Courtesy of Georg Zoeller:
At this time, we do plan on having “racial” abilities, but they will be cosmetic in nature. Think of them as “social” abilities or actions that your character is able to do based on their species.
We wanted to give you something special for your character based on species, but we did not want it to influence your choice in the sense that you would feel “I have to be a Twi’lek Consular because they get +5 Willpower.”
So, active “racial” abilities are planned, but they won’t affect your combat gameplay in any way.
We’ll elaborate more in the future.
So that’s an interesting move and something I always fell into; chasing the better racial ability with less care for the look of the character. I didn’t always do that, but later in raiding I did so to squeeze out every little bit of potential in my characters. I was also a little irked that (me playing a DPS class) the offensive racial abilities were on the other faction.
On the other hand, I’m still not sure what races are playable so I’m not sure how much this will matter. All I hope is that I can be a Kel Dor… I’m thinking an evil version of Plo Koon might be cool.
Another bit of info comes from talk about the impact of Dark Side points on the appearance of your character (I’m guessing the opposite might be true). The more Dark Side points you have, the more nasty and wicked you’ll look. Again from Georg Zoeller:
Like ‘Hide head slot’ or ‘Unify colors to chestpiece,’ this is a game option, on by default, which can be toggled on a per character basis.
He not only confirms it, but notes there will be a toggle for it like the good old “hide helmet” or “unify colors to …. ” wait a second. I’ve not seen that toggle before?
“Unify colors to chestpiece”
It definitely sounds like a good idea to keep the character looking uniform if that’s what you’re going for! Or making it very dark themed, or light… what ever is on your chest slot.