I have no doubt that when the game designers first decided that one of the major features implemented in Cataclysm would be a complete overhaul of the 1-60 leveling content, one of the zones they first tackled was the Eastern Plaguelands. It is the best example of what the designers must have been shooting for in every zone, including a storyline that takes you through the entire zone, the introduction to a cast of interesting characters that you get unusually attached to, and the addition of different buffs that enhance your leveling process. In my opinion, it has become the best zone in the 1-60 experience, and shouldn't be missed.
(Photo courtesy of amiyuy.com)
As soon as you cross the bridge over the Thorondil River, which divides the Western and Eastern Plaguelands, you come across Fiona's Caravan. Fiona is a Worgen merchant, who is journeying to Lights Hope Chapel on the far eastern side of the zone.
Two of her fellow travelers have wandered off, and she asks you to find them. You find the first, Gidwin Goldbraids, caught in the webs of some attacking Nerubians. You free him, and he returns to the caravan. You find Terenar Sunstrike spying on some stray Scourge, and after helping him take them out, you both return to the caravan, and it sets off on the road to Lights Hope Chapel.
Through some cutscene dialogue, you learn that Gidwin and Tarenar are both paladins who, while best friends, are somewhat competitive with each other. They are on their way to Lights Hope to enlist in the Argent Crusade, an organization that, after succeeding in helping defeat Arthas in Northrend, is now finishing the task of ridding the Eastern Plaguelands of all leftover Scourge influence. Gidwin, the more eager of the two, is frustrated when you make a stop at one of the many watchtowers on the road to rest. Once there, you discover that there are several people at the tower who need your help, so you set off on your own to do so.
In order to keep you from getting lost throughout the zone, a large light shines from whichever tower the caravan happens to be parked at. As you finish the quests available at each tower, you pick up new members in the caravan and continue on the road. Each new caravan member gives you a new option for a buff that will help you throughout the Eastern Plaguelands. For example, selecting Fiona's item will give you a chance to get more money from enemies.
Argus Highbeacon is a member of the Argent Crusade who travels the road from tower to tower, and keeps them maintained. He joins you after you clear the roads for him.
You find Pamela Redpath in the ruins of a town called Darrowshire, and through a long quest chain, find out that she, and other citizens of the town were all called when the Scourge invaded, and corrupted her father, who was defending the town. With the help of a member of the Bronze Dragonflight, you collect relics from the battle, and are able to recreate it, redeeming Joseph Redpath in the process. While you get credit for adding Pamela to the caravan, she stays in the town where you found her.
Vex'tul is a troll that you meet at one of the towers on the road. After passing his test of strength, he journeys with you as far as a temple called Zul'Mashar, where he reveals that he is actually undead, and unable to move on until his murder by the traitor Thresh'jin is avenged. You help him, and he is finally able to rest.
Finally, Rimblat Earthshatterer, also found at Lights Hope, joins you after you gather up food supplies for the chapel.