Well, I finally did it. I broke down and bought WoW as well so that I could try them both. I spent all of last night playing WoW and I feel at this point I have a pretty good idea of how the two games compare to one another in a general way. I can't compare higher level adeventures between the two, as my EQ2 character is much higher than my current WoW character. Anyway, I agree with the above post that both games are good, and it really depends on which feel you like better. But as for a comparison, here goes:
Graphics: The first thing I noticed upon logging into WoW was that the graphics really do fall far short of EQ2. However, that doesn't mean they're bad, just that they will take some getting used to if you've played EQ2. The good thing is that WoW runs very smoothly in the highest graphic setting on my machine, although even at that setting you're not going to get close to the crisp details in the EQ2 world. There is a certain crispness missing in the WoW world that makes me feel like I'm playing an older game, notwithstanding the "cartoon-like" feel of the game, which I like overall. But having played EQ2 first, it really takes some getting used to. I could certainly see the graphics of one or the other being a drawing point. However, the nice thing about WoW is that there are no zones, and thus little to no loading unless you are going to an instanced environment. Nice bonus, although if you are running a top-end machine for EQ2 with a recently defragged hard-drive, the loading times in EQ2 are very acceptable.
World: Having no zones, WoW feels a lot bigger than EQ2 and less cookie cutter. However, this also could be negative in that in EQ2 we all know certain zones have certain things for a certain level character. So, at least initially, WoW feels a bit more daunting, and a bit harder to get around. I may be slightly biased because I've already had a few weeks with EQ2 and know the ropes over there. In any case, both worlds are a lot of fun to explore, and I don't see either getting the nod here.
Sound: I was happy to see that WoW also has a good deal of vocalizations in the game. Not to the extent that you find in EQ2, where entire quests are given with vocals to accompany the test. But I found in EQ2 that more than half the time I just clicked ahead after reading the quest rather than wait to hear the entire speech finish. Also, WoW has some neat vocal commands (initiated with /v ___) which are really fun to use in game. You can even tell random jokes or be silly with other players and hear your character talk. As for music and sound effects, I'll give a slight nod to EQ2 here, because I think the quality of the effects and background music are slightly better. But WoW's are pretty nice too. I don't think sound would be something to sway you to one or the other.
Lag: Having started playing WoW last night, a week after launch, I noticed absolutely no lag during the time I played. This was really impressive following on the heels of my experience in EQ2 where I have to reboot every once in a while because combat starts to lag so much. WoW definitely wins on this one, but, at the same time, the graphics are not as "realistic", so Id have to say EQ2 will look more current for far longer than WoW, if that's important to you. But, if you want to run smoothly at all costs pick WoW at this point.
Interface: EQ2 wins on this at least initially, as I especially like the additional hotbars you can open up and the customizability of them and the different chat frames. Now, I'm basing this only on the iterface that originally shipped with the game as I haven't tried any of the available interface mods available for WoW that are out there. Im guessing that in the long run, this will probably equal out. Chatting and other communication tools are fairly similar in both games, although the extra windows in EQ2 are nice.
Character types/development: It's somewhat nice in WoW to feel like you start out in the class you chose, so you can immediately get a feel for the type of character you've chosen and whether you like it. It also makes trying out other characters much easier. In EQ2 you have to level up to 10 before you get to select your first subclass (as a scout you would select rogue, bard, or predator in Qeynos), and then at 20 you select your final class (such as Ranger if your a predator). With WoW I had the chance to quickly try out a few different characters at the beginning which was nice. Now, there aren't as many character types to choose from as in EQ2, but that might lead to better balancing overall. This is still an open question as I haven't played long enough. It seemed like the characters in EQ2 were a little more set in their roles.
Gameplay: Ok, I've set this up with a few different subheadings to try and give some opinions on what I experienced.
Grouping/social: Playing WoW last night, I have to admit that I never ran across anybody looking for groups in chat or elsewhere. I just was soloing all the time. This may change later on, but it definitely was a weird experience. To me, it seems like EQ2 is a bit more of a social game as it essentially wants you to group later on to tackle some of the more difficult obstacles. In WoW, it seemed like every class could solo, and every class could run around and do their own thing. So if you like grouping, especially early on in the game, I'll give the nod to EQ2 at this point. I also give the nod to EQ2 on guilds and such. It's a lot of fun, for me at least, to see the guild pages and see all the stats for the guild online, as well as accumulating status points for your guild which can be used to purchase items, etc. WoW does not have this at this time, based on what I'm aware of. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Combat: At the early levels, I'd have to say combat functions very much the same. However, WoW does not have the mobs set-up as in EQ2 where certain mobs are "group-specific". In some ways this is good, and in other ways it's bad. The group mobs in EQ2 basically force people to socialize to at least get into groups to tackle the mobs. Therefore, you are forced to interact with other players and "play with them" so to speak. In WoW, there are no group mobs, but there are times when you may need to group to tackle some mobs that are close enough together such that, if pulled, they will attack together. I see bonuses to EQ2's system, as I am not against grouping, but if you like soloing more the nod would go to WoW. If you like grouping and more interaction from the start, go with EQ2. Again, this is not representative of higher levels where grouping is probably more of a necessityin WoW.
Mechanics: First, death is handled differently. In EQ2, you die, or a member of your group dies, and you suffer experience debt. This means for a certain amount of experience gained, half of your exp will go to debt. This debt is also wiped out slowly in real time, so if you log out for a day, usually in the next day or two the debt will be gone. Also, when you die and are not revived by a priest, you will have to return to your body to collect your shard. This effectively reduces the amount of debt your faced with. In addition to debt, your items are also slightly damaged. I don't find it overall to be much of an inconvenience, as if I have a lot of debt, I just logout for the night or switch to a different character.
In WoW, when you die and are not ressed by a healer, you spawn as a ghost in the nearest cemetary. You then can run back to your body and collect it to minimize item damage or you can choose to be revived right in the graveyard, suffering some nasty damage to your items. In WoW, unlike EQ2, item durabilitiy always goes down through combat, so you typically have to get things mended anyway. Item durability also varies, much like in Diablo 2, so you could have a sword with 34/35 durability. In EQ2 the durability is limited to percentages, and when something drops to 0, it must be repaired before it can be used again. There is no exp debt in WoW. I don't find either system to be too annoying.
The experience debt in EQ2 actually ends up being somewhat similar in practice to the WoW "rest" state. It's all numbers after all. In WoW, when you first login for the day, your exp bar will be a light blue color. This essentially means you are earning 200% experience for a certain number of kills. Now, if you logged off in an inn the night before, that "rested" state may last significantly longer than if you didn't. In fact, just visiting an inn while playing may sufficiently rest you so that you're back to earning 200% exp for a few kills.
If you are a casual player, I think this is a benefit. But I also think WoW gets the nod in general if you are a casual player. The social interaction does not feel quite as bonding as in EQ2 (the realism of the graphics in EQ2 perhaps enhasnces this feel, as does the guild structure and grouping mechanics) so it does not require as much attention from players.
Quest system: Both games have lots of quests, but the nod has to go to WoW on this one. The one really great thing that WoW does, is whenever you complete a part of the task, such as killing a bear, it immediately flashes on the screen "5/8 bears killed" or something like it, so you know how many more you need without having to find the quest in the quest log. EQ2's quest log is a bit more cluttered, in that you need to have the quest open in the quest helper window to see updates on how you are progressing with a quest. And, finding the quest in your journal can take a little time sometimes. Otherwise, I find the quests to be fairly similar overall, although EQ2 seems to have more of the early quests of take x to person y - more of the messenger quest variety. But, it also seems to me that there are many more quests available in EQ2 at the early levels, for better or worse, so it's easy to get cluttered up with quests.
There are some other odds and ends that I could mention, but my fingers are getting tired. Tonight will be some more WoW for me, as I try to figure out which game I like better for the long haul. I don't think you can go wrong with both. I'll update this a bit more as I explore WoW further.