There's a lot of different aspects of World of Warcraft. If you break it down, it really is made up of a ton of different mini games. There's a mini-game where you go and kill 15 rabbits; another one where you have to collect poop (okay... there seems like there's a few of those); another one where you craft items; and another where you kill bosses, etc. I enjoy a lot of these mini-games, but what really draws me in is a good story.
Yes, I know... since the introduction of QuestHelper and the like, most of us have gotten quite used to ignoring quest text, clicking accept, and simply following the arrow. I'm sure it's something that Blizzard is very well aware of. But Blizzard has been pretty creative about telling a story even if you don't read the text. Take the newer starting areas of either the Death Knight, Dranei, or Blood Elf. Even if you don't read a single word besides "Accept" they still tell the story.
At some points, they even did a good job in the old world.. the job of sucking you in. Back in vanilla, we had a small guild, so we didn't raid much. I think we all had a great investment in the quest chain to upgrade our dungeon armor to the Tier 0.5 armor. It was a huge investment in time, and to get those 45-minute Baron runs down was a Feat of Strength in and of itself... with appropriately geared toons.
Blizzard has even started refocusing on the ambiance, realizing that the whole story is also told while listening to other things. Look at how they did the ambient music in Karazhan? Sure, it's annoying the 1000th time you listen, but there's a certain ambiance that pulls you in to the story of Karazhan as well.
Case and point to all of this is the new quest line that was introduced yesterday. I can't talk to the horde side with the Trolls, but I do know that the Gnome side attempting to regain Gnomeregan is just wonderful. Engaging quests, fun stuff to do... none of them feel like a time sink. A story that pulls you in. And also, some music that simply has an epic feel to it... like you're about to retake a city that has been lost for years.
Bottom line: I'm looking forward to all the changes in Cataclysm. I'm also looking forward to all the new quests... and every other mini game as well. From what I saw in the Operation: Gnomergan questline, and what I've heard from Beta testers... we won't be grinding to 85; we'll be enjoying a wonderful story that will take us to lvl 85.