Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Coming Storm: The Maelstrom, the Dream, and Two Possible New Allies

Many people in the Warcraft communities (myself included) are starting to foam at the mouth over the possibilities of playable Worgen and Goblins. There are many hints being dropped that this will likely be the case, being both of them have loot and walking backward animations (which normally only playable characters have) and what not. Not to mention that Blizzcon is right around the corner and we will probably have the grand announcement of what WoW's future will be there.

Again, there is no official word on what the expansion will be and if there even be new playable races. But, as many people on the MMO Champion website can attest to, if its owner, Boubouille, makes an announcement over upcoming content, he's always right. Something that I personally agree with as well, being I've been following Boub's posts on MMO Champion for a couple years now and I've yet to see him be wrong on upcoming content. He also informs us that the Emerald Dream files that have been in WoW's database for -years- have been recently updated...

So! Exciting times are upon us once again... (Possible spoilers ahead.)

Musings on the Future Expansion

Pretty much every thing I've seen on the net, whether it be fan-based speculation or bread crumbs dropped from Blizzard's staff, points squarely at the Maelstrom and the Emerald Dream. Now wait-- BOTH the Dream and the Maelstrom? I don't see why not... Personally, I think that would be the best route considering the possible implication of additional races. There has been a great deal of talk in recent game events about the tainting of the Dream--The quest "Hope Within the Emerald Nightmare" being one of the most recent occurrences.

In the 3.2 PTR, there is a quest that sends you to Thunder Bluff (I haven't tried the Alliance counterpart yet, if there is one, but I'd assume that it's the same?) and you overhear two druids talking about the imbalance of magic within the Cenarion Circle itself. Whether this is a pre-cursor for something in Patch 3.3, Icecrown Citadel, or in the expansion is currently unknown. Though, if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say it's a sign of what is to come in the new X-Pac.

Rumblings in-game regarding the Emerald Dream/Nightmare has been around since the vanilla days of WoW, seen in Wailing Caverns and the eventual redemption of Eranikus, and more recently the the infestation of the Stormrage Barrow Dens in Moonglade and the defeat of Anzu. Now, while the Dream is, essentially, a version of Azeroth untainted by those of the mortal races, I can't see it being a main zone. It's just too big--and probably needless to see all of Azeroth when you can concentrate on one singular area of focus.

For years, shortly before the time of the Burning Crusade, to be exact, I have felt that if we were to go to the Dream, we'd go to the last vestiges that have not been tainted. Which would be, in my mind, the Eye of Ysera, the area where She of the Dreaming herself slumbers. There we would see the Dream as it should be, but when we venture outwards, we would bear witness to the encroaching corruption. How large would this area be...? I'm not certain. Big enough to not seem too minuscule, so I'd wager it'd be around the combined size of Icecrown and Storm Peaks.

As for the Maelstrom, I am not certain as to what will be done there. I would love to have there be an emphasis on underwater zones and travel, but that might be too much work for Blizzard... So, I think it is safe to say that most of our interactions in the Maelstrom will be on the many islands that surround the Rift. Places like Tel'Abim, Kezan, Zandalar, the Broken Isles, the Darkspear Strand, and so on... However, I am not certain about Nazjatar's fate. Will it rise from the watery depths, as it was done with the Tomb of Sargeras? Or will we go down to it to have a nice spear-to-heart chat with Queen Azshara?

Putting design plans aside for a moment, it's pretty obvious that the next mount choices will be aquatic ones. We already have one, the Sea Turtle (which I honestly thought signaled that the Maelstrom would be the next main quest hub in the next expansion), so I'd assume that they'd give us fast aquatic mounts (possibly with some form of re-breather or underwater breathing enchant) that are bound to the Maelstrom area.

There is one location I'm rather uncertain about; the island nation of Kul Tiras, which was once home to Jaina Proudmoore, much of Theramore, and one of the best naval fleets of the Human race. Being that Kul'Tiras is a HUGE part of the Warcraft storyline, I think it'd be rather moronic to not include it in a predominantly naval themed expansion (Especially since, to this day, Kul Tiras is being constantly attacked by Murlocs and Naga). I'm just not certain where it'll fit... It could be a port of call/questing area for the Eastern Kingdom-side of the world, transport to it being located in good ol' Menethil Harbor (and Stormwind Harbor, I'd imagine. There is an unused dock there, after all).

However, being that Kul'Tiras has a rather long standing grudge against Orcs and those associated with them, I'm not certain how hospitable it'd be for those of the Horde. However, since Jaina has been trying very hard to keep relations between the Horde and Alliance at least slightly amicable, she might convince her brother, Admiral Tandred Proudmoore, for the Kul Tirans to stay their blades.

Well, that's all I'll prattle on about for the time being. Next installment will be focusing more on what might become of the Worgen and Goblin races and their involvement with the World of Warcraft.