When my little rogue pandaren, she of the fierce daggers and the even more fierce blue streak in her hair, left the Wandering Isle, she joined the Alliance. After punching King Varian in the face and knocking him flat on his posterior—at his own request—she was set loose into a mainly-human world, to do whatever crossed her fancy.
In so doing, she—and I—crossed from Mists of Pandaria content into storylines from Cataclsym, which themselves have far more meaning to players who saw the world in its pre-cataclysmic state than to those of us who bumbled along after. I am now playing CSI: Westfall, as I trace a murderer hither and yon through the zone and down the road into Duskwood.
Along the way I kill 5, 10, or 12 of pretty much everything, because the locals asked me to and I'm just that nice a rogue. The lore's a little muddled to my deeply-unfamiliar-with-WoW self, but nothing that I can't manage to learn. I even found crafting trainers in Stormwind, and learned how to gather me some stuff so that nodes won't have to lie around useless all the time.
Clearly, "go see the trainer" is the preferred mechanism of pretty much everything in this game. Trainers to teach riding, trainers to teach mining, trainers later in the game to teach fancier riding, trainers for skills, trainers for unlearning skills. I'm tiring of trainers, and of having to spend either coin or excessive time running back and forth to Stormwind every so often when I realize there is some other trainer I should see.
But I know this, too, shall pass. Leveling to 20 is taking me far longer than it should, but the reward for reaching it will be becoming a whole character, unlocking the things that require incessant trainer visits and spreading it out a little more into the decade levels.
Meanwhile, though, the low-level panda experience has long since ceased to be, well, the panda experience. Mists of Pandaria took me as far as level 12; at this point, I may as well have rolled any other race and just considered it all the Cataclysm experience.
The thing I didn't expect is that I'm kind of starting to miss the Pandaren story. I didn't love the Wandering Isle while I was there, and found its pastiche of appropriated east Asian cultures to be vaguely uncomfortable. But with Aysa and Ji in separate cities, and me toiling around the Eastern Kingdoms, far from Pandaria, I'm starting to feel the absence of that connection.
Whenever I write about my experiences with World of Warcraft, I hear from a veritable legion of fans who more or less tell me I'm playing it wrong, or that I clearly don't play MMOs for the same reason WoW players do. There may be something to this. I don't care terribly much about dungeon runs or raiding; I don't need my MMOs to be entirely about the destination and not about the journey. And yet, with WoW being a full eight years old, even revamped and rejuvenated lowbie zones aren't at all the point of the game anymore.
So I hope to see some connection to Pandaria before the slog to 85 is over, because for me that's going to be quite some time in coming. As for the current view on the late-game front, our high level expert, Mike Fahey, reports that he has just reached level 87 and looks forward to farming. "Not gold farm," he adds, "actual in-game farming."