The data-mining, patent-browsing bloodhound fans that follow Blizzard's every move have found another potential game title, that they claim is going to be World of Warcraft's next expansion: Warlords of Draenor.
Sure, they've claimed these sorts of things in the past, and have frequently been wrong - will our Emerald Dream expansion ever come? - but, that won't stop us from speculating wildly about what we could see if they're right!
What is Draenor?
If your first thought is, "Hey, that sounds a lot like draenei!" you're on the right track. Draenei are those weird-looking alien goat people that were introduced as a playable race in the Burning Crusade expansion.
Draenor itself is the world that the draenei landed on after they felt that they'd finally outrun their evil cousins leading the Burning Legion. Of course the fact that the horrible universe-consuming demon army of the Burning Legions continues to pop up in the Warcraft storyline from time to time tells you how accurate they were in believing they'd finally escaped them.
The Draenei weren't the first people on this new world, however. It's also the ancestral homeland of the orcs, and home to clans like the Bleeding Hollow Clan, the Shadowmoon Clan, the Shattered Hand Clan, and the Warsong Clan. If any of those names sound familiar, you've played the Burning Crusade expansion because all of those clans play a prominent role in Outland.
"Wait, Outland? I thought this was Draenor." Oh, you silly reader, it's both! Ner'zhul is the crazy orc shaman that created interdimensional portals to travel to other worlds (like that big Dark Portal that took us from Azeroth to Outland in the Burning Crusade expansion). He lived on Draenor in one of the orc clans.
But, like most mad wizards/scientists/murderers, Ner'zhul destroyed the world around him while pursuing his dream. The entire world of Draenor was ripped to shreds and thought to be completely lost. When we marched through the Dark Portal in the Burning Crusade expansion, we discovered that a large chunk of Draenor had somehow jumped into space and become a crazy awesome leveling treadmill for aspiring heroes to grind XP on. Oh, and there was like some story and stuff.
Option #2: Time travel!
Draenor is the birthplace of the orcs corruption, where the peaceful society was corrupted by a warlock's pact with a demon to infect his entire race with wild bloodlust.
The newly crazed and empowered orcs wiped out the draenei (except for a few that escaped in space ships), enslaved everyone else, razed the planet, and soon rushed at Azeroth through the Dark Portal.
The expansion could send players back in time to the pre-war draenor, right on the cusp of all the dramatic moments that have shaped Azeroth's history. Players could be trying to prevent larger threats or disasters from occurring as the evil time-traveling dragons try to disrupt the flow of history again, or could just play roles in history to be a part of it.
Lord of the Rings Online has had great success with doing flashback missions, where the player takes over the role of a prominent character in a pivotal part of the story and gets to play through the big defining moments of history, even if they can't change them. I could see Blizzard doing something really fun along those same lines.
In this case, the titular warlords would be the heads of the orc, ogre, draenei
Option #3: Draenei invasion of Azeroth
Nothing defines an expansion like a big world-destroying threat hopping out of the sky, right? All we know about the history of the draenei that escaped Draenor originally is that some of them crash-landed on Azeroth.
It's possible, although admittedly unlikely, that those that did not crash-land on Azeroth have been growing a new draenei society on another planet. Perhaps that society has become power-hungry or obsessed with war. Perhaps they've even given their leaders the title of…. Warlord?
This idea is definitely the most unlikely on the list. But the concept of draenei ships attacking from the sky as an ultra-militaristic invading army would be pretty darn cool, and a nice shift towards an Alliance-centric story after Garrosh's drama in the Horde dominated for the past several years.
Do we know anything for sure?
Not really. The last rumored expansion title (The Dark Below) ended up being a complete hoax, but this one seems far more likely.
The domain http://warlordsofdraenor.com/ was definitely registered a month ago, and the sumbitted trademark claim on 'Warlords of Draenor' spotted by MMO Champion seems legitimate.
We also know that BlizzCon is happening next week, and Blizzard is planning to make a WoW-related announcement during the show.
Stay tuned to this site all next week as we provide complete coverage of all the news coming out of BlizzCon from the show floor.