Last week a thread appeared on my guild's forums called: "PvE & PvP server merger incoming??" The subject was all over Reddit too. I don't know if it was the only source, but TOR Community had datamined that the instances that currently already exist on planets when things become too crowded were going to be split into PvE and PvP ones.
I was not pleased by this speculation. The idea of Bioware planning another round of server merges seemed to go completely against my experience of the game's bustling state, though I'm obviously biased as someone who plays on The Red Eclipse, the biggest EU server. It's fair to say though that TRE definitely doesn't need merging with anything. Not to mention all the potential issues that would come with server merges - the risk of having to rename characters yet again, four years later, plus all the new legacy functions that would throw a wrench into any plans of "easy" mergers, such as strongholds and full legacy storage.
Fortunately the PTS with the mined changes went live soon afterwards, and Eric Musco officially dispelled any rumours of incoming server merges (at least for the time being). I think that this is once again a perfect example of why datamined information always has to be taken with a grain of salt. Aside from the fact that not everything actually makes it to live (who else remembers the "stealth ships" that were planned for GSF?), people are simply prone to misinterpreting things.
As for the actual change with those instances? My reaction is a resounding "eh". Apparently the reason they spent time on implementing this was to make it easier for friends to play together? Is the old issue of "I want to play on a PvE/PvP server" really still a thing this late in the game? If so, they better update the servers' name tags as well, because it won't be much help for new players if they don't actually know about this feature.
My first thought was that it seems kind of redundant for PvE servers at least, because the whole reason we rolled here is that we don't care about world PvP, right? However, I've seen it pointed out that people might actually be more willing to engage in open PvP when they have a choice of doing so occasionally but not all the time (as opposed to the "always on" nature of pure PvP servers). With how crowded some of the heroic areas are these days, I can definitely imagine there being a certain appeal to consciously choosing the PvP instance - which will be emptier and give you the option to try and kill competitors (of the other faction at least). On the other hand, a guildie also reported that as part of this change, it looks like they are completely removing all flagging in the PvE instance: no more brawling in the Outlaw's Den or striking back at players of the enemy faction that attack a base commander. Again: eh.
What excites me more about the current PTS is the new warzone (there's also a new arena map, but I care a lot less about that). I was actually kind of surprised by my own enthusiasm since I haven't done much PvP lately, but I'm just so ready for any kind of content addition that isn't more single player story or another companion. And let's not forget that the last time we got a completely new warzone mode (not just a new map) was Ancient Hypergates back in December 2012(!).
I watched some footage of the warzone - I'm not sure if it has a proper name yet, I just know that it's set on Odessen - and it looks very confusing, buggy and unfinished at this point... but I can hardly wait to try it for myself. If nothing else, the first weeks of everyone trying to figure out how it works are bound to be oodles of fun.