Hearthstone has a promotion where you can get Lady Liadrin as a hero if you level a new character in World of Warcraft. Despite the fact that I am not actually playing Hearthstone, I decided to take the opportunity and level a new character. You can level to 20 without a subscription, making it very easy.
I created a Night Elf Druid, and mainly quested until 16, and then did a few dungeons to hit 20. Leveling to 20 was not a particularly fun experience. Here are the major issues as I see them.
The Time-to-Kill for most mobs was really short. I didn't have any heirlooms, so I was just in quest greens. It's one thing to make the game easier for new players, but almost everything died in 2 global cooldowns. Very often only one if the first ability crit. It's actually kind of annoying because I was Feral, and it seemed very hard to get into the rhythm of using combos. Rake, Shred, and the mob would die before I could use a finisher.
It's one thing to have a short TtK in a game like Diablo, where you're pretty much spamming your mouse button. But in a game where you have an actual rotation where abilities work with each other, you really should at least get to use a full rotation before the mob dies.
If you want to make the game easier on new players, the better path would be to reduce mob damage, but keep a decent time to kill of at least 4-5 GCDs.
I've said this before, but heirlooms are a mistake. One thing I didn't realize before, though, is that make group play for the non-heirloomed character singularly unfun.
I switched to Resto for the dungeons. The other players were in heirloom gear so they charged through the dungeon at max speed. I tried to heal, but my heals did so little because they had so much health and I had relatively few stats. But because they were pulling everything at once, they sometimes took enough damage to make things dangerous.
I think a lot of issues I have with group play in the current version of WoW have their genesis here. If people get into bad habits early, it's a lot harder to get them to "accept" proper play much later.
And that's not even getting into PvP, which I imagine must be horrific for the new player without heirlooms.
The revamp of the old world in Cataclysm was another mistake. It's been years since I played through Darkshore, and I don't remember the original zone very well. But the current Darkshore feels like it expects you to have played the old version. It feels like a continuation of that story, and it's kind of disconcerting to be dropped into the middle of things.
In some ways, the current early game of World of Warcraft feels hostile to new players, despite the fact that it's so trivially easy mechanically. You get all these neat abilities that combo together, and you can't get the satisfaction of executing a combo successfully, because the mob dies when you sneeze on it. Playing with other experienced players is like playing with cheaters because they're so far above you. And all the stories feel like you started reading a book in the middle rather than at the end.