With patch 7.3, Blizzard Entertainment is closing out the story of World of Warcraft's Legion expansion. Xavius has been defeated in the Emerald Nightmare, Kil'jaeden has fallen, and the heroes of Azeroth have taken the fight to Argus, the homebase of the Burning Legion. Once they finish Antorus, the Burning Throne, the Burning Legion should be fully routed and one of World of Warcraft's biggest foes permanently weakened.
In a Year in Review video released back in September, World of Warcraft director Ion Hazzikostas heavily hinted at an expansion announcement.
"We are so excited, hard at work getting ready for BlizzCon and really can't wait to share everything that we've been working on. I know players are wondering what's coming next, where can we possibly go after this climactic battle that awaits us and can't wait to tell everybody more about it at BlizzCon," said Hazzikostas.
Blizzcon 2017 is this weekend and one of the earliest events in the Main Events area is a "World of Warcraft - What's Next" panel. "Join the World of Warcraft development team for an overview of what's in store next for the heroes of the Horde and the Alliance, including updates on the latest content and features," says the panel synopsis.
So what's next? With a combination of story hints and datamining, we have a rough idea. So here's what could be in the next.
The Island of Kul'Tiras
I've written about this before and the information still looks valid. A new set of quest armor on the Public Test Realms pointed to adventures in Kul'Tiras, the lost island to the south of Lordaeron. With the Cataclysm expansion, the island was pushed out into uncharted waters. The armor hints that maybe we'll be doing a bit of swashbuckling on the high seas.
Kul'Tiras is also the homeland of Jaina Proudmoore, a powerful mage and lead character in World of Warcraft lore. She was last seen leaving the Alliance behind and players have surmised that she's been corrupted by the the Old Gods. The quest armor seems to point to the entire region of Kul'Tiras being corrupted by one of the Old Gods, potentially N'Zoth.
A leaked image popped up recently pointing to the expansion's name as World of Warcraft: Tides of Vengeance. Of course, images can be faked, so take that with a grain of salt. More importantly, a recent preview showing the Blizzcon floor shows a Lordaeron logo and a new statue for Sylvanas.
Kul'Tiras is technically a part of the kingdom of Lordaeron and if you're going to be oceanbound, Sylvanas and her naga are prime suspects for some action.
The Old Gods
Patch 7.3.2 datamining by Wowhead points to actions by the final bosses of Antorus, the Burning Throne. Those actions leave a massive wound in the desert region of Silithus. Silithus was where players fought C'Thun. The wound will likely corrupt the land around itself and potentially Azeroth as a whole. The first wound in the world created the Well of Eternity; what will a second do?
It's possible that it could awaken all of the Old Gods: C'Thun, N'Zoth, and Yogg-Saron.
Many of the major expansions of World of Warcraft offer up a new race or two for players to try out. Warlords of Draenor skipped offering a new race or class completely, while Legion introduced the Demon Hunter class for both the Horde and Alliance. That means it's been some time since we've had a new race in World of Warcraft.
Datamining done by Blizzplanet on a WoW game database showed a full list of character races available in the game. On this database, some races are marked with data in "CreateScreenFile" and "SelectScreenFile," which determine which backgrounds show up on the character creation screen. There were several new races added to the database recently, but more importantly, four of them are marked with the specific data for character creation.
Those four races are subsets of existing playable World of Warcraft races: Nightborne Elves, Void Elves, Lightforged Draenei, and Highmountain Tauren. The Nightborne are arcane-powered versions of the Night Elves, who received a significant focus in Legion's Suramar questlines. They're closer to Blood Elves in their requirements for magic, but more like Night Elves physically.
Void Elves are theoretically Elves consumed by the magic power of the Void. The only example we have currently is High Elf Alleria Windrunner. As part of the Seat of the Triumvirate dungeon in patch 7.3, Alleria recently consumed the heart of dark naaru L'ura. The power turned her skin a deep black, giving her the powers of the Void. Theoretically, Void Elves will follow in her footsteps.
The Lightforged Draenai are the opposite number of the Void Elves. They are Draenai powered entirely by the Light of Creation. Priests and Paladins use the Light for their abilities, but these Draenei have given themselves over to it completely. The Army of the Light on Argus is comprised mostly of Lightforged Draenai.
Finally, there are the Highmountain Tauren, moose-antlered versions of the familiar Horde race. These Tauren also featured in Legion in the Highmountain zone. They are descendants of Huln Highmountain and his compatriots who fought in the War of the Ancients. For his work in the war, Huln received the blessing of Cenarius, giving him the distinctive antlers of his tribe, the Horns of Eche'ro.
Legion has been a successful expansion for Blizzard Entertainment, so it will be interesting to see if the studio can build upon that success with the next World of Warcraft expansion. We'll keep you posted with all of the infomation straight from Blizzcon this weekend.