Yes the title is an exaggeration of the state of WoW. It's easier to say than "World of Warcraft has progressively reduced the importance of particular locations, whether for farming, PvP, or reputation, rendering the idea of location less meaningful and along with it, the suggesting that there is a world contained in the game World of Warcraft."
I originally wanted to write about the way to set our hearthstones, to pretty much the same place. BC and LK took this to an extreme with both factions even using the same city for their hearth. But even now, why would you set your hearth to somewhere other than Orgrimmar or Stormwind? A few people go with Darnassus for the reduced traffic and general peacefulness, but those are an exception, not an indication of any larger trend. I thought of giving buffs to people based on their hearth location, with a lag time on switches so they constantly change buffs to suit what they're doing that very second. The idea was that, for example Stormwind would be a banking and diplomacy city and would give advantages when dealing with NPCs: a small rep multiplier (think 1%, not 10% of human racial) and a small benefit when buying and selling to NPCs and with AH costs (again, 1% or less). Or Ironforge could be a city for engineering, mining, and blacksmithing where they could get extra ore from smelting or lower material costs. Outside the main cities, working out of goblin towns could help with rep there (more than SW, but only for the four towns), or STV could give bonus damage against beasts and trolls. These would be balance, probably mirrored, between factions. The general idea was that if you're primarily engaged in a few activities you'd pick a hearth to help that, rather than the one that is most convenient and common.
Just to be clear: I like the championing system with tabards. It was annoying to be exalted with the relevant faction and still not have the desired loot from an instance. I'm looking at you, Baron, with your persistent insistence on dropping the wrong pants. And ever notice that more mages than tanks had Suneater? True story.* But at the same time, rep based on location made us care where we were. This would be a bad thing if we were using randoms, but when we picked instances, it made sense that we cared about location. Now I frankly don't give a shit where I end up, except that I don't much like Stonecore. I wonder if it could work to have something in between, such as certain instances giving double rep for certain factions, or rep with a faction in addition to the effect of the tabard. So the Wildhammer would care a lot when we go to Grim Batol, but not as much when we're in Tol'vir.
Does anyone farm mobs anymore? I don't really know. I haven't in quite a long time. Well, okay I lied, the other day my mage flew down to Silithus to farm essence of air. But beside that, do mobs serve any purpose beside cannon fodder for dailies and quests? Mobs used to give reputation and dropped items that were useful for said reputation. Undead and bone fragments in the Plaguelands, Cultists and texts in Silithus, various blood elves and demons in Outland.
Have you ever hunted devilsaur? I have. Those buggers are hard to find! They tend to find you instead. Materials weren't always so... generic. They might come from specific mobs types and certain locations. This wasn't quite so convenient, but it did make a skinner care about something more than half percent differences in leather rates off dragonkin and boars. It made the mob choice matter more, and therefore the part of the world.
Do you care where your character is? Does it make any difference? These days, probably not. Just pick your main city and take the portals where they go.
* It's more of a story with truthiness than truth.
Retro Gaming note on Quest for Glory III
7 hours ago