I have been playing Realms of Despair for two and a half years, and in this time there have been many changes. A major code port ("The Shattering") occurred over a year ago, and while there has been a rough patch of settling in to some extent, I believe the changes are coming into their own.
The Realms offer a wide range of areas, and the newer areas are very well developed, with many interesting features. In these areas, there is a lot to discover for a determined explorer. New mob progs allow for more interactive monsters and mini-quests. Many interests are catered to, whether you enjoy pkill, RP, exploring, questing, chatting or mob killing.
The player base on Realms is generally friendly, and there is a large percentage of people who are happy to help newbies, and even a dedicated council for this purpose.
The immortal staff are generally professional and friendly, and there are a number of avenues where players can make their suggestions known, and even forums (www.game.org/forums) where many interesting discussions take place. The Realms of Despair continues to grow, change and improve.