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How To Play World of Warcraft Dragonflight in Chronological Order

An updated guide to playing through the World of Warcraft expansions to Dragonflight

World of Warcraft Dragonflight is here and players are heading off to the Dragon Isles to help the Dragon Aspects and get that fat loot. Though, the game’s new leveling structure means first-time players may be confused to begin their journey in Exile’s Reach, and then level up in the middle of a war in Battle for Azeroth, before engaging the Dragonflights, with little to no background information. This is due to the way World of Warcraft Shadowlands sliced and stacked World of Warcraft’s expansive history like a deck of cards, allowing players to level characters via the expansion of their choice. Even with these changes, there is a pathway to experience WoW in chronological order.

The feature you will eventually use to switch between expansions is called Chromie Time, and is initiated for free by Chromie, a fun loving member of the Bronze Dragonflight. Since WoW is an open world game, players can travel anywhere and play any content without Chromie Time. The benefits of formally switching expansions include receiving the expansion’s entry point quest, and access to the its dungeons through the Dungeon Finder. Chromie Time becomes available after your initial character completes a series of Dragonflight content.

Chromie shows up on the Orgimmar and Stormwind City maps as a blue hourglass

Your adventure through history does not start with Chromie or Dragonflight, for that matter. Download and install World of Warcraft: Wrath the Lich King Classic. The game is free with your paid WoW subscription and available through the Battle.net launcher. The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions are accessible through Chromie Time, but the Classic versions are as close as you can get to the original content.

The Journey Begins

The Horde base of the Crossroads was the site of frequent Alliance player attack

There was no Exile’s Reach in the old World of Warcraft. When you create a character, you will appear in your racial starting zone, and progress across Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, from levels 1-60. I recommend keeping track of the zones you traverse, to compare the differences between pre and post Cataclysm worlds.

The Burning Crusade

Nagrand in Outland is one of WoW’s most beautiful zones IMHO

When you reach level 58, you will be able to pass through the Dark Portal to the shattered world of Outland. It is upon this strange alien planet, you will battle the demon forces of the Legion, naga, and other things looking to kill you.

Wrath of the Lich King

The breathtaking rolling forests and frozen peaks of Northrend conceal many dangers

Upon obtaining level 68, the continent of Northrend opens for exploration. Unlike Outland, Northrend has two starting zones, located on opposite coasts. Along with pushing back the undead hordes, you will assist the Dragonflights, learn about the Titans, the origin of Azeroth and some of its races. Wrath is considered by many to be the best WoW expansion and should by played.

Completing your Northrend adventure also concludes your time in Classic. The time has come to launch Dragonflight and create a new character. I suggest the same race and class to experience the difference. Now is the time to pull out your Classic zone list.

Cataclysm

The Shattering devastated Azeroth

After 10,000 years, the once Aspect, now lunatic fringe, dragon Deathwing broke through the boundary between Azeroth and the elemental planes, wrecking havoc on the surface world in an event known as The Shattering. Deathwing is intent on ending all life on Azeroth, and it is up to you to stop him and his zealous followers. At the same time, Garrosh has assumed the mantle of Warchief of the Horde and wages war on the Alliance. Indeed, there is a lot going on in this expansion.

Cataclysm provides a transformed Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms and advances the game’s time line to after the events of Wrath. Following the same path you laid out in Classic will reveal updated quests, NPCs, and locations. It is here you should visit Chromie and activate Chromie Time, but don’t follow the breadcrumb quest yet. Wait until after you level through the zones you played in Classic, before venturing forth to the new zones.

Please note, Chromie Time has a limit. Regardless of what expansion you choose, once your character reaches level 60, you will be transported back to your capital city and returned to the Dragonflight time line. You can avoid this fate, and continue playing through the expansions by temporarily turning off experience gain. This can be accomplished by visiting Slahtz in Orgrimmar or Behsten in Stormwind City. I recommend waiting until at least level 30, so you can unlock flying mounts.

Slahtz is on the top level of the Barracks, while Behsten’s chilling near the back corner of Stormwind Keep

Mists of Pandaria

The Mists of Pandaria asks, why do you fight?

Pandaria was magically shielded from the world for millennia until Deathwing’s emergence shattered its cover. The Horde and Alliance descend on the jade lands to claim its riches for their war efforts. As a faithful soldier of your faction, you join the fight, but a powerful force of darkness seeps forth, threatening everything you hold dear.

Warlords of Draenor

Shattrah still stands in this alternate time line

Try to stay with me here; Garrosh was overthrown but before he can face justice for his crimes, he escaped 35 years into an alternate Draenor’s (which we know as Outland) past, where he prevented the corruption of the original Horde by the Legion, and instead, built them into the Iron Legion, with the plan to conquer our current day Azeroth. Naturally, you have to stop him. In doing so, you revisit zones sparred the destruction of Outland. This set up confused a lot of players when it was announced. Do you know how Kirk’s dad dying at the beginning of Star Trek (2009) created a different time line, separate from the Classic Trek we know and love? It’s just like that.

Legion

The war against the Legion spans the Broken Shore to the planet Argus

“The Legion has returned,” Khadgar announced in the Legion teaser. In another highly regarded expansion, you are sent to the Broken Isles to save the world and end the Legion’s threat once and for all.

Battle for Azeroth

Boralus is a wonderfully designed city

The aftermath of the Legion’s defeat is yet another war. This time, initiated by Horde Warchief Sylvanas, over a newly discovered resource, called azurite. The Fourth War will see the razing of two capital cities and new races joining the Alliance and Horde.

Shadowlands

Even though it is the actual “afterlife”, the Shadowlands are just as messed up and in need of saving as everywhere else we visit

Following Sylvanas’s betrayal, you are sent after her through death’s veil to the Shadowlands. It is here, in the land of the dead, you encounter the answers to the greatest mystery of existence, and an unusual story. I still don’t know Sylvanas’s ultimate goal in all of this. Shadowlands has its moments but not enough to have it replace BfA as the primary leveling destination for new players.

Dragonflight

Welcome home! You did it! Now go talk to, ally with, fly on, and kill dragons. I will expand this section for the next expansion, since it is the current game.

I hope your journey through World of Warcraft was educational and entertaining. There is a rich history to enjoy.

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3 comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    this is way too vague. you dont just playthrough wrath of the lich king. you would need to understand the chronological order of each of the quests and read each of the books inbetween. you cant just play this one and then play the other one. if you just try and play it like that the nightmarishly convoluted story flow will kind of defeat the purpose of all of this

    1. So you’re saying, a player can’t understand WoW’s expansions without reading all the non-game material? I think that’s become more the norm with recent expansions but hardly with WotLK.

  2. FINALLY! Thanks you for explaining this. I have been looking AALLLLL over for the answer to this question. Everyone seems to be utterly confused with how to play the game for the lore only in chronological order. I don’t care 1 wit for challenge. I only care for playing the game for the lore. I am essentially playing it like a single player game. Thank you so much for this!

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