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If I want to begin to play World of Warcraft, do I need to buy every update released from the beginning?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 32 down vote accepted

First, I'd download the trial and make sure that you would enjoy the game. If you enjoy the trial here is what the base package gives you as well as what each expansion provides

As of 2012-09-19, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King are no longer standalone expansions, but available free to all subscribers. As a result, all subscribers now own Burning Crusade and Wrath even if they never purchased it.

World of Warcraft (plus Burning Crusade): levels 1-70 content (Azeroth and Outland), flying in Outland, plus all other basic features rolled into the game since launch (revamped talents, guild levels, etc)

Wrath of the Lich King: levels 68-80 content (Northrend), hero class (Death Knight), flying in Northrend, new profession: Inscription

Cataclysm: levels 80-85 content (Azeroth), flying in Azeroth (note, you don't have to be 80+ to fly in Azeroth, only own the expansion), Archeology (new profession)

Mists of Pandaria: levels 85-90 content (Pandaria), new class (Monk).

All Races are available to all players, even trial accounts.

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You seem to imply it, but to make it explicit, with the basic game you also enjoy an updated Azeroth--from the Cataclysm--and all the quests within. –  Nick T Jan 11 '11 at 3:01
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Are Inscription / Jewelcrafting still tied to expansion packs as well? –  Raven Dreamer Jan 11 '11 at 3:40
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There is a huge difference between trial and what many people actually do daily (raids, battlegrounds, arena, farm). –  kusoksna Jan 11 '11 at 8:47
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The trial would at least let a potential buyer know if they would enjoy the gamplay and visual styles of the game prior to purchasing. –  Xantec Jan 11 '11 at 14:13
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@Raven Yes, you need the Burning Crusade expansion to take Jewelcrafting and the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to take Inscription. –  ghoppe Jan 11 '11 at 15:46
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You only need the core game to start playing. This gives you access to the 8 original races (No Draenei, Blood Elves, Worgen, or Goblins), and 9 original classes (No Death Knights), and a level cap of 60.

To reach level 70, you will need The Burning Crusade, level 80 requires Wrath of the Lich King, and Cataclysm unlocks level 85. Each subsequent expansion requires that you have the prior ones. It is not possible to install Cataclysm without Wrath, or Wrath without Burning Crusade.

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Hmm, that sucks if we lack so many races. Cataclysm has Worgen and Goblins, right? What do you recommend we get? The battle chest to start out? I suppose it would be a better deal. –  GaiusSensei Apr 30 '11 at 12:05
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The Battle Chest is probably the best value for money deal - last I checked, it was basically the same price as just buying Vanilla on it's own. Don't worry too much about the race options - it's really not as big a deal as you'd think. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 30 '11 at 12:12
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No, you don't. You can start playing WoW without owning any of the expansions and play from level 1-60. You just won't be able to go past 60, be able to play the new races/class the expansions added, or learn the new professions. (See Crag's answer)

However, if you do decide to purchase expansions, you must buy them in order -- for example, you can't add Wrath of the Lich King to your account unless you already own Burning Crusade.

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So then wouldn't it make sense to buy Cata outright instead of spend $40 for each expansion? Or did Blizz reduce the cost of each expansion? I would say best bet is to try WoW with the freebie trial edition, then buy Cata directly with a new username so you're not "forced" to buy all the exp packs, no? –  Will Jan 24 '11 at 14:22
    
@Will: Cataclysm alone doesn't let you play the game, it's just an expansion pack. You still need to buy the base game. –  Brant Jan 24 '11 at 14:55
    
and all the expansions in-between ... I guess that was well thought out by Blizz. Anyone who decides to start playing now has to shell out a lot of $$$ to get caught up with everyone else. I guess it wouldn't be bad to get the base game and, say, BC to play to lvl 70. That takes some time (at least it did for me), so the cost won't be too bad - can space out buying the exp packs a little. –  Will Jan 24 '11 at 16:57
    
@Will: In fact, there's a "battle chest" version that contains WoW+BC for $20 more than the base game alone. The next two expansions will still set you back $40 though, unless you wait for a sale or a price drop. –  Brant Jan 24 '11 at 17:33
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If you're aiming for raids and top level content, I advise you to buy all the expansions from the beginning.

If you want to explore the world with your friends, you could play 2-6 months just in the basic game (World of Warcraft). There are interesting places and plenty of content, even for low level characters. I think there was a sale a while ago: World of Warcraft, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King for 20 Euros, you could try to wait for another one.

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To play Cataclysm you need all of the previous content. I believe you can play without everything, however, you just won't get everything. Cataclysm is for level 80+ players only, so you need to go through the previous parts to get to that level.

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If you want to play as a Worgen / Goblin, you need Cataclysm immediately, though. –  Raven Dreamer Jan 11 '11 at 3:40
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I HIGHLY recommend getting the trial before committing to all the games. It's true that you won't be able to play a Worgen, Goblin, Blood Elf, or Draenai right off the bat, but it's better than shelling out the cash for all the games and realizing 2 days in that the game really isn't for you.

Even though WoW is extremely popular, it's an acquired taste. If you've never played it or don't know very much about it, you're better off getting the trial.

If you enjoy the trial, I recommend going to the store (or on Amazon) and purchasing the hard copy of World of Warcraft & World of Warcraft Burning Crusade. It comes in a bundle pack with both the games and I think it costs somewhere around $20. If you buy each separately, then it'll cost more. I don't think there are bundles with Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm.

It's also important to note that you can't play an expansion without the previous expansion. Here are the releases in order: World of Warcraft World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

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