Posted this on WoW's main site - it's long but I'll repost it here for any thoughts or comments you may have.
Not that my gaming resume is that special but to provide context I will briefly set it out before I make my comments to add some additional perspective.
Started playing in the Spring of 2005 (yes, I'm actually one of those people that not only claim to have played Vanilla WoW but actually did). Casual Player in Vanilla, Guild Raider and/or Pug Raider in TBC / Wrath, Casual player in Cata and didn't play MoP at all. Levelled a character to max lvl in Guild Wars 2 on release (stopped playing GW2 soon after) and have been playing the Simpson's Tapped Out every day since release (relevant to discussion of Garrisons). Will be a casual player in WoD and eventually get all 5 of my alts to max level. May or may not pug raid, may or may not do LFR. I also check out MMO-Champion on a regular basis.
Though questing has been dumbed down since the days of Vanilla WoW (mobs that couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag and every objective overly highlighted meaning you don't really have to bother reading your quests like back in the day) I have to give credit where credit is due. You guys hit it out of the ballpark with questing in WoD and that's a significant accomplishment considering it all boils down to kill x number of mobs and collect x number of things. And this is especially true when compared to the brutally linear and boring questing that I just suffered through on 3 alts getting them from 85 to 90 in MoP recently.
It has repeatedly taken me more than an hour to get to the questing objective I originally headed to. That's because along the way there I have come across not only marked bonus objectives but mini quest hubs seemingly around every corner and mini bosses seemingly around every other corner. Its classic game design that not only keeps you playing longer than you intended but makes you look forward to doing so. In fact its so dynamic it almost mimics the sense of character progression that Vanilla WoW had when the game was new and the journey was, initially at least, the important thing. Heck, even getting an epic upgrade on loot you can't use from one of those mini bosses sets the serotonin going and I'm continuing to quest in zones that are below my character's level because it is so well done.
The only negative things I can say about the questing in WoD, besides it not being long enough, is that I can see the mini bosses being pretty challenging or undoable on 2 of my alts and there are still too many cut-scenes that pale in comparison to the Wrathgate cut-scene and only serve to remind those of us that remember of the specialness and beauty of that quest line's finale.
Will it all get a bit stale by the time I do it 5 times? Probably. But this is the most fun I have had since Vanilla WoW.
PROVING GROUNDS & HIDDEN WORLD ITEMS
Actually haven't done Proving Grounds yet but have read about them and support the idea. In fact, I often argued for a similar concept and am glad to see a version of it has been added to the game. Those Hidden World items might be just too hidden to be honest. I haven't downloaded any add-ons or looked up any info on their locations but despite extensive questing I haven't only come upon a few of them. And there was one I found in Nagrand hanging from a tree that none of the 10 other players nearby that also saw could figure out how to get to it. That was pretty frustrating. I would have to say the similar system in GW2 was a better implementation of this concept.
I know everybody and their dog wanted player housing (as well as the long promised Dance Studio) but quite frankly I just don't get it. First and foremost, Garrisons are an example of an addition to the game that totally contradicts other main development initiatives in WoD.
While I have absolutely no problem with not being able to fly one of the main rationales trotted out to support this decision was that Blizzard wanted players not only not be able to totally trivialize questing objectives but to also be immersed in the world and help foster that sensation of a vibrant, living world. Spending substantial amounts of time in your garrison sending followers on missions that you have little or no interaction with is about as far from being immersed in the world as you can get. And this only gets worse if you have to manage garrisons for multiple alts (a prospect I quite frankly dread).
Another major development theme of WoD was reducing button / action bar bloat to get rid of boring, under utilized skills and talents that required countless macros to manage, didn't really add to the depth of gameplay and were also unnecessarily confusing to new players. Blizzard often said that cookie cutter min-maxing and copying builds and rotations from external sources meant all the choices were merely illusionary and not compelling complexity.
Well, I can't imagine what a new player must think when faced with the myriad of choices presented by Garrisons (choosing buildings / followers to send on missions etc). Essentially if you want to maximize your garrisons potential you have to do exactly what they said wasn't compelling gameplay - go to external sites and do exactly as they tell you to do or just download an add-on that does it all for you - again not compelling game play (Personally, I haven't bothered with either option and am just blindly trying to progress my garrison).
Another issue I have with Garrisons, especially since they are supposed to be a mini-game within the game, is the choice for the majority of missions to be less than 2 hours long. That type of gameplay is important to a product like Tapped Out but a bit excessive and unnecessary in a game like WoW. The proof in the pudding on that one is the need for a hotfix to encourage players to stay until the final boss in a dungeons instead of deserting the group to tend to garrison missions.
Garrisons have also both undermined and made profession levelling that much more complicated. I'm personally bewildered by all the reagents I'm gathering and/or need for my main professions and how they all interrelate. And this from a player who has always maxed professions the old fashioned way by gathering mats instead of buying them on the AH and using my various alts to help level each's professions. And lets not even get into the effect that garrisons have on the economic viability of professions.
At a minimum I think reagents tool tips should be updated to more clearly indicate what and to whom they are useful. Perhaps akin to the dungeon journal we now need a profession journal.
Lastly, I think there were many missed opportunities in Garrisons a feature that may go well go the way of other main expansion features that were so integral to the particular expansion they were launched in. While no one would ever claim afking in Orgrimar was particularly compelling you did get some sense of vibrancy in the world and being a part of a larger community. You don't get that in Garrisons and since their implementation I basically have spent a minute in a capital city. I'm either questing or in my garrison and that's a shame. With all the effort put into character model updates (most of which I don't prefer and actually have turned off) one of the ways the isolating aspect of Garrisons could have been mitigated as well as the work of the modellers given even greater prominence is if your Garrisons were populated with copies or virtual representations of your alts. Wouldn't that be great to be able to see your own characters milling about. Taking the idea to its logical extreme (though I'm not sure its technically possible) this idea could be expanded, as part of a guild perk, to copy your guildee's characters to populate your garrison. That would give some sense of immersion that garrisons dearly lack. Taking the concept to its logical extreme you could switch between your own characters by clicking on them rather than logging in and out.
Garrisons also should have been account wide in my opinion and their reward / levelling process flexible adjusted based on the number of alts. As noted above the time required to manage and level them is fairly excessive in an MMO on even one character and off the charts on multiple characters. Each character should have had a significant quest line to be allowed to take up residence in your garrison but once completed that was all that would be required to begin contributing to your garrison's progression. This idea also meshes nicely with the above idea of being able to see and possibly interact with your characters in your garrison. It would also present some great opportunities for storytelling / lore that garrisons lack imho.
Bottomline - In some ways the game is better than ever and in others it has regressed but you'll keep getting my money at least until I level all of my alts to max - and special kudos to the questing team.
TLDR - questing is better than ever, garrisons are meh and would have been much better if they were account wide and your alts could be in them, virtually at least, while you were there.