Up until level eighty, our levelling experience was mostly a pleasant nostalgia trip, even if there were some disappointments along the way. Cataclysm was going to be a slightly different matter however, as it was the expansion that originally led to both of us quitting the game.
"Which zone(s) are we going to do?" I asked. "Not that we have much of a choice... but I'm still feeling burnt out on pretty much all of them. With the way Cata questing worked, you had to do at least part of each zone to unlock all the portals, reputations etc., and with all the alts I had, I must have done most of them half a dozen times in total."
"Hey, I only did them once each," replied my pet tank, "and I hated them the first time."
We eventually agreed on doing Mount Hyjal in full, plus whatever intros we needed to do to unlock at least the portals to the other four zones, which fortunately wasn't too much. Mount Hyjal wasn't too painful either - though the loot we got from completing the whole thing certainly helped. All throughout Outland and Northrend we had struggled to keep our gear up to date, due to a mix of weird and now outdated gear itemisation and the devs seemingly "forgetting" about certain classes and specs when it came to quest rewards and dungeon drops. After a full tour of Mount Hyjal on the other hand I finally had a level-appropriate piece of gear for both of my specs in every single slot for the first time in a long time.
Once we'd acquired a few quest rewards to boost our stats, we set out to two-man Blackrock Caverns. It went very smoothly once again, more so than I expected... but it also felt quite slow. After eighty levels of all of our abilities being way overpowered for their purpose (it was telling when we duelled in Northrend once and my tanking friend literally one-shot me with a Shield Slam), health pools were finally starting to scale and it took a while to chew through things with no dps. So we decided to brave the dungeon finder for the first time since Sunken Temple to speed things up. (The promise of justice points for doing a random helped as well.)
It went reasonably well and we ended up running randoms for a large chunk of our Cata levelling stretch. We met two bad apples in total, a mage and a death knight who both had a tendency to charge ahead and make suicidal pulls when people weren't ready, but everyone else seemed nice enough, and if not chatty, then at least co-operative. In Vortex Pinnacle pet tank had to unexpectedly go AFK at one point, and when I said in chat not to worry because our tank would be back soon, the dps immediately asked whether he was my pet tank, which made me laugh. In Halls of Origination we ended up with a group where pretty much everyone said that they'd only just come back to the game recently and were still traumatised by Cata heroics.
Anyway, so much for Cata. Expect first impressions of Pandaria soon!