Here’s where players lose their lives. Raids are the most challenging content in WoW, designed for 10 or 25 players (you select which version of the raid you want to attempt). Raids work exactly like dungeons, except with the difficulty ramped up to extremely high levels. Trash pulls take a lot more coordination, bosses have devastating abilities and multiple phases. The raid content is also intimately tied in to the storyline of the expansion (Deathwing is the main bad guy in Cataclysm, and the raid content will ultimately lead to you fighting him).
The difference between 10-man and 25-man raids is comparable to the normal/heroic dungeon split. Bosses have more hitpoints and more abilities in 25-man mode, and the fights are usually longer.
A (welcome) change in Cataclysm is that the 10 and 25 modes will drop the same gear. Prior to Cataclysm, 25-man raids dropped loot of a higher quality, which was unavailable to smaller guilds who could only fill a 10-man raid. For the large-scale progression guilds who always want to do 25-man mode, Cataclysm raids will simply drop more loot.
But that’s not all...
WoW also has a fairly rich PVP community as well, and for players who prefer that sort of content, Battlegrounds, Rated Battlegrounds (a Cataclysm addition) and the Arena offer alternate means of obtaining loot and building your character.
With the exception of killing other players as you meet them in the world (if you’re on a PVP server, anyway), all of the above PVP options are team-based, so even these are cooperative. A successful PVP group isn’t simply players on the same side hitting things on the other side, they involve communication, support and crowd control, much the same as the PVE content.
With a wealth of content, and more coming, WoW offers something for just about anyone. It’s far easier to learn the game’s systems than most MMOs, and has more external player resources than you can shake a stick at. I’ve racked up over a HUNDRED days of playtime since the game’s launch, and I’m still excited for what’s to come.
Maybe I’m trapped in that Skinner Box, but honestly, I don’t care.