Warhammer Online still has Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Orcs. It also has levels and experience to gain through killing stuff. So why should a non-MMO player be interested in it? How about because Orcs are raving mad soccer hooligans who exist only to eat, poop and fight. Humans will gladly hang their own if they suspect them of witchcraft. Finally, levels only go up to forty in WAR and much of the game is designed to take the focus off repeated questing for hours on end. The monotonous grind has been greatly reduced by genre changes both big and small.
Everything is fairly player-friendly in WAR. The game map even tells you where to go to in order to complete quests. Another example of easier game mechanics are kill quests. In WAR, if you've been wandering the countryside while killing ravenous pixies and happen across an NPC with a quest for slaughtering those very same pixies, you'll have already completed it. The game simply rewards you for it, there and then.
If new feature importance were relative to gravity, WAR's Public Quests would be black holes. These are special, open encounter points throughout the world that can be found from first level to max. You don't have to form a huge party (but can, if you so choose) because they're open to anyone who wants to participate. Just run up and start following an on-screen quest goal that appears. If it says, "Kill 100 Dwarves" then get to it. The more a person participates in any PQ, the higher their chances to win better loot. Even if you do give it your all and only come in second or third, PQs promptly reset after their finished.
Another important feature is the Tome of Knowledge. This massive in-game book takes Xbox Achievements, wearable titles, a quest log, lore and a lot more and wraps it all together. It's a catch-all for the entire game and adds onion-like layers of goals to keep players distracted from that little bar that goes up as you gain experience.
World of Warcraft is, in the most basic terms, an MMO about scaling cooperative battles against artificial intelligence. It's a player versus environment (PvE) game where you can fight alone, with a few friends or with upwards of twenty-five players. Over the last few years Blizzard has become even more adept at crafting quests. Proof of this can be found in the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion, where beta testers have called the Death Knight's (a new class for high level players) starting quests the best yet. That's saying a lot considering there's still an entirely new continent to explore, too.
The twenty-five person battles mentioned before are referred to as raids and they occur within instances. These are zones cut off from the main game and contain various monsters and bosses for players to combat cooperatively. Unique story sequences can also occur in real time as players experience an instances' boss or other encounters.
In previous instanced content, players were required to form groups ranging between five to forty people. Anything ten people or under isn't considered a raid, because it doesn't require nearly as much orchestration of players involved. Wrath is reducing that number to five to twenty-five. Each of the 25-person instances will also support ten-person groups. In other words you won't need to bother with complicated raid groups. In this way small guilds formed by friends and families can experience more of the expansion's content. This is a really important move, because the instanced content really contains some of the best stuff WoW has to offer.
If you're playing it for the first time, expect a mostly solo leveling experience until you've reached the upper echelons of game content around level 70. This is due to Blizzard expanding the game upwards and eschewing a lot of the lower-level areas. They're not bad but considering how good the newly added zones are, it would only help the game if older content was revisited. Expect the level cap to increase to 80 with the release of Wrath of the Lich King.
The main tagline for Warhammer Online is, "War is everywhere!" which, as it turns out, is true. Although you don't have to join any player vs player (PvP) combat unless you'd like. Every zone you encounter in WAR has a PvP-specific area that's clearly indicated, so you can't accidently wander into it. If you want some PvP action before you hit reach this area, you can easily join an instanced, objective-based scenario via your user interface. There are also several quests that task players complete goals in various PvP parts of the game. Complete them and you'll receive experience and rewards just like any other quest. Another fun PvP aspect are Keeps. These are in-game castles that guilds can capture for their realm. Once your guild is in possession of a castle, it will offer all sorts of neat NPC vendors and services.
The biggest back-of-the-box feature for WAR is arguably its Mythic-patented Realm vs Realm system. Between the sides of Order and Destruction, there's an ongoing balance of power with points being added by everyone as they play. It persists throughout the whole game, allowing war to actually feel like it's everywhere. While playing, everything you do -- from completing a kill quest to winning a Scenario -- adds to your Realm's points. Get enough points and you can win a zone and push the battlefront to the next zone until you reach your enemies' capital city. Upon doing that, you can siege the city and open up all sorts of PQs, Scenarios, instanced dungeons and quests laying within. Although beware, as both sides can compete quests to build up defenses for their cities, making it a pain in the butt to squash them.
World of Warcraft has two primary forms of player versus player (PvP) combat: Battlegrounds and Arena tournaments. Although, with the Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard is trying to add more variety by creating an entirely world PvP-dedicated zone.
Battlegrounds are instanced, objective-based encounters between the Horde and World of Warcraft has two primary forms of PvP combat: Battlegrounds and Arena tournaments. Battlegrounds are instanced, objective-based encounters between the Horde and Alliance. You access these by running to capital cities and speaking to specific NPCs. The Arena, however, is almost another game unto itself. It's a tournament-based system where players can fight in 2v2, 3v3 or 5v5 person flavors. There are seasons that open and close within the Arena, making a very e-sport type of affair. Think professional StarCraft matches.
WoW wasn't an especially PvP-leaning game at launch. While it's gotten better with time, a lot of focus still goes into adding PvE content. If you're looking for an MMO that goes full bore into PvP content, then you may not be satisfied with what's offered here. If you're just looking for some fun PvP mixed in with your PvE content, then WoW will satiate that need. There is a new open-world PvP zone coming with the new expansion, but unless you're a high-level player you may as well consider it non-existent.
WoW is an older game that's always had a great PvE offering. It's also seen several updates over time, but most have been focused at higher-levels. WAR is new and so everybody going in should more or less be on equal footing. Your friends are going to be just as new to many of the features WAR has to offer as yourself. Mythic has taken steps to make the PvP in WAR as fun, accessible and engaging as WoW's PvE. In fact, it'd be wrong to say that WAR is a game for PvP fans. While it will appeal to them, the game is designed to offer different PvP experiences for everyone playing. It's actually possible to hit max level without ever engaging in any direct PvP.
Both games are top-notch, but by nature MMOs are best experienced from their launch onwards and that makes WAR a more appealing title for genre newcomers and longtime WoW dropouts alike. Whether you're new to MMOs or this genre is old hat, it's never been a more exciting time to be playing online.