Patch 2.1 hit this Tuesday and to be honest I wasn't super excited about it initially. Not because it's a systems patch instead of a content one, but because its focus was on customisation, and I actually have a very ambivalent relationship with character customisation. Basically, I do love having lots of different options at character creation, and every now and then I like to mix up a character's looks later on as well, but as a general rule I actually prefer consistency over the ability to change. (Every time I play my Sage, Mogle (my old guild leader) expresses disdain about the fact that she's still wearing her Elite War Hero chest, which she's had for-freaking-ever, and threatens to take me shopping for a new outfit. But I like the way she looks! You have no idea how hard it is to find some good-looking light armour for a body type three lady.)
On an individual basis I'm not opposed to allowing people to do things like change their character's haircut or get a new name if their old one sucked. But in the long run... let's just say that even in WoW, where character changes are pretty damn expensive relative to the subscription cost, I had guildies who faction-, sex-, race- and name-changed their characters so often that after a while even they couldn't remember what they originally started out as. I hated those moments of "who the hell are you" in guild chat, or being confused during raids because people looked completely different all of a sudden. It's nothing personal; I simply don't like having to deal with the side effects of characters being overly malleable.
For that reason I wasn't massively excited about this patch. I could see why some people would love it, but at the same time figured that I wasn't going to be one of them. On patch day I only went to the new appearance kiosk to have a look around and see whether it would inspire me to change Shintar's haircut or something, but in the end decided that she was perfect the way she was and that changing anything would've just felt wrong. (Plus, you know, the other day a guildie decided to randomly compliment me on Shintar's appearance and mentioned how he thought that she looked "just right" for a trooper. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.)
However! The funny thing is that I still ended up spending a whole lot of Cartel Coins that I'd saved up over the last couple of months of my subscription, so I suppose from a business perspective, Bioware must have done something right.
Firstly, I ended up buying the new human haircuts and Mirialan tattoos... even though I then didn't end up using any of them. This was right as I was experimenting with maybe changing Shin's looks after all, and wanted to see if the new hairstyles were any good. I didn't realise at the time that the new hair style "package" literally consisted of only the three new styles in the preview picture. Oh well. Oddly enough, I still don't regret that purchase, because I might use it on yet another alt at a later stage, and I'm happy to send the message that more variety in customisation options is something that they should add.
Then I bought my Cathar of course! When I got to the character creation screen I have to admit that I felt vaguely disappointed however. There seemed to be awfully few different options for each slider, and (as Ravanel also notes) none that allowed you to make a character that looked like the original Cathar NPCs in the game. Still, I did find a look that I vaguely liked in the end and rolled up my new level one consular right away... just to abandon her after one quest because I got distracted by other shinies.
The whole collection system left me pretty cold to be honest. I can see the benefits of it for people who buy a lot of gear from the Cartel market, but at the same time it kind of feels like something that... doesn't really need to be there? From my point of view anyway. Making a zillion free copies of some armour piece out of thin air just seems... random. Maybe it's cynical, but I can't help but feel that this system was only added to stimulate people's urge to "collect them all" by showing them an interface that constantly reminds them of all the items that they "should" have.
Of course, then my pet tank pointed out that I could use the new interface to copy my Life Day Tinsel Bomb to all of my alts. Hell yes! (I always regretted buying only one of those.)
Lastly, I had a look at the new dye system. If nothing else it was hilarious to watch our PvP officer rage in guild chat about how people should queue up for warzones instead of "messing about with stupid colours". But no, I actually like this new addition, with the only slight downside being that I'll have an empty slot on most of my gear pieces in the future, which doesn't agree with my slightly OCD side.
People have pointed out that they feel that the new dye system is clunky compared to how it works in other games, but I kinda like the way SWTOR handles armour modifications (it actually makes me get very attached to my gear), and I feel that this new dye system fits right in with the rest. I've also seen complaints that there are too many "ugly" / not enough "nice" colour combinations, but frankly I wouldn't be too bothered about that at this point, as this is something that can easily be addressed by adding more options in the future (based on what people like, obviously). The fact that the dyes come in random packs is slightly annoying I suppose, but they are cheap enough that even I bought a couple, and with enough people buying into the system it's easy enough to trade whatever you get for a colour that you actually like via the GTN, and without too high of a cost attached. (Then again, this might just be me, opting for dyes like "light orange". I hear that if you want pure white or black for example, that'll cost you.)
The only thing that actually does bug me a little is that some pieces of gear simply don't dye very well. I was considering finally wearing my Arkanian chest piece, assuming that I could change it to a colour other than "vomit", but as it turns out the grey butt flap (which is what I end up staring at most of the time, considering the camera angle) stays the same no matter which colour you apply to the rest of the item, and it just doesn't work. I had similar issues with my gunslinger's coat, where even changing both primary and secondary colours didn't actually seem to affect a lot of the texture, so the end result was simply too lackluster too bother with. Then again, I suppose you can always find another piece of gear that does work for you.
I did really like it when we went into an operation the next evening and everyone was suddenly so much more colourful.