World of Warcraft is the single most popular MMORPG that has ever existed, with more than 12 million active players at its peak. Although numbers have declined, there are still millions of players that log in on a daily basis to grind out quests, seek the greatest gear, and conquer whatever challenges—both PvE and PvP—that Blizzard can dream up.

The game was not always the powerhouse it is today, though. While always popular, World of Warcraft started with somewhat more humble beginnings. When the game first launched, it looked much different than it does today.

The world of Azeroth consisted only of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. It took the introduction of the game’s first expansion, Burning Crusade, to expand the world beyond its humble beginnings. If you’ve ever wondered what the best World of Warcraft expansions are, we have ordered them here.

Wrath Of The Lich King

Although it is the second expansion in the World of Warcraft universe, Wrath of the Lich King is highly regarded as the single greatest World of Warcraft expansion to come to the game. Not only did it introduce the continent of Northrend, but it gave players the most cunning villain the series has ever seen: Arthas Menethil, the former Crown Prince of Lordaeron turned Lich.

Wrath of the Lich King grabbed players’ attention with its high-impact cut scenes and the sheer breadth of things to do in the game. Everything about this expansion focused on a singular evil threat, and every minor foe a player fought was in some way touched by the Lich King. The narrative was at its most powerful, but the gameplay also brought a lot to the table. Wrath of the Lich King introduced players to Ulduar, one of the most fun raids WoW has ever had.

Also, two words: Zombie Plague.

Burning Crusade

Launched in 2007, Burning Crusade was the first expansion to World of Warcraft. It introduced a brand-new continent called Outland that was chock-full of lore. Burning Crusade also brought the Blood Elves to the Horde and the Draenei to the Alliance, giving players new races to choose from and a host of new regions to explore and conquer.

Burning Crusade also gave Horde players the chance to play as a Paladin, a class previously restricted solely to Alliance players. Conversely, the expansion gave Alliance players the ability to play as Shamans. Introducing these once-restricted classes to either side brought a number of interesting PvP considerations in the expansion, but it also meant a lot more replayability as players raced to level new classes up to the max level (now increased to 70 from the previous cap of 60.)

World of Warcraft always had an interesting storyline, but Burning Crusade proved to be particularly endearing to long-time players of the Warcraft strategy games due to the way it dove into the intricate lore of the series.

Cataclysm

Cataclysm was something of a controversial expansion. By all accounts, it was set to be an epic experience. The downside was that the story completely changed the face of Azeroth. Once-popular areas were completely changed as Deathwing the Destroyer, a massive dragon, literally split continents in half and completely changed the look and feel of the world.

For many long-time players, their favorite areas were unrecognizable (rest in peace, Crossroads.) This change was not well-received by a large portion of the fanbase, but no one can deny the impact that Deathwing’s arrival had.

Cataclysm was the third expansion to World of Warcraft and increased the level cap from 80 to 85. Many players expected a full 10 levels rather than five, so many world-first achievements were earned the night of release as power gamers raced to be the first to reach the new max.

The changes to World of Warcraft’s existing talent system also fell flat with many players, but set the tone for future World of Warcraft expansions and gave the story team plenty of fodder to work with. 

Legion

Calling many of the later World of Warcraft expansions “controversial” would be a bit generous given their reception by the player base. Many long-time players felt the changes Blizzard made to the leveling systems simplified the game too much and removed all challenge from it.

These players longed for the endless grind of vanilla WoW, not the race-to-the-top leveling of the new games. However, that didn’t stop newcomers from loving Legion with a ferocity all their own.

The 2016 expansion is one of the best because it introduced a new class to the game after a longtime drought: the Demon Hunter. With this new class came new zones, an increased level cap, and artifact weapons that take time and effort to level to their most powerful forms. Legion also came with an expansive storyline that immersed fans of the lore and kept them glued to their PCs for hours on end as they explored every nook and cranny of the story.

These four are the best expansions to World of Warcraft to date, although there is still plenty of room for Blizzard to launch more expansions. The recent release of World of Warcraft Classic, a true-to-form version of the original level 1 to 60 gameplay, has brought many players out of retirement to experience the world of Azeroth all over again. Who knows? Perhaps Blizzard might launch Burning Crusade Classic, if only for the chance to relive the battle for the Dark Portal once more.

What is your favorite World of Warcraft expansion? Do you have fond memories of playing the game? Let us know in the comments below.