World of Warcraft took the world by storm when it launched in 2004, changing the landscape of MMORPGs forever. Hot of the heels of the critically-acclaimed Warcraft III, Blizzard brought Azeroth to life for players to enjoy for over ten years running.
Here’s a peek at every single WoW expansion list in order released to date and some of the features introduced.
Table of Contents
The Burning Crusade – 2007
The Burning Crusade expansion for WoW debuted on January 16, 2007, and brought about several new game mechanics and lore changes.
The Draenei (Alliance) and Blood Elves (Horde) were added to the game, including new starting zones located on Azeroth.
The level cap was raised to 70 and players at the cap could immediately enter the Dark Portal and explore the realm of Outland.
Blizzard focused heavily on creating story-driven content with characters recognizable from Warcraft III’s lore. Magtheridon, Illidan, and Sargeras all played a role in the Burning Crusade expansion.
Flying mounts were first introduced in Burning Crusade and were exclusive to the zone. New abilities and a talent system revision were a big part of the first patch that introduced the expansion to the game.
The Paladin and Shaman classes were also no longer faction-exclusive. Draenei Shaman and Blood Elf Paladins made these classes accessible to both factions.
Jewelcrafting and the resilience stat for PVP were also significant introductions of this expansion pack. Arena PVP made its first appearance in Burning Crusade, only to be refined as Blizzard increased their focus on PVP in subsequent expansions.
The Wrath of the Lich King – 2008
When The Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) expansion dropped on November 13, 2008, WoW was at the height of its popularity. The second expansion largely revolved around tracking down Arthas–now the Lich King after events in Warcraft III–and rectifying his ascension to the frozen throne.
WotLK was a fan-favorite expansion pack, bringing players north to the frozen wasteland of Northrend. Northrend featured in the Frozen Throne expansion for Warcraft III, so fans were intimately familiar with the continent’s geography.
No new races were added to the game during this expansion, but the first ‘hero’ class was introduced. Death Knights required a character of level 55 or higher on the server and started in an instanced version of Lordaeron. Runeforging was introduced as a class-specific profession for Death Knights, who could fill tanking and DPS roles.
Once again the level cap was raised from 70 to 80, and several new abilities and a talent system refinement were introduced. WotLK also featured two new battlegrounds, two new arenas, and the game’s first open-world PVP zone called Wintergrasp.
Inscription and glyph creation was added to the game in WotLK. Scribes could create scrolls and vellums to store enchantments for use on armor and weapons.
Cataclysm – 2010
Cataclysm rocked the world of Azeroth by completely changing the landscape of several areas in the game. The expansion debuted on December 7, 2010; Deathwing served as the ultimate big-bad after players felled Illidan and Arthas in the previous two expansions.
Two faction-specific races were introduced in the form of Worgen (Alliance) and Goblins (Horde), each with unique starting areas in Azeroth.
The landscape itself was altered massively, and nearly every zone of Azeroth was touched in some way. Several brand-new zones appeared on the southern part of Kalimdor, including a new PVP zone called Tol Barad.
The level cap was raised by five this time around, from 80 to 85. Classes were redesigned and rebalanced, with new race and class combinations added. The talent system was also completely revamped with special abilities changing based on the primary talent tree.
Archaeology was added in Cataclysm as a profession that anyone could pick up, like fishing and cooking. Players could find items, mounts, pets, and sometimes gear through long quest chains.
The concept of reforging gear was also introduced in Cataclysm. Guild leveling and flying in Azeroth wrapped up one of the most significant expansions in WoW’s history.
Mists of Pandaria – 2012
With the announcement of Mists of Pandaria as the fourth expansion for WoW, many fans thought Blizzard was joking. The expansion was revealed as an April Fools joke before it was revealed actually to be in development. Releasing on September 25, 2012, the story focused on the exploration of the mystical island of Pandaria.
The level cap for Pandaria was increased by five again to raise it to 90. Pandaren were introduced as the first neutral race, with players able to choose Alliance or Horde at the end of their starting quests. Monks were added to the game as a hybrid class that could tank, heal, or DPS.
MoP featured another talent system revamp mostly to remove old passive bonuses for activated abilities. Scenarios were also introduced in MoP, smallish dungeons designed to be completed with three players instead of five. Several new five-person dungeons and three new battlegrounds debuted.
Also introduced in MoP was a Pokemon-like pet battling system.
Warlords of Draenor – 2014
After Warlords of Draenor debuted on November 13, 2014, many fans felt the game had lost its way. Time travel was introduced as a way to retcon some existing lore, which angered many players. WoD’s alternate timeline explores the moment the Orcish Horde may have avoided the covenant with Mannoroth the Destroyer.
The WoD expansion raised the level cap by ten again, up to 100. The expansion focused on streamlining gameplay, so many secondary stats were removed. A group finder tool was introduced to help players find groups for content in both PVP and PVE.
Garrisons and graphics updates were a big part of Warlords of Draenor. Many races that hadn’t received a remodel since the game’s launch were updated to bring them in line with newer character models.
Legion – 2016
Following in the steps of WoD, Legion explores how alternate reality Gul’dan opens the Tomb of Sargeras. The expansion debuted on August 30, 2016, and harkened back to the days of Illidan and the Burning Legion as the big bads.
Legion introduced the Broken Isles to the game. Dalaran was moved to float above the Isles to serve as the player hub. Once again the level cap rose from 100 to 110 and a second hero class–the Demon Hunter– was introduced.
Demon Hunters are a hybrid class that DPS or tank, but only night elves and blood elves can become demon hunters.
Class Orders were also introduced in Legion, which offered class-specific campaigns and rewards. Artifact weapons could be heavily customized to meet a player’s needs and were intended to be primary weapons. The PVP system got revamped once again, with the removal of PVP gear entirely.
Battle for Azeroth – 2018
Battle for Azeroth debuted on August 14, 2018; this expansion turned the focus of conflict from external enemies to the conflict between the Alliance and Horde. The expansion introduced a total of eight new races–four for each faction–though some are reskins of existing races.
- Kul’Tiras Humans
- Dark Iron Dwarves
- Lightforged Draenei
- Void Elves
- Mag’har Orcs
- Highmountain Tauren
- Zandalari Trolls
- Nightborne Elves
Battle for Azeroth also added two new landmasses in the form of Kul’Tiras and the Zandalar troll isles. The level cap was raised from 110 to 120, and several new PvE scenarios were added to the game. Two new arenas and a PVP toggle rounded out the changes.