I would like to preface this, for my Twitter followers, I will do the promised criticism/review piece for Warlords of Draenor later on. I want to take a good look at what we know and make sure I’m being objective with my assessments, so it will take some time. Meanwhile, I thought I would make a piece about speculation of what might come next.
“But we know nothing! This expansion just got announced, isn’t this too early?” Usually, I would agree with this, but not this time. We have been given one crucial quote on BlizzCon – next expansion will flow straight out of this one. That might mean several things. One answer is of course this doesn’t mean much, and the next expansion will be completely unrelated in theme to Warlords, but but hey – that answer is no fun. Let’s look at two options that I see can potentially flow out of this.
This particular part of speculation is completely made up, based on no particular cues. It’s the most natural ending I can see for Warlords of Draenor. One thing we were told – unclear if in jest – is that Grom Hellscream is the final boss this expansion. From that simple fact, Garrosh’s and Kairoz’s involvement, and references to past of the setting, I conjured up a vision of one potential ending for WoD.
The heroes of the Alliance and the Horde stand triumphant. We have thwarted the Iron Horde and its allies at every turn. We have killed most of its old chieftains, and even recruited some of their clans to our side. We made sure that this timeline’s Draenor will not suffer some of the evils our version did. However, not all is lost for the Iron Horde. Grom Hellscream and Ner’zhul regroup in Tanaan Jungle, at the site of the Dark Portal. The portal is being rebuilt yet again and we must destroy this last effort of the Iron Horde.
However, it turns out they’re not planning to invade Azeroth anymore. Garrosh has tried to do this and led the Iron Horde to its downfall. Grom finally challenges his treacherous son and kills him before our eyes, taking command. Ner’zhul then suggests to open portals to new worlds, so the Iron Horde can escape and continue its conquests there. We know what it means – history threatens to repeat itself and if we don’t act quickly, all the people we’ve been saving will again suffer Draenor’s cataclysmic destruction.
In the last raid, we face off against the remainder of the Iron Horde and assist our heroes in closing the portals. One of them is guarded by Kairoz, one by Ner’zhul, and one by Grom Hellscream. Ner’zhul doesn’t die and manages to escape, but after killing Grom, we see him reappear and finish one of the portals, soon crossing it, repeating his mistake.
What happens then, depends on which version of “expansion flowing straight out of this one” we get.
KINGDOMS OF AZEROTH
Tentatively calling this version “Kingdoms of Azeroth”, we learn that Kairoz-enhanced version of Ner’zhul’s portals lead also to different times. The one Ner’zhul reactivates in the very end… leads of Azeroth. But not our Azeroth, not present, main timeline Azeroth. It’s alternate Azeroth 10 years ago. Azeroth that has never suffered through the First War, or any subsequent conflicts. Things are different.
Without the Horde to unite the kingdoms of Azeroth, the human kingdoms have fallen to petty squabbles. Lordaeron allied itself with Gilneas, Stormwind and Stromgarde against Alterac, Dalaran, Kul Tiras and the rebel lord Renault Mograine, self-proclaimed King of Stratholme. The high elves of Quel’Thalas and the dwarves of Ironforge have secluded themselves from the human conflict, but secretly throw their lot with Alteraci and Lordaeroni, respectively. Meanwhile, a new plague appears in the north, threatening to destroy the kingdoms of Azeroth from within.
The players arrive to save the human kingdoms from certain doom, as this version of Ner’zhul knows about our portal. He knows that if this Scourge reaches the Dark Portal, it will have more worlds, more versions of both Draenor and Azeroth to conquer. Alliance players ally themselves with the Lordaeron faction, while Horde players ally with Alterac faction. Throughout the expansion, we help unite the kingdoms against the Scourge, to hopefully quell it in its infancy.
OGRES AND ARAKKOA, FINALLY!
The other version I can predict is slightly different. Ner’zhul either doesn’t escape, or his last portal is closed. We don’t go anywhere from Draenor and in the beginning, we think this conflict is over and we can go back to our timeline.
Wrong. Armies of the Ogre Lords arrive from the continent to the southwest continent (which you can see on the edge of the new Draenor map) and use our weakened state, caused by the Iron Horde’s war, to successfully invade some of the zones. We repel the initial attack, but we soon learn there is more where it came from. It turns out, Kil’jaeden didn’t give up when the orcs didn’t take the bait in this timeline. He tried again and lured the Ogre Empire into servitude to the Legion.
The expansion takes place on a new continent on Draenor, where we have to stop the Ogres from repeating the fate of the orcs of our timeline. We also find a faction of dissident, high-born Ogres who refuse to join this demonic empire, as well as a group of Arakkoa who were cut off from the Terokk-centered culture and are thus not as evil as their counterparts.
This expansion serves as a prelude to a Burning Legion expansion. After we defeat the evil Ogre Empire, we find out the Burning Legion that was backing them is the main timeline, present time Legion. When we use one of the portals they used to summon demons, we find access to the demon worlds in the Twisting Nether and learn Sargeras is about to be reborn.
In my opinion, these are two very interesting options of where the story could go from Warlords of Draenor. Of course, things could change very much across the expansion, or some more things will be retconned (this is not the post for retcon complaints, later folks, later), but I think “Kingdoms of Azeroth” and “Evil Ogre Empire” are the two most likely and most natural conclusions.