The number one question I receive on my stream is, “How does Legion compare to other World of Warcraft expansions?” What they are really asking is, “Is this expansion worth my money?” As a life-long Warcraft fanatic, I’ve now purchased and played each expansion since vanilla and have been formulating my opinion over time. Here is my definitive top five list of the best expansions for World of Warcraft Massively Multiplayer Online Game.
Cataclysm overhauled the talent system, increased the visibility of PvP by adding contested zones (even on PvE servers), and the onslaught of Deathwing changed the face of legacy zones forever. Cata was the first expansion to allow the flexible raiding lockout system and the addition of the Looking For Raid feature which forever changed raiding for the casual player. As I was compiling this list and weighing expansions against each other, I placed Cata at number 5 primarily because there were no standout wins in this expansion. There are also no cataclysmic (haha) failures that scarred my memory of this expansion. It was a solid, but not standout effort from Blizzard.
4. Wrath of the Lich King
Northrend brought our first “hero class” in the Death Knight, a class that has remained OP through Legion. The early expansion was a little rocky for players. Content was under-attuned. Our casual guild of friends cleared Naxxramus 25-man within two weeks of release. If you weren’t a PvP player, you were so bored. Although much of the game had early problems, one thing Wrath did very well was lore. The story was absolutely amazing. “Champion of the Frozen Wastes” is still the most common legacy title I see wandering around Legion. Once Icecrown content released, the quality of content took a swift upswing. The Lich King raid is one of the most cinematically beautiful encounters in the game and remains one of the most satisfying kills to date. Unfortunately for Blizzard, most of it’s players had already skipped out by this point.
3. World of Warcraft (Classic)
While not technically an expansion, this ranking would be remiss if it did not mention the game that started it all. So much about WoW changed the face of the MMO. While not the first MMO to capture an audience, WoW changed the way we did gaming. It had many faults. The content was extremely difficult requiring large groups of players to clear. Those large groups meant long periods of time spent waiting, traveling, and wiping while trying to get 40 people to do the same thing. Dungeon groups meant long periods of time spent traveling to the instance and often replacing players multiple times which meant walks back to the stone to summon. Everything was a grind: reputation, leveling, attunements, and gear. And yet, we LOVED it.
Enough time has passed that this game expansion has made it’s mark. It’s retained the player base past the first couple of weeks. Blizzard took what we loved about The Burning Crusade and fleshed out the story to include (and murder!) our favorite characters from the lore. Blizzard resurrected old favorite raids (i.e. the upcoming Karazhan five-man) and introduced the Demon Hunter as a playable class. The improved party-finding features and well-spaced content patches took a well-made expansion into well-managed player content. We may have waited almost 10 years, but Blizzard delivered in a big way.
1. The Burning Crusade
This surprises no one. TBC balanced difficulty with team play. The game could be played solo, but was definitely built around team play. This perfect balance lent itself to forming relationships through random encounters and minor quest parties. Later expansions often reduced questing to a one-player solo game, and even quests marked “group” were soloable with little effort. TBC was the MMO genre at it’s best. Players formed long-lasting relationships and worked together against difficult end-game content. PvP was, as always, unbalanced but we had so. much. fun. What more can you ask for?
Did I miss one of your favorite expansions? Would you arrange this list differently? I’d love to hear your comments! Leave me a comment below!