Blizzard’s MMORPG, World of Warcraft, is still alive and kicking as a phenomenal game. Moreover, whenever there is an expansion on the horizon, its fans still can get excited and anticipate it. Therefore, Shadowlands isn’t any different, and ever since it surfaced, there’s a great buzz around it. On October 27, players will be able to live the consequences of Sylvanas Windrunner’s actions. The expansion is only a few months away. So, we decided to take this opportunity to rank all the World of Warcraft expansions. They all added new places to the world of Azeroth, with lots of great loot. However, not every one of them managed to uphold the standards.
Cataclysm was the riskiest among the World of Warcraft expansions. In detail, Blizzard not only designed it to refresh the content but as a technical advancement too. So, Cataclysm managed to renew the visuals and brought lots of changes to the world. Furthermore, the developers granted players the ability to fly. Which in return created a greater burden to rescale the world. On the other hand, the game was in need of a change in the leveling system. Blizzard tried to create a different form of questing, with easier steps to climb.
Although the changes in the world were exciting at first, the execution of the ideas didn’t live up to that excitation. First of all, the developers designed Deathwing inconsistently. The dragon had multiple forms and sizes across various cutscenes. Therefore -with additional problems- the narrative wasn’t really powerful. On the other hand, starting with the new races Worgen and Goblin didn’t grant the best starting places. Players found it hard to adapt themselves to the game when the continents were divided far apart.
6. Battle for Azeroth
Battle for Azeroth let players have fun in its novel game modes such as Warfronts. However, the scale of this change was too great to be everlasting in an MMO setting. Particularly, the narrative didn’t integrate with the game. Yes, there were great events in the story, but none of them turned out to be significant. Or let’s say, their significance didn’t go for too long. For instance, in the beginning, we could see the Alliance vs the Horde, however as the hours progressed, the story went into irrelevant places without much to offer.
The expansion had lots of random stuff like its storyline. At one instance, the players were hunting trolls. However, at one another, they were foraging as if they started the vanilla version anew. On the other hand, there were also pirates roaming around without significant backstories. Since the narrative couldn’t engage the players well, the sub-races such as Mechagnomes didn’t make much sense to the players. I guess players were expecting more solid races as the other expansions introduced.
5. Warlords of Draenor
Another narrative that failed among the World of Warcraft expansions. First of all, it did what all writers do when they’re stuck: Time Travel. However, as this was a risky venture, the writers also decided to scrap some of the content at the core of WoW’s overall story. Therefore, the end result was alienating, rather than being engaging it just confused the player base.
On the side of the gameplay content, the game didn’t offer much either. The garrison mechanic was promising at the start. However, it just turned out to be a meaningless addition. The garrison system restricted people to their own instances, therefore it created a divide between the players. Moreover, the expansion didn’t bring any races or classes to the ecosystem. Nonetheless, this expansion pulled off some of the cinematics quite astoundingly. Especially the moments like the death in Nagrand created rare highlights. Finally, the game had some improvements that improved the servers and experience. Therefore, it wasn’t hell, but close.
4. The Burning Crusade
The first of the World of Warcraft expansions planted the seeds of some mechanics that are still active today. For instance, the arena’s first appearance was with The Burning Crusade. Furthermore, the expansion managed to bring some of the best places in the lore. Those like Zangarmash, Nagrand and Shadowmoon Valley hosted many world-changing events throughout the lifecycle. In other words, Blizzard set some of the crucial turning points in the WoW story, around these places.
On the other hand, this expansion brought the Draenei and the Blood Elves. Since the writing behind them supported these races so well, they’re still quite popular. The lore regarding these races was truly engaging and captivating. Furthermore, their starting point was one of the best designs that the developers ever come up with. Their quests were interesting and didn’t feel like dull chores. Also, the introduction of Outland was indeed the start of a good era for WoW
3. Mists of Pandaria
When it comes to World of Warcraft expansions, always expect the unexpected. Mists of Pandaria received a massive backlash due to the “Pandas”. Indeed, there were players that compared this expansion to Zoo Tycoon. However, once it released, most of the noise quieted down. Because the introduction of Pandaria took place with stunning visuals and lots of stuff to do.
Firstly, the Pandaren race was neutral, which meant that they were free of the Alliance – Horde conflict. Therefore, their introduction became more interesting as the narrative somehow drew them into the battle of Azeroth. On the other hand, their starting point was great and full of interesting quests. The Monk class was also a great addition to the series. Its versatility still allows players to utilise a variety of skills in the guilds. Therefore, a bad looking idea turned out to be one of the best expansions.
From the beginning to the end Legion had a great narrative and quest design. First of all, the demon hunter class brought a great novelty to the gameplay. Guilds utilised the skill set of the hunters on the Broken Isles with great joy. Furthermore, the graphics and the game mechanics all received good tweaks that ended up with a satisfactory user experience. The introduction of the exclusive class questlines made players get into the shoes of their characters. It was a great thrill all along.
Moreover, the story was great in terms of its twists and turns. The endgame content that takes place in Argus, made some players jump off their chairs. Indeed, the expansion focused on one of the greatest evils in the WoW universe: Sargeras. The fight against his great horde managed to attract the players’ attention. Actually when you think about it, Legion is a great way to transition the game into the new world. The original WoW released in 2004 and Blizzard managed to turn the tide in 2016, making its MMORPG insurmountable.
1. Wrath of the Lich King
For many, the best of the World of Warcraft expansions, is Wrath of the Lich King. In my opinion, there are multiple aspects of this opinion. First of all, Wrath of the Lich King managed to perfect whatever Burning Crusade brought to the series. Probably, from opening cinematics to the raids, Wrath of the Lich King hosted some of the greatest highlights of the game. On the other hand, as Arthas Menethil – which gets himself merged with the Lich King – is one of the iconic characters ever existed. His sword Frostmourne is still on sale for decorative purposes. Therefore, players found themselves in a highly engaging game world.
The continent of Northrend was also full of stuff to do to prepare for the great final fight. Therefore, the design decision with respect to the main villain was an example of great execution. Also, the players managed to live the story arc that started with Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Consequently, it held great importance for the Warcraft lore. The pets, the locations, PVE experience were all at their pinnacle during those years. Finally, the soundtrack was phenomenal and had some of the greatest scores that find their way in playlists across the world.