Now I can legally tell you that it sucks, and is a waste of your time to even consider playing.
A) Leveling treadmill. Just like EQ. Shorter maybe, but still a boring treadmill of day in day out killing NPC's using mindless tactics that work the same against everything. If you had a robot, you could easily program it to level for you. The time required to level up is still way too high given how boring it is. Way more boring than EQ treadmills, simply because of the lack of interesting mobs or places. At least EQ gave us places like Guk and Cazic Thule. Good, interesting places to run the treadmill on, but SB lacks even that.
B) PvP is pointless. In EQ, you fight over rare spawns, rare quest mobs, or just particularly good places to hunt. In DAOC you fight over keeps and relics. In AC2 you fight for seperate skills that come only from PvP. In SWG you'll fight for faction perks and "battlefield" victories.
Shadowbane, for being a self-declared PvP game, has none of this. You can fight people, but you are literally dropped in the world and told, "Ok, you can now fight!" There's just no reason to.
Yes, you can take over cities, blah blah, but believe me, it's not worth it. There's nothing their city offers that yours can't offer. Land space isn't rare enough for them to bother surrendering the city to you for any reason anyway -- if you destroy their city, they can just remake it somewhere else. You can destroy that one too, but you're not getting anything out of it. Cities do not control land, resources, spawn spots, dungeons or anything else. They're just collections of buildings that you already have in your own city.
The only reason to fight anyone, including sieges, is either petty vindictiveness or boredom. Literally.
In Planetside, aside from direct rewards for killing people, you fight simply because the fighting is FPS style, and thus fun in it's own right. Lots of FPS games exist purely because the act of fighting itself is fun. Shadowbane, as an RPG, doesn't even have that.
C) Major client/server synch issues that have plagued the game forever. You run forward, you pop back. Not talking about simple lag here, this can happen at any time because the server thinks you're stuck on something when on your computer it looks like you're clear. You end up walking 5 feet around buildings just because if you get too close you might get stuck on another invisible corner. A may God have mercy on your soul if you actually have to enter a building, much less run up and down steps. All told, the point-and-click movement is more trouble than it's worth. There's lots more synch issues, but this is probably the most consistant and annoying.
D) There is no "content". No quests, no "uber" encounters, only ever saw 1 test dungeon. The content was supposed to be PvP, but as I said, they forgot to put in something to fight over.
E) While there is a huge and rich lore associated with the game, it's not represented in the game at all. I don't mind a little roleplaying, but it would be nice if the game itself would meet me halfway. As another beta tester has as his sig, pong with a lot of written lore behind it is still just pong.
Just let me say that I was a huge fan of the concept when I heard about it a couple years ago, and was excited when I got into beta 6 months ago or so, and I really feel for the developers, because I don't think this project turned out the way they wanted it to. I think there was a lot of stuff they didn't consider when they came up with it, and they had a lot of technical difficulties, but I'm not going to play a game out of pity.
The game is just too little too late now. Veteran MMO gamers expect more from a game. We expect a lot of content (things to do), we expect NPC's to be fun to fight (if we have to fight them at all), we expect interesting places to visit. Shadowbane just plain lacks the innovation needed at this point in MMOG development. SWG is going to blow it out of the water simply because of all the innovation being done. The stuff SWG cut from release was crap compared to the incredible hoard of new, innovative and above all, fun sounding stuff they're launching with. Shadowbane is like a bare bones day 1 EQ launch, if that, and this is not the year for a game like that. The few things SWG cut from release is frankly more exciting than everything currently existing in Shadowbane, and SWG only cut a fraction of their offerings.
Granted, Wolfpack never expected a huge audience, they wanted a niche audience: "play to crush", hard core PvP, but in the end they lost focus, gave way to mass market appeal and now they have neither good PvP nor good PvE, but a hideous mishmash of both. The concessions made to mass market squashed the PvP hard core attitude but didn't go far enough to actually implement quality PvE.
Two things can save this game, but I have doubts even then:
1) Feature Characters (hired actors/GM's paid to interact with the population and advance the storyline).
If done properly, this could give the PvP a point and things could fall into line quickly. These FC's could give reasons to fight, reasons to siege and reasons for Templars to follow the lore. But I have doubts that they can find the manpower (money) to do this well enough. You'd need a large staff of people working 24/7 to cover every server and really make everyone feel like they're participating in something, not just the 10-50 people who happen to be online and in the right place at the right time to catch an event.
2) If Planetside and SWG both really suck.
I honostly think if you want good PvP in an RPG setting, look to SWG for it. I haven't played it, but the descriptions all look solid, and let me tell you, I have played Shadowbane, and it's bound to be better than that. There's no way SB is going to outperform even AC2, which at least had a fun and interesting combat system.