How do WoW expansion packs work?

I've never played WoW, and since I own Starcraft 2 I might give it a try since it contains the trial edition, but how do the expansion packs work, considering it is an MMO?

Say I have vanilla and install cataclysm, does that mean any of my friends that were on vanilla now cannot raid or whatever with me because they have vanilla? Since I heard that cataclysm changed the world drastically... hmm.

As for the other two, burning crusade and wrath of the lich king, I assume they are just new continents or places to explore? But then I've also heard they bring out some balances to the classes, so how does it work! Since there are 3 expansions, does that mean that there are 4 different WoW's with people in them? I'm really confused about this :D.

Thanks in advance!

Any changes to the gameplay mechanics are implemented across the entire game, regardless of which expansion(s) you own. The Burning Crusade gives you access to two new races and the four new areas of Azeroth that comprise their starting zones, and Outland, a new continent (strictly speaking a new world) which is level 58 to 70 content for everyone.

Basically if you just have vanilla you can't go beyond level 60, because you can't go to Outland where the 60+ content begins.

Similarly Wrath gives you access to Northrend and its 68-80 content, and the new Death Knight class.

I haven't played since Cataclysm was released, but i do know that the new Azeroth content (i.e. the revamp of the original 1 to 60 content) is what everyone sees now, regardless of whether they just have vanilla or one or more of the other expansions. Buying Cataclysm just gives you the two new races, the new race/class combinations and the 80 to 85 content - several new zones and whatever endgame is included now or later.

edit for additional clarification: I've played on and off for two years and never bothered to add Wrath because I'm nowhere near that level. However I still see Death Knight player characters in the world, as well as other high level characters with Wrath specific gear - I just can't go to Northrend.

Sixcess:
Any changes to the gameplay mechanics are implemented across the entire game, regardless of which expansion(s) you own. The Burning Crusade gives you access to two new races and the four new areas of Azeroth that comprise their starting zones, and Outland, a new continent (strictly speaking a new world) which is level 58 to 70 content for everyone.

Basically if you just have vanilla you can't go beyond level 60, because you can't go to Outland where the 60+ content begins.

Similarly Wrath gives you access to Northrend and its 68-80 content, and the new Death Knight class.

I haven't played since Cataclysm was released, but i do know that the new Azeroth content (i.e. the revamp of the original 1 to 60 content) is what everyone sees now, regardless of whether they just have vanilla or one or more of the other expansions. Buying Cataclysm just gives you the two new races, the new race/class combinations and the 80 to 85 content - several new zones and whatever endgame is included now or later.

Ah so unless I am level 68, buying Wrath of the Lich King would be pointless?

Also will I be able to see the new races in both Burning Crusade and Cataclysm if I only own vanilla? As in will I not be able to play them, but can see them just fine such as the expansion packs for Dawn of War 2.

Firetaffer:
Ah so unless I am level 68, buying Wrath of the Lich King would be pointless?

Once you reach level 55 you can roll a Death Knight if you have Wrath, but other than that, yeah, not much point.

Also will I be able to see the new races in both Burning Crusade and Cataclysm if I only own vanilla? As in will I not be able to play them, but can see them just fine such as the expansion packs for Dawn of War 2.

Yes, I edited my first post to explain that one. I must admit that puzzled me when I started the game as well.

Firetaffer:

Sixcess:
Any changes to the gameplay mechanics are implemented across the entire game, regardless of which expansion(s) you own. The Burning Crusade gives you access to two new races and the four new areas of Azeroth that comprise their starting zones, and Outland, a new continent (strictly speaking a new world) which is level 58 to 70 content for everyone.

Basically if you just have vanilla you can't go beyond level 60, because you can't go to Outland where the 60+ content begins.

Similarly Wrath gives you access to Northrend and its 68-80 content, and the new Death Knight class.

I haven't played since Cataclysm was released, but i do know that the new Azeroth content (i.e. the revamp of the original 1 to 60 content) is what everyone sees now, regardless of whether they just have vanilla or one or more of the other expansions. Buying Cataclysm just gives you the two new races, the new race/class combinations and the 80 to 85 content - several new zones and whatever endgame is included now or later.

Ah so unless I am level 68, buying Wrath of the Lich King would be pointless?

Also will I be able to see the new races in both Burning Crusade and Cataclysm if I only own vanilla? As in will I not be able to play them, but can see them just fine such as the expansion packs for Dawn of War 2.

Essentially you get the entire game, but you personally can't access certain things and your level is capped based on what expansion packs you have.

You can always play with anyone on your server regardless of what packs they have.

Only thing is they (and you) are limited to where you can go by your Expansion packs (ie. is you have vanilla you can't access the high level areas)

You will still see the Blood Elves and Drani (2 new races in Burning Crusade) same with the Cataclysm races (Goblin and Furries Werewolves Worgen).

You'll even see them in your character creation screen, you just can't select them, they're greyed out while the other options are all colo(u)r.

The lands of WoW and the game are always the same no matter how many expansions you own. The expansions just unlock more lands and more content.

You need WoW first, which gets you Azeroth and up to lvl 60. Then The Burning Crusade, which is Outland and lvl 70, then Wrath of the Lich King and lvl 80, and finally Cataclysm and lvl 85.

I think you'll be pissing your money down a sink-as I did for nearly 4 years- but if you choose to play, good luck and enjoy.

I've never played the game, but from what I understand to play Cataclysm you need the other two expansions as well. I may be wrong.

You bend over, and they reach up your ass and take a ridiculous amount of money.

thenumberthirteen:
I've never played the game, but from what I understand to play Cataclysm you need the other two expansions as well. I may be wrong.

This is also important; to use an expansion, you must have the previous expansion, so first you must buy burning crusade (assuming you have bought the game and have game time on your account), then buy wrath of the lich king, then buy cataclysm. This is what confused me here though, the cataclysm has already happened. I only have wrath of the lich king and burning crusade, so the realm is torn assunder for me, but I cannot go passed level 80 or make a worgen/goblin character until I get the pack, as well as access some lands, quests, instances, all that jazz. For the most part, you could enjoy just the vanilla WoW, but with a level cap of 60, you would quickly find you want at least burning crusade.

Cataclysm changed the 1-60 content for all players, whether they have cataclysm or not.

Without expansions, you won't be able to make a goblin, worgen, blood elf, or draenei. Prior to cataclysm, you wouldn't have been able to play an alliance shaman or horde paladin without expansions either, but you can now. I don't think you can even go to the starting zones for those races without the expansions. You can't visit Northrend or Outland, or any of the 81+ zones. You also can't pass level 60 without expansions

Firetaffer:
snip

If you want to start playing, I would recommend putting some time into giving the trial a go and seeing what you think of the game. I went through 2 10 day trials before I decided to buy the game. If you do want to play then I suggest getting the Battle Chest version which gives you both Vanilla and the first expansion, Burning Crusade. If you make it all the way to Outland and still want to play, that's when you should go grab a copy of Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm. It's a sick game and is definitely well worth it.

The only reason you would buy all the expansions at once was if you wanted to play a Worgan or a Goblin.

I wonder if I can make this more concise;

World of Warcraft:
Levels 1-60;
Humans, Dwarfs, Night Elves, Gnomes
Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Forsaken

Burning Crusade:
Levels 61-70;
Outland
Draenei, Blood Elves
Jewelcrafting, of course.

Wrath of the Lich King:
levels 71-80
Northrend, obviously.
Death Knight class
Inscription, evidently.

Cataclysm:
Levels 81-85
Worgen, Goblins
Vashj'ir, Hyjal, Deepholm, Uldum and Twilight Highlands zones
Archaeology secondary profession

Loop Stricken:
Snip

Thank you kind sir.

Been wanting to get it, how exactly do you pay for the subscription? Does it always have to be online?

IBlackKiteI:
Been wanting to get it, how exactly do you pay for the subscription? Does it always have to be online?

I'm honestly not sure how it'd work for Australia, whether you get time cards down there or not.

Essentially though, if you can't go to a store and buy a card that credits your account with playtime then yes, you'll be paying online.
Again, not sure how Australia deals with online payments - Up until the end of last year I was able to use what we have called a Maestro card, but that was removed and now I'm on Visa Debit.

So err... TL:DR; IDK.

Loop Stricken:

IBlackKiteI:
Been wanting to get it, how exactly do you pay for the subscription? Does it always have to be online?

I'm honestly not sure how it'd work for Australia, whether you get time cards down there or not.

Essentially though, if you can't go to a store and buy a card that credits your account with playtime then yes, you'll be paying online.
Again, not sure how Australia deals with online payments - Up until the end of last year I was able to use what we have called a Maestro card, but that was removed and now I'm on Visa Debit.

So err... TL:DR; IDK.

Ah ok, thanks.

Also a cursory googling doesn't show me an Australia-specific WoW portal. :\

Sorry.

Loop Stricken:

IBlackKiteI:
Been wanting to get it, how exactly do you pay for the subscription? Does it always have to be online?

I'm honestly not sure how it'd work for Australia, whether you get time cards down there or not.

Essentially though, if you can't go to a store and buy a card that credits your account with playtime then yes, you'll be paying online.
Again, not sure how Australia deals with online payments - Up until the end of last year I was able to use what we have called a Maestro card, but that was removed and now I'm on Visa Debit.

So err... TL:DR; IDK.

First: You forgot Northrend with WotLK
Second: There are several possibilities to pay, depending on were you live. As far as i know a direct debit from your bank account isnt possible everywhere. But luckily it is here, because we arent really a people crazy about credit cards.

Fetzenfisch:

First: You forgot Northrend with WotLK

Nobody likes a smart-arse. :P

Loop Stricken:

Fetzenfisch:

First: You forgot Northrend with WotLK

Nobody likes a smart-arse. :P

Nobody likes to be exposed as blemished

Loop Stricken:
I wonder if I can make this more concise;

World of Warcraft:
Levels 1-60;
Humans, Dwarfs, Night Elves, Gnomes
Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Forsaken

Burning Crusade:
Levels 61-70;
Outland
Draenei, Blood Elves
Jewelcrafting Profession

Wrath of the Lich King:
levels 71-80
Northrend, obviously.
Death Knight class
Inscription Profession

Cataclysm:
Levels 81-85
Worgen, Goblins
Vashj'ir, Hyjal, Deepholm, Uldum and Twilight Highlands zones
Archaeology secondary profession

fixed

I was under the impression that whilst yes, those professions were released with their respective expansions, it was not required for them, and that only Archaeology had this distinction.

Ah no, seems I was wrong.

 

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