I've read that languages with the same word order often have similarities, even if they're not related, purely because some grammatical features will force a language to use others. For instance, if a language doesn't indicate case, it'll be forced into a verb-medial order (SVO or OVS) to differentiate subject from object.
What I'm finding annoying is I can't find anything like this for verb-final languages. The only other language I know to any extent is German. I have tried to learn Japanese in the past, and more recently Korean, but I never got that far with either.
I also find it annoying that you can't just find lists of grammatical features languages can have. Everything I can find just goes into excessive detail about one specific language rather than giving a general overview of languages that fall into specific categories.
Japanese is pro-drop, and its common to leave out most noun phrases. Japanese tend to just leave it to the listener to fill in the gaps. That doesn't mean they never specify subjects and objects, they just don't bother to repeat them once they're introduced. And of course Japanese is topic-prominent, so its normal to assume that every sentence has the same topic until another is specified.
But are all SOV languages like this? Personally, I find it annoying that you have to work your way through all the noun phrases before you get to the verb, which does most of the work in determining the role of everything in the sentence really; i.e. you can't figure out what happened to the direct object until you get to the verb.
The only 'universals' I know of is they tend to be head-final and post-positional. That's it. Like I said, I don't know one myself to any degree (and yes, I know German sometimes uses SOV, but its primarily SVO, well unless maybe you count sentences with auxiliary verbs).