SWTOR just does it better, so to answer your OP question, no isnt "free" mmo, because 1) it really isnt free, and 2) the list i just gave of another game does all of that better. I will give GW2 the award for best exploration aspect of any mmo i've played though.Is GW2 still popular?
Definitely yes! Guild Wars 2 offers a huge amount of unique content that competing MMOs lack of. There are a lot of people playing it, so you will never have trouble finding a party for a dungeon\raid or match in PvP in no time.