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World of Warcraft Column: The Best WoW Versions

By Garrett Fuller on September 18, 2012

With Mists of Pandaria coming next week, we thought it was a good idea to rank World of Warcraft’s expansions. There are a few things to remember when reading. As Blizzard treats their expansions as almost full game launches, we will be doing the same here. So WoW’s initial launch is part of the list. Again this is just opinion. However I do encourage everyone to post their favorite releases and expansions in the forums. With that here we go.

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4. The Burning Crusade

Welcome, this is your first expansion after the launch of the game. It came out in 2007, well January of 2007 to be fair, so about 3 years after the game’s initial launch. For me, Burning Crusade was my first “end” to my time in WoW. The zones were OK and some of the different mechanics were cool, however it just seemed to lack the punch that WoW’s initial launch had. I can tell you the exact moment I stopped playing too. I was in Nagrand running around killing Elekks and that was when I logged off and never logged back in. I was happyt o stop when I did because later when I returned to WoW I realized how much some of the other zones were not fun either. The two new races were okay, but nothing major. It also lacked a new class. To me, Burning Crusade was the chance for Blizzard to make WoW truly amazing, and well, I think it fell short.

3. Cataclysm

Cataclysm was the follow up to Wrath of the Lich King and it launched in 2010 and brought a huge revamp to the original world. The mechanics in Cataclysm took the game in a new direction and made some of the top end content much harder. Well, not harder, just more skill based in some ways. Sadly, this change eqauted too many wipes over the first few months in high end instances and raids. Also, the expansion was meant to get newer players into the game and bring older veterans back to see the world had changed. All of this was well and good, especially the Goblins and Worgen being added, again we are lacking a new class. Sadly Cataclysm was another expansion that led to me stopping WoW for a while. I just did not feel invested enough in the stories and thought the revamp was okay. I will say that some of the newer zones were cool though; the Egyptian zone stands out the most with all of the Indiana Jones jokes.

2. Vanilla World of Warcraft

The initial launch of WoW does take second place on this list. Back in 2004, when WoW launched it was a huge deal for MMOs. Honestly the genre has not been the same since. The game launch was decent enough starting with a mere 400K plus players. I do remember server down times and some issues here and there. But overall logging in on launch day was great fun. I had my Orc Shaman and I was in heaven. Durotar was fun, you felt all cool playing Horde and going to the big city that looked like a fantasy version of Thunder Dome. Then came the hell that was the Barrens, only to continue on into much better zones at higher level. I do think one of my favorite times in early WoW was running Scarlet Monestary with pick up groups all night. For about a month it was a hot bed of activity. The game was truly polished and great fun and it would normally get the top spot, if not for…

1. Wrath of the Lich King

For me, Wrath was by far the best expansion, if not the best thing World of Warcraft had done. This expansion brought me back to the game super hardcore. Doing every quest, every storyline, following the zones and truly enjoying the changes they made to the game. The Death Knight class was so much fun and just the opening story line alone was great. The addition that they added to PvP giving us a world zone to fight over was great too. Overall, you cannot go wrong with giant Vikings, snow, and amazing tundra style landscapes. Lich King was by far one of the best game experiences I had in an MMO. I played my Shaman and my Death Knight up to 80 and did plenty of raids and instances with them as well. So in my opinion, Lich King takes the prize.

How will Mists of Pandaria fit into this list? Who knows? I am curious next week and will absolutely be giving it a try to see how far the game takes me. I do like some of the new zones and new themes, so let’s see how it does. Overall, I really encourage you to list out the expansions and Vanilla WoW in order of your own favorites. Let’s see what next week holds. 

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Sometimes less than serious, in this space, we look back at the genre's history and far into the future to bring you a new list each week. Our countdowns are written by assorted members of the MMORPG.com Staff.
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