I still think you're approaching WoW with a certain sense of bias.
The WoW graphics are perfectly true to the origins of the game (the Warcraft RTS games). On the subject of realism - yes, the graphics are more "cartoony", but having said that, the 12-foot Tauren walking past a smoking, sparking bonfire is far more "realistic" than an equivalent human's rather stilted gait in DAoC - as s/he walks past some static crystals... The same extends to the animations and graphics of the mobs, and especially the mounts. It might be a mythical, dinosaur-based kodo that Tauren is riding, but it still looks more "real" and moves more accurately than the jerky stick-figure horse you can ride in DAoC.
Each region in WoW is *very* different. Tanaris and the Shimmering Flats - (mostly) flat desert and salt-flats, respectively. Un'goro Crater - steaming jungle. Thousand Needles - Arizona canyon and mesas. The Burning Steppes (I think - I've only overflown it) - OMG that's Mordor!
Your character is too low a level to have acquired much in the way of flightpaths, but some are so gorgeous I've flown straight back after using Alt-Z just to look at the 'in flight movie.' *Never* done that in a game before. Flying from Grom'gol to the Badlands, I flew along a river and saw it blocked in the distance ahead by a building of some sort. A minute later and my wyvern had soared over the Stonewrought Dam. Amazing.
Levels 1-10 or thereabouts are deliberately designed to be easy, to the extent that 6 - 8 hours play should clear them. "Learn how the game works and what your class can do, while getting stronger and more confident, as our quests cleverly lead you about the place, without you noticing." It's a personal thing, but I liked the sense of progression as I was learning the game, and many classes have a goal - some sort of ability earned by quest at level 10. I was somewhat frustrated by the same process in DAoC.
It gets harder, believe me :-) Towards the endgame, there are areas and quests that should only be undertaken by raidgroups (40 players) and levelling can take days of play - assuming all you're doing is questing, rather than PvP or roleplay.
Like I said on LJ, I'll be happy to help you out with any of the things on your 'to be investigated' list. Won't be on tonight, but will be at various stages over the weekend.
Oh, there's definitely a bias; I like my fantasy movie-style and my scifi cartoonish. Warcraft has never done much for me on that basis, and I do recognise that it's a bias.
As to the fast levels at the beginning, I'll see how it goes with the later ones. Although I'm beginning to wonder if the amount of fighting with the interface isn't an element in that speed.
I reognise the animation issues in DAoC too - although a lot of those have been solved in the Catacombs expansion - I'm not sure if you had access to that. At base, DAoC is an older game, and until there's a DAoC 2, or a major revamp of the game engine, that will remain the case.
I'll look for you over the weekend. :)