After looking over the various options for starting a character, I chose a female Stygian ranger named Basti (Bast was taken). I hit level ten after about four hours, which is considerably faster than I would have done the same feat with WoW (level ten takes me about seven hours there, although there is much more travelling than in AoC, at least so far).
I'm afraid I'm not yet up on the nomenclature, but I've been putting points into stealth and climbing first, less into endurance and healing. I've just gotten to the talent tree, and literally spent about 20 seconds looking at it before having to log off for dinner. That element is kind of nice, as you can tailor the character a bit more, although that's really not the thing that I enjoy about MMOs.
The combat system seems to be easier to master than I had thought, although you don't automatically shift to the enemy that is actually attacking you - this screwed me up a couple of times. Otherwise, I can beat mobs at my own level rather handily, and it's the critters that are up two or three levels that are a challenge.
The interface seems kind of primitive, and the quest-getting process (ask one of a series of preprogrammed questions, get an answer, ask another numbered question) feels a bit overdone, although the voice acting is passable. Sure are a lot of Germans and Eastern Europeans in Hyborea. This is not unusual for an early-life MMO, from what I'm told, so I'm expecting to see the environment improve radically over the next few months.
Of course, the main reason I'm playing is to get some time in with friends, and we've got at least four or five people that I know in life who are already playing, so I signed onto the Wiccana server as it's the unofficial "rp-pve" server with more laid back and mature players. No kids arguing about goths on the trade channel here, as seems to be common on WoW servers. Although someone used the word "boobies" in a sentence.
I'm also wondering what the "mature" content is in this game. Sure, there are dead people strung up in the starting town, and a lot of skin showing, and slavery given as a plot device (and some light sexual references), but certainly nothing that your average 14 year old hasn't seen a billion times on the internet. For goodness sakes, I was reading these books when I was 10, and there's nothing in the game that isn't in the books.
Anyway, so far so good. Certainly a more pleasant experience than City of Heroes or Guild Wars, although I do wish they'd done a Mac version so that I don't have to reboot just to check my mail.
One other note: you can't join a guild until you've hit level 20. Too bad, it will make the game a little less interesting early on, although you can still play with friends (and there are multi-player quests early on). I'm looking forward to those, although probably not until next week because of my schedule.