Lemme preface this with you have to play whats fun for you, and I’m well known (even to myself) for being kinda a old, crusty, jaded MMO player. To me in WOW, as they say, the real game starts at 70. You work hard getting to 70, then you gear up to either raid or PVP in the game. You keep running that same content, and either accumulate points/marks or wait on that drop that you need to do even more content. The whole point is getting to that end-game where the real game starts.
WOW’s expansion tack on only additional high end content. You get another 10 levels, some more dungeons, more area to explore, etc. But pretty much, its the same thing you did in BC. Its a straight upward expansion, not outward. What would happen if they released an expansion with no additional levels, but put in player housing, guild halls, flying mounts in Azeroth, heroic old world instances, new battlegrounds, etc ? Rather than just more of the same, give the players something truely new. Other games out there (Everquest comes to mind) do just that.
Where WOW’s PVP system was tacked on, WAR’s was built in from the start. There’s no difference in PVP vs PVE gear, its just gear. There is no ganking, since you can only do PVP/RVR in your appropriate Tier of area – if you try, you get turned into a chicken. When you go into one of these PVP areas, if you are a lower level you are brought up to within 2 level of the level cap, making it a bit more fair of a fight. Classes aren’t balanced against one another so that anyone has a fair fight on anyone, as some classes do better against other classes. WOW’s arena system has done more to hurt the game in my opinion by making Blizzard try to balance classes based on what happens in the Arena. For example, my Archmage (healer/dps – kinda plays like a priest/warlock combo) can do well against mage types, but get a melee dps on me I’m toast. WOW seems to want to make all classes equal for the arena for some reason, and that intern goofs up your PVE roles.
Standard PVE quests are just your standard PVE quests, really nothing special in any MMO other than the symbol above their head. Public quests are similar to fighting a raid boss, save that you do not have to wait till 70 to do it. Some fights can be done with a small group, others need a full warband (24 people) – and this is even in the low levels, not just endgame raiding. Once the PQ is done, a huge chest drops and it rolls for loot. Depending on your participation and a dice roll, you may get a bag (or maybe a gold/blue bag). In each bag is about 6 items, usually a green (blue/gold will have purple/blue gear), crafting items, or just straight cash. And it will be for you class. Each mob/section of the PQ contributes influence to that chapter/area/zone of the game, which earns you green and blue gear. So regardless, you will earn yourself some nice gear.
In T1 (1-11) and T2 (12-21) areas, each race has their own battleground. So right there at level 1 you have 3 different battleground you can play. Move on to Tier 2, you get 3 more. At Tier 3, there are two per race, so now you have 6 to play. They vary from a WSG style capture the flag, a fight for the item in the center, to an EOTS capture areas in a graveyard. While in each one you earn money, items, XP, and renown (pvp rank). With the renown, its similar to how honor/rank used to work in WOW back in pre-bc days. Once you get to a certain rank, you can buy gear. So if you decide to skip PVE and just PVP, you can get equivalent gear. Or, do both and get the best of both worlds. Your level going into these will also be adjusted up to near cap, so it won’t be like a L61 going into AV with all L70’s in epic gear.
Another plus with renown is that even though the level cap is at 40, renown cap is at 80. A vendor is available in your main city where very high end/legendary gear can be purchased at those high levels. That gear can be used for the high-end raids/dungeons as well, not just PVP. So overall it doesn’t have the massive difference in PVP/PVE gear WOW does.
The grouping system is very nice, one of the best parts. How many times have you seen folks standing around a spawn waiting for it, and it turns into a whoever shoots/dots it first. Once a group is formed (or you flag yourself as open for group), anyone can join or leave anytime. You can run into and area, click a button and see what groups are there, what they are doing, and join one. Its caused folks to group up that never would, myself included. I’ve seen where folks are grinding influence on stage 1 of a public quests, when it hits stage 2 (kill elites/hard stuff), now you have a group of 6-20 players. I’ve even grouped with my wife for something and end up having 4 others join in. No more LFG channel or begging for a group, and with most classes being able to do some type of hybrid activity (as a healer I can dps well too), you can pull off somethings that you might not be able to in WOW.
Graphics wise its pretty nice. I’d say its better than WOW, but its not Age of Conan nice. A beefier machine is needed to run it than WOW, but you don’t need super high end like you would with Conan. Art style is not as stylized as WOW is, just has its own feel to it. The gear on the characters looks nice though, it all matches and doesn’t look like a bunch of leftovers you scavenged from the battlefield the way most of WOW’s armor looks as your leveling up. A lowbie looks “put together” just as much as someone in a full set does.
If you are into RP/Crafting/Chilling, I think you might look somewhere else. This is more of a game of doing things, and if you are looking to do some RP or sit under the tree and ponder life’s mysteries, you may want to go elsewhere. Just not much atmosphere for that type of thing. There are titles you can unlock that are pretty fun (such as things done with no gear/clothes on), but thats about it. You get one crafting and one gathering skill, and the crafting portion only makes potions or talismans (like gems in WOW). That’s it – no making weapons/armor/etc. Hardcore crafters might better go over to SWG/EQ2 for their crafting fix.
Best thing I can say so far is the RVR. I’ve been in a 50+ person siege on a keep, dropping artillery pieces down, battering down the door (and having boiling oil poured on me), and taking over the keep. Then, defending against the enemy in our newly taken keep. All the time I’m still getting XP, money, and gear. So you constantly earn something to help you regardless of what activity you do. Biggest main expense is getting your mount, which unless you are spending all your money on the AH, won’t be a problem. It costs 15g at level 20, and at that level I had 55g on me. I’m 23 now, and sitting on right under 100g.
Some folks may disagree, but I’d say its pretty casual friendly, but being in a large guild helps. There are guild ranks where stuff opens up at various levels, and you need to be in an active guild to get that done. I’m in one with about 200 real folks (we are active on both Order and Destruction), so its easy to form groups for quests/scenarios, and then in the evening we usually go take a keep or two. There is always something going on in Casualties of WAR. Most of us are older and jaded, being a guild full of bloggers/podcasters, so its pretty relaxed. You still get the occasional person (not us so far) in a scenario yelling about healers sucking are needing more O or D, etc.. but nothing you can do to avoid that.
You may want to give it a try, if anything put it in WOW terms. You’ve payed $15 a month (give or take) for the same content for the last 2 years since TBC came out. In that light, $50 for a month of something new isn’t that bad. Its a good solid game, servers are pretty stable, and so far hasn’t sucked. I can’t say the same for some of the last MMO’s that were new that came out, but so far I’m pleased. I’d probably still play WOW as well, but I really don’t care for the direction they are taking it, or the decisions they are making regarding the whole arena point issue. Only real BG I loved in WOW was AV, and even then I prefered the old school 2-4 hour AV matches just for its epic feel of it. Its not as fun with the 10-15 minute zergfest. Where WOW tends to be about me me me, WAR has really turned it into an us vs them.
Sorry this was so long, and I really wish I wasn’t so turned off from WOW. I hope this gives you a better overview of Warhammer, and maybe in a few months they will have a free trial of it available, and then you can give it a shot. Times are tight for alot of folks and perhaps you can’t budget out for two or three MMO’s to play – not even counting the time needed to put into each one. We try to limit ourselves to just one MMO at a time, though some 3-6 month subscriptions do make us overlap. But for now, Warhammer has subscription.