Ranking all World of Warcraft Expansion from Burning Crusade to Cataclysm and Dragonflight

As World of Warcraft enters into its 20th anniversary, Blizzard announced its upcoming epic Worldsoul Saga (containing 3 series) to reposition this iconic world of Azeroth for the next 20 years. While we wait eagerly for the first part, The War Within, to be launched, let us take a look at the hit and misses of the various expansion sets and decide which should be revisited to “warm up” before the latest launch.

IGNPC GamerMetacritic
The Burning Crusade8.8/1075%91%
Wrath of the Lich King9/1091%
Mists of Pandaria8.7/1082%82%
Warlords of Draenor
Battle for Azeroth8/1086%79%

#9 – Battle for Azeroth

“World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth” is the seventh expansion pack released in 2018. In “Battle for Azeroth,” tensions between the Alliance and the Horde reach a boiling point, leading to all-out war as both factions seek to assert their dominance over the world of Azeroth. The expansion begins with the discovery of a powerful substance called Azerite, which emerges from the wounds inflicted upon the planet by the cataclysmic events of previous expansions.

As players journey through the continents of Kul Tiras and Zandalar, they uncover the secrets of Azerite and its potential to shape the fate of Azeroth. Along the way, they encounter iconic characters such as Jaina Proudmoore, the former leader of the Kirin Tor, and Princess Talanji, the heir to the Zandalari throne. As the conflict escalates, players must rally their allies and confront the threats facing their respective factions. They embark on a series of quests and adventures, battling against the forces of the opposite faction as well as powerful enemies such as the Old God N’Zoth and the blood troll priestess, Princess Talanji.

As the expansion progresses, players journey to the heart of the conflict in the Battle for Dazar’alor raid, where they confront the leaders of the opposing faction in a climactic showdown. They also venture into the depths of the Great Sea to face off against the threat posed by Queen Azshara and her Naga minions in the Eternal Palace raid.

Furthermore, the expansion introduces two new playable races, the Alliance’s Kul Tiran humans and the Horde’s Zandalari trolls, each with their unique racial abilities and customization options.

Ultimately, players must unite to overcome the challenges facing Azeroth and ensure the survival of their respective factions in the face of overwhelming odds.

#8 – Mists of Pandaria

“World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria” is the fourth expansion pack for the MMORPG “World of Warcraft,” released in 2012. It introduces the mysterious continent of Pandaria, home to the pandaren, a peaceful and enigmatic race of humanoid pandas. 

As players explore Pandaria, they encounter the pandaren, a wise and martially skilled race of humanoid pandas who have lived in seclusion for centuries. The pandaren welcome players as allies and guides, teaching them about the ancient ways of their culture and the philosophies of balance and harmony that govern their society.

However, beneath the surface tranquility of Pandaria lies a growing darkness. The sha, manifestations of negative emotions and energies, threaten to consume the land and its inhabitants. Players must confront the sha and their agents, including the tyrannical Mogu, the cunning mantid, and the corrupted forces of the Alliance and Horde, in order to restore balance to Pandaria.

The expansion’s storyline also delves into the personal journeys of key characters, including the pandaren leader Taran Zhu, the orc warlock Gul’dan, and the former Horde warchief Garrosh Hellscream. Players witness the consequences of their actions as they navigate the moral complexities of war, loyalty, and honor in the face of adversity.

“Mists of Pandaria” introduces the pandaren as a new playable race, allowing players to create characters who embrace the teachings of balance and harmony. Another key aspect is the introduction of the Monk class. This versatile and agile class utilizes a unique combat style that combines martial arts with spiritual energy. Players can choose to play as a Pandaren Monk or as a Monk of any other race, further expanding the possibilities for character customization and gameplay.

“Mists of Pandaria” also introduces the Pet Battle system, allowing players to collect, train, and battle companion pets against each other or against other players. Pet battles offer a fun and engaging mini-game that adds depth and variety to the gameplay experience.

Ultimately, players must unite to confront the sha’s ultimate manifestation, the Sha of Pride, and prevent the forces of darkness from consuming Pandaria and spreading their influence across Azeroth.

#7 – Dragonflight

“World of Warcraft: Dragonflight” is the ninth expansion pack released in 2022.

The game takes players back to the ancestral home of dragons – the Dragon Isles. After millennia of absence, the Dragon Aspects, powerful beings who once protected Azeroth, are called back to their homeland. The Dragon Isles have reawakened, surging with elemental magic and harboring forgotten secrets. The Dragon Isles aren’t entirely peaceful. Prime Incarnates, ancient proto-drakes who rejected the power of the Titans millennia ago, have been unleashed. These powerful entities threaten to plunge the Dragon Isles and potentially all of Azeroth into chaos. 

You’ll collaborate with the various Dragonflights – red, green, blue, black, and bronze – to restore their power, uncover the secrets of the Dragon Isles, and confront the Prime Incarnates.

Embrace the power of dragons with a new playable race – the Dracthyr, as well as a new class, the Evokers. THe Evoker class is exclusive to the Dracthyr. These customizable humanoid dragons possess unique abilities and can switch between a powerful draconic form and a humanoid visage. 

Not only that, you get to soar through the skies on customizable mounts called Drakes, mastering aerial maneuvers and exploring the vastness of the Dragon Isles with a renewed sense of freedom. Dragonflight emphasizes exploration and discovery alongside a captivating story centered on the Dragon Isles and their history.

#6 – Shadowlands

“World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” is the eighth expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) “World of Warcraft,” released in 2020.

In “Shadowlands,” players journey to the Shadowlands, the realm of the afterlife in the Warcraft universe, following the shattering of the sky by Sylvanas Windrunner. Upon arrival, players discover that the Shadowlands are in turmoil, with the cosmic balance disrupted and the souls of the deceased being funneled into the Maw, a dark and desolate realm where the most wicked souls are imprisoned.

As players explore the Shadowlands, they encounter four distinct realms, each ruled by a powerful covenant. In Bastion, the realm of purity and enlightenment, players will learn the ways of the Kyrian, an angelic order tasked with guiding souls to their afterlife. Here, they will uncover the truth behind the mysterious Arbiter, the being responsible for judging the souls and determining their fate. In Maldraxxus, the realm of war and conflict, players will join the ranks of the Necrolords, a formidable force dedicated to defending the Shadowlands from external threats. They will face off against powerful enemies, engage in epic battles, and forge powerful weapons and armor from the souls of fallen warriors.

Ardenweald, the realm of nature and rebirth, offers a stark contrast to the war-torn landscapes of Maldraxxus. Here, players will align themselves with the Night Fae, a covenant that protects the cycle of life and death. They will delve into the mysteries of the Dreamgrove, a sacred place where nature’s balance is maintained, and encounter ancient beings who hold the key to restoring the natural order. Finally, in Revendreth, the realm of redemption and penance, players will confront their own sins and face the forces of darkness that threaten to consume them. Aligned with the Venthyr, a covenant that seeks to redeem lost souls, players will navigate the treacherous Sanguine Depths and Castle Nathria, where the most powerful and corrupt souls are held.

As the expansion progresses, players uncover the machinations of Sylvanas Windrunner and her mysterious ally, the Jailer, who seeks to unravel the very fabric of reality and claim dominion over the Shadowlands. Players must confront Sylvanas, the Jailer, and their allies in a series of epic battles, culminating in a showdown that will determine the fate of the Shadowlands and the entire Warcraft universe.

One of the major changes in “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” is the revamped leveling system. Gone are the days of slogging through countless zones to reach the current level cap. With the new leveling system, players can choose any expansion they want to level through, allowing for a more personalized and streamlined experience. Whether you want to relive the classic adventures of the Burning Crusade or explore the mysterious lands of Pandaria, the choice is yours. This new leveling system also introduces a level squish, reducing the maximum level from 120 to 60. This not only makes leveling feel more achievable, but it also allows players to experience the progression and power growth of their characters at a more satisfying pace.

In addition, “Shadowlands” introduces the covenant system, allowing players to align themselves with one of four powerful factions and gain access to unique abilities, rewards, and storylines. Players can pledge their allegiance to the Kyrian, necrolords, night fae, or Venthyr and embark on a journey to earn the trust of their chosen covenant and unlock their full potential. The expansion also introduces Torghast, Tower of the Damned, a dynamic and infinitely replayable dungeon experience. Players can venture into the ever-changing halls of Torghast to challenge themselves against powerful enemies, gather valuable resources, and unlock powerful rewards.

#5 – Warlords of Draenor

“World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor” is the fifth expansion pack released in 2014. It takes players back in time to the orc homeworld of Draenor, before its destruction, to confront the Iron Horde and prevent a catastrophic invasion of Azeroth.

In “Warlords of Draenor,” players are transported to an alternate timeline in which the orcish warlord Garrosh Hellscream escapes justice and alters the course of history. With the knowledge gained from the Bronze Dragonflight’s time-traveling technology, Garrosh prevents the orcs from drinking the blood of the demon Mannoroth, thus avoiding their corruption by the Burning Legion.

As a result, the orcs of Draenor unite under the Iron Horde, a formidable military force led by powerful orcish warlords such as Grommash Hellscream, Kilrogg Deadeye, and Ner’zhul. With the aid of the Iron Horde’s advanced technology and weaponry, Garrosh plans to conquer Azeroth and reshape it in his image.

Players must rally their forces, including heroes from Azeroth and Draenor’s native inhabitants, to thwart Garrosh’s plans and prevent the Iron Horde from invading Azeroth. Along the way, they forge alliances with key figures such as Durotan, leader of the Frostwolf clan, and Yrel, a devout Draenei priestess, as they confront the Iron Horde’s leaders and unravel the mysteries of Draenor’s past.

One of the key features of “World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor” is the introduction of garrisons. These personal strongholds serve as a base of operations for players, allowing them to recruit followers, send them on missions, and gather resources. Garrisons can be customized and upgraded, providing players with a sense of ownership and progression.

Additionally, the expansion brings new zones to explore, each with its own unique environment and challenges. From the lush jungles of Tanaan Jungle to the treacherous peaks of Frostfire Ridge, players will traverse diverse landscapes as they uncover the secrets of Draenor. These zones are filled with quests, rare creatures, and hidden treasures, rewarding players for their exploration and curiosity.

Furthermore, “World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor” introduces a new raiding experience called the “Garrison Campaign.” This feature allows players to embark on a series of quests that culminate in a raid encounter, providing a challenging and rewarding experience for both solo and group players. The raid encounters are designed to test players’ skills and coordination, offering epic battles against powerful foes.

The expansion introduces revamped character models for many of the game’s playable races, updating their appearances with higher-quality graphics and animations. Whether you’re creating a new character or revisiting an old favorite, the updated models offer a fresh and immersive gameplay experience.

As players journey through Draenor’s diverse landscapes, from the lush jungles of Tanaan Jungle to the arid deserts of Nagrand, they must confront the Iron Horde’s forces, liberate enslaved territories, and gather resources to build their own garrison, a fortified stronghold that serves as their base of operations.

Ultimately, players confront Garrosh Hellscream and the Iron Horde in a series of epic battles, culminating in a climactic showdown at the gates of Hellfire Citadel. With the fate of both Draenor and Azeroth hanging in the balance, players must unite to defeat Garrosh and his allies and restore peace to the shattered world.

#4 – The Burning Crusade

“World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade” is the first expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) “World of Warcraft.” Released in 2007, it expands the game’s lore, world, and gameplay significantly. 

“The Burning Crusade” continues the storyline of “World of Warcraft,” introducing players to the shattered world of Outland, the remnants of the orc homeworld Draenor. Outland is now ruled by Illidan Stormrage, a powerful night elf turned demon hunter, and his army of orcs, demons, and other twisted creatures. 

Originally, Outland was a vibrant planet called Draenor, home to the Orcish race. The Burning Legion, demonic invaders, manipulated the Orc warlock Gul’dan, corrupting Orc society with Fel magic. Consumed by Fel and promises of conquest, the Orcs, now the Horde, ravaged Draenor. The Burning Legion used the Horde to invade Azeroth through the Dark Portal, sparking the First War. After the Orcs’ defeat, the Alliance sought to close the Dark Portal permanently while Medivh, a corrupted sorcerer, sacrificed himself to destroy the portal, severing the connection between worlds. The immense energy unleashed shattered Draenor, twisting it with Fel magic and creating the desolate wasteland known as Outland.

Players embark on a series of quests and adventures across Outland, battling against Illidan’s forces and other threats while uncovering the mysteries of this new world. Along the way, they encounter iconic characters such as Lady Vashj, Kael’thas Sunstrider, and Akama, each with their own motivations and agendas. The expansion introduces challenging new raids and dungeons for players to conquer, including iconic locations such as the Black Temple, the Battle for Mount Hyjal, and the Sunwell Plateau. 

The expansion also introduces two new playable races, the blood elves for the Horde and the Draenei for the Alliance. Each race comes with its own unique starting zone, lore, and racial abilities, giving players even more options for customization and role-playing.Players can choose to align themselves with either the Alliance or the Horde and embark on a journey to level up, explore new zones, and defeat powerful enemies.

As players progress through the expansion’s content, they eventually confront Illidan Stormrage himself in the Black Temple raid, culminating in a climactic battle against the Betrayer and his minions.

#3 – Legion

Counting down to the top 3, we have “World of Warcraft: Legion”, the sixth expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) “World of Warcraft,” released in 2016. It continues the ongoing story of Azeroth by introducing the return of the Burning Legion, a powerful army of demons led by the malevolent titan Sargeras.

In “Legion,” players must confront the return of the Burning Legion, a vast army of demons bent on the destruction of Azeroth. The expansion begins with the opening of the Tomb of Sargeras, a powerful demonic gateway that has been sealed for centuries. The actions of Gul’dan, a powerful orc warlock, lead to the reemergence of the Burning Legion and the invasion of the Broken Isles, a group of islands off the coast of the Eastern Kingdoms, by the demonic forces of the Legion. 

Players are tasked with defending Azeroth from the Legion’s onslaught, rallying their forces and seeking out powerful artifacts to aid in the fight against the demons. Along the way, they encounter iconic characters such as Illidan Stormrage, the demon hunter, and Khadgar, the powerful archmage. To combat this threat, you can choose to play as a Demon Hunter, a hero who wields demonic power to fight fire with fire. This new hero class offers a unique gameplay experience.

“Legion” introduces artifact weapons, powerful weapons imbued with the power of Azeroth’s greatest heroes. Players can wield these weapons in battle, unlocking new abilities and customizing their playstyle as they level up and progress through the expansion’s content. 

The expansion also introduces class order halls, unique hubs for each of the game’s playable classes. Players can recruit champions, undertake missions, and unlock powerful bonuses and rewards as they lead their class to victory against the Burning Legion.

As players explore the Broken Isles, they uncover the ancient secrets of the land and its inhabitants, including the nightfallen elves, the highmountain Tauren, and the valarjar Vrykul. They also confront powerful enemies such as the dreadlord Gul’dan and the corrupted Nightwell.

As the expansion progresses, players journey to the ancient tomb of Sargeras, the Burning Legion’s fallen titan master, to confront the demons and prevent them from unleashing their full power upon Azeroth. Along the way, they must contend with the Legion’s deadliest champions, including the Fel lord Krosus and the demon hunter Mor’zul Bloodbringer. Ultimately, players must unite to defeat the Burning Legion once and for all, restoring peace to Azeroth and ensuring the survival of the world.

#2 – Wrath of the Lich King

Just slightly being edge out, “World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King” is the second expansion pack for the popular MMORPG “World of Warcraft,” released in 2008 and came in a very respectable second in ranking. In “Wrath of the Lich King,” players venture into the icy continent of Northrend, home to the fearsome Lich King, Arthas Menethil, and his undead army known as the Scourge. Arthas, once a noble prince of Lordaeron, has been corrupted by the cursed blade Frostmourne and has become the Lich King, ruler of the undead.

Players embark on a series of quests and adventures across Northrend, battling against the forces of the Scourge and other threats while uncovering the mysteries of this frozen land. They encounter iconic characters such as Tirion Fordring, the leader of the Argent Crusade, and Bolvar Fordragon, who plays a pivotal role in the expansion’s storyline.From the icy wastes of Icecrown Glacier to the ancient ruins of Ulduar, there’s always something new and exciting to discover in Northrend.

One of the most notable additions in Wrath of the Lich King is the introduction of the Death Knight class. This hero class starts at level 55 and offers a unique play style that combines melee combat with dark magic. As a Death Knight, you’ll have access to powerful abilities such as Death Grip, which allows you to pull enemies towards you, and Army of the Dead, which summons a horde of undead minions to fight by your side.

Additionally, Wrath of the Lich King introduces a new raiding system called the Raid Finder. This feature allows players to easily find and join raid groups, making it more accessible for casual players to experience the epic raid content. Whether you’re a seasoned raider or new to the raiding scene, the Raid Finder provides a convenient way to tackle challenging encounters and earn valuable loot.

As players progress through Northrend, they face off against powerful Scourge leaders, including the lich Kel’Thuzad and the dread necromancer Anub’arak. Eventually, they confront Arthas himself in the Icecrown Citadel raid, culminating in a climactic battle against the Lich King and his minions.

#1 – Cataclysm

Our best ever World of Warcraft expansion thus far, “World of Warcraft: Cataclysm” is the third expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) “World of Warcraft,” released in 2010. There are tonnes of reasons that this epic expansion comes in as #1. 

In “Cataclysm,” the dragon aspect Deathwing, also known as Neltharion the Earth-Warder, returns to Azeroth with the intention of causing widespread destruction and chaos. Using the power of the mysterious artifact known as the Dragon Soul, Deathwing shatters the elemental planes, causing a cataclysmic upheaval that reshapes the world.

As players venture into the newly transformed Azeroth, they encounter the devastating effects of Deathwing’s rampage. Entire regions are altered, with new zones and landscapes emerging from the chaos. Players must band together to confront Deathwing’s minions, battle against the corrupted elemental lords, and thwart the plans of nefarious factions seeking to exploit the chaos for their own gain.

“Cataclysm” introduces the ability for players to use flying mounts in the revamped zones of Azeroth, allowing for greater freedom and exploration. Players can soar through the skies and explore previously inaccessible areas, uncovering hidden treasures and secrets along the way.

One of the other most notable features of “World of Warcraft: Cataclysm” is the introduction of two new playable races: the goblin and the Worgen. The goblins, known for their cunning and love for technology, find themselves in a precarious situation as Deathwing’s cataclysmic return threatens their home, the goblin city of Kezan. Forced to abandon their homeland, the goblins seek refuge in the Horde, joining forces with the orcs, Tauren, trolls, and undead to combat the common enemy. On the other hand, the Worgen, a race of cursed humans with the ability to transform into ferocious wolf-like creatures, have their own struggles to contend with. The Worgen were once the peaceful inhabitants of the kingdom of Gilneas, but the cataclysm has shattered their isolation and forced them to join the Alliance. With their newfound allies, the Worgen fight to reclaim their homeland from the clutches of Deathwing’s minions.

As players journey through the shattered lands of Azeroth, they will encounter a myriad of challenges and dangers. The elemental planes, once separate from the physical world, now bleed into Azeroth, unleashing powerful elemental beings upon the land. These beings, known as the Elemental Lords, pose a significant threat to both the Horde and Alliance, requiring players to band together and confront them head-on.

In addition to the Elemental Lords, Deathwing’s loyal minions, known as the Twilight’s Hammer cult, are wreaking havoc across Azeroth. This fanatical group is determined to bring about the end of the world and usher in a new era under Deathwing’s rule. Players must thwart their plans, infiltrate their strongholds, and ultimately face off against their leader, Cho’gall, in a climactic battle for the fate of Azeroth.

Throughout their journey, players will also uncover ancient secrets and delve into the history of Azeroth. They will learn about the origins of Deathwing, his transformation into the Destroyer, and the events that led to his imprisonment. They will come face to face with powerful dragon aspects, such as Alexstrasza the Life-Binder and Ysera the Dreamer, who play pivotal roles in the fight against Deathwing and the restoration of balance to the world. Ultimately, players must unite to face Deathwing himself in the Dragon Soul raid, culminating in a climactic battle against the corrupted dragon aspect and his minions.

By Aldo