We're officially 'in' the same week as BlizzCon 2023, which means it's time to kick things into gear! As our excitement begins to coalesce the closer we get to Friday, we reckon it's time to do some pre-hyping and do the only fun thing you can do before the event: speculate!
This article will focus on what we can expect from World of Warcraft. We know there's going to be an expansion reveal, since we get one every two BlizzCon events. Now, be aware that alongside the questionable 'leaks' we will be referencing, there are some actual spoilers in this article for World of Warcraft's immediate future. If you want to keep everything about the next expansion a surprise, turn away before our next section begins!
Before we start, I'd like to note: There's currently no 'smoking gun' leak of the expansion, like that still from the Shadowlands trailer that popped up shortly before the opening ceremony at BlizzCon in 2019. There's enough bits and pieces for us to paint some picture of what's coming next though!
It's never a good idea to get behind most 'leaks' you find on the internet. It's been especially true for World of Warcraft leaks - so many of those leaks turned out to be completely fake, and some of them even looked real good!
While the internet might lie, Blizzard's own database seldom does. Our most convincing leak that points at us going to the continent of Avaloren next expansion is an encrypted achievement:
This achievement naming convention has been used in past expansions. It's a Feat of Strength achievement awarded to players who purchase the Heroic edition of an expansion and unlocking the mount associated with the increased price tag. This alone, however, is not much to go on. Let's turn to actual in-game lore!
Dragonflight introduced a bunch of new lore books in its inaugural dungeon, Uldaman: Legacy of Tyr as well as later in The Forbidden Reach. That's right folks. it's reading time. I've bolded the relevant parts in the following lorebook:
When you were assigned to observe the state of our titan-forged subjects who, regretfully, fell under the influence of flesh, the keepers could not have anticipated the effort necessary to follow them as they spread throughout the world.
I shall do my best to ensure your perseverance is recognized. But for now, you are to continue your duties until a new directive is authorized.
It is apparent from your reports that the degree of transformation in titan-forged subjects is significantly diverse. There is no group in which this variance is more easily observable than the earthen.
While some have succumbed entirely to the malady, such as the earthen who emerged from Uldaman and called themselves dwarves, others remain resistant–whether in full or in part.
One particularly notable variant can be found in the earthen contingent dispatched to investigate the fissure detected in Sector AR-938 (for further details, search records related to geological anomalies).
In the course of their duties, these earthen began to manifest behaviors analogous to those which would one day be apparent in the self-styled dwarves, despite the two groups being separated by vast swaths of time and distance.
In fact, based on their origin dates, I could identify no corollary at all between these populations.
Yet while their behaviors, language, and demeanor show many similarities (for example, assigning Sector AR-938 the colloquial name "Khaz Algar"), physiologically the two groups remain distinct.
Is this distinctiveness due to exposure to the unique qualities of the anomaly, or is there another reason? We require more data before a conclusion can be reached.
As ever, your aid in this analysis remains invaluable. Remember, we are the eyes of the titans.
Right. These books we'll be previewing in this article are ancient, mind you. Watcher Melenia here is basically saying a bunch of earthen have, through the curse of flesh, morphed into dwarves and are living somewhere they call Khaz Algar.
Khaz Algar... Algarian... Algarian Stormrider! A perfect fit.
So up to this point, we're pretty confident we'll be visiting the dwarves of Khaz Algar - some place, somewhere, with a fissure in the ground, as the book states. But I've mentioned the continent of Avaloren earlier, what's up with that?
The BlizzCon schedule blog post for World of Warcraft features a dwarf riding a gryphon. Dwarves confirmed??
Avaloren - Some New Island That's Totally Always Been There
Ah, World of Warcraft and its surprise continent-sized islands. Always a joy to find out Azeroth's landmass grows by like 15% every two years. Read the following book, also found in the new Uldaman dungeon, for the first in-game mention of Avaloren:
I am writing to confirm that the wreckage discovered on our shores was indeed the remains of our most recent expedition to Avaloren. There were no survivors.
This marks the third failed attempt to reach that accursed place in the time since I assumed my post.
While I would not presume to question either your authority or your determination, I pray to the titans that the rumors I hear of a fourth expedition are mere speculation rather than fat.
Surely you can see that further pursuit of the heretics is folly. Yes, they must be made to answer for their crimes against Innaria and the other keepers, but their defenses are not to be underestimated.
The resources required to breach their lines are simply beyond our current capabilities. At least, not without jeopardizing containment of the prisoners in our charge.
Though I agree there is risk in allowing their strength to grow, evidence suggests that the aggressive nature of the heretics will cause them to turn on one another and weaken their resolve. If we can be patient, an opportunity for retribution will present itself.
I beseech you, Prime Designate, let the fire of your wrath cool, at least for now. Its embers will be rekindled in due time.
If now, I fear that I will soon be authoring yet another report of a lost expedition, its final remnants dashed upon rock and wave.
With all respect,
Alright, so in this book we learn the following important facts (among many others!):
- The titans attempted to reach Avaloren three times, and all three expeditions returned dead on the shores of, almost certainly, Kalimdor or Northrend.
- The 'aggressive nature' of the heretics would make them turn on each other, much like the Dark Iron being enemies of the Bronzebeards perhaps? Dwarves vs. dwarves.
There's a bit of a narrative forming if we start grasping at a few straws. A bunch of earthen went to Sector AR-938, turned into dwarves, started calling the place Khaz Algar and eventually turned on the titans. Their defenses were too strong for Prime Designate Odyn's forces to subdue them. Side note: We sort of know Odyn is a bit of a dick, so don't be surprised if he shows up in the expansion.
What's more, Watcher Melenia's report makes it sounds like just trying to make the trip to Avaloren is quite lethal. Where the hell is this horrible place?!
Mark my words, this dude is coming back to mess up some dwarves.
Pinning Avaloren on the Map
We've got a couple more books to get through, but I'm only going to showcase small excerpts of those. Our first book is actually from the 10.2 patch PTR, which is scheduled to launch next week. The book is called 'The Tragedy of Erinethria, and it's sort of a weird cautionary tale for green dragons that dare dream of travelling "west". Erinethria, a green dragon, had explored all of Kalimdor. Note, this is before the Sundering, so Kalimdor was like, most of today's continents combined.
Erinethria grew bored, and asked Keeper Tyr what's up. What else is there to see, you know?
As the dragon's brow furrowed, a cool wind blew in from the west.
"The breeze, great keeper. I wish to see the place from whence the winds are born."
Tyr grew solemn. "Beyond the Storming Sea lies only ruin. Stay close to home. Stay close to kin."
In our time, the sea west of Kalimdor is called the Veiled Sea, but pre-Sundering, when, well, the planet had a different shape (and no South, North or Great Seas), it could have been called the Storming Sea. Various small references have been made throughout Warcraft history that expeditions sailing to the "backside" of Azeroth never return and that the sea is a cruel mistress etc.
Alright, we know 'west = bad'. Our journey now takes us to The Forbidden Reach on the Dragon Isles where, on a pirate ship, one can find the book "Return of the Nightsquall", chronicling the legend of Captain Nightsquall. This pirate is the Jason Statham of pirates: the book claims he found Pandaria before we did, plundered Zandalar and Kul Tiras and raided more islands in the South Seas than any captain who ever sailed. The story continues:
O' course, ye've likely heard the greatest tale o' them all. How after buildin' a brand new flagship he set sail for the west, promisin' not to return until he'd seen all there was o' the world and taken his share.
That was years ago, and many tides have passed without so much as a whisper.
Even an old salt like me started to wonder if he'd met his match.
That what they say about the western storms be true, that monsters and magic make the ocean impossible to cross.
That in payment for his pride, it was now Nightsquall who be feedin' the fishes in the halls o' Neptulon.
But hear me now, and know I be speakin' true. The Nightsquall has returned!
He ain't tellin' tales o' what he seen on his journeys, but the hulls o' the ships that made it back be full to burstin' with treasures like ye've never seen before!
And that ain't all. The Nightsquall says he's got a new prize in his crosshairs. And to claim it, he aims to build the biggest pirate fleet the world has ever known!
So Captain Nightsquall sailed west, where it's stormy and full of monsters and magic that make it impossible to cross, but he returned with treasures like 'ye've' never seen before (like every new expansion hehe).
Everyone's been going west. But... where in the west?
Well, WoW's map was sneakily updated during the Dragonflight pre-patch. Not only did the Dragon Isles show up, but Kalimdor moved slightly to the east! Check a side-by-side below:
Yup, it's shifted to the right!
At this point it's a coin flip: Is Avaloren going to be west, or north-west of Kalimdor? What about west of Northrend? There's a little free space left there!
Slightly Suspicious Leaks
We've established next expansion's most likely all about Avaloren, Khaz Algar and dwarves. Now let's see the stuff that's been popping up recently. The 'visual' leaks we can either choose to believe or condemn until we get confirmation on Friday. First up, a Snapchat screenshot:
I'm not sure what to think of this one, simply because it's 2023 and the quality of this picture looks like it's from 2011. On the other hand, it... looks pretty legit otherwise? I myself have a Motorola phone and the camera kind of sucks, especially in the dark, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is a legit leak. But I'm still slightly skeptical after seeing so many believable leaks through the years.
It's important to know that all I wrote above is public information, and others can take this information and make fake, believable leaks with it. Knowing what you know now, it's up to you if you take this screenshot (and the next) at face value!
Our next stop is seemingly a set of 4 stills from the alleged Avaloren expansion gameplay trailer:
This also looks fairly legit. The images, while small, look crisp and like just the sort of thing you'd expect to see. Why would someone spend so much time CGI-ing four distinct zones for a fake leak? Even the text in the first still is 'accurate' when compared to previous gameplay trailers.
Right, well, there it is. The evidence is pretty clear we're going west next expansion - whether the final two images I showcased are both legit or not is the question we'll have on our minds for the rest of the working week, until BlizzCon 2023 will confirm or deny their truthfulness!
One thing we didn't touch upon was the name of the expansion. Some AI-generated early leak called it "Stormbreak", which isn't particularly off-theme with the rest of the stuff we discussed. What's your take on all this? Care to throw the dice and predict the next expansion's name? Let us know in the comments below!