As I read the blogosphere and watch many of my guildmates race their main characters to 85 within 5 days of the expansion release, I wonder if the leveling curve was too short for this expansion. Don't get me wrong, I think it's perfectly fine to lower requirements for getting through non-current levels 1-80, but this expansion seems even faster than Wrath leveling was. In my own personal experience, I received about 20% of a level for doing daily SW cooking and fishing dailies, 50% more for a first run through Blackrock Caverns with all the quests that pop up, and another 30% quickly gained in maybe an hour of questing in Hyjal. I barely scratched the surface of Hyjal, with 20 quests out of 125+ done. Yet there I sit at 81 already. Of course Ekat is my loremaster and will come back, but she's off the Vash'jir to see the sea zone before she outlevels it...which just seems sad. Most people don't go back and see the quest content like I do, and that's so much game that Blizzard leaves on the table by enabling such quick leveling via dailies and 5-man instances.
Also, as much as I enjoy reading World of Matticus, I cannot fathom having a raiding guild where it is normal and expected for everyone to be 85 and ready to raid by the Monday following an expansion. Didn't you guys just clear ICC 7 days ago? I know I'm also jaded by the fact that here we sit on the 12th day of December and I have worked more than 8 hours 11 of those days. So even if I wanted to geek out for hours on end, it's just not going to happen right now. Kind of sucks, but my take on the expansion is to sort of take my time and enjoy it. Who knows, I might change my mind if I feel guilty about being the last raider at 85!
The conversion to AIE sub-guilds was incredibly seamless, as a side note. The officers did an amazing job getting programming ready to both make a green wall of chat across guilds automatic and division into subguilds also simple and easy. Two quick steps and you were in! I still eagerly await the opening for alts as do many others, as my main is still stuck in a AIE alt holidng guild until they open alt applications again. Looks like my subguild at the moment has about 200 fewer characters than The Illuminati, but that number will probably equalize with alts and raid teams moving around soon. Kudos once more to AIE.
My initial take on Hyjal is that the zone clearly has a story I want to follow. You've got a forest at risk and big bad elementals all over the place, but druids from the Earthen Ring to help you out and make you powerful enough to make a difference. So far, the mobs respawn a bit quickly but perhaps that will be tuned back down once people quickly move through the content. My ICC gear more than has Ekat easily surviving encounters in these zones, but I'm close to replacing gear already with greens in the initial quests. It will not be very long at all, and I replaced my cloak and my wand already in BRC, but at least those are blue items!
My really preliminary initial take on Vash'jir is that I wish there were an easier way to transport to and from the zone at least at the beginning like the hearthstone portal trick in SW to Hyjal. The underwater zone is not bad after the first quest thanks to the permanent swim speed boost and underwater breathing you get as a reward for the first quest. In fact, the three-dimensional nature of the zone is incredibly well managed nearby the initial ship you start at. Hopefully that design continues as I explore farther into the zone. And I know there's a seahorse on the way!
I do have to commend Blizzard on improving from their past two expansions for starter zones. Hellfire is hell on the eyes for as long as you spend there and the mobs are still so closely packed that it is difficult years later. No alternatives there. In Wrath the two zones were so similarly drab and alike at points that the choices were not compelling. At least Borean Tundra had a fair amount of variety in backgrounds, but the zone felt totally disjointed and the story of both zones was totally not interesting. Now we have two zones that grab you with a story right away and thanks to Vash'jir being underwater, they are so vastly different that you can thoroughly enjoy your options. So far, so good.
Blackrock Caverns was nothing special, although the fight with the lava flow in the center is a fun mechanic (stay in as long as you dare...). A solid instance but not one I'm jumping for joy about. We'll see how the next ones pan out.
so what did you do first in Cataclysm? I haven't even touched my old world alts or the goblin/worgen starting zones. So much to do, and in my case, so little time.