If you’re new to the magical, wonderful world of Warcraft (pardon the pun) you might be wondering how deep the lore of the game goes, and which expansion packs and their various contents arrived when.
Never fear! We’ve got a complete list of every single official expansion, as well as an in-depth guide for what each provides, as well as an explanation of which expansions come with the base game straight out. Just keep reading!
Warcraft Expansions – A Quick List
|The Burning Crusade||January 2007|
|Wrath of the Lich King||November 2008|
|Mists of Pandaria||September 2012|
|Warlords of Draenor||November 2014|
|Battle for Azeroth||August 2018|
A Detailed Look At Each Warcraft Expansion Pack
World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade (2007)
The very first official expansion to the World of Warcraft universe, Burning Crusade brought brand new elements to the original and a long awaited revamp to beloved original gameplay, with even more reasons to go back to the beginning and start your character again from scratch.
Two entire races were added to the game, with the Horde receiving Blood Elves and the Alliance gaining Draenei: this is in response to the huge replayability that multiple races brought to the Warcraft franchise.
Playing the game as a different character style was such a different experience that the more opportunities there were for this, the better, as far as Blizzard was concerned.
Another interesting aspect of the update was class related: where previously, only the Horde could be shamans, and only the Alliance could be Paladins, the newly added Dranei and Blood Elves changed this up by bringing those formerly inaccessible classes to their respective side of the world of Azeroth.
Where fighting was concerned, Burning Crusade saw a brand new battleground – Eye of the Storm – added to the game, which revitalized the PVP (player versus player) combat elements of Warcraft with the brand new deathmatch system.
Teams of up to five players could now enter the ring in a high-stakes bid to take down other teams and reign supreme.
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (2008)
This expansion was a BIGGIE for millions of players around the world, because perhaps the most important change Wrath of the Lich King brought to Warcraft was a huge lift in level capping, which rose from 70 to 80.
Players could now unlock and access a whole wealth of new abilities, training and greater powers than they ever imagined.
Not only that, but the eponymous Lich King also brought with him an entirely new concept – the Death Knights. As a brand new “hero class”, players could now begin a new game above level one, which was until then unheard of.
Another unique thing about this class is they fall on neither the side of the Alliance nor the Horde – they are in fact former members of both, who had subsequently died.
Plus, they couldn’t add an expansion without a new area to explore, and Northrend was more than that: it was a whole new CONTINENT to fight, befriend and have fun on. So yeah, you could say it changed the WoW experience quite a bit!
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (2010)
With pretty big shoes to fill, the third long-awaited expansion pack for World of Warcraft, Cataclysm, promised huge action just from that mysterious and exciting title, and boy, the devs did not disappoint.
More than 3,500 new quests, mini-quests and storylines were added to the world of Azeroth, with many areas getting a refurb and more depth added to previous narratives.
As well as the world itself getting a huge overhaul, players also saw five more levels being added to the game’s ranking cap, a slight decrease from the previous two game’s ten, but exciting nonetheless, and understandable given how much other content had been added.
However, don’t be misled: there was another huge aspect to Cataclysm: the introduction of new dungeons and raids, so multiplayer gaming and combat became a whole lot more varied and enjoyable.
As well as that, another two races joined the game, giving players yet more choice on who their character could be: that was the Worgen fighting for the Alliance and Goblins for the Horde.
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (2012)
What began as a silly boardroom April Fool’s joke from a dev, about a strange, silly race known as the Pandaren… actually evolved to become one of the most popular and successful expansion packs that WoW has ever released.
Pandarens, like Death Knights, do not side with either the Horde or the Alliance right from the start: players were given the choice to select which faction they wanted to join later in the game.
Alongside the whole new location of Pandaria to explore, and a new race to choose from, players were also introduced to a whole new class: monks. Plus, the level cap increased another five, from 85 to 90 this time.
Another exciting addition was the introduction of Challenge Mode, a new facet of the game that offered medals, gold and other rewards for speedrunning dungeons and other missions.
Plus, where in-game pets were previously excluded from the violent fighting, the brand new Pet Battle System allowed players to utilize their creature buddies for even more exciting gameplay.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor (2014)
Finally reaching that all-important triple figure, Warlords of Draenor saw the World of Warcraft’s levelling system finally hit a cap of 100, so players could be more powerful than ever before and enjoy a whole host of new content for every race and class.
Character design was also focused on in this launch, adding new details such as better facial expressions and animations to create a more believable, immersive gaming experience.
That being said, this is one of the smaller additions to the world of Azeroth, with less content than previous packs, which meant it wasn’t as popular as some of its predecessors.
Nobody’s saying that it didn’t have some good features as well as the above, though: raids increased in difficulty for more advanced players, and garrisons were also introduced to the game.
This is a customizable team that players could put together themselves in order to take down the Iron Horde, allowing them to recruit followers who they could send out on missions, use to craft items for added character benefits and even bring home powerful rewards.
World of Warcraft: Legion (2016)
With fans suggesting that the previous expansion was a little disappointing in terms of content, Blizzard really had to pull out the stops with the sixth iteration in its series of expansions, and that’s exactly what they did back in 2016 with Legion.
Not only did they announce that fans would no longer have to pay for previous expansions starting with this release, but there was also a whole host of new content to check out.
Adding another Hero Class to the game – which hadn’t been done since the Wrath of the Lich King eight years previously – Legion saw Demon Hunters added to the game: when you chose this class, players actually started out at a whopping level 98 instead of the regular level 1.
However, they did have to play through an entire separate storyline, considered a prequel to the existing game, before embarking into the real MMORPG.
Other additions this time included some new dungeons and with them, a new difficulty, Mythic Plus, which brought some seriously challenging raids and even more impressive rewards, as well as patches that made existing raid tiers more balanced, and even more PVP combat abilities.
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth (2018)
The second-newest expansion in Blizzard’s list, Battle for Azeroth was one of the most anticipated expansions on the list for its addition of allied races: where once, races who were associated with a faction could never defect, now it was up to them whether or not they chose to switch to the Horde from the Alliance or vice versa.
This is especially useful for players who participate in quest chains, which results in a storyline that lets you ask for help from other races, who had either been exiled from or defected against their own faction.
The Horde gained access to the Nightborne, Highmountain tauren, Mag’har orcs, Zandalari and the Vulpera, where the Alliance could unlock Void Elves, Lightforged draenei, Dark Iron dwarves, Kul Tiran humans and Mechagnomes.
Other additions of note include a significant bump in the system requirements for playing Warcraft, as a result of updates to the game’s graphics and rendering. Budget gaming PCs were still able to handle playing, but for those looking to do some serious raids, a higher-end CPU and more powerful GPU were required.
The level cap rose again up to 120, as well as introducing two new continents to the map: Kul Tiras and Zandalar. With them came four allied races for the Alliance and the Horde, as well as addied dungeons, uncharted islands, warfronts and more raid opportunities.
Perhaps the biggest change of all was significant updates to the PvP ruleset, regardless of which realm you were in: each realm, by default, now only allows you to attack open-world NPCs.
In order to engage in PvP, you must now toggle on War Mode in your faction’s capital city – Orgrimmar for the Horde and Stormwind for the Alliance respectively. Characters in War Mode could then only see other players in War Mode.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands (2020)
As the eighth and most recent addition to Warcraft’s ever-growing list of expansions, Shadowlands is the only one you have to pay to access.
Though originally scheduled to release on October 27th, 2020, the game’s release was pushed back until November 23rd, which coincided with the sixteenth anniversary of the original base game.
Once purchased, this expansion opens up the titular Shadowlands, otherwise known as the realm of the dead in accordance with existing Warcraft lore.
It features five major zones: Bastion, Ardenweald, Revendreth, Maldraxxus and The Maw, with the main player hub being the central city of Oribos.
Adding the very first “level squish” to WoW, the levelling system was entirely overhauled, taking players who were previously at level 120 all the way down to 50, with level 60 becoming the new game cap.
Also added was New Game Plus, which lets brand new characters start the game on a brand new island, Exile’s Reach, in order to introduce them to the game and its classes, races and combat systems.
In addition to these changes, the pack saw access to the Death Knight class for those races who previously could not join it.
Following the pack’s release, in February 2021, a new patch, Chains of Domination, was announced. On June 29th, and June 30th respectively, this was launched, adding a brand new location, Korthia, to the Shadowlands.
It also introduced a new raid, the Sanctum of Domination, for which Sylvanas Windrunner, a legendary WoW character, was the final boss.
What Expansions Are Included in World of Warcraft?
According to the official Blizzard website – all of them! They state the following:
“World of Warcraft is not sold separately, only the latest expansion (currently Shadowlands as of 2021) is sold separately.
If you start a subscription or buy game time, you immediately have access to all previous World of Warcraft expansions and you can play all the content and all the maps up to level 50. This includes:
- All original game content
- The Burning Crusade content and Outlands map
- The Wrath of the Lich King content and Northrend map
- The Cataclysm content and Maelstrom map
- The Mists of Pandaria content and PAndaria map
- The Warlords of Draenor content and Draenor map
- The Legion content and Broken Isles and Argus Maps
- The Battle for Azeroth content and the Zandalar and Kul Tiras maps
If you want to play the Shadowlands content and reach max character level (currently level 60) you need to buy Shadowlands.”