So the Barrens started off nicely. I got to kill plainstriders for their beaks, which of course they don't all have. I freed some wolves from a fire and killed some quillboar. Then I killed more quillboar, because, why not?
They wanted me to escort a caravan of kodo to the next hub over, which I assumed meant "slowly walk behind while the occasional quillboar causes every single NPC to stop walking for 10-15 seconds, then run back to where they started and give it another go." Instead I was given a big gun and told to shoot things from the back of the lead kodo. So of course I did, killing about as many passing zhevra and vultures as marauding quillboar.
Then I killed more quillboar and tortured one for good measure, which of course worked, because as we all know, hitting people causes them to want to give you useful and accurate information.
The Broken Body Parts Theory
There is a theory which attempts to explain the observation that body part quests have a drop rate of less than 100%. The theory states that "During the course of combat, body parts may be damaged, rendering them unsuitable for turn-in to the quest giver." This suggests that body parts always exist, but may not be able to be turned in. It held up to years of scrutiny. But I think its time is over.
I have obtained, from the same Zhevra, both "hooves" and a "broken hoof piece". The former are able to be turned in, while the latter is vendor trash. This seems to confirm Broken Body Part Theory, since the hooves with no adjective, which are presumably undamaged, can be turned in, while the broken piece cannot. But take note: these came from the same animal. Damaged and intact from the same beast. This means that zhevras not only have multiple hooves, but that some hooves can be damaged while others are not, meaning that, in theory, we could scavenge the few intact hooves from multiple zhevras to create full sets of hooves. More research is called for.
There is also the fringe "Probabilistic Theory" which claims that all items from creatures are randomly generated, independent of the combat state of the creature. This is obviously disproven by testing in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj, where different kill orders of a certain group of bugs yields, with repeated tests, different items.
Back to the Barrens.
It's a bit hard to evaluate the zone when I'm overleveled. It's not that challenge is lost, because frankly there wasn't much to begin with, but that the feel changes. At yellow I kill at a regular pace with some pauses. At green I rush from one to the next, fueled by victory rush. And then at grey I slow again, as I stop getting victory rushes.
On the plus side, the quests have a nice structure, giving a bunch for an oasis, then the next. This was possible to do pre-cata, but took a tiny bit of effort to be sure to have all the quests and keep track of where chains went. It appears that hunters have gotten what is certainly a justified gift: Echiyakee now must be "Slain or Subdued", which means that hunters can now tame him for the quest credit.
Jumping back, there is a chain from Durotar which used to lead into the Barrens and then send players up some godforsaken mountain for the standard vanilla quest reward for lots of travel: almost nothing. Now the chain hits the Barrens and ends, with the quest ender saying essentially "Burning Blade can wait, we have the cataclysm to worry about." This annoyed me. Thankfully, the Burning Blade does get picked up later on, with a bit of "kill a bunch of them" with a touch of "take their precisely manufactured bolts" because for some reason evil demon cults stockpile engineering components. Also,
Waaaahhh! It's raining orc!!
Yep, goblin teleporter, with the instructions of "Stand still. And hold your breath in case you end up over the ocean..." On the subject of goblins, the samophlange quests were streamlined a bit, probably for the best, considering what they used to be. But maybe something is lost. I mean, how can you grow to despite goblins if all they do is teleport you around a bit? In the old version you ran halfway across the zone and then they broke it, sending you right back where you were, to someone else to break it even more. That breeds a proper hatred for the mutated miniature freaks.
Then I went on a ride in a goblin rocket, which I won't even bother with spoiler alerts, because it's pretty much expected: it crashed. Since I was in the neighborhood, some orc who happened to live next to the crash sight sent me to kill harpies. This offended me, that he would have the nerve to send me to kill not just low-ranking harpies, but also lieutenants, and when they were dead, the head harpy. So not only was the run there and back much shorter than it used to be, I only had to do it once. What an outrage.
I noticed a recurring theme, at least in my own mind, throughout the Barrens: "Okay, this is probably the last hub." This might have been based on being sent to Stonetalon pretty much right when I got to Crossroads (after only two quest sets). But finally, I was back in Crossroads and being sent on a caravan up north. Time to go! Wait, first, someone got kidnapped by the evil orcs, so go free him and while you're up there, see if you can save the world, if the opportunity comes up.
But finally I rode out, with my gun not just able to shoot and bash people (I gained that second one riding into Crossroads), but also I had some sort of anti-aircraft gun. I guess I don't know how to aim at anything more than 6 feet off the ground. But anyway, bang boom, crash, riders on wolves and scary flying things and jumping on my kodo and I'm beating them over the head with my gun and shooting people at a rate that seems unreasonable given that as I recall it was a flintlock gun and would have a firing rate of much less than one shot per second and would certainly have some sort of ammo capacity. On the other hand, wizards.
I suppose you could argue that the stuff at the Mor'shan Rampart (or is it a Bulwark? No, that's near the Plaguelands) is Barrens, but I'm putting it in with Ashenvale, which I might do one of these days.