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Where Does WoW Go from Here?

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So, 3.3 and Icecrown Citadel is currently on the Test Realm. It will likely see live by Christmas.

Cataclysm will definitely be out at some point next year. With Starcraft 2 slotted in the Spring, it's highly unlikely we'll see it in the first half of the year.

I've been told Blizzard says they want Cataclysm out before next year's Blizzcon. They seem to be rather far along in the development, based upon what they showed at this past Blizzcon. That said, with Blizzard, I'll believe it when I see it. Theoretically, they also expect to have Diablo 3 out this year.

However, let's ASSUME Cataclysm will be out by this summer. Let's give it until July, which is eight months away.

Blizzard has said that Icecrown Citadel is the end of the Wrath of the Lich King storyline. Where does that leave the game over the next eight months? Blizzard obviously can't go that long without updating the game. The community would riot.

I'm sure November/December WILL mark the end of Wrath. I doubt we'll see a Sunwell-style extension of the story. It's kind of hard to top taking down freaking Arthas. Who's to say, though, that February/March won't mark the beginning of Cataclysm?

Whether it's 3.4 or even 4.0, I'd say the odds are good that we'll see the start of the Cataclysm story well before we even think of the expansion. There are two things that make this theory strong in my book.

First, the Chamber of the Aspects in Dragonblight. Thus far, only one of the five wings, The Obsidian Sanctum, has been utilized. Since Deathwing is the central character thus far in Cataclysm, it would stand to reason that the other Dragonflights would be part of the build-up. How? I have several theories, perhaps to be explored in a future post, but those portals are down there for a reason.

Second, there's the sheer scope of the Cataclysm itself. The event will change the entire game world of Azeroth and Kalimdor, in addition to the new zones being added in the expansion. Since Blizzard has said they want players both with and without the expansion to experience the Cataclysm. This will require a MASSIVE overhaul of the game files, all through patching. Unless Blizzard wants to release a single GIGANTIC patch, I would hope they'll do it in a series of smaller patches, slowly changing the game world along the way, as the Cataclysm progresses. Each level of change will have accompanying story elements. Perhaps it will evn be possible to level a Dwarf Shaman through the newly-redesigned zones BEFORE the expansion even launches.

This would be a brilliant move on Blizzard's part. Players like myself, who are currently inactive in the game, waiting for Cataclysm, will be more likely to renew their accounts sooner than expected. As we all know, Blizzard likes money.


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