The data-miners at MMO-Champion have been at it again and have come up with four brand new Halloween masks: Worgen and Goblins. Normally I'd brush it off, adding new masks for a larger Halloween event in 3.2 is pretty plausible, especially as May's 'Children's Week' is also seeing a few tweaks well in advance. Curiously though a female Worgen is emblazoned on one of the masks, and for all the idea of 'completeness' makes sense it's almost unnecessary given that we haven't seen any female Worgen up to now.
Boubouille moots "Goblins and Worgens are the new races of the Expansion", and that's certainly a catchy title for those interested in traffic. This is, however, not all that outlandish. The Goblin Principality of Undermine, and Gilneas behind the Greymane Wall have been long overlooked locations to those interested in the unfolding story as much as the encounters. Goblins are of course ever popular and Undermine may hold clues to the current activities of the Naga and rumoured Murloc (Old?) God. Gilneas remains an enigma, the State was once a vacation spot for someone we all know very well, and is rumoured to have been infested with the Worgen plague. Both Gilneas and Kul Tiras have been conspicuous in their absence these last few years and now would be a perfect time to re-introduce the last remnants of the human Kingdoms. If anywhere could constitute a 'safe harbour' for the former Lord Prestor it would be Gilneas.
In a recent interview with Incgamers Metzen had this to say about Gilneas:
Medievaldragon: Aaron Rosenberg’s World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness helps modernize a lot of the lore revolving around Warcraft II. One aspect of the lore that fans have been wondering about, is Gilneas. Was Gilneas scheduled to make an appearance in that book, but had to be trimmed out, or will Gilneas be revisited in future books?
(Neilson grins at Metzen)
Metzen: Ah, ah, I would say we have some very, very, Very interesting plans for Gilneas. (Metzen docks slightly looking toward the ceiling) But there are snipers up in the roof that would shoot me if you know ... (everyone laughs). We are doing some awesome stuff for Gilneas.
Neilson: ... stay tuned!
Metzen: Stay tuned.
and if that doesn't whet your appetite, nothing will.
So, if Worgen and Goblins are two new races which faction will they align with? The obvious answer is Horde = Goblin, Alliance = Worgen, but this be a situation where the obvious answer isn't the most likely. A feature long requested by the masses is on of un-aligned races, where Players choosing from these races can claim allegiance to one of the two main factions. The idea isn't too outlandish in lore, Gilneas can claim links to both the Lorderon-based Forsaken and Stormwind-based Humans, though the Blood Elves wouldn't be too happy with the former. Likewise the neutrality of Goblins have never been in question but they share a great rivalry with Gnomes.
Neutral Character Races able to join either Faction would tough to sell to many WoW purists, not to mention posing questions on cross-faction communication restrictions. However Blizzard has been experimenting with exclusive faction reputation since the Aldor/Scryers in 2.0, and even on a minor scale around Grizzlemaw in the Grizzly Hills. It could be argued that this speculation is only the next logical step.
Finally, Boubouille also teases us with the following:
On a non related sidenote, I would also like to point out that the old Emerald Dream maps that have been in the game files for years have been slightly updated throughout the 3.2, and in the Build 10072 of the PTRs the Map.dbc file with some of the settings for each zone was updated to make it a 40 Players max zone.
Okay, obvious points will be awarded to those who think 'ah, Battleground'. There is another option however: an Acherus-Style phased instance for a new Hero class. An Arch-druid Hero Class makes sense here, and may even be forshadowed by small exchanged featured in 3.2.
Of course, as speculation goes all of this is pretty out-there. The threads all add up, but with so many variables I could be well off base. All that said, the evidence towards a major expansion announcement at Blizzcon 2009 is starting to mount. Could this be 'World of Warcraft: Cataclysm'?
Keep an eye out for teaser splash screens starting the week before Blizzcon.
Random Ravings of Warcraft has a detailed post full of speculation on this topic which is well worth a read. Additionally, Homocidal Panda linked the old 'Expansion Zone Breakdown' from 2007 which so far has been uncanny in its' accuracy. An excerpt:
Borean Tundra - 67 to 70
Howling Fjord - 67 to 70
Dragonblight - 69 to 72
Grizzly Hills - 70 to 73
Crystalsong Forest - 72 to 75
Zul'drak - 73 to 76
Sholazar Basin - 75 to 79
Storm Peaks - 76 to 80
Icecrown Glacier - 78 to 80
Gilneas - 77 to 80
Grim Batol - 78 to 81
Kul Tiras - 79 to 82
Kezan - 81 to 86
Tel Abim - 83 to 85
Zandalar - 84 to 87
Plunder Isle - 86 to 88
The Broken Isles - 87 to 90
The Maelstrom - 89 to 90
Roll on Blizzcon.