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World of Warcraft Expansions Listed In Order (WoW Release Date List)

Hi friend! If you‘ve played World of Warcraft over the years, you‘ve experienced firsthand how much the game has evolved. When WoW first launched in 2004, no one could have imagined it would still be going strong with 10 expansions 17 years later.

In this article, we‘ll journey through WoW history together expansion by expansion. I‘ll highlight what made each one special, how players reacted, and its lasting impact. Grab your best memories, and let‘s adventure through Azeroth to see how Blizzard brought the world of Warcraft to life!

World of Warcraft Expansions Overview

Before we dive in, here‘s a quick overview of WoW‘s expansion list:

Expansion Release Date
World of Warcraft Nov 23, 2004
The Burning Crusade Jan 16, 2007
Wrath of the Lich King Nov 13, 2008
Cataclysm Dec 7, 2010
Mists of Pandaria Sep 25, 2012
Warlords of Draenor Nov 13, 2014
Legion Aug 30, 2016
Battle for Azeroth Aug 14, 2018
Shadowlands Nov 23, 2020
Dragonflight TBA 2022

Now let‘s look at each WoW expansion in detail!

1. World of Warcraft (2004)

The journey began November 23, 2004 when Blizzard released the original World of Warcraft. This massively multiplayer online RPG let players adventure across Azeroth for the first time.


  • 8 playable races like Humans, Orcs, and Night Elves
  • 9 classes including Hunter, Mage, and the iconic Paladin
  • 2 continents to explore – Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms
  • Quests, dungeons, 40-man raids, and epic gear to earn

Reception & Stats:

  • 240,000+ concurrent players on launch day
  • Reached 1 million subscribers in one month
  • Highest selling PC game from 2005-2008
  • Universal acclaim from critics and fans

No one had experienced an open fantasy world like this before. The scope, polish, and multiplayer focus made WoW a revolutionary entry in the MMORPG genre. It set the stage for expansions to come.

2. The Burning Crusade (2007)

Blizzard’s first expansion The Burning Crusade arrived January 16, 2007, raising the level cap to 70. Players passed through the Dark Portal into Outland in pursuit of the demonic Burning Legion.


  • Outland zones like Nagrand, Terokkar Forest, and Shadowmoon Valley
  • Draenei and Blood Elves became playable races
  • Flying mounts gave freedom to explore areas from above
  • Jewelcrafting and socketable gems to customize gear
  • Arena battles let organized teams compete against others

Reception & Stats:

  • Sold 2.4 million copies on day one, fastest selling PC game ever
  • Boosted subscribers from 8 to over 10 million in 4 months
  • Maintained >10 million subs for nearly 2 years

The Burning Crusade improved WoW’s core systems while expanding into bold new frontiers. Outland, flying mounts, and Arenas etched this expansion in players‘ memories.

3. Wrath of the Lich King (2008)

WoW’s second expansion Wrath of the Lich King launched November 13, 2008, bringing the fight to the frozen wastes of Northrend. This frigid new continent was ruled by the malicious Lich King Arthas and his Scourge army.


  • Raised level cap to 80, introduced Death Knight class
  • Northrend zones like Howling Fjord, Grizzly Hills, and Sholazar Basin
  • Inscription profession to craft consumables and glyphs
  • Achievement system to track accomplishments
  • Expanded PVP options and world PVP zone Wintergrasp

Reception & Stats:

  • Sold 2.8 million copies on day one
  • Grew subscribers from 10 to 11.5 million in 4 months
  • Highest rated WoW expansion with a 93% critic average

Wrath crystallized WoW’s addictive gameplay loop with accessible leveling, memorable dungeons/raids, and expanded endgame. It remains a fan favorite for its bold storytelling versus Arthas.

4. Cataclysm (2010)

On December 7, 2010, Cataclysm reshaped Azeroth forever. The evil dragon Deathwing burst from Deepholm, flooding zones and opening hidden lands. Heroes had to help rebuild from the wreckage.


  • Revamped all level 1-60 zones like Ashenvale and Desolace
  • Goblins and Worgen became new playable races
  • Archeology profession to unearth artifacts across the world
  • Rated Battlegrounds for competitive PVP
  • Classic dungeon revamps like Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep

Reception & Stats:

  • Sold 3.3 million copies day one
  • Grew subscribers from 11.5 million to over 12 million
  • 84% average critic score

While criticized for a sparse endgame, Cataclysm succeeded in modernizing WoW’s aging world for the better. The updated questing experience remains integral to WoW today.

5. Mists of Pandaria (2012)

On September 25, 2012, the mystical continent of Pandaria lifted through the mists, starting WoW‘s fourth expansion. Inspired by Asian locales, Pandaria welcomed Pandaren as a new neutral race.


  • Pandaren race and Monk class brought martial arts flair
  • Pet battle system to collect and fight companion pets
  • Challenge mode dungeons for competitive PVE speedruns
  • Scenarios for accessible short group content
  • Farmville-like Tillers faction with base building

Reception & Stats:

  • Fastest selling PC game ever, 3.3 million sold in 24 hours
  • Grew subscribers from 9.1 to 10 million in 6 months
  • 85% average critic score, "universal acclaim"

While controversial for its lighthearted Pandaren race, Mists brought a flood of engaging content. It demonstrated Blizzard could still craft an expansion as compelling as WoW’s early days.

6. Warlords of Draenor (2014)

On November 13th, 2014, Warlords of Draenor invited players to an alternate timeline Draenor before it became Outland. You joined legends like Thrall to battle Warlords of the united Iron Horde.


  • Boost to level 90, improved models, stat squish
  • Garrisons to build and manage your own town
  • Epic raids like Blackrock Foundry and Hellfire Citadel
  • Cinematic questing experience

Reception & Stats:

  • Sold 3.3 million copies in 24 hours
  • Subscribers dropped from 10 to 5.5 million by expansion end
  • 80% average critic score

Warlords nailed early questing, dungeons, and raids. But weak endgame systems like garrisons didn‘t retain players. Subscriber declines highlighted WoW‘s outdated expansion-only content model going forward.

7. Legion (2016)

World of Warcraft’s sixth expansion Legion stormed Azeroth on August 30, 2016 to universal acclaim from fans and critics. It increased the level cap to 110 on a demon-hunting adventure.


  • Artifact weapons grew in power alongside players
  • Class Order Halls for unique campaigns
  • Mythic+ dungeons for repeating challenge
  • World quests to revisit zones with daily content

Reception & Stats:

  • Fastest selling WoW expansion ever upon launch
  • Subscribers increased from 5.5 to over 10 million by early 2017
  • Widely considered best expansion, 92% critic average

Legion brought players together with endless content and innovative systems. The Artifacts and Class Order Halls made your character feel truly unique. Patch content kept the world fresh for the entire expansion.

8. Battle for Azeroth (2018)

On August 14, 2018, the Battle for Azeroth began as Alliance and Horde waged all-out war over Azerite, launching WoW’s seventh expansion.


  • War Campaigns focused the war between factions
  • Island Expeditions for 3v3 Azerite battles
  • Warfronts brought 20-player PVE Warcraft RTS flair
  • Heart of Azeroth amulet powered by Azerite armor

Reception & Stats:

  • Fastest selling expansion ever – 3.4 million copies on day one
  • Subscribers dropped from 10 to 1.7 million by expansion end
  • User score of 5.8/10, critic score of 86%

While Battle for Azeroth boasted impressive sales initially, players grew frustrated with grinds for incremental power gains. The war campaign didn‘t land emotionally. However, raids like Uldir continued Blizzard‘s stellar reputation for PVE content.

9. Shadowlands (2020)

Shadowlands released on November 23, 2020 as WoW‘s eighth expansion, sending players to the afterlife-inspired Shadowlands ruled by cosmic forces and Covenants.


  • Four new zones ruled by Kyrian, Venthyr, Necrolords and Night Fae
  • Covenants provided unique abilities, soulbinds and cosmetics
  • Torghast Tower challenged players in ever-changing dungeon runs

Reception & Stats:

  • Sold 3.7 million copies on launch day
  • Subscribers increased from 1.7 to 6.1 million early 2021
  • 86% critic average, user score of 6.1
  • Patch 9.2 widely praised

Despite a scattered early story, Shadowlands rebounded in later patches with excellent new zones like Korthia and Zerith Mortis. A renewed focus on cosmetics and customization options helped win back players.

10. Dragonflight (2022)

Announced at Blizzcon 2021, Dragonflight takes players to the long-hidden Dragon Isles archipelago, introducing the Dracthyr Evokers as a new race/class combo.


  • Explore the primal Dragon Isles
  • New race/class adds shapeshifting Dracthyr Evokers
  • Dragonriding provides aerial exploration
  • Talent trees return for class customization
  • Updated UI and graphics throughout

Reception & Stats:

  • TBA 2022 release

Dragonflight promises a back-to-basics approach after Shadowlands‘ cosmic scope, focused on new adventures with dragons by land and air. With player feedback guiding development, the potential remains for Dragonflight to usher in WoW’s next golden age.

Looking back on 17 years of expansions reveals how integral each one was in building upon the last to make WoW the powerhouse it is today.

Vanilla WoW laid the groundwork with its addictive gameplay loop and massive world. The Burning Crusade built upon that with bold new frontiers like Outland and flying mounts. Wrath of the Lich King perfected the formula by crystallizing world PVP, questing, dungeons and raids into an incredible journey.

Cataclysm and later expansions kept innovating, but also stumbled by moving too far from what made early WoW magical. Systems piled up while community fractured across isolated servers.

Now in Dragonflight and beyond, WoW has the chance to reconnect with its roots while evolving using all it learned over 17 years of expansions. The world of Azeroth remains full of untapped stories and adventures. I can‘t wait to experience what comes next on this endless journey!

So what was your favorite World of Warcraft expansion, and why? Let me know in the comments!

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