Mists of Pandaria has been out for a few weeks now and is old news. By now you have no doubt cleared all of the quests, blasted through the heroics and are now banging your head against the first raid.
It’s time to look at what is next for WoW: the 5th expansion, entitled The Return to Outland.
Both Cataclysm and Pandaria were targeted at attracting new players to the aging behemoth. The former tidied up the early game experience, particularly addressing the 1-20 period where triallists are still questioning whether an online game charging a subscription is better than the free Facebook games and wealth of casual titles at tiny prices on the AppStore. The latter introduced an eye-catching new race that would appeal to a younger demographic, as well as providing alternative end-game mechanics (pet battles, farming) for players that have little interest for raiding. In addition, all end-game content is available at all difficult levels, a move which Blizzard will hopes will cater to the hardcore (Challenge Modes), just as much as to the casuals.
From a lore perspective, we have now toured all 4 major landmasses of Azeroth, as well as the 4 elemental planes. Where to next?
Return to Outland will be the expansion that resumes where The Burning Crusade left off. Sargeras has sent Kil’Jaeden to have another crack at forming a portal to Azeroth, through which the demonic hordes can be sent. The Alliance and Horde, still recovering from the death of its Warchief, must venture back into Outland and explore further landmasses of Draenor.
-A new ‘continent’ of Outland, twice the size of the Burning Crusade environments. A ‘Nagrand’-esque zone is guaranteed.
-A new neutral race. One we haven’t encountered before.
-2 new companion pet types
-A demonic invasion event to herald the new expansion
-Changes to the Burning Crusade content to reflect Cataclysm and subsequent events
-A new mechanic where you can downscale your level to that of a friend/zone, whilst still collecting rep/gold/xp rewards.
-Several new battlegrounds including a naval battle
The aim of the expansion to attract back old players that left at the end of The Burning Crusade era. Return to Outland will be thematically darker than the previous 2 expansions and will resume the feeling of fighting in a heroic campaign against a ‘Big Bad’ villain, whilst simultaneously maintaining the advances in accessibility and variety of endgame activities that were introduced since TBC.
Launch date: December 2014