What's Next for Azeroth & WoW?
World of Warcraft: Legion is winding down. Once the v7.3 update hits and players are whisked off to Argus, home of the Burning Legion, it is likely that this heralds the conclusion of Legion and the possible announcement of the next expansion at Blizzcon. Let's muse a bit on WoW's current present and its future.
With Argus, Legion is Winding Down
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
It's very likely that v7.3 and the trip to the home world of the Burning Legion is going to bring the events of the Legion expansion to a close. Devs have made no secret of the fact that the Burning Legion will be brought to its knees and that the combined forces of Azeroth along with the Army of Light will have a say in Sargeras's "future" -- or lack of one. Given that any type of finishing move on the demon horde effectively brings Legion to its end.
The Legion expansion was first announced at Gamescom 2015 and came out in September 2016. Some folks are hoping that this year's Gamescom will see another expansion announcement. This is, however, unlikely given that 7.3 is still on the PTR without a launch date in sight. Even if Argus releases prior to Gamescom, the length of time between that happening and the start of the convention is too short for devs to begin speaking about an expansion. More likely, they will be talking only about the current game update.
A more likely scenario for an expansion announcement is Blizzcon 2017. By that time, and assuming 7.3 comes out in the next 2-6 weeks as it should, the content deployed will be "old hat" that sets up the perfect moment for developers to begin talking about the next expansion. It also means at least another year in Legion before the possibility of expansion content arriving.
So if Legion's "Winding Down", What's Next?
The Burning Legion has been an ever-present threat to Azeroth for WoW's entire existence. Without any further threat, what's next? The most popular scenario is that we'll be chasing down the Old Gods -- another force that has been present in WoW from the start and another group of creatures that has a significantly negative effect on Azeroth.
There have been some pretty cool things datamined on the current version of PTR that seem to lead to precisely this as well as a likely reappearance of Jaina Proudmoore, a main character that many have thought to be affected by the Old Gods and who has completely disappeared in Legion.
So what do we know?
A new armor has been datamined from the current World of Warcraft version sitting on the PTR. The new set is called Kul Tiras, the location once ruled by Admiral Daelin Proudmoore during the Second War. He is not coincidentally the father of Lady Jaina Proudmoore who has been largely absent in an unknown location for most of Legion. The armor name comes from a map hanging on the skirt that, according to WoWHead, is very similar to the map of Kul Tiras found in the original WoW player handbook.
Speculation is that this is where the next expansion would go. Players ruminate that the Old Gods will be the next logical enemy after the defeat(?) of the Burning Legion. After all, the Shadow Priest artifact,Xal'atath, Blade of the Black Empire, whispers to its owner and speaks of an Old God writhing in his prison and slowly breaking free. "You should hurry and defeat the fallen titan...there are greater battles to fight." For those steeped in lore, this is doubtless a reference to the God of the Deep, N'Zoth.
N'Zoth also has ties to Queen Azshara, once the ruler of the High Borne empire and who fell to N'Zoth's corruption that doomed her followers to become the Naga. Naga have been a prominent part of Legion as well, with subtle hints that she is still influential.
It is also possible that Jaina's disappearance could be her effort to bring Kul Tiras into the fight against the Legion. Blizzard's Ion Hazzikostas recently spoke about solo rifts that would take players to locations where the Legion had had a presence. Datamined locations do feature one location called "Islands" which could indicate Kul Tiras. So in this scenario, Kul Tiras would be a rift location and part of the overall Legion expansion rather than a new add on to WoW.
Whether Kul Tiras would be a full on expansion or a new zone in Legion remains to be seen. An expansion is preferable, of course, and makes sense if v7.3 is the final patch to Legion which could herald an announcement at this year's Blizzcon.
Developer Q&A for Answers?
This Thursday, Ion Hazzikostas will be on hand for a live developer Q&A with questions curated from submissions via the WoW forums. While not likely to be extemporaneous, perhaps a few questions will be submitted and answered during the Twitch event. A few hints would be nice!
Another topic that would be interesting for players to learn more about is what will happen to artifacts? We know they're going away, but what about the abilities and passives they have? Players are used to these active/passive abilities so how will they be replaced?
There are so many unknowns moving forward. This is nothing new, of course, but the time is ripe for teasing out the next expansion, don't you think?