Nearly every year Blizzard fanatics are presented with a two day “festival” to celebrate three franchises that have impacted the gaming world like few others before them. These three games?
Diablo, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.
They call this gathering BlizzCon (check out our BlizzCon predictions from 2011 for a trip down memory lane) and for Blizzard fans around the world the excitement level is right up there with every major holiday combined.
That’s because on November 8th at the Anaheim Convention Center WoW fans will have a very important question answered: “What’s next for Azeroth?”
The Return of High General Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner?
‘Wrath of Turalyon’ card from World of Warcraft TCG.
Throughout the last year since the announcement of Mists of Pandaria (WoW‘s current expansion) there have been myriad rumors, hints, and most importantly trademarks (fake or real) put forth. The burning question on everyone’s mind: What is the next expansion for World of Warcraft?
The first hint dropped was from the man behind World of Warcraft‘s storyline, Chris Metzen. Shortly after the launch of Mists of Pandaria Metzen answered some questions from fans; the gleaming piece of info that came from this was that High General Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner were confirmed (yes, confirmed) to return for the next expansion.
Here’s the short story behind Turalyon and Alleria according to Wowpedia: the two are revered Alliance heroes who “led the Alliance Expedition to the planet of Draenor (known now as Outland). Despite a series of military victories, the Alliance was unable to stop the Warchief of Draenor Ner’zhul from opening the portals which tore the planet apart. Turalyon and his lover Alleria disappeared some time after that battle and have not been heard from for many years.”
Players had been expecting to see Turalyon and Alleria when we ventured into Outland to deal with Illidan Stormrage (the final raid boss of The Black Temple). Obviously, we did not. It raised the question that will hopefully be answered in the next act of WoW‘s story: where the hell did they go?
World of Warcraft‘s 10th Anniversary
Could we be getting updated character models just in time for WoW‘s 10th anniversary?
Aside from this quote involving these two major lore figures, not much else has been let loose about the next expansion. Many players, former and current, surmise that since World of Warcraft‘s 10th anniversary is next year (the same year one may assume the next expansion will launch) Blizzard will be doing the following:
Implementing updated Vanilla/Burning Crusade player models
This has been requested more-so than anything else over the past few years, yet Blizzard has come outright and stated they won’t sacrifice content to get them done. An amelioration of visuals that at times can look very dated (it’s been nearly ten years after all) could be just the move to interject some much needed excitement among old and new fans of the game alike, however.
Return of the Burning Legion
Disregarding the assumptions one may come to with the return of Turalyon and Alleria, what other faction should we face with World of Warcraft‘s 10th anniversary? The Burning Legion is the iconic face/villain of the Warcraft franchise, existing since the first Warcraft game itself.
Return of 10 level cap boost
Personally, I want this to be the case. I don’t know if others agree with me, but a 5 level grind feels so much worse than 10 levels. Though the experience gain would obviously be the same as another 5 levels, I feel my character actually progress as he levels up quicker (and to a higher number than a simple 5). The name thing that fuels this belief that next expansion will be from 10 levels is due to the BoA Weapon Drops off of Garrosh Hellscream going from levels 90-100. Of course this could simply mean that they’ll be useful for two 5 level expansions, but where’s the fun in that?
Massive new continent
Larger than Pandaria, at least. Though I love Pandaria and it feels like a grand zone, I sometimes find myself feeling as though it’s “lacking” and not as expansive as Outlands and Northrend. Wrath of the Lich King to this day remains one of my favorite expansions and this is largely due to the diversity and feel of Northrend as a whole.
New playable class
This one’s a given. Most expect the Demon Hunter class to finally be introduced since it’s been one of the most anticipated/sought after classes since World of Warcraft launched.
Will the next WoW expansion see players finally taking control of Demon Hunters? Or will the next class implemented be something even more suitable?
Two new races
Ogres and High Elves? Ethereals and Naga? Races apropos to the Burning Legion’s return? Something crazy we don’t even know about?
I think the theme of “go big or go home” is setting in now.
Are player’s expectations too high? I think they may be, but of course, we’ll see this Friday.
The Dark Below a Hoax?
Now, in the last few months, we’ve been offered a two possible (albeit one is more likely than the other) glimpses at what the expansion might be.
The first, widely regarded now as a fake, is The Dark Below. I’d imagine quite a few of us remember months back when the “trademark” was initially uncovered. The second this occurred, various WoW fansites and message boards (AiPT included) exploded with theories and guesses (Azshara and N’zoth will be the villains, for instance) for what the possible World of Warcraft expansion might entail.
There were some factors around the trademarking that made The Dark Below seem very feasible: it was done in similar fashion to Mists of Pandaria’s trademarking; around the same time duration in between expansions that Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria saw; and in a perfect position before BlizzCon.
Then it was debunked. Through the fake trademarking of “Corgis Unleashed”, and “The Dark Below” never being made official by the trademarker it was applied at, this name would fade into the true dark below and labeled a fake.
Is the Dark Below truly a fake? Once more, we’ll know on Friday!
‘Warlords of Draenor’ and Time Travel?
Artwork by Koz23.
Now, the second trademark that’s been filed was done this week, and boy it is a doozy. The trademark’s name is “Warlords of Draenor”, filed by Blizzard as of last Friday.
Funny story: there’s a thread still going strong on the MMO-Champion forums, posted by a one post user by the name of “Geheimnis”. He claimed the upcoming expansion’s name was “Warlords of Draenor” (before the trademark was filed, I might add) and it’d involve time travel.
Initially, all forum users debunked it as a fake until the actual name was trademarked. Many are currently connecting dots with a multitude of other “hints” present in game (and accidentally in game). If either trademark is the expansion, this seems like the more likely choice.
Disregarding the actual trademarking, you may think: “How would this work?”, “How would Time Travel be implemented?” and “How would we even venture to Draenor?”
Tin foil hat time, readers, so hang onto your heads:
As of Patch 5.4, a new group, known simply as the “Timewalkers” were introduced with the Timeless Isle. Led by a Bronze Dragon named Kairoz, they offered glimpses into time (present, future, AND past). When I saw this in game, my initial thought was this: why would Blizzard implement such a faction in an expansion like Mists?
The Bronze Dragonflight, guardians of the timeways, had no actual role in the expansion until now. None of the dragonflights had a single role in Mists of Pandaria until 5.4. It seems odd to place such a seemingly out of place faction in game with the final major patch of the expansion, no?
Furthermore, for other serious lore fans much like me, I’d imagine you’re wondering how we would even go to Draenor if this was the expansion. Time travel is the key.
I don’t want to get into the specifics of time travel nor how it could possibly work (“wibbley wobbley timey wimey” in the wise words of Doctor Who) because I barely understand it myself. These are some guesses though that we can surmise from all these facts presented in this article as a whole:
“Warlords of Draenor” is the more likely and possible expansion. Though I don’t think Blizzard should go the time travel route (if they even are), it’d be an interesting approach to reincorporating the Burning Legion into the story and exploring the whole of Draenor.
By venturing to Draenor, we’d of course be encountering Turalyon and Alleria. Metzen’s quote taken from last year now makes much more sense now, doesn’t it?
If the expansion is Warlords of Draenor, the expansion may not even take place on Draenor; it may take place on another Burning Legion infested planet, yet these Warlords of Draenor (whoever they might be) would be central to the plot.
Timewalkers/Time Travel itself will be key. Once more, if we’re going to travel back to Draenor in tact (or mostly), we’ve have to do so by using the Time Walkers or Bronze Dragonflight.
Blizzcon this year is shaping up to be huge. In all my years of playing World of Warcraft I’ve never seen personal friends of mine, other forum users of WoW fan sites (MMO-Champion for instance), nor MMO players in general be so hyped for the answer to the question wracking everyone’s minds: What’s next for Azeroth?