World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. How it will be
The news that Blizzard has filed a trademark registration for the word "Cataclysm" has managed to spread around the gaming community a month ago. Recall that the registration covers areas such as "PC games", "online games", as well as "paper-based products", which can be translated as "paper-based products" - books, comics, board games, etc.
Now fans are looking forward to Blizzcon, where they hope to hear about the new, third add-on to one of the most popular MMORPG in the European and American segment. Some of them are not only waiting under the weather, but trying to predict what's going to happen in the world of "martial arts" after the deposition of the King of Lichs, Artas (he is the main villain in the game at the moment).
Some English-speaking sites have already posted speculation on how things will develop after the deposition of Artas and even made predictions for the content patch 4.xx. For those who speak English well enough, they can read the original here.
I must admit that I liked the read in some places, but in general, left a feeling of some far-fetched. In particular, there is such a figure in the text as Dagoh'l, something monstrous and to all appearances related to the Ancient Gods and Nightmare. Searches in sources, including the wiki did not yield anything. The question arises - why "breed entities" if there are already enough bad guys? In general, it's going to be different! ... So I decided to try to describe my vision of the future World of Warcraft 4.xx setting. Of course, you can't go wild without considering the framework of the lore, as well as all sorts of rumors that have already leaked online. But still...
The destruction of the Well of Eternity, Azeroth's main power source, ten thousand years ago tore the formerly united part of the world into what is now known as Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, as well as smaller islands. In the midst of the Great Ocean, an abyss of the Whirlpool arose, drawing the Highborn Elves, led by Queen Azshara, with it.
Her fate and those who followed her has been shrouded in mystery for centuries. But some believe that Azshara and her subjects managed to escape. There, deep beneath the water, they managed to survive, though at the cost of losing their former appearance. The Highborn Elves of Zin-Azshara became Nagas. Ten thousand years it took them to gather their strength and rise to the surface again...
WoW 4.0. WoW 4.0: "Killing Tide".
Since Blizzard has no major continents left, and a new planet Metzen probably hasn't thought of yet, we can expect to "develop" what lies between Kalimdr, the Eastern Kingdoms and Nordscale. Islands. What could serve as the plot background for the exploration of the seas?
If we're talking cataclysm, then natural cataclysm is one option. Everything starts with the fact that the rains come down on the land and the water level in the Great Sea rises. The coastal areas are flooded, the rains pour down even in the Tanaris Desert. But this is only the beginning. In addition to the natural disasters, an invasion of the Nagas begins on the coastal lands of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Yes, they have terrorized peaceful (and not-so-common) populations before, but now they have a distinct strategy. They're clearly operating according to a deliberate plan.
In the face of such a terrifying prospect, King Grayman of Guilneas is forced to open the now-sealed Gates of the Wall, seeking help not only from his former allies - the Alliance, but even the Horde. Beside them, Cul-Tiras, once one of the strongest naval powers in Azeroth, rises to meet the new danger. Mourning the loss of Admiral Proudmoor pales in the face of the new danger. Kul-Tiras becomes the main naval base from which the Alliance and Horde fight back against Azshara's forces in the first phase.
Goblin Kezan is also attacked by the Nagas. At first the cunning traders thought they would be able to bargain with the aggressors and retain both neutrality and their assets, but it didn't work out. Now the goblins are crying out for help from both the Horde and the Alliance.
So, what do we have? Guilneas, a new location beyond the Greyman Gate. Based on what we see on the map and those movies fans have posted online, there's not a lot of space, but enough for a decent city. Who knows, maybe it'll be another neutral capital like Dalaran (by the way, where will the Mage City go when we defeat Artas?). There are also a number of islands comparable in size to Teldrassil: Kezan and Zandalar. We should not forget that Kul-Tiras itself is not a small island. There are smaller territories too: Tel' Abim, Plunder Isle, The Broken Isles. These will quite possibly host the first 5ppl instances where adventurers will fight Nag leaders and other bad guys like pirates.
...Using the naval bases of Guilneas and Kul-Tiras, the Horde and Alliance begin pushing the Naga out of the captured islands. At the same time, they wage war on the pirates that decided to activate on the sly. The main goal of the liberators is the goblin capital on Quezan, Undermine. In exchange for their release, the goblins decide to share their technological secrets related to surface, underwater and air transports, as well as communications.
Patch 4.0's climax. An attack on the captured Kezan by the Nagami by Horde and Alliance forces (not coordinated, but simultaneous) succeeds. Kezan is released. The final battle for Andermain will quite possibly prove to be the first raid where the adventurers will have to liberate the city from the Nagas and free its rulers. They, in turn, not only share their technology, but also what they know. And what they know is that the Queen of Azshara is alive and preparing a natural disaster of global proportions - a flood that should flood the entire world. Turning the entire world into one massive ocean, she will become its ruler. Remember, there was already a Nag base in Nordscale that wanted to melt the ice of the northern continent to raise the level of the world's oceans.
I think that's where the Ul'dum re-conservation would come in handy, where we get confirmation from the Guardians left behind by the Titans of what Azshara is going to do. Maybe it will be a long chain of quests, or maybe there will be a second raid where we free the Guardians of Uldum, we will be revealed some details of what Azshara is up to and who is behind it.
It becomes clear that there's no way out without a siege of the Naga capital and it would be better to unite the forces, but the leaders of the Alliance and the Horde once again can't find a common language. Their talks end in nothing, and are interrupted by terrible news: on the coastal territories huge waves crashed, wiping everything off the face of the earth. After a while the cause of the incident becomes known...
WoW 4.1. "Siege of Nazjatar."
In Ulduar, we saw that the Makers (I mean Titans) as played by Blizzard are not exactly traditional. In a rare fantasy, you'll see computers and (relatively) high tech. I venture to guess that the Well of Eternity is also some sort of high-tech device, similar to the Maker's Engine, in Wuthering Heights. Some sort of combination of a power generator and a transport interdimensional terminal. And how many other technological artifacts did the Titans leave behind?
One way or another, the Azshara is mastering these Titans technologies in order to raise water levels in the Ocean. And the tsunami that struck the coastal lands of the continents and islands is caused by the use of these mighty powers. But the defeat of her army in the sea war with the Horde and the Alliance leads her to the conclusion that plans may be thwarted. So she decides to create an echelon of defense on the nearby islands and around the Whirlpool.
Not much is known about the Whirlpool. I think a lot of people just imagine a huge spinning vortex sucking water into it. But if a little digging in the lore, you can find some curious details that give, writing for thought, and reason to believe that it will be a fairly massive play area.
Judging by the map, the Whirlpool vortex is indeed gigantic. At its center is an area called the Eye, which is quite populated. Brann Bronzebeard, who visited the Eye, said he had never seen anything more populated than this. A great variety of creatures inhabit these undersea depths.
Next, Nazjatar. A city that is built on the slopes of The Rift, the place where the Well of Eternity fell. Secondly, the Nagi, are not alone. Next door to them is a race of human crabs who are in constant feud with the Nagas. They live in their own capital Mak' aru, located near Scintal Reef. Other locations include The Boiling Terrase, where volcanic activity reaches its peak. At the north-eastern tip of the Terrace is the Drowned Reaches graveyard of ships. Ten thousand years ago, fleeing from the disaster, hundreds of ships tried to escape from the danger zone, but were sucked up by the Whirlpool and then ejected in this location. The "population" of the location is the unquiet Elven ghosts that even the Nagas fear. Another interesting location is the Gishan Caverns. It is a system of caves on the sea floor, formed as a result of volcanic activity. Naga do not venture here either, as the caves are inhabited by gigantic sea monsters.
As you can see there is enough space for the developers to spread out. And for 5pple and small raid instances like Arkavon Crypt, not to mention the solo content.
...Alliance and Horde take the upper hand again and Nazdajatar is about to fall. But at the decisive moment of battle, a monster appears on the battlefield that few suspected existed. Neptulon, who helped Azshara and her followers survive the cataclysm, comes to the aid of his followers. He throws off the forces of Azeroth's defenders and reigns in Nazjatar.
I think we can defeat the raid boss, Azshara, during the siege of Nazjatar, but we can't kill her. And not just because Neptulon will interfere. She mysteriously disappears at the very end of the battle. The fate of Azshara is unknown, no one knows if she died or not. The main boss of the content patch will be Neptulon with his underlings. And, of course, like Yogg-Saron, he will be killed.
But Neptulon's death will not mean that there is no longer a threat. First, the water continues to flow, which means that the mechanism started by Azshara works and we must go further, into the depths of the Rift. Secondly, the Nagas, are not defeated and in order to explore the mystery of the Rift, the adventurers have to constantly fight off the attacks of the Nagas. Who knows, maybe the Makaru won't turn out to be so friendly either, not to mention all sorts of sea monsters...
WoW 4.2. "The Awakening of Malfurion."
The situation with the missing Azshara is ambiguous. Yes, Neptulon helped her and the Highborn save her life. But Azshara also has a more powerful patron.
Recall that Sargeras first attempted to invade Azeroth ten centuries ago, when the Highborn's indiscriminate experiments with the magic of the Well drew the Fallen Titan's attention to the world. The Well was intended to be a portal for the hordes of the Legion and Sargeras himself. Then he failed to do so, and the price was the destruction of the Well itself and the global deformation of the world. It is entirely possible that all of Azshara's actions are aimed at giving Sargeras the opportunity to take over Azeroth.
Where to look for answers and from whom? The first way is in the past. The Caves of Time are an ingenious design feat by Blizzard. Thanks to them we were able to see with our own eyes and take part in key events in the history of Azeroth. What can we expect this time around? The battle in the temple of Azshara, when Malfurion and Cenarius and companions prevent the Queen and her Highborn from opening a portal for Sargeras, wouldn't look bad. Incidentally, Illidan is involved in this fight in the story. During or before this fight, we will be able to gain knowledge of what happened then and what powers Sargeras might have given Azshara.
Another place where we'll look for answers and reinforcements for Neptulon's attack is the Emerald Dream.
I don't think moving all of the expack action to the sea and underwater is the best solution. After all, playing people are more accustomed to land-based battles. Very promising in this regard looks Emerald Dream and Nightmare theme. Plus, there are characters like Malfurion, Cenarius, and Isera associated with Emerald Dream. A tussle with the Nightmare forces and further unraveling Azshara's schemes with the help of Malfurion could be a good move. Oh, and there's room for dragons, too.
What's confusing and why is it hard to predict any details? For one thing, what the Emerald Dream is is still not clearly understood. A parallel dimension? The Titans' preserved backup of Azeroth? Or is it a PART of Azeroth with some special properties and functions? And why "emerald"? All in all, there are a lot of questions. I have no doubt that the bliz will develop this topic well. I remember reading the WC3 manual about the Blazing Legion and other stuff, and wondered how the guys from the primitive story about a local war between orcs and humans could make such a clever mythology.
There aren't many details about Emerald Dream, we'll see. Maybe in general the next Expac will be mostly about the Dream, with the sea adventures and the Whirlpool as a secondary storyline.
Either way, this storyline twist should end in victory over Nightmare, clearing Emerald Dream and having figured out for ourselves what Azshara is really up to we enter the final phase.
WoW 4.3. "The Return of Azshara."
...A slender line of a dozen Cultilian battle dreadnoughts and dozens of smaller ships cut through the raging waves of the sea. Under water behind them are huge goblin submarines, carrying not only warriors ready to fight on the smaller subs but also supplies and ammunition. Scout dirigibles flank the caravan, and throughout the day and night the warriors swoop in to survey whether the enemy is approaching.
The caravan heads for the Shattered Isles in order to establish a base for the final attack on Nazjatar and the Rift. But that is not the only goal of the squad led by Malfurion. There, in the Islands, lies the answer to the question that will decide the outcome of this battle. More specifically, it lies within the Tomb of Sargeras.
Over eight hundred years ago, Guardian Aigwyn defeated Avatar Sargeras in a battle that took place in Nordscale. She buried the Avatar's remains in the Shattered Islands, and with the help of the Dragons, sent her to the bottom of the sea. A few hundred years later, Gul'dan was able to raise the Tomb to the surface with his magic...
With that said, two interesting raids are seen that could be accessed through the Caves of Time. The first is Aigwyn's help in the battle with Avatar Sargeras (according to the lore, she was assisted by the Dragons), . The second is a battle with Illidan, who once visited here to find the artifact of the Eye of Sargeras. As for the main pilgrimage site of the raiders, there will also be a lot to do. The tomb of Sargeras was founded in the former temple of Elune, which in turn was located in an elven city. The ruins would suffice.
...After going through battles with the monsters of the Tomb, Malfurion and his companions realize what the Queen of Nagas is up to. But the main battle is yet to come, for a new army of serpent-like creatures lands in the gulf of her name, where among the ruins of the once beautiful elven cities. Their target is Mount Hijal.
...The World Tree is slowly regaining its strength. It is guarded by Night Elves and Dragon Packs. Beneath it is the second Well of Eternity, which arose after Illidan filled the waters of the forest lake with the mystical energy of the Well, which collapsed to the bottom of the sea during a disaster. Azshara seeks to take possession of this spring and throws her powers there...
I've always really liked this location (I mean Azshara). Eternal Autumn, deserted coast, ruins of elven cities. A beautiful area, but at the same time there were few quests there, and basically nothing to do. I think, well, it will be a good reason to revive this area, especially since there is also Mount Hijal nearby, on the slopes of which a decisive battle took place between the forces of the Legion and the peoples of Azeroth. There, as they say, no man has ever set foot there. Remove the barrier and make a high-level 80+ zone there.
And yet the final battle of the add-on should be held in the depths of the Whirlpool. The attack on the Peace Tree turns out to be a distraction...
The Well of Eternity. An ancient artifact of the Titans, a giant mechanism that combines the functions of a conduit of energy from outer space and a portal to other worlds and dimensions. In the disaster that occurred ten thousand years ago, the Well was damaged but not completely destroyed, and Azshara, using the knowledge gained from the captured Uldum Guardians as well as from Sargeras, restores the Well. Taking advantage of it, Azshara causes a flood and prepares to let the head of the Blazing Legion into the world.
Taking advantage of the fact that the main forces are busy fighting for the World Tree, in the depths of the rift, where the first Well of Eternity has fallen, she begins to open a portal. Having learned from past bitter experiences, Malfurion and the other leaders of the peaceful nations of Azeroth, realize that the destruction of the Well will lead to a disaster that will make Azeroth a second Draenor.
In the final battle of the supplement, we manage to defeat Azshara, but the portal remains operational. Hordes of the Blazing Legion prepare to invade Azeroth...
That's probably enough. Maybe the picture is incomplete, but this is the sequence of events in the world of Azeroth after the defeat of Artas. It may or may not be so - we will probably find out at the next Blizzcon. It's possible that all these fantasies will be laughable in a month, but to be honest I've had a lot of fun writing this and a lot of new things I've learned in the process.