It was inevitable, really, that as soon as the dust settled after the ‘6.2 is the last Patch of the Expansion’ announcement, people would start speculating. In fact, as I have reported on my own site this week, Silly Season has arrived with a Hype Train full of potential possibilities around what players can expect from the NEXT Expansion. Between you and me I’m still reasonably convinced that announcement is going to happen in Germany this time around (reasoning is here, if you’re interested.) As a result, the last few week’s emergent crop of potential story possibilities have more than a plausible grain of truth about them, because just about anyone will tell you that Blizzard register copyright for potential titles quite close to the Expansion announcement dates. In fact, as you read this, that might just be happening.
So, what is possible this time around? A new class, perhaps? Will we stay in the past or is it back to Azeroth Prime for a massive showdown of Demonic proportions? Fortunately for you I’ve done all the legwork to gather the best (and possibly worst) of all the current rumors on the block surrounding the Future of the MMO Everyone Loves to Hate. So, bearing this in mind, I need to add the following standard disclaimer before we begin:
WARNING: All of these potential rumors are just that, 100% NOT BASED IN FACT. I cannot confirm or deny anything, don’t shoot the messenger, the value of your Expansion Rumor may go down as well as up, CAUTION GNOMES ARE HOT.
Okay then, let’s go Team Expansion!
1. The Dark Prophet : Possibility factor? 6/10
I didn’t know about this one until it was pointed out to me by a number of people I really rather respect, and the speed at which references to it were removed from both Reddit and 4chan would make you think there was something to the possibility. Basically, Zul and Azshara would be your villains (it’s the Eye of Azshara idea that just won’t stay dead, see below,) an almost token Troll reference (because you can’t have an Expansion without Trolls EXCEPT DRAENOR DID HAH!) Most importantly you’d get a brand new class, the Shadowstalker: you’ll wield bows, crossbows and guns but with a focus on magical attacks.
Dark Ranger and Shadow Hunter would be your two DPS-centric specs, with Spirit Mending focusing on healing, though how you’d do that with a gun is something I’d like to see some serious explanation on. Needless to say, it got squished pretty fast, but if you’d like to know more someone kindly made a video. However, all I have to do is say TOMB OF SARGERAS and lots of people will weep spontaneously into their beverages of choice. Some rumors really know how to make grown men cry.
2. Council of Glades : Possibility Factor? 7/10
When this broke on Monday it took an hour for someone to effectively debunk the leak, yet many people seem to want to cling onto this one as legitimate. Ironically you need to have read Warcraft Comics and Manga (I didn’t even know this existed!) to understand the background of this one: apparently there’s a new Council of Tirisfal that was formed sometime after Wrath of the Lich King to ‘deal with Cho’Gall and his masters because the armies of Azeroth were focused on Northrend and the Scourge’ (source is here.) There’s some pretty notable players on this thing, including Ms J. Proudmoore, Dwarven favourite Rohan, and Valeera Sanguinar, plus all manner of other interesting people from both Horde and Alliance.
It goes without saying that in Draenor that Cho’Gall dude’s quite a big deal with Gul’dan, and this Council ‘thing’ could hint at the possibility that Horde/Alliance work together as a team properly for a change, allowing the formation of a third neutral faction that I know a few of you would certainly ascribe to. In all of this mess, this one actually has some ring of truth about it. Watch for websites being registered in the next few days.
3. Eye of Azshara : Possibility Factor 4/10
Despite the fact the validity of this rumor was effectively refuted months after it was news for everybody before last year’s Blizzcon, the idea of the Naga race doing the business refuses to stay dead. A lot of it has to do with certain player’s reticence to believe that Farahlon will never get visited in Draenor, and that the Ogre backstory needs to be better covered than it was in the Expansion to begin with, and that all that content they trashed has to be recycled for something. There’s a thread on the US Forums as late as May of this year still discussing the possibility: Naga and Murlocs, maybe with some Ogres mixed in for good measure.
The fact is, everyone has a theory, and nothing is effectively off the table until Blizzard announce something at some point between here and November in Anaheim. So yes, have your day in the sun, Azshara fans. At this point you’re as likely to be as right as anybody else.
4. 6.2.2 and a Timewalking Raid (Karazhan) : Possibility Factor 5/10
I have to put this one in here because for many, there’s just no chance in the History of Ever that Blizzard will announce anything before Blizzcon. However, even these stalwarts admit that Warcraft news is thin on the ground, and therefore the player-base needs something to tide them over until next year. So, we’ll get a mini-patch announcement and a token boss to fight, or even better Blizzard will repackage Karazhan as a Timewalking Raid and pass it off as the content they meant to save for the end of the Expansion all along.
At this point? See Number 3 above. Hell, as far as I know we could be getting Corgis Unleashed as a legitimate filler at this point with the Corgi itself as a dps, healing and tanking class all of their own.
5. You get nothing. Nada. Zip. The Expansion, like the Eponymous Cake, is a Lie.
The thing is, rumor is just that. Speculation is as wild and exciting as you decide you want it to be, with graphics and copies of official forms and whatever the heck you can invent, but the irrefutable fact is stark indeed. Nobody knows but Blizzard what’s next, and they’re not talking. I could cite countless rumors, betray confidences that I know are true, or any point in between in order to concoct a story to put here that would frankly be no more than a fabrication. There is no hard evidence, because this Expansion, when it launches, may well determine whether Warcraft survives another 10 years as a Blizzard title.
It would not be an understatement to say that if Blizzard have made all of these changes and amendments to the life of the previous Expansion just so the upcoming one can coincide with the Motion Picture release, there will be a great deal riding on that title’s success. That means keeping things a secret. It could conceivably dictate that the whole Expansion’s finished already, artwork completed months ahead of normal schedules. There are many who will tell you it looks like a skeleton staff is currently working on the game as it stands, and they may well have a point, especially when I know there have been some very high profile hires in recent months who we have discussed have been bought in for a very good reason.
There are those in the US who maintain that the Gamescom hype is just that, that this company who has previously been at pains to appease a home audience ahead of the rest of the World has no desire to truly go Global. Except actually, it already has without many of them even noticing: Warcraft’s focus on the US market makes up a decreasing part of the company’s overall business. Perhaps the most telling move of all in the last few weeks has been to summarily shift Blizzard’s Q2 Earnings Call to the day before the Company gives that invitation-only press briefing in Germany. Whatever you think will happen, the first week in August is likely to be significant indeed for everyone in Azeroth and beyond.
So, if you’re fed up with all the speculation, this comes down to a 50/50 chance that Blizzard will announce something next week, or they won’t. Considering the process of Expansion from Blizzcon to release took a year last time, and they still weren’t fully prepared when it did… If the company want this product out I really hope they’ve got the legs on them to do so from a November start, because that would mean six months from announcement to completion, and that would break all sorts of records. Honestly? In my heart I hope that finally an acceptance of a Global market means giving this Expansion to Europe first, forcing the US market to make an early start so that they understand what that’s like for the rest of us for a change.
We’ll know soon enough, of course. It’s T Minus 7 days to the Press Conference We Will Not Speak of Again until it happens. If you want me in the meantime? I’ll be in my Stromberg Style Underwater Lair listening to classical music, very loudly…Related: Column, Expansion, Gamescom, Gamescom 2015, MMO, MMORPG, Rumor, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday