17 August 2017 - 18:54

World of Warcraft's next expansion may be revealed next week at gamescom—here's everything we know

All the hints, rumors, and theories surrounding the next WoW expansion.
Staff Writer
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

"The Burning Legion... has returned."

It's been two years since World of Warcraft players heard those words. Khadgar muttered that line to King Varian Wrynn in the two minute trailer announcing the newest expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion.

In those two years, we've seen total class overhauls, a new world, new civilizations, new characters, and more content than we can wrap our minds around. We've fought demon lords, helped ancient heroes, and found beloved characters that were thought were lost. As we approach the final showdown with Sargeras in Patch 7.3, the Legion timeline is drawing to a close.

Right in the middle of the plot's climax, after countless hours of demon slaying, it's surreal to imagine how it all started. A two-minute trailer, a grim prophecy, and gamescom 2015. With gamescom 2017 coming next week and the countdown to Legion’s end, it's hard not to put our tinfoil hats on and wonder:

What if Blizzard announces the next expansion at its gamescom panel on Aug. 22?

The timeline

Blizzard very well may announce the next expansion that soon. The timing is right with Legion's end so close, and it would fit the precedent the company set two years ago. Not to mention, announcing it there would give Blizzard plenty of time to spin up a more in-depth reveal at BlizzCon this November, which is essentially exactly what happened in 2015.

It may be time to get hyped up, because the next expansion, whatever that may be, could be right around the corner. This guess isn't just constructed of pipe dreams and tinfoil hats, though. It's an educated prediction, and we're not the only ones thinking it.

Since Legion's first patch late last year, Patch 7.1, every patch has been exactly 77 days after the last, according to Taliesin & Evitel, a WoW news YouTube channel. This means that content releases in the current expansion have been following a strict schedule. This is a good thing, because one of the biggest problems with the last expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was the lack of new and interesting content. To combat that in Legion, it seems Blizzard set a specific schedule to dish out new content in waves. It's worked pretty well, but this schedule may not be simply for patches. It may also hold true for the future of WoW itself.

If Blizzard sticks to that schedule for Patch 7.3, which will be the largest patch in Legion's history, next week's gamescom would be the perfect time to reveal new information about the very end of Legion itself. Why? Because gamescom will occur mere days before the next set of 77 days is up.

Of course, Blizzard has already revealed a ton of information about the end of Legion, so it's very possible that gamescom will be used for the next expansion instead. It's also fair to say that the company is generally very good at doing the exact opposite of what players expect, so we may be totally off base. After all, Blizzard really loves surprises.

If it doesn't happen at gamescom next week, we could also make the assumption that BlizzCon would be the catalyst for the big, shocking reveal of the next expansion. Oh, by the way, BlizzCon would also be only a couple of days before the end of another 77 day cycle. It's almost as if that was done on purpose.

The Void Lords and their Old Gods are coming for Azeroth

As it turns out, the next expansion may actually be that close. Blizzard has been dropping clues to set up the next big story since the very beginning of Legion. The hints are everywhere, and it seems like the WoW story will be more than ready to move on immediately following the conclusion of the current expansion.

If you've played as any Horde character, you've seen the opening cinematic for the expansion, in which Sylvanas is made the new warchief following Vol'jin's death. Most people expected either Baine Bloodhoof or Lor'themar to become warchief, both tried-and-true candidates for the position. Vol'jin didn't even expect to name Sylvanas warchief, as she's known to be conniving and deceitful, with a history of treachery. His reasoning behind it? The "spirits" told him to. This alone wasn't a hint, but it throws up several red flags.

According to Taliesin & Evitel, this was a much larger deal than players were led to believe.

Warning: Spoilers for Legion Patch 7.3 below

There will be a dreadlord in Patch 7.3's raid, "Antorus, The Burning Throne," named Varimathras. His voice lines have been datamined from Legion's Public Test Realm, and he says some very interesting things. Essentially, he says that Sylvanas was only made warchief because the Void Lords willed it, and that the "spirits" whispering to Vol'jin were actually whispers from the Old Gods themselves.

We’ve dealt with some big bad Old Gods before, and we know a lot about them. They’re giant tentacle-bound monstrosities known for their ability to out-wit mortals and cause endless corruption and destruction. N’zoth, C’thun, and Y’Shaarj are just a few of the Old Gods we’ve danced with throughout WoW’s timeline. Their masters, the Void Lords, are much more mysterious. We know next to nothing about them aside from the fact that the Old Gods are their servants, and that they’re out there… somewhere.

Not only do these scary voice lines set the stage for an Old Gods-themed expansion, it means Sylvanas is a pawn, and she's not the only one. You remember Magni Bronzebeard, right? He's the former king of the dwarves, and after communing with Azeroth and reaching enlightenment, he was turned into diamond. Magni is also who reveals that Azeroth has a world-soul, and that the world-soul itself is a titan, just like Sargeras. If you're up to date on Legion content, you've already run into him, and he's already sent you off on some quests. Every quest Magni sends you out on and every place you’re told to visit is just an echo of a command he receives from a greater force. The earth whispers them to him, and he sends you on your way to obey. There was another very important character who heard whispers from the earth, and his name was Deathwing.

Deathwing used to be a righteous dragon, and he was twisted into a ruthless, paranoid killing machine after being corrupted by whispers he claimed were from the earth. It turned out those whispers were actually from an Old God named N'zoth, and rumor has it that N'zoth is controlling Magni as well. That's not just a crazy conspiracy, either. If you've played the Emerald Nightmare raid, the very first raid of Legion, you've faced off against Il'gynoth and you've heard his whispers.

Il'gynoth is a boss from the raid, and he speaks to players that are trying to destroy him. One of his voice lines implies that we may be victims of a very elaborate conspiracy plot.

"The king of diamonds has been made a pawn."

The most obvious candidate for "king of diamonds" is Magni Bronzebeard. That would mean N'zoth, or perhaps another unexpected party, has been controlling or influencing him, and through Magni we've been manipulated as well. Spooky.

Clues. Clues everywhere

More datamined content from the WoW PTR contains armor sets featuring dark shades of reds, purples, and a bunch of tentacles. If we know anything about the Old Gods, it's that they love the color purple, and they love tentacles. This armor is called the Kul Tiras armor set, and that also means that the next expansion may take place in the island nation of Kul Tiras, which is actually where Jaina Proudmoore's family is from.

We haven't seen Jaina since she angrily stormed off at the beginning of Legion at the thought of the Horde sharing Dalaran with her, and it's possible that she returned home to Kul Tiras. It's also possible that Kul Tiras has fallen under the influence of an Old God or two, and that would mean we may have Jaina to take down as an enemy in the next expansion. The armor set also seems to have a map of the islands embroidered on the side of the robes, which is another damning hint.

Jaina may not be a villain, but if the Kul Tiras theory is true, it definitely seems as though she'll be involved as a major player in the next expansion.

Never mind what's on the PTR, though, because right now Legion itself is full of hints at the next expansion, including an entire zone of the Broken Isles. The primary villain of the Azsuna zone in Legion is Queen Azshara and her empire Nazjatar and its Naga. Queen Azshara once served the Burning Legion, but she's since turned her allegiances towards N'zoth, the same Old God that corrupted Deathwing.

The Shadow Priest also has an artifact weapon named Xal'atath, which is essentially a dagger infused with Old God corruption. It whispers things to its wielder, such as, "The Legion burrows deep here. If they burrow deeper, they may not like what they find." Is there a secret civilization or prison for the Old Gods buried below the surface of the Broken Isles?

There are even more clues hidden outside of the game. In Chronicle Volume 1, a World of Warcraft timeline book published by Blizzard in 2016, we learned that the entire reason for the Burning Legion's existence and the driving force behind Sargeras' every move is, in fact, the Old Gods and their masters, the Void Lords. He believes that it's better to wipe out all of existence rather than let it all fall under the control of the Void Lords. That means they're probably very, very scary.

No, it doesn't magically make Sargeras a good guy, but it means that if we do manage to defeat him, the people of Azeroth will have a much greater threat on their hands. We may find out much sooner than we all expected, but we'll have to tune into gamescom next week to see if Blizzard really does announce the next expansion.

The Blizzard panel at gamescom starts the first day—Aug. 22. The company has promised it will be the best show it’s ever done at gamescom, so the bar is set awfully high.

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