When did World of Warcraft Come Out? Release Dates of All Expansions and Raids

WoW Expansions

Exploring World of Warcraft, the best MMO-RPG on the planet, one cannot help but marvel at its intricate tapestry of lore, challenges, and player-driven economics. A noteworthy component that punctuates this vast landscape is the concept of new expansions, high and low-level content, and raids. These multi-player challenges are testaments to teamplay, strategy, and personal skills. Our professional WoW raiders are always here and ready to help you complete the most challenging content in any expansion. However, to fully grasp the evolving nature of WoW, it’s insightful to explore its PvE instances in chronological sequence, tracing the game’s growth and the increasing sophistication of its challenges.

But first, addressing a frequently posed question: When did World of Warcraft come out? The answer lies in the not-so-distant past of November 23, 2004. It was the day WoW opened its gates, inviting players to enter a world brimming with adventures, rich lore, and countless raids, bosses, and exciting battles.

World of Warcraft (November 23, 2004)

WoW Classic Loading Screen

Launching as a groundbreaking MMORPG, the base WoW Vanilla (Classic) game invited players to Azeroth, a sprawling landscape ripe for exploration.

Key Features: Two continents, Eastern Kingdoms, and Kalimdor; eight original races; nine classes; a level cap 60; initial raid experiences.


  1. Molten Core (Release: March 2005): Nestled deep within Blackrock Mountain, this was the first major raid. Lava-filled caverns and fiery adversaries awaited those brave enough to venture here.
  2. Blackwing Lair (Came out in July 2005): High atop Blackrock Spire, nefarious experiments and dark dragons awaited players, challenging their skills and teamwork.
  3. Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj (January 2006) & Temple of Ahn’Qiraj (January 2006): These twin raids, set within the insect-infested city of Ahn’Qiraj, were both thrilling and eerie, offering players a mix of strategic combat and rich lore.
  4. Naxxramas (June 2006): Floating above the Eastern Plaguelands, this necropolis held some of the most challenging encounters, demanding combat prowess and tactical acumen.
  5. Karazhan (Release: March 2007): A haunted tower with as many mysteries as adversaries. This raid brought not only battles but also intricate puzzles and riddles.

The Burning Crusade (January 16, 2007)

WoW TBC Loading Screen

This expansion introduced players to the shattered world of Outland.

Key Features: Introduction of two new races: Draenei and Blood Elves; the Paladin class for Horde and the Shaman class for Alliance; a raised level cap of 70; and flying mounts in specific zones.

Arenas: Competitive PvP arenas were introduced, allowing teams of players to compete against each other in ranked matches.


  1. Gruul’s Lair (Release: January 2007): Situated in Outland’s shattered realm, this lair was home to Gruul the Dragonkiller. As one of the earlier raids, it served as a compact test for adventurers with fewer bosses yet presented a worthy challenge.
  2. Magtheridon’s Lair (Came out in January 2007): Deep beneath Hellfire Peninsula, players clashed with Magtheridon, the pit lord, in a fierce battle that tested their coordination and tactics.
  3. Serpentshrine Cavern (January 2007): Submerged under Zangarmarsh’s Coilfang Reservoir, players ventured into Lady Vashj’s watery domain. From navigating its underwater sections to facing multifaceted boss mechanics, the raid was a highlight of the “Burning Crusade” era.
  4. Tempest Keep: The Eye (Release: January 2007): Floating high above Netherstorm, this raid pitted players against Kael’thas Sunstrider and his loyal minions. The Eye was notable for its vibrant setting and multifaceted boss encounters.
  5. Battle for Mount Hyjal (March 2007): This Caverns of Time raid allowed players to participate in a crucial event from Warcraft’s history. Protecting key historical figures against waves of enemies was both a challenge and a treat for lore enthusiasts.
  6. Black Temple (Came out in May 2007): Found in the shadowy lands of Shadowmoon Valley, this iconic raid had players storming Illidan Stormrage’s stronghold. Concluding with a memorable showdown against the Betrayer himself, it remains a fan favorite.
  7. Zul’Aman (Release: November 2007): Situated in the Ghostlands, this troll-themed raid was a timed challenge. Players raced against the clock to save hostages and defeat the zone’s powerful animal-themed bosses.
  8. Sunwell Plateau (March 2008): This Isle of Quel’Danas raid was the culmination of “The Burning Crusade.” Here, players faced Kil’jaeden, a demon lord, in an encounter that was both visually stunning and mechanically intricate.

WoW Wrath of the Lich King (November 13, 2008)

WoW WotLK Loading Screen

Northrend beckoned, revealing the chilling threat of the Lich King.

Key Features: The inclusion of the first hero class – the Death Knight; a level cap bumped to 80; new continent.


  1. Naxxramas (Re-release, November 2008): Initially a raid in the base game, Naxxramas was reintroduced in Northrend with updated mechanics and loot to challenge players in the new expansion.
  2. Obsidian Sanctum (November 2008): Located beneath Wyrmrest Temple, players took on the black dragon Sartharion and his Drake allies, with the option to increase the raid’s difficulty for better rewards.
  3. Eye of Eternity (Came out in November 2008): In this magical environment, players squared off against the blue dragon Malygos in a battle that spanned both ground and air.
  4. Ulduar (Release: April 2009): A titan facility filled with lore, inventive mechanics, and memorable bosses, Ulduar remains one of WoW’s most revered raids. From battling the Flame Leviathan with siege vehicles to confronting the Old God Yogg-Saron, it provided a rich raiding experience.
  5. Trial of the Crusader (Came out in August 2009): Located in Icecrown, players participated in a grand tournament to prepare for the assault against the Lich King. With various challenges and bosses in an arena-style setting, this raid emphasized both combat skill and strategic coordination.
  6. Icecrown Citadel (December 2009): In the climactic raid of the expansion, players assaulted the Lich King’s stronghold, culminating in an epic showdown with Arthas Menethil.
  7. Ruby Sanctum (June 2010): As a more minor raid, it served as a bridge between “Wrath of the Lich King” and “Cataclysm.” Here, players clashed with the black dragon Halion and his underlings.

WoW Cataclysm (December 7, 2010)

WoW Cataclysm Loading Screen

Azeroth was reshaped, bearing the scars of Deathwing’s return.

Key Features:

  • Vastly changed old-world zones; two new races, Goblins, and Worgen; a level cap of 85.
  • Transmogrification: Players could now customize the appearance of their gear without affecting stats, allowing for greater personal expression in skins.
  • Rated Battlegrounds: Players could now participate in unique battlegrounds with ratings, elevating the PvP experience with more structured competitive play.


  1. Baradin Hold (Release: December 2010): Situated on Tol Barad, this raid was accessible to the faction in control of the PvP zone, featuring a rotation of bosses over the expansion’s lifespan.
  2. Bastion of Twilight (Came out in December 2010): Found in the Twilight Highlands, players faced off against the Twilight’s Hammer cult and their powerful elemental allies.
  3. Throne of the Four Winds (December 2010): High above Uldum, adventurers confronted Al’Akir, the Windlord, in a battle that spanned multiple platforms in the sky.
  4. Blackwing Descent (Came out in December 2010): A spiritual successor to “Blackwing Lair,” this raid saw players dive deeper into Blackrock Mountain to thwart the experiments of Nefarian and his allies.
  5. Firelands (June 2011): Venturing into the Elemental Plane of Fire, players sought to stop Ragnaros, the Firelord, from being unleashed upon Azeroth once more.
  6. Dragon Soul (Release: November 2011): Players pursued the corrupted Dragon Aspect, Deathwing, across continents and time periods to prevent the cataclysmic Hour of Twilight.

WoW Mists of Pandaria (September 25, 2012)

WoW MoP Loading Screen

Mysterious Pandaria emerged, bringing with it ancient secrets.

Key Features: The new Pandaren race; a fresh class, the Monk; the continent of Pandaria; a level cap of 90; pet battles; and scenarios – quicker instances devoid of role requirements.


  1. Mogu’shan Vaults (Came out in October 2012): Deep within the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, players encountered the ancient Mogu and their terracotta army.
  2. Heart of Fear (Release: November 2012): Players infiltrated the mantid’s grand palace in the Dread Wastes, aiming to halt the Empress and her swarm.
  3. Terrace of Endless Spring (November 2012): At this tranquil site, players confronted the Sha of Fear, aiming to cleanse Pandaria of its corruptive influence.
  4. Throne of Thunder (Came out on March 2013): On the Isle of the Thunder King, players sought to overthrow Lei Shen, the resurrected Thunder King, in a raid filled with diverse environments and challenges.
  5. Siege of Orgrimmar (Release: September 2013): Spanning from the shores of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to the heart of Orgrimmar, this raid culminated in a battle against the corrupted Warchief, Garrosh Hellscream.

WoW Warlords of Draenor (November 13, 2014)

WoW WoD Loading Screen

Into an alternative universe, players ventured, confronting the orcish clans of old.

Key Features: The level cap rose to 100; the addition of garrisons – personal fortresses in the world; and a significant graphical overhaul for many races.


  1. Highmaul (Release: December 2014): Located in Nagrand, this ogre citadel served as the first major raid of the expansion. Players confronted various challenges, culminating in a battle with the ogre king, Imperator Mar’gok.
  2. Blackrock Foundry (Came out on February 2015): Nestled within the heart of Gorgrond, this massive industrial complex was home to the Blackrock orcs. Adventurers faced numerous BRF bosses across its sprawling layout, eventually confronting the warlord Blackhand.
  3. Hellfire Citadel (Release: June 2015): Standing menacingly in Tanaan Jungle, this stronghold of the Iron Horde became tainted by fel energy. Within HFC walls, players fought to prevent Gul’dan’s nefarious plans, battling foes like Archimonde.

WoW Legion (August 30, 2016)

WoW Legion Loading Screen

The Broken Isles became the epicenter as Azeroth faced the Burning Legion’s onslaught.

Key Features: Demon Hunters – the second hero class – were introduced; artifact weapons became central; a raised level cap of 110; and the Broken Isles became the central questing zone.


  1. Emerald Nightmare (Release: September 2016): Delving into Val’sharah’s corrupted World Tree, players faced off against twisted versions of familiar figures and entities as they sought to cleanse the Dream from the insidious Nightmare.
  2. Trial of Valor (November 2016): This shorter raid in Stormheim pitted players against Odyn, Guarm, and Helya, drawing heavily from Norse mythology themes.
  3. The Nighthold (Came out in January 2017): In the heart of Suramar City, players breached the grand elven citadel to confront the corrupted Grand Magistrix Elisande and halt Gul’dan’s malevolent schemes.
  4. Tomb of Sargeras (June 2017): On the Broken Shore, players ventured into this ancient elven temple, now infested by the Burning Legion, to prevent the arrival of the dark titan, Sargeras.
  5. Antorus, the Burning Throne (November 2017): In the depths of Argus, the draenei’s ancestral home, players confronted the mightiest of the Burning Legion’s forces, seeking to end the demonic invasion once and for all.

WoW Battle for Azeroth (August 14, 2018)

WoW BfA Loading Screen

War reignited between the Horde and Alliance, even as ancient threats loomed.

Key Features: The level cap reached 120; two new continents, Kul Tiras for the Alliance and Zandalar for the Horde; Allied races; and the Heart of Azeroth – a customizable neckpiece.


  1. Uldir (Release: September 2018): Hidden within Zandalar’s jungles, this titan research facility was corrupted by the Old God G’huun. Players worked to contain and eliminate this threat before it could spread.
  2. Battle of Dazar’alor (January 2019): Set in the Zandalari capital, this unique raid offered different experiences for Alliance and Horde players as they clashed amidst the city’s tiered terraces.
  3. Crucible of Storms (Came out in April 2019): This compact raid beneath the Shrine of the Storm saw players confronting agents of the Old God N’Zoth, hinting at more significant threats lurking beneath Azeroth.
  4. The Eternal Palace (Release: July 2019): In Nazjatar, adventurers stormed Queen Azshara’s palace, battling her naga forces and dealing with eldritch horrors from the depths.
  5. Ny’alotha, the Waking City (January 2020): As N’Zoth threatened to reshape Azeroth in his nightmarish image, players assaulted his stronghold, facing off against his most potent servants.

WoW Shadowlands (November 23, 2020)

WoW Shadowlands Loading Screen

The realms of the afterlife beckoned, revealing the cosmic significance of death.

Key Features: A “level squish” to recalibrate the game’s progression with a new cap of 60; the realms of the Shadowlands; Covenants – factions offering unique abilities and gear; Torghast Tower – an ever-changing, roguelike challenge; Fated Raids – All Shadowlands raids were on a weekly rotation so that you could get more powerful rewards from a featured instance.


  1. Castle Nathria (Release: December 8, 2020)
    Situated in the gothic heart of Revendreth, Castle Nathria is a marvel of architecture and intrigue. With ten bosses that test the mettle of adventurers, the raid offers a harmonious blend of narrative depth and mechanical sophistication.
  2. Sanctum of Domination (Came out on July 6, 2021)
    In the Maw’s treacherous depths, the Sanctum of Domination stands as a testament to the Jailer’s dark ambitions. Players face off against ten bosses, leading to a dramatic confrontation with Sylvanas Windrunner herself.
  3. Sepulcher of the First Ones (Release: March 8, 2022)
    Within the depths of the SotFO raid, adventurers traverse the hallowed halls of Zereth Mortis, unveiling the enigmatic lore tied to the ancient Progenitors. This intense journey reaches its final as players fight with the formidable Jailer, marking a pivotal climax in the “Shadowlands” lore.

WoW Dragonflight (November 28, 2022)

WoW Dragonflight Loading Screen

A new exploration avenue for players, the Dragon Isles is home to many ancient dragonkin and their mysteries.

Key Features: Mythic plus dungeons rotation every season, new Evoker class, Dragonriding, re-balanced PvP.


  1. Vault of the Incarnates (Release: December 12, 2022)
    This raid offers an opportunity to face off against ancient evils once predominant in Azeroth. Deep within its chambers, adventurers confront the formidable Raszageth, who is in the midst of a ritual with potentially cataclysmic consequences
  2. Aberrus, the Shadowed Crucible (Came out on May 9, 2023)
    ATSC is a notable raid in the World of Warcraft Dragonflight expansion, nestled deep within the expansive Zaralek Cavern. This cavernous instance is recognized as the location of the Obsidian Citadel, housing a vast laboratory where the malevolent Neltharion crafted his most dreadful creations, including the formidable Dracthyr. This raid provides a unique insight into Neltharion’s clandestine activities, offering both challenges and rewards for players as they delve into the heart of his dark experiments.
  3. Amirdrassil, the Dream’s Hope (Release: November 14, 2023)
    ATDH is a significant raid set in WoW Dragonflight, situated in the mysterious realm of the Emerald Dream. This instance zone showcases a burgeoning World Tree, a profound symbol of life and a gateway to the Emerald Dream itself.


With its vast, detailed landscape, World of Warcraft offers players a dynamic experience that combines intricate lore with multifaceted challenges. The game’s progression, evident from its expansions and raids, showcases an evolving narrative that grows in complexity in storytelling and gameplay mechanics. This evolution is further exemplified by the meticulous chronological sequence of PvE instances, marking significant milestones since its launch in 2004. As players delve deeper into Azeroth, they engage in high-stakes battles and witness the game’s rich history and ever-expanding challenges. The ongoing commitment to enhancing and expanding the game ensures a continuous, engaging experience for both new and veteran players.

By Zaaid el-Greiss

Meet Zaaid el-Greiss, a top-rated author and avid gamer with deep insights into WoW, Destiny 2, and more, known for his engaging guides and articles.

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