10 Best Zones in World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is a big game, with a very big map. Over the many years of its lifespan it’s tried hard to remain both interesting and entertaining, as well as dive into and expand upon the vast amount of Azeroth’s lore. Not all WoW zones are made equal though, and the World of Warcraft map kind be pretty hit and miss during the slow grind to the level cap. The years of gameplay and personal experiences will change everyone’s own list of favourites, but most people tend to agree on which WoW zones rank high or lower on the enjoyable scale. So without further ado, here’s my list of the 10 best zones in World of Warcraft.
The Storm Peaks
If you like titan related content in WoW, The Storm Peaks is certainly the place to go. Storm Peaks is located at the very top of Azeroth, much like the top of this WoW zones list actually, and it carries a stark resemblance to Uldum at the opposite end of the globe. Trading sand for snow, the whole region is seeping with titan technology, left behind artifacts and lost gadgets from our long gone creators. The main raid Storm Peaks is no different, as Ulduar becomes an interesting mix of mechanic siege warfare and fighting the mad Lovecraftian old gods left down the depths of nightmare. The quests here were a bit hit and miss, and it’s not the most fun World of Warcraft zone out there in reality, but few other zones capture the scale of the left behind titan influence on Azeroth, and explore their existence within the lore. Plus, they basically left an elder god of madness in their basement, and old god content is always pretty sweet.
Let’s be honest, Silithus isn’t really an amazing WoW zone, visually there is something there, the sprawling sands littered with insectoid spines reaching out of the ground, while the sky is thick with swarms of insects. Between the floating crystals and infested dunes there is an ambience to it, like an ancient evil lies under the sand, which it does in fact. That aside though the land itself is kind of boring, one of the few WoW zones unscathed by the cataclysm, there’s nothing that special here nor does anyone ever go there now, unless you want to grind reputation with the Brood of Nozdormu, because that was always so fun. Once this was a very important place to WoW though, furthest back in my mind, the massive assault on Silithus stands in my mind as not only one of WoW’s original most important large scale events, but an event for MMO’s everywhere. Maybe this is just nostalgia and bad memory talking, but to me there was something special about the importance of that scale behind Silithus and its event back in the day, and I’m not sure few things catch that feeling ever again. Seeing it so left behind makes me sad, because I still like old Silithus, and remember what that name meant.
Horde or Alliance, I think almost everyone has spent some time in old Stranglethorn. It’s changed a lot of the years, especially with the cataclysm, but it remains one of those curious little WoW zones that had its own charm. Popular largely for Booty Bay, the neutral town at the end of the continent was a hub of cross faction trading and short lived PVP. Speaking of which, people also used to flock to the arena for the sweet PVP endangered loot in Stranglethorn’s arena. Then there’s the pirates and trolls and jungle wildlife to deal with, on top of all the other strange goings on in this wild jungle unlike any other in World of Warcraft. Stranglethorn has changed a lot over the years, sometimes maybe not for the better, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable places in the old world and definitely one of the best zones in World of Warcraft.
Icecrown had long felt like a place of importance during Wrath of the Lich King, partly due to the looming threat of the Lich King himself as old Arthas sat around, doing frankly very little, while the Horde and Alliance scrambled to make an assault. Be it the hordes of undead around the castle, the newly changing mechanic of quests altered the environment, or the rally of unity from the Argent Tournament, Icecrown just had that sense of menace and anticipation. Plus, I always really enjoyed flying around on the ever present ships from either faction, they didn’t really do that much but it was a nice touch to see them patrolling the skies, letting you hitch a slow if oddly enjoyable ride. The only real downside was the sheer amount of daily grinding the zone made you do, I’m looking at you Argent Tournament, and most of the WotLK expansion for that matter.
The Jade Forest
As a late comer to the Pandarian areas, it’s hard to truly see the Mists of Pandaria expansion as those who played it on release did. It feels so foreign from the rest of Azeroth, which is kind of the point really, as you truly felt like Pandarian was this new continent. As someone who explored the expansion with some passing interest and an appreciation for the aesthetic of the zones, I quite liked The Jade Forest. I’m not sure I’d say that this is the best zone in WoW, but it was just…nice, it’s a nice zone. It was something different, and oddly relaxing, Jade Forest offered a different feeling to most of the zones in World of Warcraft and I could appreciate the effort for a different flavour than we were used to. I know Mists of Pandaria got a lot of flak back on its release, but looking back after stopping for many years, it has a charm in its own right, and I didn’t mind a change.
A new entry to the best WoW zone list, but a good one all the same. Suramar is kind of an odd zone in World of Warcraft, it feels different to the structure most of them follow, it actually feels like an area from an RPG more than an MMO. The last area of the broken Isles, Suramar is the fallen capital of the night elves that lived in isolation on the Isles since long ago. This not only takes up a large portion of the map, but becomes an almost separate zone where you disguise yourself to interact with an almost normal city, attend masquerades and dive into the politics of the Nightfallen. While the outside feels like your classic progression of allies and resources, finding and building up your base in secret, recruiting fellow rebellious Nightfallen, opening portals across the entire zone and connecting leylines to power your new stronghold. Suramar just feels so…busy, as if there is so much going on in both story and objectives. It really puts a surprising taste of RPG into the MMORPG and certainly made me hunger for every scrap of upgrade and resource it offered.
I’m not sure exactly why I like Tanaris so much, but I remember questing there during my vanilla days only weeks before Burning Crusade launched. Desperate to catch up to the coming content, it was just…enjoyable. The WoW zone is just varied and odd, littered with remnants of time and ancient evils. It’s a desert zone with that weird little town Gadgetzan, a place full of little gimmicks and tricks like the engineering teleporters that mostly worked, more or less. It has pirates and smugglers, buried ruins and hints of a more sinister threat approaching from Silithus. There’s a cave full of the bronze dragon flight, keepers of time itself, and entering it feels like getting sucked into a pocket between time and space. It has dungeons and raids, dunes and time travel, it’s simply a cool pocket of Azeroth, and has links to much more content than most areas in the game one way or another. Maybe it’s a strange mix of nostalgia on my part, but it’s always been one of my favorite and a strong contender for best World of Warcraft zone.
Uldum is a pretty cool zone in World of Warcraft, for fairly obvious reasons once you go there. The whole place is mix of ancient ruins, buried artifacts, fun quests and djinn filled raids. It’s simply a nice WoW zone if you like those themes, and WoW isn’t shy of throwing out the occasional lore filled area with titan left overs and forgotten civilisations. Uldum really does take the cake though, and whether or not that hits your fancy, it’s still a good place to hit up before ending off the old Cataclysm content. Just don’t go directly up, Un’goro Crater is, and always will be, a terrible place.
Purely in terms of looks, Deepholm may be one of my favourite WoW zones, certainly from the Cataclysm variety. A huge circular cavern through the maelstrom itself, Deepholm houses the shattered world pillar, and one of the nicest looking zones closely connected to the Earthen Ring. With swirling tunnels, floating shattered rock and crystal filling the air and a whole host of twilights hammer and element threats, it was just a really interesting place to be, and it felt like the story behind your actions was actually pretty important. It has a surprising variety of locations and areas to enjoy, and it makes a welcome attention to this list of best World of Warcraft zones.
It felt special going to Outland back in Burning Crusade, stepping through the dark portal into an entirely separate dimension, cut off from Azeroth barring the massive gateway behind you. The first look into Illidan’s domain was Hellfire Peninsula and it really made a hell of an impression, it felt so otherworldly, and it truly made you feel like you had left Azeroth far behind. Excitedly running ahead as demons bombarded the entrance to your world, doing the new quests and searching every inch of this new dimension, it was just so different from what you knew before it. Hellfire Peninsula really captured that sense of disconnection from what you knew and was a truly great start to WoW’s first expansion, it’s hard to write this one off as one of the most memorable experiences of grandeur and adventure as soon as you entered that portal for the first time.