Zones control is gained by accruing Victory Points. Successfully capturing a Keep or Battlefield Objective nets your side victory points, so do Scenarios (WAR's Battlegrounds), and even PvE participation contributes to a zone's control. Completing quests and public quests also help your side in the conflict. Controlled zones from lower tiers trickle victory points to upper tiers in the campaign so that the fight is important no matter what level you are.
This is one of the key aspects, in my opinion, that contribute to making Warhammer Online an excellent PvP focused game, and an excellent game in general. You don't level up as simply a means to an end in order to reach some mystical endgame. The endgame is essentially an expanded version of the RvR you experience from Tier 1 on. As you progress through the tiers. the scope of the campaign gradually grows larger and larger. In Tier 1, all you have are battlefield objectives and smaller RvR lakes. Keeps make an appearance in Tier 2, and the lakes grow in size. In Tier 3, keeps are gigantic and require players to break through two doors instead of one, and so on. Eventually you end up in zones like Praag in which the RvR lake fills the entire middle area of the zone.
The scope of the campaign expands even further in Tier 4, as locking zones in Tier 4 isn't the only objective. In order to attack the enemy capital city, your realm must fully control two out of the three racial pairings, and in order to do this your realm must have captured the Fortress in each of these pairings. The fortress siege itself is basically the ultimate keep fight, involving several hundred people. To merely initiate a fortress siege, your side must lock all tier 4 zones within a pairing.
What is really refreshing is the fact you can step right out of character creation and jump into RvR, the barrier to entry is that low. If you can make your way to the zone's war camp, you are merely moments away from a fight if you want it. Alternatively, you can queue up anywhere in the world for Scenarios, and when you're done you're dropped right back where you were. A recently implemented feature dubbed "Rally Cry" makes getting into RvR even easier. Every once in a while, a rally call will be issued and a blue button your minimap will blink. If you click the button, you will be transported from wherever you are in the zone to the zone's corresponding war camp.
Why would you care about all of this though? You've got levels to make. There's no time for PvP! Not until you're level capped, right?
In WAR, you gain experience for killing players as well. Experience is also earned through capturing Keeps and Battlefield Objectives, killing other players, and bonus experience for winning (a bit less for losing) a scenario. There are also new RvR chain quests available at all of the war camps that provide additional experience for participating in those same activities. While your PvE levels cap at 40, you also have PvP levels, called Renown Ranks, which cap at 80. As you earn PvE experience for killing players, capturing keeps, etc. you also earn Renown experience toward your PvP level. Renown Ranks also grant bonuses like: extra talent points, increased action points (mana), and serve as pre-requisites for the various PvP gear available in the game.
All of this sounds like Mythic really knocked one out of the park, doesn't it? On paper, many of these features are quite excellent, and compared to launch they have come a long way toward being totally awesome, but a few lingering issues remain. For one, killing other players in open world RvR is not a terribly good source of experience or renown in group settings, as there are quickly diminishing returns. This leads to players outright avoiding each other and participating in what is known as "Musical Keeps." Since players will always go toward the path of least resistance, and as of this writing the most efficient way to earn RvR Influence, XP, and Renown is to simply trade battlefield objectives and keeps while ignoring the enemy, RvR can end up being quite boring. If an enemy force is defending a keep, players will often just skip zones and try an unguarded one somewhere else.
This is a really tricky issue. At launch, players simply did scenarios as they offered the best bang for the buck, and because of this, RvR was practically non existent. Since then, Mythic has done much to offer the carrot instead of the stick for participating in RvR, but the particular implementation isn't quite right yet. In Patch 1.2.1, Mythic introduced a bunch of RvR focused initiatives to try and rectify many of these issues.
RvR gear is also problematic. As I mentioned previously, WAR utilizes the public quest contribution system in many other areas of the game, and this includes keep captures. In WAR, successfully capturing a keep nets you a chance at a gold bag drop. The problem is the acquisition of these bags is the only way to fill out an RvR set. And while the public quest contribution system works pretty well for PvE public quests, it amounts to almost pure luck when it comes to keeps.
It is not unheard of for a player to participate in keep captures all week and not earn a single piece of their RvR set. This is a source of great frustration for many players as set pieces are generally the best equipment in the game. While high end PvE sets acquired in the endgame dungeons have their own loot issues, they are much easier to fill out. This is especially true when you consider the fact the equivalent RvR sets require you win a gold bag in a Fortress capture, where the aforementioned problem is compounded as you are rolling against 300 people versus say, 24-48.
Crafting in Warhammer Online is one of Warhammer's most underwhelming aspects of gameplay. There are only two crafting professions in the game: Apothecary, and Talisman Making. Apothecary allows you to make potions and dyes, and prior to the game's most recent patch there wasn't much of a selection to choose from. Since then, Apothecary has definitely become more interesting, as the types of potions you can make have increased and potions now persist after death. These changes have gone a long way toward making the profession useful, but the actual crafting systems are pretty simple.
Talisman Making allows you to create talismans which you can then slot into gear with talisman slots. Talismans allow you to add additional stats to your armor such as extra strength, hit points, etc.
In order to pursue either of the above crafting professions, you must acquire a tradeskill, of which there are 4 to choose from: cultivation, butchering, salvaging, and scavenging. Cultivation allows you to grow plants from seeds; and these plants are required for apothecary. Butchering and scavenging allow you to produce materials from corpses, the former is used on animals and other creatures, while the latter is only usable on humanoids, and this includes players. You can use these tradeskills for both apothecary and talisman making. Salvaging allows you to break down items for use in talisman making.
There isn't much else to say about crafting. If you're a huge crafting type, WAR is probably not going evoke fond memories of crafting in Star Wars Galaxies (one of the game's better areas). Crafting can be decently fun, but there isn't much depth here.