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World of Warcraft: All Opening Cinematics, Ranked

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World of Warcraft: All Opening Cinematics, Ranked

Since 2004, the MMORPG World of Warcraft (WoW) has garnered millions of online players, each finding their niche in the land of Azeroth and beyond. Thanks to developer Blizzard Entertainment constantly releasing fresh content, World of Warcraft has remained alive and kicking in people’s hearts even today. Perhaps one of the main World of Warcraft things to look forward to is the opening cinematics, which launches every other time a new expansion is about to release. 

To date, there have been nine major expansion packs, each with its unique cinematic trailer to lead the charge ahead of the game’s release. These cinematics are often big-budget, massive displays of video ingenuity, creativity, and art, so much so it makes sense to rank the best ones. So, without much ado, here are World of Warcraft opening cinematics ranked. Which one’s your favorite?

5. Warlords of Draenor (2014)

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Cinematic

In this 4:52 minute cinematic trailer, Blizzard Entertainment showed their prowess in visual art, yet again, with a dark twist to World of Warcraft (WoW) history. It tells the story of Garrosh Hellscream, who happened to escape the Dark Portal and now roams about Azeroth, forging the orc clans into a war machine called the Iron Horde. 

It’s an interesting twist to the old, an alternate history of a kind, where the Orcs no longer become slaves. Instead, Garrosh turns them into conquerors. If you’ve played WoW 3, you’ll remember Grom dying after defeating the Pit Lord. This time, Garrosh saves him in the nick of time. He stops his father and the Orcs from drinking the demonic blood of Mannoroth and, consequently, changes the history fans had come to know of the orcs becoming slaves to the Pit Lord.

Aside from the unexpected twist to WoW history, Warlords of Draenor’s trailer also showcased Iron Horde’s terrifying war machine and technological prowess, creating a blast of urgency to witness these antagonistic powers in the actual game. It’s a shame the actual game didn’t fully live up to the high expectations the trailer set.

4. Legion (2016)

World of Warcraft: Legion Cinematic Trailer

The Legion cinematic trailer nearly equally fulfills today’s shift toward warfare teasers compared to actual storylines. This time, Alliance King Varian writes to his son, who is battling demons and Sylvanas. This one falls a little short for me. While Varian does get showered with love, other events don’t exactly fit the “spectacular” bill. 

The antagonist side feels low-level with their own ships crashing. At some point, Varian slips and falls into the water but somehow survives. It just doesn’t fully deliver the enemy punch we’re looking for in trailers to really get us excited about defeating them in the actual game.

If you’re a fan of Warcraft cinematics, Legion’s cinematic trailer will likely have less of an impact compared to previous or future work. It’s also pretty short once you strip away the logos and credits. But it doesn’t exactly suck in its entirety, so here goes fourth place to Legion.

3. Battle for Azeroth (2018)

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Cinematic Trailer

Battle for Azeroth’s cinematic trailer is somewhat similar to Warlords of Draenor’s in the sense of seemingly overcompensating for a subpar expansion. Regardless, at least we did get to experience cinematic dominance at its best.

In just 4:29 minutes, we see the rising tensions between the Alliance and the Horde grow stronger each day as each side fights for rulership over the ruins of Lordaeron. For this trailer, we expected top-notch, adrenaline-infused battle sequences, which Blizzard Entertainment delivered flawlessly. 

As the Alliance and the Horde go head to head, we see powerful displays of power from both sides that are pleasant to look at. There are moments where archery, dark magic, lightning, the blade, and more combat elements are displayed in action. It even shows a healer’s abilities via holy magic, essentially leaving nothing to chance as far as combat is concerned. 

2. Cataclysm (2010)

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Cinematic Trailer

This one’s a no-brainer because you know it’s great enough to deserve top honors were it not for the obvious choice we’ll talk about in a few. From the music to the voice acting to selling the dragon that wiped most of the world out with its fire-breather rage, every aspect of Cataclysm feels iconic, even as you rewatch it for the millionth time.

Some landmarks players had gotten used to would get ripped to shreds. Kind of like Game of Thrones’ final episode. But, if you remember how that went down, you needed two dragons to finish the job. In Cataclysm, it’s just one, portrayed as this unstoppable creature bringing the house down on Azeroth.

Deathwing is, by no means, the worst of them all when it comes to deadly villains in Warcraft. However, merging players’ sentiments toward key areas in Azeroth and watching them get obliterated does it for this trailer, enough to make a spectacle of the impending cataclysmic doom.

1. Wrath of the Lich King (2008)

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Cinematic Trailer

You saw it coming. The Wrath of the Lich King’s cinematic trailer is, by far and large, the best, most iconic, and most memorable WoW opening cinematic of all time. It features the Lich King, whose an icon in gaming culture even before WoW was a thing and the best villain in WoW so far.

It also depicts well Arthas' journey from Paladin to Lich King. It’s one of the best storylines ever. And in the trailer, the spotlight shines on Lich King Arthas. He leisurely starts to take a walk when we’re treated to a full display of his antagonistic side and abilities at a moment's notice.

Having a throwback moment to Warcraft 3 also helped skyrocket the hype, as the entire speech we hear happens to have been lifted from Arthas’ father’s own words to Arthas’ younger self. After Arthas kills his father and destroys Lordaeron, the words now feel like an emphasis on the different kind of king he’d turn out to be.


So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our World of Warcraft: all opening cinematics, ranked? Are there more opening cinematics we should know about? Let us know down in the comments or over on our socials here



Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.