I've written quite a few rants, complaints and suggestions regarding World of Warcraft, so I decided to take a step back and praise its good points. After all, I have been playing it for all but a few months out of the past three years, so something must be right!
1. Flexible Interface. This is by far my favorite part of WoW. Unfortunately, a lot of the flexibility requires third-party addons, but Blizzard has done an outstanding job of making it easy for these mods to be created and giving support to those programmers via built-in hooks to the client, a forum devoted to interface and customization and continuing development of their API. I'll have a post soon about some nice mods that I've installed recently.
2. PvP. That's right, I said it. And as unbelievable as it may be, I think WoW PvP is actually a lot of fun... as long as you have decent gear. That last part is an important caveat. And I would definitely say that a Medallion of the Horde (and its Alliance equivalent) is pretty much required. Otherwise you'll just be crowd controlled all the time with no way to counter it. Getting ganked by higher levels or by five to one odds isn't much fun, of course. And neither is trying to win a battleground when the rest of your 'team' doesn't understand the concept of holding objectives or taking the flag. But, if you're on relatively equal strength and relatively equal numbers, the PvP can be very engaging and exciting. The wide variety of abilities and tactics make every encounter different and when you have three or four players on each side battling it out, strategy does play a big part. It does suck that 99% of the PvP occurs in the same four instanced battlegrounds and that PvP has no effect at all on the world. But, once you accept that fact, it can be very entertaining, sort of a Counterstrike meets MMO type concept.
I wouldn't say that WoW does PvP right, but what they do have has turned out to be enjoyable after almost three years of tweaking. And one last thing, the changes to the honor system that were implemented last December (so that honor points accumulate over time and never decay) were a godsend!
3. Graphics. A lot of people complain about the cartoonish look, but personally, I think it looks a lot better than all of these games that go for a more 'realistic' look. Character and camera movement is very fluid and simple. The loud colors and larger than life adornments give everything a nice fantasy feel and make the game visually entertaining. There are times were I like to hide my entire interface just so I can immerse myself in the graphics. And I think everyone had a moment of amazement the first time they saw inside of Blackrock Mountain or flew against the sky backdrop of colored streamers in the Outlands. Everything is big and identifiable and only occasionally do I have camera issues due to being in a tight, constricted space.
4. Accessibility. Even my girlfriend, who generally doesn't play anything more complex that Jewel Quest was able to get into the game and play by herself with minimal basic instructions. This is probably one of the main reasons that Wow has become so popular.