ItÂs that time of year again for World of Warcraft players. What time is it you ask? Well itÂs time to guess whatÂs going to get announced at BlizzCon this year. Last year we got the major announcement that StarCraft II was going to be three whole games and that Blizzard is going to be releasing WotLK soon. Now weÂre at the point where the rumor mill is in full swing and we get to look again at what Blizzard could be cooking.
So, what are they cooking up? Well there is that unannounced MMO based on a unique IP. The other could be the next WoW expansion. ItÂs about time considering Blizzard has said more times than I could count that theyÂd like to be on a yearly expansion schedule. With a new expansion possibly coming itÂs time to talk about where the PvE content is going to be, what changes are going to come, and when will it be out.
Where Could It Be?
Well there are two major locations left for us to explore before we have to take off into space or explore underneath the Earth. The first one is the popular Emerald Dream which is basically what Azeroth would be without Humans and Elves. ItÂs kind of a dream made up by Ysera which is the dragon aspect of the green dragonflight. ItÂs currently attack by the Emerald Nightmare and Malfurion and Cenarius are currently helping Ysera fight it away.
The other popular idea is The Maelstrom. You know when you take a flight or a boat you see that swirling area in the middle of the map? ThatÂs The Maelstrom which was formed when the Well of Eternity exploded blowing Kalimdor into two halves. ItÂs where the Naga live and well thatÂs about it.
An expansion focused on the Emerald Dream would take you into a world without civilization full of nature loving Druids while an expansion focused on The Maelstrom would take you underwater into an Atlantis styled world. Personally neither of them appeal to me because Naga are boring, Druids are weird, and neither can produce enough landmass for my 30 bucks.
Some argue that Undermine would serve as a good location, but believers of Undermine are not the majority. Undermine is the goblin capital and itÂs located south of The Maelstrom on the island of Kezan.Â The Undermine would be a really cool place to go since a lot of the books and lore manuals make it out to be located within a volcano. Goblins also have a lot of extensive lore connected to them.
WhatÂs the most likely thing to come out? Well, a lot of devs and CMs have been teasing players with the idea that the old world will see phasing, Greymane Wall will come down, and the areas of Gilneas and KulÂTiras will open. Metzen even mentioned back in February of this year that they have some interesting plans for Gilneas. This provides us with some interesting speculation.
Gilneas, for those of you who donÂt know, is one of the Human nations that was forgotten about when WoW launched. They constructed The Greymane wall and blocked it off (the wall being named after its leader of course). ItÂs sort of a major port city in Azeroth and has been cut off from communication with the outside world for about ten years now. ItÂs been speculated that the nation still stands, the Worgan have taken it over, or the Naga invaded it by the sea. WouldnÂt it be convenient in a sea expansion for the Naga to be assaulting Gilneas and the people come begging the other Human nations to help?
The nation of KulÂTiras is west of Khaz Modan and is a nation of the sea. In the Warcraft III bonus campaign you fight against the armies of KulÂTiras Lots of RPG source books place them in a constant state of strife fighting off the Naga, Murlocs, and pirates. Again a nation that is affected by the great oceans of Azeroth.
I would say with these tiny hints and teases that the next expansion will probably take to the waters. WeÂll probably see an expansion focused on the Goblins, the Naga, and to some extent the crab people and Murlocs. Considering SargerasÂs tomb is somewhere within The Maelstrom that all but gives us more reason than anything to storm in and kill some Naga.
If it isnÂt going to be the sea then itÂll be the Emerald Dream, but that may also come with a sea expansion. There probably wonÂt be a lot to do in the Emerald Dream and I couldnÂt see an entire expansion in a area thatÂs said to not have any towns or civilization.
What if itÂs none of them? Well I guess youÂll be in for a surprise (not) because there is always space!
Here is what the rumor mill has churning for possible space exploration. First and foremost there are other planets out that are either under attack by the Burning Legion or are conquered by the Burning Legion. Secondly, Turalyon from the Warcraft II games was lost on Draenor and Tigole has said that weÂll see everyone who has a statue in The Burning Crusade (although this turned out not to be true).Â Well, Turalyon is missing. Could he have flown off into space or something?
Next we have the room in Ulduar that shows us other planets. We also have had Blizzard talk about sending players to other planets from Shattrath as an option they had for a patch.Â Not to mention the bounds and bounds of lore involving other planets and dimensions. Oh, and there is the planet Argus which all of the Eredar come from (think Draenei) confirmed by one of the starting NPCs in Bloodmyst.
The likelihood of us returning to space anytime soon is very slim, at least in my opinion.
Possible Changes Coming
With a new expansion comes a complete rework of the game, ten more levels, and the possibility of more classes and races. What changes could we see to the game engine? Well we have vehicles and hopefully weÂll get a patch somewhere along the line that finds a way for spell plate to be useful for more than just Holy paladins. Phasing and bind-on-account items are in. So what could be left?
Player housing! ItÂs been a long time since this topic came up and what better than an expansion to give players something more to do. Player housing would be a customizable little house that youÂd own where you could put trophies down, have a garden, store items in your own houseÂs bank, and probably have vendors as well. Games like Dark Ages of Camelot and Ultima Online were the pioneers of housing in mainstream MMOs. Is it possible? Yes. Would it require a lot of data on BlizzardÂs end? Well, people keep saying that but whatÂs really in a house? In DAoC houses had a few layouts and a few points where you could attach things. I donÂt really see a lot of data to be had in anything related to housing except the bank slots.
Other changes are up in the air. Phasing of the old world is one of the many things devs have been teasing about, but thatÂs old technology.
When Will It Be Out?
Good question with a bad answer. We first have to assume that this Blizzcon will announce a new expansion which it may not and just focus on BlizzardÂs new MMO. Then we have to take into account that the beta test and major focus wonÂt start until the end of NorthrendÂs story arc (or basically when Arthas is knocked off his throne). So weÂll need Arthas out of the picture before we get out suntan and scuba gear out for the next expansion. Then weÂll need a beta test phase which will last a couple of months and of course another month or so to launch the game. I would personally put an estimation that weÂll see it launched somewhere in Q4 of 2010 if itÂs announced this year.
Of course, thatÂs just an opinion. It could come out tomorrow and surprise us all! (Yeah, not likely.)
Well until we hear something weÂre left with nothing but rumors or speculation. Though, we have to consider this one last fact. BlizzardÂs new MMO is coming up soon and itÂs coming out with a purpose. Blizzard wouldnÂt pour vast amounts of money into a new game that was just going to steal away already paying WoW players. So whatever the expansion is, it will probably be ramping up to WoWÂs finale (or what will be the ultimate showdown with Sargeras). Many speculate that youÂll be fighting him at level 100.
WhatÂs your opinion? Come share them with us on the forums!