I don't know, I feel as though the concept of putting five points in a tree to shave off a grand total of .5 seconds off your heal is extremely boring. At least the way they have it now they cut out those "choices" you could make and just focus on specific spells (which you received about as frequently as you do now). Not to mention you don't have to be frost to get icy veins or BM to pick up Spirit Bond. That alone makes this system superior in my eyes.
Rift dynamic events are fun when you are new to the game. Eventually though you don't see an event and go "Woot time to kick some arse!", you see them and go "Oh lord... wonder if people are going to show up for this or am I going to be forced to do something else while I wait for this crap to go away...".
I should also note that I personally found TOR boring as hell. It is equivalent to WoW combat, dragged out farther, with mediocre cut scenes you have to watch in order to understand what the hell is going on.
Shaving time off a spell was better than getting nothing of any interest for 15 levels. And, let's face it, most of the talent choices you make are ridiculously uninteresting from a leveling perspective. Let's take Mages as an example. You're obviously going to choose Scorch at your first option, because you have no reason to be thinking about something like raid DPS. The only possible exception I can see is if you're PVPing and want access to PoM. But even then, I wouldn't choose it. Cast scorch while strafing away from my enemy vs. cast one instant Pyroblast (which is only about double the damage of Scorch) every 1.5 seconds. The answer is obvious.
Choice 2, your defensive option. Two of them are heavily skewed towards PVP/endgame, the other is Ice Barrier, which lasts a minute and has a 25 second cast time. It's the vastly superior option for leveling.
Choice 3, you have the option of two different frost novas or a silence. You already have counterspell, and you won't need another interrupt while leveling. So it's your choice between Ring of Frost or Ice Ward. If you aren't leveling Frost, the answer is clearly Ring of Frost. If you are leveling Frost, the answer is still probably Ring of Frost, though Ice Ward might
be attractive (because you can cast it on the elemental). But even then, RoF has double the duration. Ice Ward's shorter Cooldown isn't as attractive in this scenario, because Frost already has access to a second FN via the Elemental.
Choice 4, another survivability one. You're probably going to be going with Cold Snap, because you shouldn't be needing Cauterize or Greater Invisibility (Invis should be enough).
Choice 5, The first real "choice". But not really. Nether Tempest randomly damages nearby enemies, so that's out. Living Bomb's strength lies in having it up on 3 targets at a time, so that's out. Frost Bomb it is. Though I suppose you might go with LB, if you're killing things so fast that the 6 delay for FB's damage is too long.
I'm really not seeing any interesting choices here. For endgame, sure. But they're terrible for leveling. You wait 15 levels just to get to choose between 3 utility spells you should never have reason to use in solo PVE content? Not interesting. At all. Their build system is... fine... for endgame. But it's actually the worst leveling system I have seen in an RPG in a very long time.
As for the rate you get new skills. the problem is that all the interesting abilities have been relegated to high levels or locked into specs. If they had just locked the talent-based skills into the specialization, it would have been one thing. But spells like Frostbolt and Fireball are now spec-locked. Druids don't get healing touch until level 26. BACKSTAB IS LEVEL 40. Yeah, that doesn't matter for solo leveling, but it sure makes playing a Sub Rogue suck a hell of a lot more in groups. Good thing they replaced their main combo builder with a 24 second DoT. You know how mobs tend to live that long.
As for TOR, the cutscenes were pretty much the same thing you get in any BioWare game. There wasn't any meaningful decrease in quality there. It feels way more like playing DAO than it does playing an MMO (while leveling, at least).
And while I agree that WoW's combat is better than TOR's in general, I don't think there's any way in which WoW does solo combat better. In TOR, you're almost always fighting groups of mobs that actually support each other. That means tactical gameplay is vastly rewarded even in solo content. Establishing a kill order, using your CC, and properly using your companion (whether you actively use their abilities or not) is a huge influence on your ability to take down the enemy easily. Because you can actaully die.
For most of WoW combat for most of WoW's history, you could auto-attack most classes to level cap. If you have legacy gear or play an AA-heavy class, you can still do that. You can't do that in TOR. Well, for one becasue they don't have AA, but also because spamming your base ability will get you killed.
The difference here is whether or not you are actually playing the game. Edited, Mar 3rd 2013 4:39pm by idiggory