and had LAG. Empire still kicks bums.
The gameplay was incredibly linear, in a suffocating way. It still is
Adding a few new lower level planets, and giving players the choice where to go, what to skip would change that, but I guess without a very strong content producing force there is absolutely no way that is ever going to happen. Players can be happy if the class stories continue after 50 it seems.
There are some bugs in game, that are now a year+ old. For example, if you take a taxi on Hutta to Nemros palace, you will be zoomed out to your max setting when you get off. Minor thing, but makes me wonder about all the other minor things that were in game back then.
The game performance was shocking. I think this is the biggest issue with this game since launch, and I think it should have been addressed. I used to have some problems, for some reason I had awful FPS in the fleet and in warzones. (like 5-10, and decreasing game settings didn't help)
Now, I had to disable shadows, turn off AA, and decrease a bunch of settings to be able to play at all, and it still felt chunky. I was kind of expecting better performance, not worse. (definitely not THIS MUCH worse)
DirectX11, 64bit client, multi-core support. These are a must. I have 4 cores, swtor uses 1. I think this is the only thing you, Bioware can not find an acceptable excuse for in 2012.
All in all, I'm glad there was some progress, I like the new (from my perspective anyway) features, but I think BW is very, very slow in rolling out new stuff, new content. Let us not forget that they used the Hero engine because it allowed them to create content super fast. Looking back at the number (and size) of updates, I think BW is slower than most.
F2P will help. Once the game stops bleeding people, BW can hopefully catch their breaths too. F2P is a desperate move, but the only possible move at this point.