Blizzard has announced the announcement of the next expansion for World of Warcraft.
The expansion is set to be officially revealed next Thursday, August 5th, during Blizzard’s appearance at this year’s Gamescom in Cologne. That’s pretty unusual – the company normally reserves major game announcements for its annual Blizzcon event.
Blizzard will also be streaming the announcement live over the internet. You can head over to Blizzard’s official Gamescom page to watch the reveal, which is scheduled to take place at 18:00 CEST.
Other than that, we don’t know anything concrete – but that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating about what direction Blizzard could be taking its venerable MMO in next.
Leading contenders so far involve an expansion set within the South Seas and centering around the Trolls and Naga, the elemental plane The Emerald Dream, and the possible appearance of Sargeras – an intergalactic villain who makes previous expansion antagonists The Lich King and Deathwing look like petulant toddlers throwing their toys out of the pram.
The last expansion for the long-running MMO came out just last year. Warlords of Draenor returned the to world of Draenor, last seen in WoW’s second expansion, The Burning Crusade. Shortly after Warlords of Draenor‘s launch, subscriber numbers rocketed to over 10 million, though have since fallen again. Currently, the game – which first launched back in 2004 – enjoys about 7.5 million active subscribers. That still means that Blizzard is raking in over $60,000,000 from World of Warcraft subscription fees alone.
Thanks to some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, the Draenor featured in Warlords is actually how the world was prior being torn asunder by Warcraft big bad Sargeras’s demonic army, the Burning Legion, during the events leading up to the original Warcraft real-time strategy game in 1994. In Warlords of Draenor, Garrosh Hellscream travelled back in time to change history, uniting the fragmented Orc clans under the banner of the Iron Horde and initiating an invasion of Azeroth dwarfing the one which formed the focal point of the original Warcraft‘s story. Warlords added a new continent, increased the level cap to 100, and introduced a major new gameplay feature that saw players managing their own base of operations.
Yours truly reviewed Warlords of Draenor last year, awarding World of Warcraft‘s fifth expansion an “excellent” score of 9/10. “World of Warcraft’s fifth expansion is a triumph – giving a decade-old game a new lease of life, proving that Blizzard still has what it takes to dazzle players with drastic shake-ups to established mechanics,” I wrote in my World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor review. “That a game still feels relevant ten years after launch in such a fast-moving industry is nothing short of extraordinary; but then Blizzard has always has had a knack for defying the odds.”