It should be noted up front that I have been playing City of Heroes/City of Villains (CoH/CoV or CoX) for over a year and this no doubt influenced my thinking. After watching the WoW episode of South Park, I admit to being curious about WoW, so I got the 10-day free trial. I never finished all 10 days as I found the game to be rather frustrating. I tried to play it and tried many different races and classes but to no avail. I will never play WoW again.
Very first impressions of the game came during the character creation. Let's face it, compared to CoH, the character creation for WoW is pitiful and weak at best. You can't change much about you character, and in some cases, you could not change your starting outfit color. Height, weight, body type were simply not there. After creating my character, I saw many, many people who looked exactly like me. In CoH, the character creation stage is one of the highlights of the game. You have the ability to change many of your physical features, height, body type, leg length, waist size, chest size, shoulder width, and yes, breast size. There are at least 6 different head shapes, dozens of facial features, an equal number of hair and other detail choices. For your outfit, there are thousands, if not millions of combinations you can choose. It can be mind boggling the amount of choice you have. Of course, being a super hero (or super villain) your outfit does not change too much, and forms a key aspect of your persona, so having lots of choices is important. Except for cases where costumes were deliberately made to look like someone else's (super group standard costumes for instance) I have never seen anyone with the same outfit at all. Costumes are so important it CoH that spontaneous and player run costume contests are run all the time. Cash prizes are awarded to the winners. The developers have never run a costume contest it has all come from the players. Granted with WoW, you buy equipment that changes your look, so I guess I can't complain too much about the outfits in WoW. But still, at least let us change the color of the beginning outfit, or have a choice of 3-5 different beginning outfits.
After character creation, the biggest problem is that WoW is just one big map with very few instances (separate game maps). You just wander around this vast landscape with almost no clue as to where you are or where you need to go. The directions you get in the quests were lacking in clarity. It could take a long time to get anywhere, assuming you know where to go in the first place. I did not like feeling lost and it is this reason that has had the biggest factor in me not liking WoW. I remember getting a level 6 (the highest I got) to a town that had crafting things. I could not find where I was suppose to go. The little map in the corner only shows a small part of the over all map and there were no markers on the map that I remember seeing to help point me in the right direction. It was also very frustrating to have a quest that told me to see so-and-so and yet have no clue where to go. For contacts that give quests, when you are done and need to return to them, they do show up on you in-game map, but only if you are very close to them. I wandered around for a half hour trying to return to my contact. Very frustrating. It is mostly this reason that I won't play WoW again. I just could not stand feeling lost all the time.
In CoH, you always know where you are and where you need to go, because they give you lots of waypoints to follow. This gives you not only the direction, but the distance as well. Since CoH is broken up into separate zones, your in-game map shows you the whole zone, not just a small part of the map. There are lots of markers on the map showing you where your contacts are, where the stores are, where the entry points to other zones are, where the train stations are, etc. Just click on one of these and you get a waypoint to the place or person. Very handy. You always have a waypoint to your missions, and the missions are tailored to make use of waypoints. Except hunting missions, but still you know where you need to be for those. The navigator bar holds a compass with your waypoints on them and also tells you your mission objectives. If it's a hunting mission, it keeps track of how many bad guys you need to defeat to complete the mission. You don't have to keep opening up a separate window to look at different quests. It's all in a drop down menue from the nav compass. Of course, with CoH you only get to have 3 open missions at any given time, but this is not a burden.
Traveling in WoW was painfully slow. I saw some higher level types riding around on animals, but have no clue how those were gotten. In CoH/CoV there are many ways to travel around. For the beginner, you will be running around on foot. There are separate types of missions where you can get temporary travel powers (flight and super jump) starting at level 5 so it's not too bad. Travel between zones is either by train or ferry or using exits on the sides of the maps. This requires a load screen and can take awhile for someone with a slow connection. Granted this is a drawback, but it is a minor one in my opinion. If you belong to a supergroup (CoH version of a Guild) with teleporters in the super base, you can use these to get around pretty well. Zones are broken up into regular city zones that anyone can get into (even if you are far below the level of the mobs that spawn there) and hazard zones that require you to be a specific level to enter. City zones all have hospitals (in case you get defeated) trainers, super base portals and stores. Hazard zones have bigger mob spawns and do not have hospitals or trainers or portals. Once you hit level 14 you can get a travel power (as long as you have chosen the pre-requisite power first. The travel powers are (from slowest to fastest) flight, super jump, super speed (speeds in access of 50mph) and teleportation (which is kind of a sham as you only can go limited distances per 'port and have to do multiple teleports to get anywhere). Once you have your travel power, movement around zones becomes much easier. It would be wonderful to have flight or superspeed in WoW.
Quests in WoW tended to be "go and kill x things," or "go see x contact." This got a bit redundant. I never got a crafting quests or had an opportunity to craft anything, so I don't know about that. CoH/CoV's missions are geared mainly around combat and come in two basic types, hunting missions and door missions. Hunting missions (much rarer than door missions) are where you run around the zone and kill randomly generated mobs. Door missions are all instanced and have several different goals. There are rescue/kidnap missions where you have to lead a person back to the entrance door. You could get defeat x leader and his guards. There are "defeat all" kinds of missions which is self explanatory. There are missions where you have to find something which means you click all the glowing objects you can find until you find the right one. Similarly there are missions that deal with x number of objects. This could be disarm/set x bombs, turn on/off x number of equipment, destroy x equipment or similar things. Then there are the timed missions where you have to complete a set of tasks within a specified time limit.
CoH has task forces where you team up and go through a set number of missions within the over all task force. These can take up to 6 hours to do.
Teaming and kill rewards seemed kind of awkward in WoW and if it's anything like Lord of the Rings online ((LoTRo) which has a lot of WoW aspects) then CoH has better teaming mechanics by far. I understand that in a team, in WoW, credit for a kill goes to the person who first engages the bad guy or is the one that lands the finishing blow? And then one loot gets dropped for the person that gets credit. Other members get screwed for loot. I imagine everyone gets xp for a kill. Correct me if I'm wrong here. In CoH/CoV, everyone gets xp and influence while in a team, no matter who defeats what and everyone has a chance of getting goodies. In fact, you could have a team of 8 people, have 7 standing around doing nothing and have 1 person defeating all the bad guys themselves and everyone would get xp and influence. This is how the power leveling farms work.
Since crafting in very limited in CoX (and won't actually happen until the newest free upgrade comes out in the next several months), salvage (crafting kinds of things) are given in addition to inspirations (one time boosts) and enhancements (can be used to slot you powers to make them more effective). Money in CoX is called influence and is used to buy inspirations, enhancements and pay for isits to the tailor to get your costume modified. There is not much else to buy in the game. There is no equipment like in WoW. Also in CoX if I defeat something I automatically get influence and/or inspirations, enhancements or salvage. I don't have to loot bodies. Granted, in a team you get less xp than if you were solo, but there are larger groups of bad guys than you would get soloing, so teaming is better for faster leveling. You also can't sell your inspirations or enhancements or salvage you collect, like you can in WoW. This is why you automatically get the cash for defeating someone (or having a teammate defeat someone) in CoX. When crafting (the Invention system) does come out, you will be limited to what you can create. You will be able to make enhancements, costume pieces and temporary powers. There will also be auction houses. It should be interesting, but no where near as complex is crafting in WoW. It will give people something new to spend their influence on, however. The top level people (the level 50's) all have millions and millions of influence. I heard of one who had a billion.
When you join a team you get a chart on the side that pops up showing who they are and their stats and status. For healers this is good as you can see who needs healing. The mission pull down menu mentioned above will now show all the team members' missions and difficulty setting. So you can see who's mission the team is doing. The team leader uses this to choose which missions to do. While I have not teamed in WoW, I have in Lord of the Rings online, and it just seemed awkward and I didn't know what we were doing or whose quest was being done, etc. It was like you were just doing your own quests although you were part of a team (Fellowship). I don't know how similar this is to WoW, but LoTRo seemed to share many features with WoW. I would like to hear from someone who teams in WoW to let me know how it works. It seems in CoX you have better information on your team mates and what's going on. Again, you don't feel lost, which is important.
Communication: This is fairly standard across the board. However, in CoX there is one little addition. Word balloons like you see in comic books appear when someone is speaking. This makes it easier to tell who is saying what in a crowd.
So, while WoW has some interesting aspects, it just did not suite me at all. I can't see myself ever playing it again.
I'm sure there's something I mentioned to complain about, but can't think of it.