Saw the poll in another thread about levelling vs character boost and after watching some of the new footage of WoD on the front page today the thought occurred to me that Blizzard could have stayed true to their roots and the genre if they only only put some "real" effort into making the levelling experience maintain it's original vibrance.
I'm old school having first starting playing WoW in early 2005 a few months after release. Those were the days when the world was alive, STV was a complete cluster… of world pvp, where forming friendships were necessary to band together to stay alive let alone hand in a quest and progress. Those were the days of epic zone group quests and chains (like the hammer quest so you could complete the last boss in Zul'Farrak).
The only positive thing that Blizzard did in revamping the levelling experience was the creation of fairly well thought out and engaging starting zones for the newer classes/races. As with other aspects of the game though, despite the effort put into revamping lvl 1-60, they completely missed the marked in most other respects. They made levelling a solo experience that was faster, easier and more linear. If you thought it was a mindless repetitious grind fest before, it became even more of a life draining experience as additional game levels cancelled out most of the speed boost but left you alone in the world for extended periods with little or no interaction, little or no sense of danger or prospect of death and little or no reward for killing your 10,000th boar.
The much better way to have dealt with the issue of increasing level cap, which makes the prospect of levelling a toon that much more daunting, would have been the following:
1) No matter the # of levels maintain 60 levels of levelling content.
To do this you need vibrant and compelling starter zones such as the newer classes/races got for all races. When you finish the starting zone (and say you are level 15) you speak to an NPC and are shown several cut scenes to "educate" you on the history of WoW (i.e. the happenings in each expansion). You are then, after choosing the story line you want to follow., transported to that starting zone. Like original WoW??... you get transported to the Barrens. Like TBC??... you start in Hellfire Penisula (there may have to be some adjustments depending on the Zone you choose to start in but you get the idea and yes this would probably require significant resources to rebalance zone content).
When you were transported to the zone you wanted to start in you would get a boost to level 45 instead of 90 (MoP max level 90 - 15 levels of starting zone - 45 remaining levels to equal 60 levels of levelling content).
No matter the zone you start in the quest rewards would be level appropriate. Thus the player that choose classic WoW would finish their 60 levels in say Winterspring and the player that started in Hellfire might finish up in the jade forest - but your level and not the zone would determine the reward. In a twist on the Guild Wars feature where your character's level adjusts to the mob's level the mobs would adjust to your level (to avoid too much phasing and being alone in the world all characters would be presented with the 5 or 6 starting zone options and resulting 5 or 6 available paths of levelling ensuring a steady stream of participants in the various zones at the same time and providing 5 or 6 varied routes to level to reduce boredom to altholics.)
This would also provide Blizzard an opportunity to explain some of the inherent inconsistencies in the timeline of WoW. TheNPC at the end of the starting zone could put the timeline into perspective (i.e. for players starting in the Burning Crusade) and for those that choose to start in the Jade Forest the NPC or your levelling guide could transport you back in time to fight the demons in TBC (the old caverns of time trick) to complete your levelling experience - actually inherently more logical and consistent then what happens now.
2) Going to all this trouble also requires the return of group quests and chains that immerse you in the content and the world. And, some form of levelling friend finder to facilitate group formation etc.
Many won't read this because its too long. And, yes, this is off the top of my head and needs a little fine tweaking. But for those who do take the time to read it, thoughtfully consider it and are willingly to intelligently respond thank-you in advance. The old levelling world was one of the things that made WoW great. Bringing it back to its former glory would be great imho.