Cata's main problem for me was that it was so freaking boring. There was nothing fresh or new about my experience at all. They redid all the low level zones but that was a cosmetic change - gathering 10 gizmos that look a little different from the last gizmos is still gathering 10 gizmos. The new zones were bland at best. Nothing about the dungeons felt interesting. I didn't raid much but what little I did do, again, just didn't grab me. Tol Barad was a worse version of Wintergrasp, the new battlegrounds were mostly annoying.
I hated how your PvE experience (up until Firelands) relied solely upon Tol Barad (because, yanno, ALL of the endgame dailies were in Tol Barad and Tol Barad alone, 'cept for Therazane) and how good your side/server was at holding it.
For me, Moon Guard: Alliance sucked at holding TB whatsoever. So yay, every day only 6 quests available. Took stinking forever to get the 85 seals for a weapon. Nothing was more boring than that grind to get my first dungeon-level weapon, hacking away with a stupid green PoS because after the first few days, nobody did Crucible of Carnage whatsoever.
It was just more of the same, except with a much less interesting story and villain than we had in Northrend/Arthas, and after a lot of years of WoW, that just couldn't hold my attention.
I didn't mind the zones/quests, I just hated the lack-luster equipment gearing options, and how it was impossible to improve my characters past 333 junk. Even with full 333 which was supposedly "Heroic Dungeon Ready", my characters still felt ridiculously weak and squishy.
Oh, and Cataclysm was also the most horrible time for Ret Paladins -- juggling the new holy power system + art of war + divine purpose + Inquisition + zealotry + wings + GotAK sucked balls. We went from 969 to juggling all of this RNG crap and our heals didn't heal for jack. Since my main was a ret paladin, I *hated* them for these stupid changes.
Thank God they had the sense to change that in Mists. Divine Purpose is now a choice (that I took becuase I like it more than the other 2 options) and they got rid of Zealotry altogether and now in 5.4, Inquisition lasts twice as long and can be refreshed with killing blows.
Pandaria's new features may be mostly lightweight and a little silly - farming, pet battles - but they're actually new. Also I kind of like lightweight and silly. I don't care for the kind of gaming that feels like a job where I have to log in and do dailies/get upgrades/whatever or get left behind. Pandaria came along at a time when even as a casual gamer I was looking for an even more casual experience. I haven't set foot in a raid since I came back and I've still found plenty to keep me occupied (although I play a lot less than I once did).
I've yet to do a non-LFR raid myself. I don't have time for a raiding guild, I work variable hours and most guilds don't like a "weekend warrior". I'm sorry, I can't be online at set days. That's why I'm not touching Normal, Heroic, Mythic or whatever the **** you wanna call them raids.
What I don't really like the idea of, is it sounds like they're trying to get rid of LFR, or make it not even worthwhile to do. As it is, I've been hearing lots of bad things about LFR SoO about how hard it is to find groups for and actually complete it, meanwhile lots of people are doing Flex......but people gear-check you in Flex probably. *sigh* I don't want people kicking me out because I don't see the point in re-doing all reforges from scratch every time I get a piece of gear. Edited, Nov 28th 2013 1:22am by Lyrailis