9. The Burning Crusade
The very first extension of WoW is by far the least appreciated in its entire history. The causes are multiple, ranging from the story deserving little better than to be designated as ridiculous to the content in the end quite poor. It was a direct continuation of the so-called “Vanilla” version of the game with just a few gameplay improvements, and frankly… It was poor, even for the time. Outland did not really appeal to us visually speaking, and even if the enemies we fought were known and formidable, that was not enough to convince us at the time as during the Classic version.
One of the only real highlights of TBC was ultimately the addition of seasonal content for PvP players with the introduction of the arena system. A real revolution that will have taken quite a while to see the light of day but that we never tire of, even today!
Unfortunately for her, the Shadowlands extension has suffered the horrors of two very difficult periods for Blizzard since torn between the Covid-19 pandemic and the legal proceedings against Team 2 (the one dedicated to WoW) in particular. Despite a flying start and a very promising first raid, Château Nathria, the rest struggled to arrive and frankly gave the feeling of being there to temporize while waiting for the rest. With the terrible mistakes that were the Maw, Torment the Damned Tower and the Covenants way of thinking in the first place, this was the perfect mix to annoy players looking for freedom and fun. We were offered Legion but without extraordinary powers, giving the feeling of poor gameplay and devoid of any interest,
However, we can still note that significant efforts have been made from Season 3, then during Season 4, although again these were only tests aimed at making the future better for the Licence. In short, Shadowlands was despite itself a somewhat bastard extension in our eyes which followed the systems introduced by the Legion extension and which Blizzard was struggling to get rid of, while seeking to lead players to new horizons. An open-air test in fact, but which will have been more discouraging than anything else when we were simply looking to have a good time more than to suffer the choices of the editor and his very undecided community of players.
Editor’s note: It is, in 18 years, the only expansion that will have personally made me stop playing the game for six months. Between the game’s disappointments and the loss of three consecutive guilds, Shadowlands ultimately frustrated me more than it gave me the feeling of fully enjoying myself. A big flop on my side therefore, with all the same some nuggets to raise. Not everything is ever to be thrown away, far from it!
The case of the so-called “Vanilla” version of World of Warcraft is quite special. We would be tempted to place it higher in this ranking since it is after all the basis of the game that we appreciate so much, nevertheless it would be for us low-level nostalgia and a lie to tell ourselves that the game was perfect .
For its time, WoW Vanilla was objectively formidable, and it revolutionized a genre that until then had been particularly elitist in many ways. Of course, going back to our old memories we obviously think back to incredible moments when we discovered Zul’Farrak or the wastelands of the Western Plaguelands. But in the meantime, the game has evolved so much that it would be hard to consider it other than the archaic and outdated version of a game that is light years away from what it once was.
So good, in the end Vanilla probably deserves a better place in this ranking if we forget the extensions that followed and we position ourselves as players of the years 2004-2005… But here we are in 2022-2023 , so nowadays this version of the game doesn’t deserve any better in our eyes: it was good at the time, but today we were mostly chasing after old memories that would never come back if we said we loved Vanilla!
6. Wrath of the Lich King
Wrath of the Lich King is, in our view, one of the most “overpriced” extensions in the history of World of Warcraft, or almost. In fact, it is the one that mainly introduced the basics of the gameplay that we know today with its fluidity and its nervousness, where before the game was appallingly slow and boring (in our opinion). Besides the chilling atmosphere of Northrend and its iconic raids, Icecrown Citadel in particular since Ulduar is far from being a marvel in our eyes, WotLK was overall a very successful recipe after long years of slowness .
Still, judging Wrath of the Lich King in 2022-2023 we can’t help but place this expansion quite low in our rankings. Not that the extension was bad, but there was objectively so much better afterwards that placing it at the top of the best WoW extensions would be like saying that all the changes that were made afterwards were a failure, which that would be very dishonest. Despite many daring novelties in terms of gameplay, we still kept important bases from the two previous versions which have now aged very badly and which already at the time gave the impression of not advancing too much (apart from the way to play each specialization). Just like Vanilla, WotLK undoubtedly deserves a better position if we look at it from the point of view of a player from 2008,
Recall that PvE was generally laughable outside of Ulduar (Hard Mode) and Icecrown Citadel (25 Heroic), and that PvP was pretty far from its best for a long time. so much it required involvement in PvE to be viable. Yes, PvP of a large part of WotLK required one of the worst gear aberrations: at least partially stuffing yourself in PvE!
Legion is an extension that we rather not too badly appreciated from a PvE point of view. In fact, it is even without doubt one of the best that has ever seen the light of day. Well, that’s what it would have looked like if a significant portion of players hadn’t been scrapped from Mythic Mode progress because they weren’t lucky enough to get their said legendary item. “BiS” quickly. Because yes, here we were playing in Arms Warrior with Aggramar’s Stride(one of the worst legendary items) until the middle of the expansion despite the more than intensive farming that we suffered (and mind-numbing, let’s face it). For those who haven’t played it, the idea was that you could get a legendary item randomly in all the little activities you did: dungeon bosses, raids, outdoor chests, Expeditions… Absolutely everything had a micro chance to offer you one of these essential items… Randomly! This system coupled with keeping the same weapon throughout the extension, the “artifacts” that we had to make gain in power by farming constantly, it was a real nightmare until the arrival of later patches which made it all more enjoyable.
However, despite its huge design flaws, Legion is also the integration of Mythic Mode +, monstrously interesting and grueling raids, Expeditions… It was pure happiness as a PvE player, in addition to the ridiculous farming that it required if we were aiming for a certain level of play!
What has cost Legion dearly in our rankings is also PvP. Because by going from an extension like Warlords of Draenor where we put forward the players of this game mode thanks to a system of objects which gained in power when we entered into combat against other players, to an extension where some legendary items literally wiped out enemies in a few hits, it’s heartbreaking. Legion is in our eyes the beginning of the exclusively PvE-oriented era of WoW, and we are waging war on this extension partly for this reason: we cannot banish a part of the gaming community like that, for no reason , whether we want it or not !
4. Battle for Azeroth
Maybe we are victims of Stockholm syndrome, but Battle for Azeroth is for us one of the best expansions deployed on World of Warcraft, both in terms of gameplay and history. Because it’s great Blizzard that we were offered with this seventh expansion, and despite the risky direction it took over the months following its deployment, BFA was for us really a bomb in terms of PvE high level. None of the raids were tossed around, the dungeons were overwhelmingly very interesting (Waycrest Manor, what a marvel, really) and even Mythic Mode+ had received improvements that made it even more appealing!
No, the real problem with Battle for Azeroth was the very “Legionish” direction that Blizzard made it take by forcing its players to farm this or that almost permanently. We were playing to farm, and you had to farm to play, and that was probably one of the worst Legion smacks we’ve ever experienced. However, this remained rather acceptable, although we regret the lack of responsiveness and awareness of Blizzard in due time. Things took a long time to be put in place, Blizzard moved backwards when players asked for this or that feature, and in the end the extension suffered a strong lack of interest because of this lack of responsiveness.
Finally, in terms of PvP, things had calmed down relatively during this extension since we were no longer offered legendaries all the time that destroyed the first player we met. We were far from something perfect, but we were already getting much closer to something tolerable… Well, until the arrival of Corruptions during the last patch, but that’s another story than the we prefer to forget, in the same way as the War Mode which sealed the fate of wild PvP once and for all, to our great regret…
3. Warlords of Draenor
Yes, we liked Warlords of Draenor! Despite its big problems at the beginning and end of life, this sixth expansion perfectly represented what was expected of the game at that time: content suitable for all players in the community, including the most casual. No player was left out, and the challenges offered in both PvE and PvP were particularly interesting and are still among the best memories of many players today (the Blackrock Foundry for example)
Of course, we would be right if you told us that you hate WoD for its absurd history with great blows of time travel, for its appalling connection problems which lasted more than a week at the launch of the extension, for its Fief to the very wobbly design or for the mind-boggling length of time between patches. But basically, Warlords of Draenor was overall a somewhat failed version of Mists of Pandaria, and that’s why we appreciate it: it’s one of the rare expansions to not have forgotten any of its players despite its failures, and it generally followed a good direction in terms of Game Design since it was still the time when we were not forced to farm endlessly to be effective at a high level!
Cataclysm probably has the same level of appreciation as Warlords of Draenor in the eyes of many players, unfortunately for reasons that we would consider very exaggerated. Cataclysm is the beginning of the era of WoW which no longer followed the tracks of Warcraft III (well, not quite…) since it is the first extension to reveal enemies until then never encountered in Blizzard’s flagship RTS. No Illidan, Arthas, or Kel’Thuzad, so many threw in the towel for that simple reason.
However, Cataclysm is also the integration of a bewildering quantity of “QOL” as they are called, these contents which facilitate the life of the player. Another black spot in the eyes of many players of the time, the very ones who today claim the random dungeon search tool on WotLK Classic for example. In the end, this third expansion has somehow crossed many limits in terms of “casualization” that many players have never assumed to appreciate and which cannot be done without today as it has evolved in the right direction.
For us, Cataclysm is one of the peaks in terms of gameplay in World of Warcraft: we wipe the slate clean, we remove all the most archaic elements, the story without a tail or a head and the ridiculous enemies in favor of something more coherent and fluid for the player. PvE is becoming more interesting, PvP is greatly improving with, among other things, the introduction of Rated Battlegrounds…
Well, here again this expansion had a whole host of flaws, starting with the design of the last two bosses of Dragon Soul or the addition of flying mounts all over Azeroth that ruined wild PvP once and for all, but it brought so many positive things for the future of the game that we can’t help but love Cataclysm.
1. Mists of Pandaria
To complete this ranking, it is obviously Mists of Pandaria which comes far ahead of the extensions that we prefer in World of Warcraft, and this since its deployment. Because if for many “it was Kung-Fu Panda” and other flawed theories against a background of notorious racism, MoP is also and above all the crossroads for World of Warcraft: it’s the moment when “the old WoW” fades and where the new generation of players takes over. It’s a new way to approach legendary items, storytelling, PvE, and even PvP.
Basically, and again despite the flaws that the players of the time have probably not forgotten, starting with the endless Patch 5.4 which lasted more than a year, Mists of Pandaria offered so many pleasant things that one could only appreciate it if one made a little effort not to just think that Pandarens are meaningless in WoW (which is otherwise wrong).
So good, of course this extension will also have had its share of disastrous decisions, starting with the “timegating” of the Isle of Thunder or the Farm Song of the Sun. But when we think of Mists of Pandaria, it’s not these small issues that automatically come to mind. So, while it wasn’t a perfect expansion, Mists of Pandaria will have been exceptionally innovative in so many ways, and for that reason we take our hat off to it!