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If I only buy cataclysm, will I be able to play the Mist of Pandaria without the other expansions (Burning Crusade/Wrath of the Lich King)?

marked as duplicate by Robotnik Jul 26 '16 at 23:57

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  • You need to give us more information before we can answer the question. You want to be able to play the Pandaria content without buying it? Or the Burning Crusade content? – Frank Jul 1 '13 at 21:42
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    @fbueckert I think there's enough information here, I think the question is just predicated on such a fundamental misunderstanding that it comes out incoherent. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 1 '13 at 21:46

I think you fundamentally misunderstand how WoW expansions work.

Each expansion can be divided up into two 'pieces'; the patch, and the new content.

In the case of The Patch, changes are made to class mechanics, the world, items, and more; these changes are applied to all players, regardless of which (if any) expansions they've purchased. While the changes introduced by the TBC, and Wrath of the Lich King expansions were fairly small, the changes introduced by Cataclysm (to the leveling experience from 1-60, in all of the zones of old Azeroth), were quite massive. Pandaria made much smaller changes to the existing zones of the world, but made similarly massive changes to WoW's gameplay - most notably, to the talent and leveling system. Again, these changes apply to anyone, no matter which expansions you have or have not purchased.

Purchasing expansions however, unlocks additional content. First and foremost, each new expansion opens up new zones, and increases the level cap; TBC with Outland and level 70, Wrath with Northrend and level 80, Cataclysm introduced new zones around Azeroth and increased the cap to 85, and Pandaria introduced it's namesake continent and raised the cap to 90. Similarly, each new expansion has introduced some combination of new races, classes, and professions. For example, Pandaria introduced the Pandaren race and Monk class. Each expansion requires that you have purchased all previous expansions (i.e. to purchase Pandaria, you must own Cataclysm, Wrath, and BC). However, all WoW players play on the same servers, and play the same game, regardless of which expansions they own - more to the point, upgrading to a new expansion doesn't require that you install anything - you simply need to enter the key on the battle.net site, and the new expansion will be unlocked and added to your account; You'll then be able to access whatever new content had previously been blocked to you.

So, in short: You can't just buy Pandaria without buying Catclysm. You cannot 'just' play the latest expansion without the previous expansions. You can however, not buy the latest expansion, and only play up to whichever expansion you have purchased. Similarly, the newer expansions don't make the old ones go away. You can still access all of the old content (for the most part, some of it has been replaced or revisited or changed or erased by the aforementioned patches - most notably 4.0, the introduction of Cataclysm), no matter which expansion you've purchased/installed.

To put it another way: The World of Warcraft is one big world for all players, regardless of which expansions they've purchased. Each expansion changes that world to varying degrees. These changes happen for everybody. In addition, you can purchase each expansion to make that world bigger. You can't buy each new piece unless you have all the older pieces.

  • Thank YOU! Yes exactly. I don't really know how the wow expansion works, so your answer was very helpful. Thanks again – Max Jul 1 '13 at 21:51
  • You gotta buy em all mate :P – Zagstrug Aug 13 '13 at 20:19

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