I want to start this showdown with the one thing I strongly feel that DAoC has cornered the market on, something that WoW has struggled with: PvP. In DAoC, PvP is called Realm vs Realm (RvR). That is a term that can only be found in a Mythic game. Seriously, they trademarked the term.
Semantics aside, RvR is DAoC's form of PvP. RvR pits three realms of players against each other for control of castles and relics. Frontiers are the zones where the castles and relics are located. Open PvP can occur anywhere in the frontiers and there is no shortage of castles and towers to fight over. Both the castles and relics can be captured by opposing forces. This gives real weight to RvR, both for the individual and the entire realm.
WoW on the other hand, focuses on instanced PvP battlegrounds and more recently arenas, both of which have little impact on anything other than the players involved. Since launch, Blizzard has tried several different approaches towards their PvP systems and through numerous rebuilds and tweaks, PvP has simply become a secondary issue taking a backseat to the more popular PvE side of things. That is OK, because WoW's PvE is great and Blizzard should focus on it while letting players bash in each other's heads every once and a while.
The distinguishing trait between the two games PvP, is that DAoC has focused on providing that RvR experience to every single level of play. There are now level-restricted battlegrounds and dungeons for every level range in the game. Players can level from start to finish doing only RvR battlegrounds or dungeons. DAoC knew what people enjoyed and highlighted it. Their only fault is a side-tracked PvE themed expansion that became the bane of DAoC RvR enthusiasts everywhere. Fortunately, Mythic learned their lesson and were able to set the wheels in motion to keep the game afloat.
WoW has tried desperately to fix their PvP, and after dozens of changes the system is still fairly focused on just doing instanced PvP as fast and as often as humanly possible for epic gear. WoW's PvP is still enjoyable, but it holds no weight and is nothing more than a "my l33t sauce is hotter than your l33t sauce". With that said, Blizzard has started tossing around more open world, objective based PvP that shows promise. DAoC does PvP right, with meaning and reason behind it. Hopefully, Mythic will showcase this in their next title: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
With the PvP topic discussed, I will throw down a bullet list of what WoW has done so much better than DAoC, and then we can discuss them.
- WoW's UI, both in modifiability and out-of-the-box functionality.
- WoW's control scheme is unmatched in the MMORPG industry and should be the starting point for any game. I can not stress how important this is.
- WoW's quest system trumps the shambled mess that is DAoC's quest system.
- Leveling is actually faster in DAoC these days, but WoW does it with style and without the grind.