Welp, we enter the week leading up to Blizzcon 2013, and everybody in the twitterverse is all excite. There has been a lot of speculation about what we might see at this fabled gathering this year. Allow me to contribute my hysterical speculations.
What we know
- 5.4.0 is the final content patch for Mists. What we’re looking at is pretty much as far as this goes for this expansion – it’s the ICC of Pandaria. Which more or less leaves us to our own devices until the next expansion, which has not been announced at this time. Yes, there is a 5.4.1, for which you have already received a patch (though it doesn’t do much yet). That’s a far cry from more real content though.
- Ergo if there are any "content" patches beyond 5.4.0, we can probably expect more time-killing activities ala land-of-the-endless-dailies or Timeless Isle (this is more opinion than fact).
- We also have this roadmap, posted in 2007 and allegedly from 2003 which has proven to be extremely accurate in general terms. You can see all the pieces here, though sometimes they arrive in different order than originally planned. For example, Pandaria was originally going to be a part of a far larger expansion, from the looks of it, which would have included bits of the Cata expansion as well. I guess what I’m saying here is that looking here for direction is not entirely out of line, based on past experience, but it requires a heavy amount of interpretation.
- If one goes by that roadmap, we have one major piece not yet addressed – The Burning Legion.
Now we Speculate
What follows is a series of thoughts based on what we have seen out in the wider internets. I’m not claiming to know what’s going to happen, but I do reserve the right to crow just a little for each item I get right. :)
There will be an expansion announced
That’s probably obvious to most, but it should be noted that Blizz has not stated that there will be. Reasonably, the announcement will take place on the first day. What we see is "World of Warcraft: What’s Next" and World of Warcraft: The Adventure Continues" when we look at the Blizzcon schedule.
What we do NOT see is availability of the expansion for playtesting, as we had with MoP. I do NOT recall if that was actually part of the schedule last time. It would be helpful to be able to remember.
Given all the above, however, one thing we do know is that we’re done with MoP. If they don’t announce here, it’ll be at some smaller trade show later on, and I don’t think they’re going to do that to their flagship product.
Ergo, now is the time.
The expansion will involve the Burning Legion.
We don’t have a lot to go on here except for that fabled road map. Considering its accuracy, I’m inclined to look to it for inspiration.
There is also the fact that many, many of the in-game and out-of-game lore pieces have been very strongly focused on the Legion and things around it. The adventures of Anduin, for example, as well as Wrathion. We KNOW the Legion is going to be a huge part of WoW at some point, it’s a confrontation that is being teased in lore and legend and prophesy. Between them and the Old Gods, we’re looking at 80% of what threatens Azeroth. Maybe more.
The expansion will be called "Warlords of Draenor"
I admit this may be premature, in that the trademark was applied for outside the US and only a week before the Con. However, it does fit in with the story arc we’ve been uncovering.
An alternate, The Dark Below, does have some bearing on the Old Gods thread, but if I remember correctly, that was discredited not long after it appeared in trademark sites.
One should also remember that the same trademark sites have been used for the Warlords title, and take both with a grain of salt.
The expansion will involve a new, "lost" continent of Draenor.
One should remember that Outland was not Draenor, but simply a part of it, one continent on a larger world. Given Blizz’s penchant for pulling entire lost continents out of their electronic butts, doing so on a world about which we know SO LITTLE makes a certain amount of sense.
Also, discovery of this continent leads us to …
Alleria and Turalyon will return
Theory: they found their way onto the lost continent and were either detained or could not find the way back. After many years of research and hard work, they’ve opened a portal that leads back to the dormant one in Zangarmarsh. Or maybe Blizz invents some new sort of Twisted Nether transport vehicle similar to a cross between an airship and a sailboat (The AD&D Astral plane was full of such vehicles, and they were super cool). After many years and with the assistance of a stranded colony of Ethereals, they have returned in style.
It should be noted that these two have been teased for at least two expansions in the "hints and tips" pane of the loading screen – which is one reason I leave that feature turned on.
I’m not sure if they’ll be a new player race similar to the Pandas or not (bi-factional) or if they’ll belong to one faction and some other race fill in for the other. If the latter, I have no idea who it would be.
It’s all weaksauce regardless. I am basing this on the merest whiff of a hint dropped here and there.
But if they are a new player race, I bet the starting zone is associated with where Alleria and Turalyon were stranded.
Outland will not get a revamp
There was a lot of joyful / hysterical speculation in Twitter especially that Outland would at last get its remodel and quest streamlining. I doubt this myself because (a) the Cata remodel of Azeroth was not a cracking success and (b) they hate going back to old stuff.
There was the Twitter sub-thread that Outland would be revamped and be NEW content for the new expansion. I doubt this because then they’d have to fill in the 60-70 leveling gap from bits of Azeroth and/or Northrend, and I doubt they want to do something so complicated. HOWEVER, I do consider this to be more likely than revamping it "just because".
The new level cap will be 100
The most blatant clue about this is that several BoA items drop from Garrosh that "require level 90 to 100", which is an odd thing for the tooltip to say if the next expansion is good for only five levels, I think you’d agree.
The less obvious clues are back in that roadmap. It’s fairly clear from looking at it that bits of Wrath, Cata, and MoP were meant to come together as one large expansion. For example, Worgen were possibly supposed to be part of the same expansion as Pandarens. And, thus, the remaining pieces do seem to come together as a whole expansion, rather than a mini-expansion such as what we’ve been getting.
There are no indications of any new class
That’s not entirely true. Consider the Pandaren. Outside of the roadmap doc, the only reference to Pandaren in game terms was as a practical joke or two. Blizz insisted that there could be no possible way that they’d ever make it into the game as a serious race.
What class has also been likewise the source of jokes and amusement? Why, the Bard, of course! So there’s that.
More likely, though, I think we might see another attempt at a Hero Class, this time with less problems than the DK rollout. Possible candidates: that have been hinted at here and there: Archdruid (from Druid, possibly from Stormrage himself), Archmage (from Mage, possibly from Jaina), Necromancer (Warlock, possibly related to the Green Fire quest line), Ranger (from Hunter, possibly via Alleria), and Vindicator (from Paladin, possibly related to Turalyon)
Since this is such an empty bucket, anything that fills it will be no particular surprise.
Release will be in the Holiday timeframe, 2014
I know, someone once asked me, "surely you can’t expect people to wait 14 months for an expansion?" This’ll be closer to 12, which is a reasonable cycle but one that is largely devoid of content, nonetheless.
Expect beta testing to be over the summer, with the final polish going on around August.
Will they announce that this is the schedule. Well, they never have before, so I’m doubtful.
YOU FACE JARAXXUS
Crap. Not again.
Seriously, we need the Dance Studio for this one. Obviously.
Probably. I could hope to see things like ink-derived armor dye, but there is no indication. We’ll probably see at least one more trade skill streamlined as Blacksmithing has. But most people will focus on the Big Picture, and who can blame them?
Bottom line is, I have a suspicion about where things will go, but no hard facts to back it up. Clues are not facts.
I do, however, think this particular story line would be very, very cool.
I’ll be watching this as much as anyone else. Excite!