Monday, August 13, 2007

Guesses About the next WoW Expansion

The excitement players experience when a MMO expansion is announced can sometimes start a chain reaction of speculation which can easily get out of control. With World of Warcraft the announcement for the next expansion hasn't even been made yet and already every MMO site is guessing on what title, races, and classes will be in the game. Rumours are flying around the Internet at light speed and some have already traveled so far they've become facts. The amazing thing is that this feeding frenzy of gossip and bad investigation was sparked by just the vague assumption that an expansion will be revealed at Blizzcon this year.

True this assumption makes so much sense that its 99% likely that Blizzard will unveil the next chapter in Warcraft this weekend. But some of the other rumours making their rounds through the Internet are considerably less certain. Still its fun to gossip and add your own opinions to the melting pot of the rumour mill. Since I'm not one to control my impulse to have fun I guess I'll join in. I've divided the most common guesses about the expansion into the three categories and given reasons why I think they are likely to be implemented or not.

1) Likely to be Included in the Expansion

- At least one new class
Probably the most desired feature by players. The sales numbers for the expansion would suffer horribly if no new classes were included.
- Level cap raised to 80
I'm afraid raising the level cap by 10 each expansion is now part of the formula. Blizzard has stated before that they have a formula for increasing the power of gear for several hundred levels.
- Takes place in Northend
Hints about the Northend continent have been appearing for the last 8 months.
- Death Knight as a new class
This class has a relation to Arthas and the Scourge plus it might provide an outlet to the scorned retribution paladins out there.
- 3 month extension on the announced release date
Its Blizzard.

2) Might be Included in the Expansion

- New races
A new race would require a new starting zone. This was done in the last expansion but home cities take up a decent amount of development time so Blizzard might not want to repeat the same process.
- Multiple new classes
Blizzard might try to achieve class balance by introducing multiple classes to counter balance one another. God knows they have enough class ideas to pull upon.
- Necromancer as a new class
Fits with the Northend and Arthas theme but might play too much like a warlock. Then again most players would simply appreciate the newness factor.
- New content for the mid-levels
Very desired by players and necessary for once again leveling up new characters without going crazy in Stranglethorn Vale.

3) Playable Murlocs more likely to be Included then

- Blizzard stops making raid zones only 2 guilds per server can do
Jeff Kaplan still works there, right? Unfair to Jeff but the upper raid zones are a waste of development hours when only 2 out of 100 of your players can ever see it.
- The Expansion releasing this year
The time tables would probably make the expansion available February 2008 at the earliest. Plus Blizzard might want to time the expansion to compete with the Warhammer release.
- Hero classes making an appearance
The balance necessary for allowing a class to transform into another would probably be overpowering and give an advantage to long term players. Eventually I suspects Hero classes from Warcraft 3 might come into the game as entirely new classes.
- 40 man raids making a come back
Blizzard can be stubborn and the breaking of almost every major guild on the shores of Karazhan is still recent. Since development of this expansion probably started before the release of TBC, I'm guess that Blizzard hasn't made a decision to bring back the larger raid size yet.

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