DDO vs WoW
How Pretty Is It?
So far it would seem that DDO wins in almost every way, but I have to give World of Warcraft its due, it does do several things very right. Appearance wise, World of Warcraft beats Dungeons and Dragons online hands down. It's not that DDO looks bad, it's just that WoW looks better. There's a slight retro feel to DDO that isn't there in WoW. WoW somehow feels more immersive, possibly because the starter areas don't have 50 people standing around clutching the same weapon as you and asking what to do next.
Getting In Control
Control wise, I am afraid I have to report a similar experience, WoW is easier to control and make sense of in the initial stages. Whilst I was playing DDO for the first time, I saw someone ask if it was any good, and another player responded 'Yes, if you give it time.' I've always felt that sort of response to be fairly ominous. Though DDO is very easy to play, it is actually quite hard to make sense of the finer points of the game. The controls often feel clunky and it is not always clear what you should be doing, aside from frantically clicking on a monster.
Plays Well With Others
Both World of Warcraft and DDO encourage group play, however DDO actually makes a bit more of it than WoW does, at least at first. By the time you hit 80 in World of Warcraft, if you don't want to play with other people, the fun of the game is pretty much over, whereas in DDO, group play is encouraged from very early on. Players in WoW tend to be a little more hyperactive and immature than those in DDO, it is likely that DDO attracts a slightly more mature crowd who actually played the pen and paper versions of Dungeons and Dragons in their youth whereas World of Warcraft has a broader appeal. Neither game suffers overly from the sort of foul mouthed squealing abuse you get from 10 year olds on X Box live however.
Whether you play WoW or DDO really depends on what you want out of a game. DDO is much closer to real RPG roots, whereas WoW is really nothing more than a grindfest battle system. It's actually hard for me to say which of the two games I prefer. WoW has more immediate appeal, but quickly deteriorates into pointless and annoying kill quests, whereas DDO has more ultimate scope and room for imagination and atmosphere than World of Warcraft.
You don't have to chose one or the other, you can chose to play both. Play WoW for the thrill of grinding towards your next minor achievement, or perhaps towards playing in Battlegrounds or Arena, and play DDO for that old time feeling of role playing your way through various adventures.