Star Wars: The Old Republic isn't breaking the mold with their inclusion. What is different is the way that the game tracks achievements via your Legacy rather than individual characters, allowing all of your character accomplishments to work together. The latest development blog explains how the Legacy Achievements will work and what players can expect in terms of rewards for a life spent in the far reaches of the galaxy.
Progress on achievements is tracked across all of your characters, allowing you to complete part of the achievement on one character and the rest on another as needed. Veteran players will be happy to know that many of your existing accomplishments will be converted over to the new system, ensuring that you won't have to repeat your hard work. And the rewards for achievements include both titles and Cartel Coins, both of which should be quite enticing to players. For more details and a breakdown of the major categories, check out the full development blog.