I've never been one to put much stock in the story aspect of my games. I grew up through my childhood and adolescence from Atari through to PS1 close to adulthood though. But I did think pushing the aspect of the antagonist to more internal sources was interesting, and having the landscape of the continent be affected by it was a nice touch.
I didn't really know what the think about the game from Blizzcon 2011 though, because I really didn't look up much into it. I was dabbling in Rift, and then SWTOR at the time, university was getting crazy, I was working an hour away from home 4 days a week at the same time.
From a gameplay standpoint, the game is in the best place it ever has been. Aside from daily rep quests, and such, there is very little grind in the game anymore. What grinds there are have some variety to them each day with different hubs, locations, and quest types. Crafting got streamlined to the point where you don't even have to actively farm to get it done. For the PvEer, raiding is more accessible at so many different levels. PvP balance is a never ending struggle, but the changes with baseline resilience and such made it much nicer to get into. Not a huge fan of Timeless Isle, but I really loved Isle of Thunder. The game needs more of that.
If there is one thing I can say that I'm not sure I like is how quick it is to catch up to the current tier gear level. It's one of those things where I'll always take the easiest method to the best gear and such, but I really missed farting around dungeons, doing various side quests and all that as a small unit before jumping into raiding like I did during the Vanilla and TBC days. It didn't take long at all for Isle of Thunder to be an empty zone on my server, yet, that place was probably the best questing hub in the game.