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We now know two things about the next WoW Expansion:
- There will be a 5th Expansion
- It will be called Warlords of Draenor
That’s all we know for sure. Folks have bee speculating about Expansion 5 since Patch 5.2 was announced (Isle of Thunder/Throne of Thunder introduced). The two biggest topics of discussion for Expansion #5 are potential new classes and the Expansion’s setting. Based on the title alone I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume The Burning Legion will have a role to play. Those who don’t know WoW Lore either don’t know or don’t care to know The Legion is the universal “Big Bad” to both The Alliance and The Horde. The Legion hasn’t had a significant role in WoW since The Burning Crusade (WoW’s 1st Expansion. Henceforth I will refer to it as TBC), which takes place in Outland.
The updated Blasted Lands quest lines post-Cataclysm suggests The Legion’s footholds there since Medivh first opened the portal to Draenor has been removed by the Alliance and the Horde. There are still pockets of demons roaming around the Dark Portal but they’re nowhere near as dangerous as they were when the Draenei came from Outland. Elsewhere, the demons that have taken up residence in Ashenvale and Felwood are being cleared out by the Cenarion Circle, Timbermaw Hold and adventurers from the Alliance and the Horde.
Presently, Outland serves as the Level 58-68 quest experience for players. Once players hit level 68 they’re directed back to Stormwind/Orgrimmar, where they are deployed to the Frozen Wastes of Northrend.
Lorewise, the return to Outland was an important time for both the Alliance and the Horde. For the Alliance, they were able to reconnect with the allies they left behind when the Dark Portal was closed. The fate of Turalyon and his wife Alleria Windrunner (youngest sister of Vareesa Windrunner and Sylvanas Windrunner) is unknown and they are officially listed as missing. On the flipside, Ghostcrawler promised fans we will finally know what they’ve been up to un Expansion 5. For the Horde, the Orcs were able to reconnect with their ancestral homeland. Much to Thrall’s surprise, uncorrupted brown Orcs–the Mag’har–were found in Outland. Upon learning the son of his friend Gromm Hellscream has been living in Outland he meets with the young Garrosh Hellscream and takes him back to Orgrimmar, Two expansions later, he replaces Thrall as Warchief and at the end of Mists of Pandaria he is forcefully removed from power in Orgrimmar.
Let’s say Warlords of Draenor does takes us back to Outland. If it does, I don’t think it would be wrong to assume–and hope–the level 58-68 experience will be updated to reflect the passage of time. Blizzard does this regularly with each tier of conent when a new patch or expansion is added but one thing most agree on is in the case of Outland it’s LONG overdue for an overhaul:
- It’s believed the Death Knight starting area quest chain takes place between the end of TBC and when Onyxia is slain by Varian lorewise (What happened to Varian while he was missing was outlined in the Warcraft comics a few years back).
- Lorewise, Illdian Stormrage IS dead. The thing is, Illidan won a contest of dead characters fans would like brought back (!). If Blizzard can retcon the Lore to make the Draenei a playable race anything’s possible.
- Speaking of playable races: As everyone knows the Pandaren were originally supposed to be introduced as a playable race for the Horde in TBC. Those who played Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne may remember Chen Stormstout was a playable character in some Outland maps. Since the Pandaren wouldn’t have exactly fit with what they had planned for TBC Blood Elves were introduced opposite the Draenei instead as a playable race. To this day Blood Elves are the second most played race after Orcs.
- TBC also marked the first time a faction-exclusive class would be available to the other: The Draenei brought Shamanism to the Alliance while the Blood Elves introduced Paladins to the Horde.
- Speaking of Blood Elf Paladins: To avoid confusion with their Alliance counterparts they are called Blood Knights in lore. Before the Sunwell was purified, Blood Knights drew their power from the kidnapped Naaru M’uru. After the Sunwell was restored they drew their power from it once more. The lore on this was updated to reflect this change.
- The Draenei’s “role” has switched to supporting the Allance and preparing for the final battle with The Legion. It’s for this reason their presence is virtually non-existent outside Outland and unrelated Alliance quest chains in Swamp of Sorrows and Ashenvale.
That’s just a few things to mull over.
Those who have Black Temple on farm hoping for the Warglaives can relax: Blizzard will probably leave the original raid intact. One thing that definitely needs to be changed is forcing people out of the bottleneck that is Hellfire Penninsula. Speaking of which, Northrend and the Cataclysm areas having two intro zones is a direct result of what happened when TBC first launched. Thanks to Blizzard’s increased proficiency with phased questing (The technology was first introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. The zone will change for the player as they complete key quests in the zone) Pandaria returned to the one intro starting zone model.
I don’t know what the new expansion will be about but I certainly hope Blizzard gives Outland a long overdue overhaul.