With Blizzcon starting tomorrow and the relatively few posts I've written recently I think it's a good idea to take a shot in the dark and address some of my expectations for Blizzcon. I'm actually quite surprised by the complete lack of information being leaked. As you probably remember, before the last Blizzcon we pretty much knew everything two weeks before Blizzcon was held. The Worgen and Goblin masks were in the datafiles pretty much confirming them as the new playable races. Cataclysm was trademarked and there were tons of lore leaks that gave us a good idea of what the trademark meant.
The big question now is if the lack if information is due to Blizzard protecting it's info really well or a lack of juicy info. In my opinion it's probably a bit of both. First of all, MMO Champion has been the primary source of leaks in the past, but it looks like Blizzard made a deal during the Cataclysm Alpha that turned off that specket of info. It's clear that MMO Champion has had early access to Alpha, Beta, and PTR releases, and my guess is that Blizzard gave them access to the information in return for not disclosing it early. So, my guess is that MMO Champion already has a lot of details of what's going to be announced this weekend, but is keeping their mouth shut as a part of the deal. That said, I doubt the next expansion will follow the traditional pattern of expansion updates and I wonder if there are really any big announcements to be made other then the existence of a new expansion.
Time to Eat Some Crow:
You probably remember that I predicted that the Mists of Pandaria trademark was red herring, but I am not confident in that prediction any more. With Blizzcon starting tomorrow, I don't know what else the new expansion could be. That said, I still think many of the assumptions made by players about what that title means are wrong.
First off, Pandaria and the Pandaren are completely undeveloped lore wise, and most of the lore that is out there is from the RPG books which Blzzard has said is not canon. I have a really hard time believing that Blizzard would base an entire expansion off of such and undeveloped part of the games story. It seems highly unlikely to me especially when Blizzard has expressed some regret at making the Draenei a play able race without much established lore.
So, if Mists of Pandaria isn't completely Panda focused, what kind of story can we expect. I think an Island focused expansion like the one outlined in a Know Your Lore post by Anne Stickney on WoW Insider, and I'm thinking of it as Cataclysm: Part Two. Lets remember that the original concept of Cataclysm was a bit bigger then what has been released. For example, Neptulon was originally intended to be a raid boss in Tier 12, but Blizzard scrapped it when they decided to shrink the tiers. Blizzard also has said they wanted to do something with Kul Tiras but couldn't get to it right away. Also, Blizzard did a lot of work to set up the Old Gods and the Naga with out either of them being a big part of Cataclysm story arc. Finally, due to the Blizzard timeline that was leaked a year ago, we know that Blizzard had next expansion (loosely) scheduled for 2nd quarter 2012.
In my mind, this all adds up to a clean up expansion that goes and fills in some of the holes left by Cataclysm and prepare the story for the the big Good vs Evil fight that is in Velen's Prophecy. My guess is that the new expansion's ending boss will be Queen Azshara with an Old God being an tier end boss. I'm expecting a one two punch much like we saw in WotLK with Yogg in Ulduar leading up to Lich King.
What I don't expect to see from this expansion is a new playable race or a new class. I know a lot of people got all excited at the idea of playable Pandarans but I don't see it happening. First, for game reasons I don't think they will ever make a race available to both classes. Blizzard is really big on player Silhouette in PvP, and having one race playable by both factions messes that up. Second, I don't think they would Pandaran to just one faction given how popular the race would likely be. In the end, I think having Pandaran as a playable race is likely to be a bigger headache then Blizzard is willing undertake.
I also think a new class is a bit unlikely since I don't see the advantage of having a new class. When the Death Knight was added in WotLK it made some sense. The game was a little light on Tanking Classes, and given the tanking shortage in general it made sense to have a tank that didn't have to start at level one. Plus, Death Knights fit in to the overall theme of the expansion extremely well. However, I think looking back the the process of adding a new class proved to be much more difficult then Blizzard expected. Death Knights had balance issues for most of the expansion, and I personally don't think they had a big impact on the pool of available tanks. For Blizzard to add a new class to the game again, I think they will have to see a very definite hole in the game for it to be worth the effort, and I don't think that whole currently exists.
Other Quick Thoughts:
- What I would like to see from the next expansion is a more Alliance focused expansion. It may be my bias, but most of the lore for the past few expansions has been more Horde focused, and I think it's time to shift the story back to the Alliance a little. To expand on that, I hope they leave Thrall out of the Horde leadership and keep Garrosh as the faction leader. I also hope they continue with the evolution of Varian Wrynn started at the end of the new book Wolfsheart, and give the Alliance a senseble leader while the Horde has the hot headed idiot for a change.
- I doubt there will be much if any Class specific info at Blizzcon, and even less info focused on Moonkin, but obviously I would like to hear something in that regard. Specifically I would like to hear their thoughts on the complexity of the Moonkin rotation. I personally have felt that it is a little over complicated for a while now and would like to see it simplified a little bit.