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WoWMay 5, 2020 10:00 am CT

The strangest inclusions from each World of Warcraft expansion

We’ve all had this experience — you log in to review patch notes, skim-skim-skim and wait, what is this weird new thing? What were they thinking?

Despite being almost old enough to vote, World of Warcraft has gone through the same cycles of good expansion/meh expansion that show up in nearly every franchise. Not every bit of new content is going to earn a ten from the judges; no, some things will inevitably fall flatter than a pancake. With Shadowlands on the horizon, let’s stroll down memory lane and remember some of the expansion items that caused a pause-and-wonder moment.

Zul’Aman (TBC)

I confess this first entry was practically impossible. First, The Burning Crusade released in early 2007, and my memory of breakfast is somewhat shaky, much less something from 13 years ago. Also, TBC hallmarked so much lore-based questing, brought the addition of the Blood Elves and Draenei (plus cross-faction Paladins and Shaman), and opened up the exploration of the shattered Outland. And let’s not forget flying mounts (I certainly don’t later on).

But the content bridge that was The Gods of Zul’Aman patches (2.3.x) seems odd in the context of the overall plot. Yes, the Blood Elves are now allied with the Horde, and the Amani are unhappy about this fact. However, I think this could have been a feature of a much stronger Troll-focused expansion; after all, the Troll race remains one of the oldest natives of Azeroth. Picture a resurgence threatening all of the Eastern Kingdoms. How cool would that have been?

The Argent Tournament (WOTLK)

Picture this: Both factions are reeling from the destruction at the Wrathgate. You’ve just struck a victory in killing one of the Lich King’s top lieutenants (Kel’Thuzad), but the threat of global assault by the armies of the Scourge is ever-present. I have an idea for rallying the troops together — let’s host a divisive tournament!

Well, that’s pretty much what Tirion Fordring does with the Argent Tournament in Icecrown. Admittedly, Fordring delivers a stirring speech meant to focus players on their final target — Arthas and Icecrown Citadel. However, Garrosh’s and Varian’s dialog voiced throughout the tournament events makes it clear that some faction heads do not consider this much of a detente.

Void Storage (Cataclysm)

Disclaimer: This entry makes less sense now than at the introduction of the feature. Raise your hands — how many of you use your Void Storage? For such a long-desired feature, the execution felt lackluster. The exclusion of stackable and unique items drove me crazy. Do you know how many stacks of rep items I have that are wasting away in my bank?

The best use of your Void Storage was saving unique or classic gear for transmog items. However, the introduction of the Wardrobe Appearances tab in Legion has effectively replaced this purpose. The reagent bank opened 98-slots dedicated solely to professions. Do we still need Void Storage? I’m not sure. Am I currently using it? You bet your sweet bippy I am.

Taran Zhu

Pandaren faction choice (MOP)

Mists of Pandaria held a unique — and thus far, an unmatched — opportunity through its launch: the ability to introduce a third, neutral faction into the game. The Pandaren race was the first added that would be available to both Horde and Alliance. How cool?! And yet, the faction dichotomy continues as you have to choose your side at the end of the intro zone quests — although I wonder how this will change with the introduction of Exile’s Reach.

Admittedly, the individual Pandaren representing the faction split made sense when they broke down their perspectives. However, this requirement does not fit with the overall Pandaren philosophy to me. You can pay to switch factions if you’re not happy with your choice. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, complete all your Pandaren leveling without picking a faction!

Warlords Flying

Pathfinder unlocks flying (WOD)

Is flying an essential ability in the World of Warcraft endgame? It may be more accurate to say flying became essential for endgame mobility over time, then was pulled away again and again in the name of having more to work towards in the last three expansions. You could classify Pathfinder as closer to a pet peeve, but why did we have to switch to achievement-based flight unlock? And yet, that’s what they did in Warlords of Draenor.

So far, it sounds like this trend is continuing in Shadowlands, although I admit that finally being able to fly in WOD zones might convince me to give them a shot in the new leveling system. However, we do not know when this style of unlocking will extend to Battle for Azeroth or Shadowlands; maybe someday this weary rep grinder can return to handing over gold in exchange for a useful ability. We can dream.

Mage Tower rewards (Legion)

Man, oh man, am I struggling with coming up with an entry for LegionI’ve thought of a few — like why did we have to fight Kil’jaeden again? Why did Ysera have to die? P.S. if you’re mad at me for spoilers, I want to know how you’ve gotten through BFA without knowing this fact and if you can teach me your ways because oh my heart.

Then I remembered the Mage Tower, and all its frustrations: Waiting for the tower to be rebuilt and finally work, going through some pretty insane challenges, and all you got was an appearance for your Artifact weapon? Were the appearances cool looking? Definitely. But come on! Make this effort worth my while, unlock a unique skill, something.

Priest and Azerite

Azerite Armor (BFA)

Realistically, there were a few different things that could have gone in this last spot. However, patch 8.3’s Corrupted gear provides a distinct contrast to how utterly confusing Azerite Gear is. The higher the Corruption, the more creepy side effects courtesy of the Old God in the sky Ny’alotha. Corrupted Gear fits with the content thematically and visually.

Now, look at Azerite Gear. In addition to your ideal stats, you now have to optimize for your ideal Azerite buffs. While the name and power-up system fit thematically with the Champions of Azeroth arc, visually, you’re trucking around in the same-old, same-old. And we lost an expansion’s worth of class sets through the use of key gear slots. To me, this boils down to another interesting concept with less-than-ideal execution. At least the addition of Azerite Essences added utility to leveling your Heart of Azeroth, and now they’re available account-wide to boot!

It’s your turn to chime in. I’d love to know what expansion inclusions you questioned, disliked, or straight up ignored. Share with us the comments below!

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