Playing WoW has been harder for me in recent years, but its less one update and more lots of updates over time.
Without even getting into the broader systems: I started in Wrath of the Lich King. My main was a Warlock. I loved my Warlock. Every single RPG I’ve played sense I try to figure out if there’s a playstyle somewhat similar to WoW’s Warlock as it was from Vanilla to WOTLK. I can not play a Warlock in modern day WoW. I hate it, its actively painful. They trimmed away entire spell subsystems for lots of classes, and in the Warlock’s case that was Curses, a type of debuff unique to them. There could only be one Curse on a target per warlock, and you had a lot of them. It was class-defining in PVP and choosing the right one at the right time was a huge part of it’s gameplay. But because WoW is laser-focused on raiding, and these kinds of utility abilities are a headache to design around and usually not useful there or satisfying for people who want to top the damage meters, they were cut.
Likewise I can’t really play any class at all that I leveled past like 30 in WOTLK. In Cataclysm they scrapped the old talent trees and introduced a system where you pick a Specialization at level 10, one of three, and get abilities related to it.
For players who had been around before this point, what this meant was that you lost over half of your abilities because now they’re locked behind particular specs. On top of that the new talent system, where you choose single ones out of 3 options at given intervals, rather than putting points in a tree, often contains abilities that you just used to get. Playing a class you knew before all this happened feels like one of your arms has been cut off. It’s awful. Again this is not as bad for PVE but it makes PVP feel terrible to me.
Cataclysm also ruined what little was interesting about the setting by choosing to go the most boring possible direction with the Forsaken and making them lulz mad scientist evil zombies Scourge 2.0. Their towns have also looked like shit since then, Tim Burton-ass fuckin tesla-coils-for-no-reason garbage. Spit. The talent system and removal of abilities felt bad there too but it got worse as the years went on.
EDIT: Should also note when I say “not as bad for PVE,” I mean “not as bad for raiding.” Because you totally got to use all your utility stuff and stray from your standard damage rotation more in dungeons. Raiding OTOH has always been awful because stretching roles across 40-25 means a ton of you cool abilities become totally pointless and all that matters is Max Deeps for anyone but the healers. IDK why they looked at the game mode that in Vanilla consisted of, for most people, pressing 1 button, and then sometimes not pressing that button, and then pressing a less powerful version of that button, ad nauseum, for hours, was what should be the focus of their game. No turning back now though.