For over a decade, World of Warcraft has dominated the landscape of fantasy MMOs, reaching over 11 million subscribers at its peak, and even though numbers have diminished significantly since then, it is still by far the most successful MMO of all time, spawning an endless number of imitators and pretenders to its throne. Over its life, Blizzard has released five separate expansions to the game, raising the level cap and offering all manner of new content and experiences for players. A sixth, Legion, released in August of 2016, and we’ll judge that one among its brethren at the appropriate time. Nut for now, we decided to look back and rank our experiences with every World of Warcraft expansion, from the wilds of Outland to the alternate reality of Draenor, and everything in between.
Let us start by saying that there were good things about Cataclysm. Most importantly, it wiped away the last vestiges of all the broken and unfinished stuff that remained from the original game, which admittedly probably needed to be done. Except it also took away a lot of the things that players who’d been around since the beginning had fond memories of, and rightly or wrongly, many people felt that it also wiped away many of the systems that had been in place (such as heavily stripping down talent trees and making mounts more easily available) and “dumbed down” the game too much. As for the new content, while Hyjal was a cool area and Uldum was a lot of fun, any gains made were pretty much wiped out by the horror that is Vashj’ir, possibly the worst-designed zone in the entire history of the game. Why Blizzard decided people would love to play an entirely underwater zone where your movement speed was cut to a fraction unless you were on ridiculous seahorse mounts that were useless anywhere else continues to boggle our mind. In fact, even the better areas of the end-game all had the flaw of feeling like they were all “on rails”, as . With players no longer needing to visit all five zones in order to out-level Cataclysm content, we’d be curious to know if anyone ever even looks in the direction of Vashj’ir these days.
In addition, Deathwing was a fairly lame “big bad” who doesn’t really have a huge effect on the ongoing lore despite being portrayed as a massive threat in the opening cinematic and literally reshaping Azeroth initially, and the fact that you actually had to start a new character to experience the bulk of the new content (the redesigned original world), then slog through previous expansions before getting to only five small zones worth of new stuff, didn’t sit well with a lot of people. We’re sure a lot of work went into this expansion, after all, they had to completely re-design the entire existing world, but a lot of it didn’t really translate to players, especially ones that were already at max level and didn’t particularly feel like starting over.