World of Warcraft: Ranking the Expansions

May 23, 2021

The most recognized MMO in history, World of Warcraft has touched the lives of over one hundred million gamers (and casuals) globally. Follow along with our countdown ranking the 15+ years of content in WoW's ongoing history.

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Honorable Mention(s)

The WoW MMO exists thanks to the success of the Warcraft RTS series. While the first two games established the franchise, WCIII's character development contributed directly to the narrative in World of Warcraft.

09: Cataclysm (2010)

Deathwing heralded the end of Azeroth, and coincidently, a massive drop in subscriptions. Replacing nostalgic WoW zones and adding subpar high level content led to an underwhelming final tier which lingered forever.

08: Warlords of Draenor (2014)

Warlords ushered in upgraded character models and quality raid content. But a bloated time-travel story, Blizzard's botched development cycle, and heavy emphasis on failed garrisons was a low point for WoW.

07: Battle for Azeroth (2018)

The most forgettable expansion, BFA was riddled with bugs, broken power systems, hit or miss allied races, and a redundant plot. To be fair, there was a bevy of stuff to do at max level in this version of WoW.

06: Mists of Pandaria (2012)

Pandaren were controversial and the narrative shift at the midpoint caused whiplash, but the Monk class, pet battle system, steady content patches, and drastically improved raid development changed WoW forever.

05: The Burning Crusade (2007)

TBC was the first WoW expansion. Every spec was viable, raid sizes were manageable, and arenas upped the skill cap in PVP. However, flying ultimately had a negative effect and endgame content was a chore.

04: Shadowlands (2020)

Blizzard forcing players to re-grind out abilities taken from them was absurd, but the system structure was better than ever in WoW. Covenants, the Torghast tower, and cosmetic choices strengthened a solo endgame.

03: Wrath of the Lich King (2008)

The thrilling conclusion to the story arc started in Warcraft III, Wrath delivered epic zones, dungeons, raids, and Death Knights to WoW. But the awful Argent Tournament and new vehicle combat were a drag

02: Vanilla (2004) and Classic (2019)

The original WoW and its rerelease WoW Classic were unprecedented successes. A huge world to explore, friends to make, and baddies to beat up, although gimped with class inequality and unhealthy PVP.

01: Legion (2016)

The pinnacle of WoW, each class experienced a unique story arc, artifact weapons for every spec, quality endgame raids, and challenging optional content and secrets. The TBC retcons were worth it to play Demon Hunters.

Thanks for following the countdown. Though the quality wanes from time to time, WoW's legacy as a successful and endearing MMO is strongly solidified.

Follow a new monthly countdown via Twitter @MatthewHWoodPhD.