I started playing WAR beta back during closed beta a few weeks ago when they opened up tier 4 for us to play in. Now I started in T4 with a template that put me at 31 with some blue and green gear. But since I was brand new I had a massive learning curve. But I was eventually able to figure out a few classes and play. My concern is that at this stage the PvE end game is severely lacking. They expect everyone will be PVP by this point and have little to no PvE end game content. The T4 zones are small and pretty much force you into PVP areas. Now I can PvP with the semi-best but I am more of a quest reader and lore lover. PVP offers little to none of that.
The PVP end game looks interesting and I did participate in some of the huge siege events. The comments on the forums about concerns related to guilds ruling all PVP content was absolutely correct. There is no possible way for PUG to jump in and participate effectively in end game PvP. And guild's are going to need to be massive due to the size and complexity of end game PvP events. Scenarios will be farmed and owned by the best guilds and I expect this will lead to huge amounts of crying and pouting by lesser guilds begging for a chance or ranking system to allow them a fair shot at content.
as for PQ's they are a great new addition that is tantamount to a public raid. The mechanic is easy to understand if you can read the pop-ups quickly enough before they disappear. But you are ranked on contribution. Meaning damage or healing done. This rates you as gold, silver or bronze. Depending on your standing you get a bonus to your roll for a bag from the giant glowing chest. Depending on your roll also depends what kind of bag you get. Some PQ's have as few as 3 bags other have 5 or more. This limits the opportunity for loot as a participant. And offers a bit of an advantage for healers and high dps classes. But then the random aspect can also let the yahoo that just walked in during the end of the second phase to get a fair shot at the loot also.
This system will lead the massive amounts of whining and crying about fairness and when the guilds start forming and farming these PQ's there will be even more whining and crying. And lots of bad blood between guilds as they fight for the content. Especially at end game when there are fewer choices and better drops.
For the solo player this game will be horribly difficult to play. The good news is the open group mechanic if used by the multitudes will be nice for most. It allows anyone in the area to join your group just by opening a little ui interface that lists all the open groups and what they are doing with a join button next to it. Click and bam your in the group. This will make PUG's a staple of WAR with it's ease of use and intuitive design.
While the UI is not revolutionary and you will recognize a lot of things from your favorite other games, it borrows only some of the more popular and welcome ones. There is next to nothing bad to say about the UI and its ability to be customized and fine tuned. UI modders are going to love the ease with which they are able to integrate their ideas. Not that you will need the mods, as the UI itself is very intuitive and puts just about everything you could want right there for you.
The advancement system is also nothing new borrowing from other games of this genre there are the traits and tree's to choose from as you level you unlock points to put into different trees to power up your abilities and unlock new ones. There are epic feats you can unlock using your renown points from PVP to further expand your abilities. It seems that most of the end game will be spent grinding to unlock all the feats and abilities available for your class and race.
The gear of WAR is kind of bland with the mediocre (as of beta worse than WoW) graphics, most of the stats are geared towards PvP even from questing. There is very little difference in the look and design of gear until you start getting PvP gear and then most PvP gear looks the same for your class. Now I am sure this is mostly due to lore constraints not having certain classes look to diff then what lore would allow. and to offset this WAR has a dye function that will allow you to dye your gear to offer some semblance of individuality. Think a lot like gears of war with everyone having the best PvP gear and simply dying it many different shades and colors.
For the most part the PvP system is as close to perfect as any game on the market, it offers a little of something for everyone with RvR and scenarios with even open world PvP in certain zones. To limit ganking in these zones they even have a fail safe that will turn anyone entering these zones and stays long enough, a chicken. With next to no health they will become easy targets. I expect to see many movies of the chicken run through these zones.
For all that is great and polished on the PvP side there are so many unfinished and omissions in PvE, as many have stated PvE feels slapped on as an after thought which if your making a PvP game does not seem to unrealistic. As an option to replace WoW I think not. The PvE feels so unfinished that many coming from other games to try something new and not for the PvP. (Which for you PvP'ers are the majority of the player base of MMO's.) Will not find enough polished content to keep you there long. I am sure they will fall back to other games to get their PvE fix.
to sum up while WAR is not the second coming of WoW it will be a great game for PvP'ers there is a lot of great PvP content and it is engaging enough to keep them satisfied for a long time. The PvE side is unpolished and often slapped together as a way station to end game PvP. The game often makes you feel pushed to PvP and limits your options for PvE to encourage you to do so.
The game may convert some non-PvP players to start but for the lore and PvE crowd you wont find your fix here.