Before I get started, I recognize that the current expansion isn’t over. There is more content to come, but at this point I think it’s fair to say we can at least gauge Battle For Azeroth against all that came before it. I don’t foresee something earth shattering in what will likely be the final patch of this expansion. So where does BFA rank? Let’s take a look, shall we?
7. Warlords of Draenor
WoW’s fifth expansion had all the potential in the world. We were going back in time in an alternate timeline. It was a great “What If?” opportunity. Unfortunately, it fell somewhat flat. We got a few little “what if” moments, none bigger than in the cinematic. We also had the chance to see what Outland looked like long ago and were able to learn about some of those past stories. But other than that, Warlords really didn’t contribute anything to the game. Yes, Cymre was now in the game, but that couldn’t save it. There wasn’t enough content over the course of the expansion, we had to wait for Tanaan (and it was also underwhelming), slog through Garrison quests in each zone, and the sweetest moment of all…Garrosh’s death, was taken out of our hands just so Thrall could do it. That scenario sums up the expansion pretty well.
I might get some backlash for ranking this one so low, it just depends on your perspective. Unlike Warlords, though, Legion isn’t that bad so much as the other expansions are just that much better. I quite enjoyed Legion. The class halls were an interesting idea in concept. But they were another Garrison, and the awesome legendary weapons we got only lasted one expansion. It made me wonder: why bother? Illidan’s redemption was the main purpose of this expansion in terms of lore. That and to catch the evil Gul’dan who escaped Warlords. I didn’t mind Illidan’s story and the way the Demon Hunter lore was woven in worked for me. And, it was a decent new class. No complaints about the instances or raids. Also, unlike WoD, Legion saw two major deaths in Varian and Vol’jin. The latter is still contributing to in-game content as we try to figure out who told him to make Sylvanas warchief. As for Varian, he was “betrayed” by the banshee queen and died to save the rest. So the two sides were friendly for as long as the cinematic. Ok…
5. Battle for Azeroth
I’m admittedly torn on the current expansion, despite feeling this is its place on the list. I’ve been happy with the content thus far, though I’ve not gotten a chance to instance much. That’s been the fault of my schedule. Setting aside my thoughts on Sylvanas herself, the overall narratives of BfA have been well executed. Jaina conquering her guilt, Vol’jin hunting about in the spirit worlds, Saurfang’s plight (easily one of the best stories Blizzard has told in a long time) and the in-game options that creates. We got Allied Races, which I think was a good way to introduce new player races without it feeling like the way the other new races had been brought into the game for the players. I also like how nearly all zones were adjusted to the Guild Wars 2 model, where zones leveled up as you did. The first time I rolled through Duskwood I had completely forgotten that nugget. The reason I don’t rank it higher is because it feels like it’s going to be looked back on as a stepping stone to what comes next (which I expect to be announced at BlizzCon).
4. Mists of Pandaria
I suspect many will rank this one higher but hopefully when I get to the next one on the list you’ll know why I listed them the way I did. First off, the Pandaria cinematic is one of the best Blizzard has given us. On top of that, we got a new class in the Monk and more interestingly a new race that could be Horde or Alliance. How sweet was that? We got our content at a reasonable pace, all building to bat crazy Garrosh but also having some things to satiate the players on the way including the Thunder Isle, Island of Giants, Timeless Isle (wow, Pandaria was like Azeroth’s Hawaii with all those islands). The lore of the Sha was well done. I loved that it became our fault. The instances were almost all well done, with the Mogu’shan ones and Stormstout Brewery among my favourites. I just wish I had the chance to run Siege of Orgrimmar.
That trailer still gives me chills. Cataclysm was the expansion that impacted WoW the most. Two new races, new class and race combos (some of which were overdue…Troll Druid and Tauren Priest anyone?) new zones, and an overhaul of most other zones cosmetically and in execution. At this point in time we weren’t sick of Thrall being the focal point of a lot of quests and the Mary Sue Mage (Khadgar) wasn’t around yet either. And let’s not forget old world flight! Cataclysm brought a lot to Azeroth, more than most expansions and that’s why it’s ranked higher than the others. It’s not like it wasn’t without it’s faults. They were there. Heck, even the zone overhaul I just mentioned backfired. If you went to an area and decided to have your hand held during the on-rails questing, the end of the chain was grey for you because you had already out-leveled it much earlier in the zone. Vashj’ir was a brilliant idea for an underwater zone…it did not play out as brilliantly, particularly combat. Not to mention how disjointed leveling through the new zones was. You were literally continent (and ocean) hopping. But, I feel as though the expansion had enough positives that outweighed the numerous shortcomings.
2. Burning Crusade
The one that started it all. BC expanded on WoW for the first time, bringing a new world with it in Outland. We got Blood Elves and Draenei, which also gave the Horde and Alliance access to Paladins and Shaman respectively. Dailies became a thing, and you had plenty of choices from the Netherwing to the Isle of Quel’Danas. I personally hated Hellfire Penninsula because of all the stupid boars, but it was an introduction into how the quest hubs would flow (and they did). Off the top of my head I can’t think of a single instance that bothered me. I didn’t go out to The Eye much, but I’ve spent plenty of time in the rest. We got a fantastic array of raids, from Magtheridon’s Lair to Karazhan and Zul’Aman, and finally Sunwell Plateau. I have fantastic memories of all of it. Zangarmarsh remains one of my favourite zones in the entire game.
1. Wrath of the Lich King
It’s clichéd to many to say it, but this was the pinnacle of World of Warcraft. Not because of how far the game has fallen since, but because it’s a testament to just how good this expansion was. We got our first class since launch in the Death Knight (which was not surprisingly ridiculously OP). We got a new continent on Azeroth itself for the first time, and everything in Northrend fit. The lore that tied it all together was fantastic, and unlike every expansion since, Arthas mocked us at every turn. He showed up constantly to taunt us, in what was the perfect build to what would eventually be our final clash with him. And all the dungeons and raids that lead to him were enjoyable, with Ulduar easily being my favourite despite it’s difficulty. Classes were relatively balanced and that meant for solid PvP. Personally, I loved Wintergrasp, though I know many didn’t. Inscription was a game changer of a profession for a little while with a wide array of glyphs (which in hindsight wasn’t the best addition to combat). Did it have flaws? Of course, nothing is perfect. But from the pre-Wrath event until the addition of Ruby Sanctum, things just clicked and never stopped being enjoyable.
So..agree? Disagree? Do you think I’m right in where Battle for Azeroth sits? And where will the next expansion fit into the echelon?