(( Check out his post at http://stateofwow.tumblr.com/post/5343232063/cataclysm-leveling-alliance ))
Previous to Cataclysm I leveled roughly 7 characters through the content on each side of the aisle. I leveled quickly because I found it fun to see how fast I could run through quests and I enjoyed many of the quests in the game. The basic WoW story arc they open with of you being a common whatever you are needing to step up to the plate and defend the land after the armies were called away worked well. I only ever got Loremaster on one character though...Id done every quest so many times I couldn't do it more than once.
Ive done the Horde 1-85 twice now, working on a third time and the Alliance side 1-85 twice with a slew of little alts all over the place. Ive dipped my feet into each of the zones a little bit thought Ive found it hard to work on them.
I disagree with Rannoc that the quality of the quests has improved in large part because I don't think ripping off someone else's story and sticking it into your game is good writing. Rambo, Indiana Jones, A Team, CSI - their all decent shows in their own way but not what I want in my game. I want a Warcraft story about a Warcraft veteran seeped in the mood of the game. Not a Fight Club knock off.
The original 'fetch' quests in WoW had a reason to doing them. Corporal Keeshan in fact existed already before they decided to make him Rambo.
"You have served the Kingdom well, priest. Thank you for assisting Corporal Keeshan with his escape from those dreaded Blackrock Orcs. You shall be rewarded for your brave acts this day."
Thats the sort of parody I like. Small, unobtrusive, it adds a bit of flavor without jamming a whole zone of bad jokes at you.
Keeshan then and now
In fact lets look at another offender - Harrison Jones. His first appearance in BC was in the opening scene of Zul'amon where he gets himself killed by a wave of trolls. Not one to let that slow him down he pops back up in Grizzly HIlls.
"Listen, kid. This is no place for you to be playin' around.
I'm about to make a break for it. Stick with me and I'll get you outta here."
Both are short nice cameos that made me smile and didn't knock me out of the 'Warcraft' feeling. Then came Uldum. A zone where you have an ancient empire tasked with defending titam machinery that has failed as part of them turned traitor and if forced to rely on outsiders for assistance. Outsiders who want to muck about with the same reorigination machinery their supposed to defend. That has huge potential for story and Bliz does deliver a few decent tidbits on it and then the other 2/3 of the zone is a movie knock off of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The story potential in Red Ridge and Uldum were both strong and they were ignored...and this is a systematic change. Ether they exerted less control over the designers or just needed something they could rush out the door but its a severe shift from the earlier attempts to build a story. The ability to involve people in the story instead of putting it all in quest text most people skipped is wasted effort.
Now ignoring Azshara the horde quests are more lacking in this ripped off plot feel. Its closer to the mood of the original wow with the improvements in story. The Tauren and Undead starting areas really drive home the 'state of the race' in wow today like no other starting zone Ive played so far.
One of the strange things about leveling now is Blizzards one hand worked on making the leveling better while the other made it faster. So they added more content and made it harder to stick to seeing it all without doing green/grey quests for little to no exp. You end up with a choice to do a zone or to move on to better exp. I think this is a flaw in the world size and them trying to keep the same number of quests in the zones, Vanilla WoW you were expected to stay in the zones a little while and you needed lots of quests to get that exp. Today instead of a gentle plane taking off characters lift off more like rockets ... but you miss a lot of scenery in a rocket.