So as I’ve mentioned before on this here blogspace internets, I’m a pretty avid player of World of Warcraft. I have a few level 80 characters, 2 of which are pretty well geared…one with all of Ulduar cleared in 10 man sans ol’ Alganon and most of the 25 man cleared, the other a glorious pvpsmith with a handful of Ulduar epics. Like most fans of the game I’m anxiously awaiting Blizzcon…well I guess ‘anxious’ would be a bit melodramatic…let’s just say I would kill for it. So what’s all this hubbub about!??1?
Blizzard will announce a new expansion for WoW at Blizzcon, it’s 99% certain. That’s as certain as you can get without knowing for sure, like if someone asked you “Tom Cruise eats chalk right?” thats how certain we are. The past Blizzcons have fluctuated between “huge game breaking announcements (ie an expansion) to nothing special (ie why did we hold this again?)” This years Blizzcon is one of the former, as last years was just bland, almost no new information with Wrath of the Lich King only a few months away and most of which had already been slowly seeped of surprises.
So what can we expect in the next expansion? Well that right there is the 11.5 billion subscriber question, and it takes a bit more brain gumption. Last week Blizzard copywrited(copywrote?) the term Cataclysm for the use in computer gaming. Ohhh, thats sort of like the time I copywri…I trademarked…the term Cathyclysm, a tale in which the Cathy comic comes to a horrible yet foreseeable end…Anyway, they also took it for marketing a ton of things (like stickers!) that are usually sold with an expansion (STICKERS!), which cause many to speculate that the Cataclysm is involved with the next WoW expansion. So what could the Cataclysm be?
Most speculate that it’s referring to the events that created the Maelstorm in Warcraft’s history. Basically when the Well of Eternity was destroyed it ripped the land of Azeroth in half forming the seperate continents that are in the old world game currently. Before that they were one giant Pangea style landmass, I assume with volcanos dinosaurs and albinos, but because of the cataclysm they were broken in half and drifted away from each other…much like Emmanuel Lewis and Alex Karras after the final season of Webster. What appeared between them was the Maelstorm a “swirling vortex of power” the Naga hail from. It can be assumed that this would be where the expansion would be set, the Maelstorm and its surrounding islands which harbor a large variety of locals from goblins and pirates to crabmen and dinosaurs.
Theres really nothing else tying the word Cataclysm to WoW’s lore. The only other thing it could mean, if it’s still an expansion, is that the world of Azeroth has entered a “new Cataclysm”, changing the entire old world and bringing in new beasties and villains. I don’t see this as a very likely possibility as that would take a serious amount of work, but it would actually be very neat if they used phasing technology once you hit a certain level or did a certain quest, and you saw an entire continent rip in half or something. The likelihood of this however, as I mentioned is very low, as it’s almost certainly referring to a Maelstorm-style ocean expansion.
So what would a Maelstorm expansion entail? There’s plenty of ground to cover for new zones, tons of new races to introduce and bad guys to loot…I mean vanquish. The main villain would almost definitely be Azshara, the queen of the Naga, who according to the art below looks sorta like Ursala from The Little Mermaid. Sweet, I’ve always wanted to fight a giant squidlady. Another area would be the peninsunation of Gil’neas, a kingdom of humans who said “You know what, fuck it.” and locked themselves away from the rest of the world. Everything that’s happened to them since then is a mystery which is wide open for exploration in a Maelstorm expansion.
Besides those areas, theres the Bloodsail Buccaneers who have been involved in a ton of the quests in original WoW as well as a few in Northrend. Their base/island/fortress would definitely be involved as well as their grand pirate leader, Duke Fairevere. A rival nation to the pirates would be Kul’Tiras a nation of humans who have allied with the Alliance in the past, they ship most of the goods the pirates pillage and would likely be a pretty large quest area. The Goblin town of Undermine would most definitely be the new city hub, like Dalaran and Shattrath before it. The areas are mostly tropical except of course the Maelstrom, but they do include a variety of species and geography much like how Lich King didn’t have only snow areas but forests and tundras.
Another possibility is the inclusion of Deathwing, a major lore figure who has yet to be seen in the game. Blizzard likes to put dragons into a major element of the story such as Malygos going insane for Lich King. This would also give them leeway to include some other old world zones players have wanted to see for quite some time, like Grim Batol. Plus you can never go wrong with evil dragons.
So besides locales what else will draw players into the expansion? The lore could actually be a problem as many players have stated they see Arthas as the main villain of Warcraft and that fighting someone besides him after hes “dead” would seem a step backwards. I don’t agree as Arthas has really only been a major character since Warcraft 3 and there has been plenty to play off before that.
What Blizzard will have to do is convince people Azshara is a bigger threat than even the Lich King, which really she could be as she not only has a kingdom of intelligent, super powerful devout followers, opposed to the thoughtless undead of Arthas, she rules the entire ocean. It’d be akin to the Alliance and Horde both twice as large and working under one ruler. The amount of power she could demonstrate if she were to attack the land would be phenomenal especially if she was backed by a powerful force, say an Old God or Deathwing.
Blizzard would have to depict her doing something at the end of Lich King that causes the player factions to target her. Much like Arthas had a brazen invasion of the capital cities she will have to do something of that magnitude to get players to come after her. I doubt it will be the same as an invasion every expansion would grow very old, besides I see her a much more cunning and sneaky villain than Arthas, she’s someone who would assassinate a faction leader or somehow create a coup. Perhaps she won’t even be involved at all but one of the island nations leaders comes to the factions and informs them of her quickly spreading influence and asks for help.
Besides lore there will most definitely be new features. The last two expansions added first 2 new races in Burning Crusade and then a new class of Death Knight in Lich King. Can we expect more of this for whatever comes next? The answer is yes. New races are fairly easy to implement and can give players a reason to play even more, something Blizzard wants to happen. New classes, while much harder to implement, do the same but also give the player base a direct connection to the new expansion as well as give them a completely new character to experience. Blizzard will not leave Deathknights as the only ‘hero’ class so there will almost certainly be a new one for that reason as well. First though, lets take a look at what it takes to even be considered as a racial candidate.
What it takes to be a race for a Maelstorm Expansion:
- Must be connected to the lore. This is the most important, a new race must be involved with the workings of the Maelstorm and have some direct reason for joining the conflict otherwise there’d be no reason to include them.
- Needs a reason to join a faction. For Burning Crusade the Blood Elves joined the Horde because they were scorned by the Alliance and needed help following their leader. They weren’t outright accepted like the Draenei were for the Alliance but they still had a reason. The Draenei on the other hand were forced to crash land by members of the Horde, that gives them plenty of reason to want to join and fight.
- Needs to be reasonable. There are some races that without a major change to their design will never be playable. I highly doubt we’ll ever get to play as glorious crabmen because not only do they not fit the top two but they wouldn’t be taken seriously. Some say Draeneis were the same before their model change and that could be a valid arguement but without futher examples I don’t see certain races ever being playable, races without legs for example.
- Needs a home. So far there have only been two new races, but both had their own starting areas and capitals. It could be that Blizzard just made an exception with these two and plans to add more that simply begin like the gnomes and trolls, in another race’s town, but I’d find that unlikely. In order to connect to the new race there must be some starting ground…a newbie zone. If they ever add a mass influx of new races maybe they could be refugees to a major faction’s town but I don’t see them adding any race in the third expansion who doesn’t even have a home.
Alright so who does that leave?
Goblins are likely to be a major contributing race to a Maelstorm expansion. They have a huge merchant town and a vast amount of ships and information. They also have close ties to both factions but have only officially joined the Horde during the second war. They broke it off however as working both sides is more profitable. That’s the problem for them to be playable unless its a brand new offshoot of Goblin who has different ideals theres almost no way they will commit to one side. The only other chance for them to be a playable race would be for them to be neutral and either pick a side during creation or work both sides as a faction free character. The chances of being faction free however are miniscule and while choosing during creation might be interesting it doesn’t really bode well for “a reason to join a faction” when you can join either at a whim.
Chance they’re playable: 45%
More likely to be on the: Horde, the goblins have joined them once before and it would be much more likely than to join only the Alliance. The alliance already has gnomes anyway which fits a similar role goblins would bring.
The pandarens are a favorite of many fans, some of which have been demanding they be included as playable in an expansion. Rumors floated during the vacant Alliance race debates of Burning Crusade that they were supposed to be the Ally race but were axed because of China’s adoration of pandas. This seems more a vast exaggeration to me as Chinese people do love them some pandas they are not going to ban a game because it depicts a giant pandaman’s death. They do have some pretty harsh censors in place anyway so if all else failed Pandarens could just become giant black bearmen and still serve the same purporse. I think the major problem for most of China was that they were pandas but they wore traditional Japanese garb, something that is pretty taboo over there. The more pressing problem i see with Pandarens is that while most love them some fans hate them. They did start as a April Fools joke so to some taking a giant pandaman seriously would kill what “realism” of the fantasy world that is Warcraft is left. I however think it’s just as realistic a giant panda can talk and fight as a giant cowman can. They may not be included simply because of that, but I do think there is a chance they could still make it as playable…just not a great one.
Chance they’re playable: 40%..if not in this expansion then they probably won’t ever be.
More likely to be on: Alliance, this was a tough call but there are a lot of similarities between Pandarens and Dwarves but enough to still have a pretty big disparity and bring something new to the Alliance, unlike for the Horde who already have the Tauren which have a similar disposition as most Pandarens.
The Wolvar are another great rumor from TBC but this time they could actually be involved. If Arugul makes a move in Northrend and reveals something about the isolated kingdom of Gilneas, something horrible like they’ve all been turned to werewolves (sweet) that would give a link between the expansions but also open up the kingdom as a new faction. This faction could join either side, they were never great friends with much of the Alliance, but also bring a new savage race to the game something fun and different, akin to the Draenei. I think out of most new race ideas this one is one of the more solid ones as many players want to play as one and they have a pretty epic backstory. The only problem would be that wolvars are one of the few races in Warcraft that are inherently evil. They were brought from a plane of hate or something, so to team them up with a faction would be a stretch…unless they were diluted of course.
Chance they’re playable: 45%, like the pandaren if they don’t make it in this expansion they probably won’t ever be.
More likely to be on: Alliance, I went with Allies for this one mainly because they don’t have a race like the Wolvars already as I imagine them being a lot like orcs. This could of course make them more likely to join the Horde but deep down they’re still humans so I think the allies win out.
The Naga have a huge history and would be a perfect candidate for a new race in a Maelstorm expansion. While they will probably be one of the major forces of villainy they could easily have a ‘good’ offshoot who doesn’t see the point of their queen’s expansionist ideals and murderous intent. This would be a lot like the blood elves of the horde after they found out Kael’s plan. The major problem however is they have no feet so no..shoe slot…and theres no telling what they’re ride for mounts. Another problem is there are literally two ‘good’ nagas in the entire game and neither are very friendly with either side.
Chance they’re playable: 20%
More likely to be on: Horde, the Naga have a similar ordeal that the Blood Elves faced in TBC and a similar outlook on the rest of the world as the Forsaken. The only problem is believing theres a group of Nagas who think their Queen is wrong, a rebellion that is much more understandable coming from a Blood Elf.
This is one of my favorite ideas for a race, the dragons left from the various experiments throughout the game. Any of them could work, from Deathwings tampering in Blades Edge or the work of Nefarion in BWL. There could easily be one faction who is ‘good’ who escape their captors and join a side to fight back against their oppressors. Plus how cool would it be if BWL was a starting ground for a new race…I’d be all over that. The problem is most Drakonid are huge and not very understanding of human ways so joining a faction would more than likely be beneath them but really the same could be said of Draenei before they had their model and lore changes.
Chance they’re playable: 20% in a Maelstorm expansion…ever? 70%, dragon races are all the rage these days.
More likely to be on: Either, Depending on how the lore is written either side could work with a race of dragons, fighting back against more than likely Deathwing. Just like the death knights before them which both sides accepted, they really could go either way.
Furbolgs have a huge connection to the Emerald Dream, which I haven’t mentioned yet but could very well be involved in a Maelstorm expansion. They also have tons of animations and could easily get an updated model to become a new player race. They also have plenty of room for a capital and great ties with the Night Elves already. The only problem is in just a Maelstorm expansion they don’t really fit.
Chance they’re playable: 20% in Maelstorm expansion…ever? 70%
More likely to be on: Alliance, while the taurens do have some connections with them and they are on good terms they are definitely better friends with the Night Elves. They also bring a more savage race to the alliance which some people say is still needed.
Alright thats enough for now. These are my thoughts for the next expansion but I’m only halfway done. Next post I’ll put what I think would make for good hero classes as well as some other ideas for what they’ll be adding thats “completely new and different” for an MMO. Most of the above race ideas can be found on http://www.wowwiki.com and have many more ups and downs than I mentioned, I just made my own opinions for them for this particular expansion. If you have some thoughts I welcome those as well just toss em in the comments.
Breedo would like everyone to know it took way to long to find out the name of the snake in Mario Brothers 2. It’s Cobrat btw.