So I have been playing Vanilla World of Warcraft on a private server (Not telling which and where to get it mind you)
Because I really, truly, wanted to see the world of Azeroth before the Catacylsm.
I got my character to level 30 and so far I learned some sad truths:
1. Paladins were not viable tanks for raiding. And I love Paladins and want to be a tank.
2. 2 enemies can kill you if you solo quest.
3. It takes FOREVER to get a mount.
4. Each Zone only has 1 flightpath. There is no flight path from say Goldshire to Stormwind. (Yes in Current WOW there is)
But the world pre cata is Beautiful. Westfall, Loch Lodan, Stranglethorne Vale, Stormwind City
Everything just felt right. This feels like the continuation of Warcraft 3 I was looking for.
I've been playing Vanilla wow on Nostalrius
(for those of you who want to play Vanilla. It's highly populated and free). There's nothing illegal about playing it so long as they do not charge for it.
I wanted to give my 2 cents about. TL;DR
Vanilla WoW is a better, harder, and more challenging game than retail WoW is
Yeah, there are things that you and I both wish Vanilla had that are in the current retail version (your example of flight paths, as well as there being fewer graveyards).
And yeah, Pallys being unable to tank is kind of a bummer. I love tanking, so I rolled a prot warrior, and am loving it just as much as my retail prot pally.
Although i really like the idea that 2 enemies being able to kill you. It's one of the things that makes the game a challenge (something sorely lacking in retail), and if 2 guys (or murlocs) gang up on you in a real fight, you're going to have a much harder time.
And yes, getting a mount does take forever (Level 40, which takes a lot longer to get to in vanilla than it does in retail)...but it makes you appreciate getting that mount a lot more than retail does. I have something like 170ish mounts in retail, ranging from all the racial mounts to the phoenix that drops in TK, and honestly, I feel less connected to them than I do to my plain 60%speed horse. I feel like I worked towards getting my one horsey, and that I earned it. So I feel that decreasing the amount of mounts in game, as well as it taking a lot longer to get a mount, is actually a good thing.
What I like most about vanilla is that it puts the social aspect back into a game that centers around playing with other people. In retail, you can get into LFR with 25 other random people, and everyone works in silence, or if someone does talk, it seems to be about something negative. But if I'm running a 5 man dungeon, we WILL talk because communication is necessary. Also, I have yet to encounter someone being a complete a**hole (cocky yes, a**hole no), because 1)It takes a lot longer to get a group together, and players are not as easily replaceable and 2.)You will probably be playing with these same people some time in the future, and being an a**hole will hurt you in the long run.
So to conclude, this pre cata world IS beautiful. It's nice to see my favorite zone, Tanaris, returned to its original glory!
My character is Beccaria, and I play on the PVP server. Add me to friends if you ever want to play, or need a tank. I'll be happy to help.