At least when I played WoW with a monthly fee I felt part of something, like the world was actually vibrant and not generic.
Funny, i feel the exact opposite. When i played WoW i felt like the whole thing was going nowhere. Same shit, different scenery. No story progression. Etc, etc.
This is all relative to perspective, though. I don't go around telling people that WoW sucks, even though i didn't like it. I just tell them i didn't like it. It's extremely sad that people get so protective over their favorite MMO, like PvtHudson, etc. I remember when i had first played Guild Wars, i was also subscribed to Lineage 2. After finishing a few hours in GW i went back into L2 and said how much i liked it in the middle of a city. I couldn't believe the amount of profanity that got spewed my way -- alot of people didn't even say anything about not liking it, they just didn't like to hear that i had liked something better. Humans are funny.