Remember Tabula Rasa? I do. It was doomed early in its life and things got worse when its father absconded into orbit. The game was vastly flawed but one of the reasons people could not forgive these flaws was that they has nothing familiar to hang on to when they (as MMO players) approached the game. The controls had more in common with a shooter than a role play game and the quests usually involved a 'saving private Ryan' style action adventure. Then there was that whole thing about respec/clone tokens and god knows what else.
The Old Republic saves us from confusion by letting us enjoy classical MMO game play with a heavy sci-fi theme. Then, instead of thanking Bioware for their mercy we complain about its lack of innovation. This is unfair for a few reasons.
The crafting/crew skill system in the game is pretty innovative. Sending your AI buddies off on adventures without you opens a whole area of interest up (for me at least.) What do they do on these missions we send them on? they return with the spoils of war and present you with your prize, as well as a few points in whatever field they where 'missioning' on. its brilliantly fascinating and as far as I know a very unique way of harvesting materials and avoiding massively pointless time sinks.
The fully voice acted script is also somewhat innovative. Yeah, I know Bioware didn't invent voice acting but they are the first people to bring it to this scale (imagine how great it would have been if AoC kept this up past level 20)
Much like the attention to the voice acting Bioware have also gave alot of thought to giving the game a real story that the players (for the most part) are finding absorbing and motivational. They have used this story to make you feel like your time in the game matters where as in many MMO's you feel like one of many people just 'getting by', in this game you feel like you are on a mission for real reasons. It may not be innovation but its the first time I have felt this interested in a story that an MMO has offered.
That being said there are so many things wrong with the game that I can understand why some one wouldn't like it. For instance the load times, the games load times are almost double what I expect in other MMO's and that's pretty irritating.
The game also suffers from a terrible over abundance of servers, at this stage Bioware/EA should be consolidating the servers and making sure people (like me, on a PvP server) always find someone to play with when they want to. It's not a bad thing when servers close, in a game like this we need busy bars and a real threat of attack from Sith forces.
The auction houses are pretty terrible, partly because they are confusing and partly because the value of things is so random as you quest.
Then there are the mounts that look like strange alien toilets.... come on, we have all seen them.
In the end though I don't think about the things that innovate or the things that are buggy. When I load the game I think about how great the story is and how much I like my space ship. When it stops being fun I'll cancel by subscription. Until then I'll ride my space toilet mount and love my Strange lizard buddy companion. Lets not get hung up on the politics, SWTOR is fun (for now)