Although I've played on both the Player vs Player and Player vs Environment servers, I'll be referencing the former a lot more than the latter. This is because for one, the Horde vs Alliance battle is something intrinsic to the Warcraft universe - and also because it's a feature that EverQuest II doesn't offer.
So on that note, perhaps the first minor disappointment you're going to find with WOW is you can't play both sides of the fence. You're limited to one character per server, meaning it's Alliance or Horde, but not both. Daddy or chips.
What more than makes up for this though, is that Blizzard has made sure that the eight races in the game (Human, Night Elf, Gnome, Dwarf, Undead, Taurean, Troll and Orc) and their available classes do play noticeably differently. Using
the brute strength of an orc warrior and playing a rogue night elf that fights by harnessing a series of combo moves are worlds apart. Likewise, learning to play with a pet by your side as a hunter or warlock is an art in itself.
Each race also comes with its own innate traits. Gnomes have an intellect bonus, while night elves turn into wisps when they die, allowing them to move 50 per cent faster. So even if you're going to have to make that 'daddy or chips' decision, there's definitely a lot to love whichever side you opt for.
So your first experiences of WOW are about firm choices. But once you've selected your race and profession, Blizzard has limited the number of times you have to make decisions that you can't go back on. Yes, there is a certain amount of choice when it comes to the skills you can buy from the relevant class trainers, but given enough coin you can buy everything if you want to. Even your talents, the skill-tree-based class abilities, can be rearranged if you're not happy with them.
There's no statistic-juggling in WOW either, so when you level up, all those annoying 'now do I put two in strength and one in agility or...' thoughts are taken care of for you. And you know what? You really don't miss it.
For this reason, WOW is likely to attract a large number of new MMORPG players, something Blizzard has always been keen to do. Consequently, there's much less time spent worrying about doing things right and more time spent enjoying yourself. This is aided further with an easy-to-use interface and fight system. And because the game is so accessible, it can really make hardcorers out of anyone. Then, before you know it you're sporting a guild tabard and making jokes about the sex lives of gnomes.
Sliding neatly in beside your main class abilities are hands-on professions, including things like blacksmithing, mining, enchanting and leatherwork. You can only adopt two at a time, but like many things in WOW, it's possible to change them.
These work brilliantly on a number of levels. First, because the majority of professions are useful straight away, they can greatly aid the development of your character. They're also important in creating strong guilds or aiding your party. Lastly, they're essential for bringing in the money, and believe me that's something you need a lot of. So suddenly, your character is more than the sum of their hit-points and the game isn't just about the relentless pursuit of the kill. It's not what you've got it's what you do with it that counts.
War Is Glorious
Personally, I feel that Blizzard's use of PvP is going to be the defining factor if you're making a choice between WOW and EQII. It's so cleverly designed that the Horde vs Alliance war isn't all-consuming or detrimental to the gameplay if you're after an easy life. In fact, there are even some towns in WOW where Horde
and Alliance co-exist in an uneasy peace. Still, there's really no feeling like gathering up a posse to raid an enemy territory, then legging it back to town because you've got to defend your homelands, or even a one-to-one face-off.