I think you've missed something somewhere. You said:
I would expect God to reveal something far nobler, like "and he will
bring this world to perfection" or "and he will serve Me devotedly and
make a dwelling for me on Earth".
My response is that God said exactly that, but not in as straightforward a way. This is how I read the verse:
Let us make man in our image - the image of God, holy, benevolent, loving to all creatures/creations, just, a leader worthy of praise and full of compassion.
And they shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth. - and they (humans) shall rule my creations like I would, for in My image was man made, and they shall rule the animals like I would: Through holiness, benevolence, loving to all, just, and a leader worthy of praise. Just like God would never cheat, murder, eat, steal, abuse, lie to, manipulate any of his creations, He expected the same from us. I don't know if it would be a perfect utopia, but it would certainly be closer to a utopia than what we have now.
And just like creating a utopia seems like an impossibly high bar, it seems to me God's expectations of us were no less lofty. Imagine how difficult it would be to rule the world as a reflection/emissary of God's image on earth. We didn't even make it to Chapter 3 before we failed. We failed because we allowed ourselves to be tempted by one of our citizens (the serpent), we failed because instead of admitting our mistakes and trying to set things right like a holy and just leader, we fled and hid in a cave hoping our mistakes would never come to light. We failed because we accepted no responsibility even when confronted by our creator. We failed because within a few generations we were murdering our brothers and eating our citizens that were entrusted to us by God Himself.
It seems to me that when one reads the verses the way I've shown that the point of Maimonides becomes more clear.
Guide, III, 13, p. 452
It should not be believed that all things exist for the sake of the
existence of man. On the contrary, all other beings too have been
intended for their own sakes and not for the sake of something else.
All other beings were created for their own sake, but not mankind. Because God didn't need to create man, God could have ruled the earth on His own. But He decided to create man and entrust the responsibility of Earth and all life within it to us. God created everything else for its own sake, but He created us with a responsibility. And until we recognize that the Earth isn't here for our sake, but rather that we are here for the Earth's sake, things will only get worse.