After playing the Tabula Rasa beta, I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Here was the new "revolutionary" MMORPG that didn't seem very revolutionary at all. You still had the same level-grind of "kill X number of Y", the same UI and the same mindless banter in world chat. I was certainly expecting the game to be at least a little better when it hit market, and it was. Sort of.
Tabula Rasa set out to combine the worlds of shooters and MMORPGs. And it did that. You are in a MMORPG with guns. Little else resembles that of a shooter. What is supposed to happen is that alien NPCs are dropped from the sky in numbers greater than those of the good guys defending bases. The aliens then kill said good guys and the base is overrun. This is bad news for you, the player, wanting to hand in a quest or buy bullets or something. In this sense, the world is one big "instance", hoping that players will work together to fend off the aliens or retake the base. What seems to happen, though, is that once the aliens drop down, all of them are dead before they can shimmer out of their tractor beam. Score one of the good guys, I guess.
The game also has a unique experience system in that the player who does the most damage gets the most experience points. This can be frustrating when you are new to the game and lack decent weapons. I would suppose this is another tactic to get players to group up, but not once did I ever see people really working together. I myself never did. So, mostly you find yourself alone and away from everyone else so you can get your hard-earned experience. It is not, however, difficult to level up. The experience does come quick and there are tons of grind-tastic quests to be had.
As for "classes", there are really two. Well, three if you count Recruit which is what everyone starts out as. Once you hit level five, you are given the option between Specialist and Solider. Solider gives you what it sounds like, brute force. You easily out damage specialists as you are leveling and it leaves you with a wicked sense of power. Specialist on the otherhand, not so much. Leveling is slow and you will find yourself wishing you had picked up Solider. That isn't to say that Specialist is a bad class - it's just not the greatest for soloing. Specialists will eventually gain the ability to heal, do field repairs and resurrect fallen players, but this isn't as handy as it could be while soloing. However, you can make the change to Soldier if you cloned your character before you made the decision. Cloning is this: Making a copy of your character exactly as they are now. This allows the player to go back and fix any mistakes they may have made such as in placement of attribute points or towards their abilities. Of course, you will also lose any levels (and time) invested in that character.
As you level, you will move further into the class tiers, with Tier III at level 15 and the fourth and final Tier at level 30. Each Tier brings new, further specializations to your character, allowing them to be at least slightly different from everyone else. Also available to you are various weapon and armor types, some of which can only be used by Soldiers or Specialists. Each of the skills must be trained and you will be required to gather Logos before you can use them. For those wondering about Logos, I'll explain.
In the world of Tabula Rasa, Logos are symbols that the receptive troops (you) can understand to gain powerful knowledge of the alien life forms that came before and left all their worldly information to help you fight the baddies known as the Bane. Gaining a Logos is actually pretty simple in most cases. An incredibly handy feature of the maps of Tabula Rasa is that all quest objectives are marked with a little radio symbol so you will know exactly where to go. Once you have found your Logos, you simply walk up to it and "use/talk" to it and voila! Alien knowledge to help you battle better.
Overall, Tabula Rasa is a very fun MMORPG. Is it changing the way we play MMOs? Definitely not. Sure there are new tricks of the trade (not having to stop to loot, for example). Is it worth a look? Sure, especially if you're into the genre. Did it live up to all the hype, I don't think so.