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Game News |

Here's every World of Warcraft expansion in order of release

 Here's every World of Warcraft expansion in order of release

Knowing every World of Warcraft expansion in order is no mean feat, especially with the 10th—yes, that's the 10th—set to release this year with The War Within. That adds up to a lot of hours that players have spent in Azeroth—or a lot of boars dispatched. Whichever way you want to measure it, that amount of game can feel overwhelming to new players.

If you've been playing Blizzard's MMO from the start, you likely won't have trouble listing the expansions. If you're new to the game, however, or only arrived in Azeroth in the last few years, you'd be forgiven for getting your timeline muddled. With all of that in mind, these are the WoW expansions in order.

Which expansion to choose? 

Levelling with Chromie Time means you get to pick an expansion to play through. This in-game system was introduced just before the Shadowlands expansion, and made levelling a character far more streamlined. Once you reach level 10, head to Orgrimmar or Stormwind City and locate Chromie near the respective city’s embassy. 

Picking any expansion with this method is going to be pretty speedy, but if you really are in a hurry, the best expansion to level fast is Warlords of Draenor, assuming you do the bonus objectives found in the zones there. 

If you're new to WoW and want to quest in each area to understand the story first-hand, that is certainly an option. You'll out-level areas too quickly to be able to play efficiently, but if you just want to learn the history of Azeroth, there's absolutely nothing stopping you from questing through each. There are even incentives to do so, such as the Loremaster achievement.

You can find the details for each expansion further down the page but here is a quick list of the WoW expansions in chronological/release order:

  • The Burning Crusade
  • Wrath of the Lich King
  • Cataclysm
  • Mists of Pandaria
  • Warlords of Draenor
  • Legion
  • Battle for Azeroth
  • Shadowlands
  • Dragonflight

Don't forget to toggle on Trivial Quests in the Tracking menu above the minimap—this lets you see quests that are too low-level for your character. 

The Burning Crusade

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Originally the expansion that introduced flying to Azeroth—well, technically Outland—The Burning Crusade also gave us Illidan Stormrage and the phrase "You are not prepared!". More importantly, though, it gave us blood elves, the race which makes up 99.9% of my total Warcraft characters.

Aside from that, it's worth a visit for the green pastures of Nagrand, and conversely, the barren, almost alien-esque zone of Netherstorm. Even if you don't level up here, the transmog items you can get from Black Temple and other TBC raids are worth farming once you're strong enough to solo them.

Wrath of the Lich King

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Everyone loves Arthas—unless you happen to be a particular undead Banshee Queen—and Wrath of the Lich King sees us return to Northrend for the first time since the Frozen Throne expansion in Warcraft 3. 

Icecrown Citadel, while being the home of the Lich King and steeped in lore, is also the home of thousands—if not millions—of players' disappointment as they once again come away from the raid without getting Invincible's Reins. This item lets you summon Arthas' trusty steed as a mount.

Speaking of mounts, if you're a collector, this expansion is the home of the Argent Tournament, a camp that offers a quest chain, followed by daily quests that reward currency for buying their faction-specific mounts and pets.


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Cataclysm was the first real divisive expansion in World of Warcraft. It brought about many changes to the landscape, including a revamp of the Horde capital, Orgrimmar. It also changed the landscape of other areas, such as splitting The Barrens in two and flooding the Thousand Needles zone in Kalimdor.

While Cataclysm is the first expansion to start pulling away from the known lore of Warcraft and might be off-putting because of its bad reputation, the zones are experimental and fun. The underwater world of Vashj'ir, while not to everyone's taste, is a place everyone should level through at least once, and the Indiana Jones-themed Uldum is also a must.

Mists of Pandaria

(Image credit: Blizzard)

This expansion introduced pandas as a new race, monks as a new class, and one of the Horde's own as the big bad. Lore-wise, this expansion saw the destruction of the Alliance stronghold, Theramore in Kalimdor, which left everyone in no doubt about how far Garrosh Hellscream was prepared to go.

Regardless of your feelings on the expansion's story, Pandaria itself is a fun place to level through. The majority of the zones are lush and green but still manage to retain their own identity. Transmog hunters will love the Throne of Thunder raid, and if you're a pet collector, the Celestial Tournament on the Timeless Isle is almost a rite of passage.

Warlords of Draenor

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Ah yes, garrisons. The instanced individual plots of land didn't go over too well, mostly because they were another thing that reduced the feeling of community in the MMO. The timey-wimey stuff that was going on with Draenor's story didn't help the cause either; neither did the year-long raid tier that closed out the expansion.

With all that said, WoD is the fastest expansion to level in, provided you complete the bonus objectives found in each of the areas. The garrison gets a bad rap too, in my opinion. It's a neat little earner if you want some extra gold and don't mind taking the time to set it up and upgrade the various buildings. 


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Legion was the expansion that returned to the lore from Warcraft 3. We finally got to see the Tomb of Sargeras, with a forgotten elf city hiding in its shadow, and the Burning Legion made an appearance once more. This is also the expansion where Dalaran moves locations from Northrend to the Broken Isles.

As far as levelling goes, this expansion is a welcome return to Azeroth. You can choose which order you want to tackle the zones, and you'll unlock some neat weapon transmog appearances with the Artifact weapon skins. There are plenty of easter eggs and callbacks to earlier expansions or lore hidden around the Broken Isles so while it's not the fastest, it's one to seriously consider.

Battle for Azeroth

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Battle for Azeroth is where Sylvanas Windrunner really goes down the road of the corrupted leader and kicks the expansion off by burning the world tree, Teldrassil. This is a fairly non-descript expansion for the most part—it's all fine and enjoyable but Legion was a tough act to follow. 

The main gripe around BfA at the time was the Azerite grind of the endgame, and that's obviously not a factor while leveling. It feels more fun as an Alliance player, too: Boralus Harbor is a much nicer hub, and the story feels far more meaningful for important NPCs like Jaina Proudmore. Overall, it's a solid expansion but without any real highs or lows.


(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Shadowlands was a difficult time for World of Warcraft. Numerous reasons contributed to the expansion becoming one of the least-liked—Sylvanas' downfall, speedy redemption and banishment is one. Far too many power systems for any sensible player to keep up with was another, and the huge Blizzard controversy and lawsuit exploded just a year into the already struggling expansion.

With all that said, it really isn't so bad. The zones are fine, and the quests aren't awful, though the zones do feel fairly far removed from anything that's gone before in many ways. I feel like Shadowlands may eventually be looked back on with a little more fondness than it is right now but that likely won't happen for a few more expansions.


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Dragonflight was a welcome return to Azeroth, and it gave us a chance to finally visit the mythical Dragon Isles, which, as the name might suggest, is the homeland of the dragons. It also introduced the dragonriding (also known as dynamic flying), making players feel far more involved in the act of traveling from one place to another.

As Dragonflight is the current expansion, you obviously can't choose to level here with Chromie Time. However, Dragonflight will replace Battle for Azeroth as the default leveling experience when The War Within arrives later this year.

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