I got in some more time with my expansionless WoW account. Still fun, even though I'm mostly grinding now to up my reputation level with a faction that sells leatherworking recipes I could use. Only about 1000 more heavy leathers to go. Then I'm off to collect coal. FUN.
Nothing much to report. Load screens have changed. Druids have a new talent tree, and I got to spend my talent points more efficiently, I think. The new Force of Nature spell is k3w1.
Best addition to the UI, if it is an addition, is that reputation can be displayed like experience points in a slowly filling bar at the bottom of your screen. I'd always thought of reputation as a sort of post-60 leveling routine, which this even more clearly demonstrates.
One interesting spin is that several trainers for getting skills above old caps are, of course, only in Outlands, the new, expansion-only area. This might not seem like a huge deal, but there are some places in my expansionless zones where training could be helpful. Some "bosses" in dungeons are skinnable, for instance, and up until this point required max skinning plus particular magic items that upped your skinning skill beyond the standard max. These items were pretty rare drops, and highly coveted (there are two such knives in particular; here's one with a link to the other).
Now most anyone with the expansion can drop into the legacy dungeons and skin those beast without the rare items. Expansionless folk? Kept in a virtual economic prison, with just a little overlap between the virtual and the real.
Now for the Ultima Online parallel -- When UO started throwing in expansions, the old worlds very quickly started clearing out. Ole Britannia (or whatever the capital is) went from bustling urban center to a ghost town.
That's happening in WoW. Ironforge is nearly empty... auction houses, banks, city square, all nearly empty on my server. I couldn't tell if my "new video card" was providing much better performance or if there simply wasn't anything to render! (Overall, things are much smoother, enough that I want the PCIx card that much more.)
This should concern Blizzard. They need to ensure that expansions are backwards compatible, not so much that I can go to the new lands, nor even that I should be provided access to the new trainers, but players with expansions should continue to flow through old hotspots (possibly with new buildings in cities accessible only if you have the expansions, etc) so that the communities at least do not give the so perfectly cleaved.
I'll probably cg on that some year.