So WoW.com had the scoop today: a full-on leak that the new expansion will be called World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and two new races will be introduced in the expansion: Horde will get Goblins, and Alliance will get Worgen. Huge news, right? A massive leak, right?
Well, a number of World of Warcraft blogs and sites have been speculating this to be the case for a while now in separate theories. First, when Blizzard trademarked the phrase “Cataclysm,” speculation ran wildly high that the next expansion would be called Cataclysm. Then, when someone dissected models from a recent update and discovered that pretty high quality male and female Goblin and male and female Worgen masks had been added for the Halloween event, speculation ran wildly high that they would be the next two playable races to make their way into World of Warcraft.
So the rumor mill has been turning furiously for the past several weeks, if not months, to the point where the discussion is all but a cacophany. Is WoW.com correct? Their anonymous sources have been right before, so there’s no reason to doubt them other than the fact that this is a completely unverified leak – and I don’t say that sarcastically. Until there’s an announcement from Blizzard, this is just more speculation. And something I’ve learned the hard way from being in the technology profession (and being a particular fan of Apple, for example) is that there are certainly spoilers and leaks available all over the Web, and no matter how many images and evidence you may have to support them, any spoiler at any time can just as quickly become what’s called a “foiler,” of a seed planted by a company to drum up discussion, support, and attention in advance of a major event.
Could Blizzard be leaking this information to drum up anticipation prior to Blizzcon? Sure. Could they walk out on stage at Blizzcon and say something completely different about the next expansion? Absolutely. We just don’t know yet, and shouldn’t pretend that we do. That being said, I have incredible respect for WoW.com and if there’s anyone in the Warcraft blogging world I trust and believe about something like this, it’s them. So it’s a double-edged sword. If there’s any source I consider credible that’s not Blizzard, it’s WoW.com, but I don’t want to make plans for a Worgen hunter or a Goblin rogue just yet.
In any event, if this is the case, I’m incredibly curious what the lore behind this will be. Both races already have a pretty well defined and well laid-out history and story in the World of Warcraft, and while the Worgen are semi-new to the universe, Goblins have been around for a good long while. Even so, just because we can explain how the races got into the game doesn’t mean we can explain their faction choices – for example, the Worgen were initially summoned and controlled by a Night Elf and used as essentially a private army. They then revolted. Why would they side with the Alliance? The Goblins have long been neutral – will they continue to be, or will there be Goblin factions where some are neutral and others have chosen a side?
There’s obviously more room to play with the Worgen than the Goblins, since the Goblins are essentially already in the game, but there’s only so many ways you can work the Worgen into the Alliance. Will they be another Draenei-like faction where the playable ones are the “good ones” and some corruption has turned all the other ones you essentially slaughter en masse in Darkshire “evil?” Will the Scythe of Elune – the one you learn about in Darkshire and essentially wind up unwittingly handing over to the Worgen in Grizzly Hills (who seem to be a more sentient, sapient type of Worgen that can disguise themselves as humans when necessary) – play a role? Where will the starting zones be, and should we expect the opening of the Greymane wall and the unlocking of Gilneas? What about the Goblins – where will they start?
Alternatively, we could be faced with something a bit more dark and sinister – the Alliance may not retain is’t pearly white veneer in the new expansion – the Draenei joined the Alliance because they thought of them as the “good guys,” and the Blood Elves, as misguided as they were, joined the Horde out of convenience and because they kind of fit over there. Maybe this time the Alliance get the “bad guys” because of Varian Wrynn’s opportunistic desire to use any means necessary to destroy the horde – maybe the Worgen are still under the influence of the Scythe? Maybe the Goblins are tired of taking a backseat to the action and decide to side with the cause they see is more righteous. Who knows.
To that end, what about the “Cataclysm” itself? Does the Cataclysm represent what we all expected it to be, and allude to the Sundering? Do we get to push back the Naga, now eager to raise themselves and their queen from the bottom of the sea under the Maelstrom to reclaim the land and crush all those who live above the surface? Do they have a far more sinister plot?
Perhaps the Cataclysm involves the words spoken by Loken when you kill him: “My death heralds the end of the world!” Effectively, in Ulduar, waiting for you is Algalon, who’s fight was described this way by Lesley Smith in a WoW.com post titled: “What Happens if Algalon Isn’t Defeated?” back in April:
Basically it goes like this: Algalon is an ethereal agent of the Titans, Azeroth’s creators. He’s detected the death of Loken (when Loken said: ‘My death heralds the end of the world’, he wasn’t kidding) and that Yogg-Saron has tried to escape his bindings. When you engage him, he is about to do a scan to determine whether Azeroth needs ‘reorganising’ by the Pantheon, his Titanic masters. Said scan takes an hour and you have that long to defeat him. If you fail he sends a signal and the fate of Azeroth is sealed.
Of course, some guilds have fought Algalon and won, others have lost and the timer runs out, but Azeroth is still here and the world hasn’t ended.
Or has it? I’m starting to think that the new expansion has more to do with this than anything else; since after all, when questioned on the forums about this very issue, about what the fate of Azeroth would be if Algalon weren’t defeated, CM Nethaera responded with this, quoted from the same WoW.com article:
[The] Results could be cataclysmic.