Looking for a complete list of all of the World of Warcraft expansions? In this post, we’ve listed every WOW expansion in order and have provided a brief overview of each expansion.
Since its release in 2004, World of Warcraft has been the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online game (MMO) on the market. This is because the incredible level design, quests, and exciting gameplay have made it easier than ever for anyone to pick up the game and become involved in its wonderful community. On top of this, the amount of content included is vast enough for players to spend thousands of hours exploring the in-game universe and still find new things.
Though the game started out with plenty of content, it quickly became clear that there is always room to expand the world and create an even more immersive experience for players. This is why Blizzard (the developers of World of Warcraft) have released a series of expansion packs over the past few years, giving players even more reason to continue coming back to the game.
In this post, we’re going to cover the complete WOW expansions list in order and give a rundown of what each expansion added to the game.
This version of the game isn’t an expansion pack, but is the “game base”. This means that all of the necessary components to play the game are included in this version. So, once players purchased the base pack, they could then begin paying via a monthly subscription to maintain their access to the content.
The base pack could be purchased online, but was originally offered in a physical format through a distributed CD. The game’s setting takes players to the world of Azeroth, set as a sequel to the Warcraft games that the company had previously released. The difference between the franchises, though, would be in gameplay—while Warcraft was a Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game, World of Warcraft would be an MMO, encouraging players to explore the world and create their own characters to customize the experience.
This base pack foundation for the game wouldn’t be available forever, though. Blizzard changed the pay model in 2018, instead allowing all players to access the base pack and all existing expansions (except for Battle of Azeroth) immediately as a result of paying their $15 per month online subscription. Because of this, the base pack is no longer viewed as a commercially available product and now considered to just be part of the game.
As the first official expansion pack released for the franchise, Burning Crusade introduced many new gameplay elements that expanded the universe and gave players even more motivation to play through the entire game again. Because the universe had already encouraged players to have multiple characters of different playable races to experience all of the nuances present in the world, it was clear that by adding more races Blizzard could not only add even more replayability value, but also attract new players who might identify with new categories. As a result of this, two new races were added, including Blood Elves on the Horde side and Draenei on the Alliance side.
As a result of both of the newly added classes, players could now experience entirely new cultures that were now part of the game’s mythology. There was also a class-related advantage to these new races, as Blood Elves were paladins, a class previously limited to the Alliance, while Dranei were shamans, a type of class previously limited to the Horde.
Another benefit of this expansion pack was the new additions to the Player versus Player (PvP) system. Not only was the new battleground Eye of the Storm added to the mix, but there was also an entirely new death-match battle system that allowed players to face off in teams of up to 5 people each.
Burning Crusade would also set the framework for the remaining World of Warcraft expansions by adding entirely new storylines and quests to the game, some of them only being accessible through the new races. This is how the expansion pack got its name, as the “Burning Legion” are an army of mythical demons that set the expansion’s story in motion.
One of the biggest differences that players would have noticed when Wrath of the Lich King was originally released in 2008 is that the level cap had once again raised from 70 to 80, allowing them to unlock even more power and abilities through training.
In addition to raising the available level cap, Blizzard made the gameplay even more complicated with the introduction of death knights, the first “hero class” in the franchise. A hero class is a type of class that allows the player to start out at a level above 1, something previously impossible to do. The death knight class was special in that they are positioned as heroes of both the Alliance and Horde that have passed away.
They were introduced as being raised by the titular Lich King to add more possibilities and combat choices for those playing the game. There was also a new area in Azeroth added with this expansion pack called Northrend, an entirely new continent for players to explore.
As with previous expansion packs, Cataclysm raised the game’s level cap once again, this time only 5 levels from 80 to 85. The key components to this expansion were introduced through the storyline and gameplay, with over 3,500 new quests added into the game. Many areas in Azeroth were also redesigned and subsequently mini-quests were added as well to give more depth to the new areas.
There were also new dungeons and raids added, allowing players to engage in more multiplayer co-op combat. There were also two new races added in the game for players to choose from, specifically Worgen on the Alliance side and Goblins on the Horde side.
The storyline evolved so it could contain more mythology from the previous Warcraft games, specifically focusing on the storyline of Deathwing the Destroyer from Warcraft II. As a result of the fan favorite dragon’s return, players now have to deal with the political force called the Cataclysm that is wreaking havoc throughout the in-game universe.
Two of the most anticipated changes for the Mists of Pandaria expansion pack was the introduction of a new class (the monk) and a new race (the Pandaren). What is unique about the aforementioned race of Pandaren is their origin story. When crafting new characters for Warcraft III, a game designer actually created the Pandaren as an April Fool’s joke, intending to make something absurd and silly for inclusion in the game.
This would end up becoming a fixture of the in-game universe, eventually working its way to discussions for possible inclusion in World of Warcraft. What makes the Pandaren unique is that they don’t necessarily align with either the Alliance or Horde from the beginning, with players instead being given the choice to choose between the two factions.
There was also a new mode of play introduced to the game called challenge modes, a prospect that encourages players to finish dungeons as quick as possible in order to get certain medals and rewards. In-game pets that were previously for non-combat use also allowed to engage in battle with each other in a new game mode called the Pet Battle System, a unique addition to the game.
The powers of each pet were determined by a newly-introduced class system for pets that allowed players to customize their experience even further. The level cap was also increased to 90.
With Warlords of Draenor, the level cap of the game was officially increased to 100, allowing players to access even more strength and abilities for each character. There was also a significant amount of detail added to the game such as new facial expressions and animations, something that made the overall game more immersive.
In terms of expansion packs, though, Warlords of Draenor was not the most bountiful when compared to other models. However, this didn’t mean there weren’t significant additions to the roster. For example, there was a new raid difficulty added alongside customizable garrisons that users could now create.
With the release of Legion, players were now able to level up until 110, the place where the current base level has stayed after Blizzard announced that they would no longer be charging for previous expansion packs. There were also many different patches introduced for this expansion to make the raid tiers more balanced, also adding different dungeons and PvP mode abilities.
However, perhaps the most important addition to the game in this expansion was the introduction of Demon Hunters, another type of hero class that the world hadn’t seen since the much older Wrath of the Lich King expansion pack.
This newly-introduced hero class started players out at level 98 (as opposed to level 1), forcing them to go through a storyline set as a prequel to the current game before being introduced fully into the universe. The new Mythic Plus dungeon difficulty also made the game more challenging, enticing players to complete it to receive elusive awards.
In the Battle for Azeroth expansion, the overall level cap increased from 110 to 120, and also introduced two new continents. An interesting addition to the game’s design is the inclusion of allied races, types of races that were previously associated with one faction now able to join the other.
This is typically the result of players completing quest chains, after which the storyline allows users to enlist the help of races that were once exiled or defected from their respective faction.
The game’s system requirements also saw a bump. However, even a budget gaming PC should be able to handle most aspects of the game well. If you’re planning on doing raids, though, you’ll likely want to consider a higher-end gaming PC with a stronger CPU.
World of Warcraft’s Classic release wasn’t so much of an expansion as it was of an addition of servers that allowed players to play the game in its original state. For anyone who wanted to relive the vanilla version of WoW, or for newer players who never got to experience the game when it first came out, these Classic servers allow you to do so.
The servers allow you to play the game as it stood in September of 2006, after the 1.12.1 patch, directly before the launch of the Burning Crusades expansion.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is the first WoW expansion to reduce the maximum level cap. Players who had reached the 120 level cap in Battle for Azeroth were taken down to a level 60 in Shadowlands.
And, while it is the 10th major edition to the series, most consider it the true 8th expansion by excluding WoW Classic.
The expansion was released in November of 2020 and included the addition of a new land (the Realm of the Dead) and a host of new features.
Much like the addition of WoW Classic servers, Blizzard also decided to release specific servers who players who wanted to play the game as it was after Burning Crusades was launched.
The Burning Crusade Classic servers were released on June 1st and the game.
Which World of Warcraft Expansion is Your Favorite?
World of Warcraft is one of the largest games ever created (let alone online games), offering players an incredibly expansive world to explore. This is why it has become such a pop culture hit, as players are only inhibited by their own imagination. By adding expansion packs over the past 17 years of running, Blizzard have only increased the scope of their beloved franchise, immersing users in a world that is truly evolving in real-time.
This is what makes the game so special—it offers players a chance to live in another experience, tackle new challenges, and meet friends that they might not be able to meet offline. As a result, Blizzard have redefined what it means to make a game. Instead of making just a game based around fantasy, the company has created a world with just as much nuance as the real thing. The expansion packs are integral to this experience, adding onto what was already an expansive experience for something truly unique.
Which WOW expansion is your favorite? Let us know below!