I'm not digging through a bajillion posts of "made my snowflake pony, looking forward to actually playing."
Well geez, if you're going to be all mean.
-- solo-friendly? It's been a while since we've had a "need a party to do anything" game like FFXI/EQ but it still makes me wary. I like the chance to be anti-social when I want.
Solo friendly in the open world, but in an odd sort of way: they've simultaneously made cooperation important and eliminated the need to ever speak to anyone. There's no such thing as tagging a mob or competing for nodes or quest items. Anyone who participates in a kill gets xp and their own individual chance at loot. Any node that shows up on your map will be there for you even if someone else gets there before you. Also anyone can rez anyone (and you get a little xp for it). So during dynamic events or just while questing, everyone is pretty cooperative and if someone comes along while you're in a fight, they'll stop and fight too. And yet, there is no need to group for any of it, since you all get xp anyway. So, no chit chat.
- is the story quest a straight-jacket? In SWTOR it hauls you to every corner of every planet, making it impossible to skip a planet (you can skip the non-class quests but you're still running everywhere) and leaving nothing new to be discovered rolling a new character. If I say "I want to see what's on the other side of those mountains" will it prevent me from doing any more personal story until I come back and whack goblins?
Story quests are their own separate thing, independent of exploration or any other activity, and entirely optional. My husband finds them annoying so doesn't do them at all and he's leveling just fine. I like them personally because I dig the lore and all that, and the rewards are often nice. Travel is not really an issue since there are portals everywhere for cheap.
-- are respecs free? Are we allowed multiple characters without paying unlike PSO2?
Respecs are not free. I don't think they're very expensive, but I have no experience since all my characters are still low level. You have 5 character slots, which is enough to play every race but not every profession. You can expand up to 8, I believe, via the cash shop.
Edit: I should also note about respecs though - you only have to respec if you want to change the number of points you have in a trait line. Each trait line has major traits which you pick from a list - those can be swapped any time for free out of combat. Edited, Aug 30th 2012 4:04pm by teacake