What Will World of Warcraft's Next Expansion Be?
Its that time of year again for World of Warcraft players. What time is it you ask? Well its time to guess whats 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 were 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. Its about time considering Blizzard has said more times than I could count that theyd like to be on a yearly expansion schedule. With a new expansion possibly coming its 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. Its kind of a dream made up by Ysera which is the dragon aspect of the green dragonflight. Its 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? Thats The Maelstrom which was formed when the Well of Eternity exploded blowing Kalimdor into two halves. Its where the Naga live and well thats 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 its located south of The Maelstrom on the island of Kezan. 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.
Whats 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 KulTiras 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 dont 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). Its sort of a major port city in Azeroth and has been cut off from communication with the outside world for about ten years now. Its been speculated that the nation still stands, the Worgan have taken it over, or the Naga invaded it by the sea. Wouldnt 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 KulTiras is west of Khaz Modan and is a nation of the sea. In the Warcraft III bonus campaign you fight against the armies of KulTiras 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. Well probably see an expansion focused on the Goblins, the Naga, and to some extent the crab people and Murlocs. Considering Sargerass tomb is somewhere within The Maelstrom that all but gives us more reason than anything to storm in and kill some Naga.
If it isnt going to be the sea then itll be the Emerald Dream, but that may also come with a sea expansion. There probably wont be a lot to do in the Emerald Dream and I couldnt see an entire expansion in a area thats said to not have any towns or civilization.
What if its none of them? Well I guess youll 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 well see everyone who has a statue in The Burning Crusade (although this turned out not to be true). 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. 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 well 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! Its 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 youd own where you could put trophies down, have a garden, store items in your own houses 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 Blizzards end? Well, people keep saying that but whats really in a house? In DAoC houses had a few layouts and a few points where you could attach things. I dont 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 thats 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 Blizzards new MMO. Then we have to take into account that the beta test and major focus wont start until the end of Northrends story arc (or basically when Arthas is knocked off his throne). So well need Arthas out of the picture before we get out suntan and scuba gear out for the next expansion. Then well 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 well see it launched somewhere in Q4 of 2010 if its announced this year.
Of course, thats just an opinion. It could come out tomorrow and surprise us all! (Yeah, not likely.)
Well until we hear something were left with nothing but rumors or speculation. Though, we have to consider this one last fact. Blizzards new MMO is coming up soon and its coming out with a purpose. Blizzard wouldnt 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 WoWs finale (or what will be the ultimate showdown with Sargeras). Many speculate that youll be fighting him at level 100.
Whats your opinion? Come share them with us on the forums!