Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, and What It Means for WoW

The plot thickens:

So yesterday we learned that Blizzard had trademarked “The Dark Below.” The big question was whether this was the next World of Warcraft expansion, or the next Diablo expansion.

And now Blizzard has launched a site for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.

Review: Diablo: The Book of CainThe odds of this being anything but the expansion pack for D3 (which will probably be annnounced at Gamescom in a few days) are slim to none.

So that can only mean one thing.

[UPDATE: Okay, it’s getting weirder. MMO-Champion is now reporting that Blizzard has trademarked “Corgis Unleashed.” This somewhat throws into question whether “The Dark Below” is legit or not. Someone is obviously trolling us. The question is whether Blizzard is intentionally trying to throw us off the scent (they’ve done similar things in the past), or whether this is all just some douche’s idea of a joke.

I’m still inclined to think The Dark Below is real. The timing is right, and it sounds like a WoW expansion. But maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part.

On with the original post.]

World of Warcraft: The Dark Below

I think this is all but confirmed now. The timing is right for this to be the next WoW expansion. It’s not a Diablo expansion. It’s not a StarCraft expansion. It’s almost certainly not related to Titan considering that just got reset.

So what could the Dark Below refer to? Despite all the hints of a Legion expansion being next, my money is on Azshara.

Let’s put on our tinfoil hats here. Ozumat is the Fiend of the Dark Below. There have been hints that something really nasty is happening in Azeroth’s seas from as far as back as Warcraft III. There have been repeated mentions of N’zoth, the Drowned God, in both Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria. We never did find out what happened to Neptulon, and if Azshara succeeded in corrupting him, she would now have complete control over the element of water. Sounds like an expansion-level threat to me.

Art of Queen Azshara from the Warcraft trading card gameAlso, Blizzard said that Mists of Pandaria was sort of a late addition. They originally had a different plan for expansion five fully planned out, then decided to put it off in favour of PandaLand. Cataclysm had a lot of Naga involvement and hints of Azshara, as if they were planning that as the next big threat…

An Azshara expansion is something I’m whole-heartedly in favour of. Azshara is one of the last major villains from pre-WoW lore we haven’t tangled with yet. She’s one of the most unabashedly evil characters in Azeroth’s history, and she was a mage of near godlike power before the Old Gods turned into her into an immortal Lovecraftian monster and before she conquered the elemental plane of water.

She’s also a female villain, which is something WoW doesn’t have a lot of. And this could be a great opportunity to bring Tyrande back into the spotlight, as she’s probably Azshara’s most iconic rival.

And the Great Sea includes all kinds of interesting places, like Zandalar, the Rift of Aln, Kul Tiras, and the Tomb of friggin’ Sargeras.

Of course, it could also be an underground expansion focused on the dark places within Azeroth. Which could also be very cool. Azjol-Nerub, anyone? Or it could even combine elements of both.

Concept art of the cancelled Azjol-Nerub zone from World of WarcraftI’m trying not to get too excited. Expectation is almost always better than reality.

And then there’s the other news:

And we mustn’t forget that this is big news on the Diablo front, as well.

Surprisingly, I am quite excited about a D3 expansion. Although I’ve not always been the biggest Diablo fan, I did quite enjoy D3 — despite its many notable flaws — and I’m very eager to see the next installment of the story.

It’s hard to speculate based just on this vague title, but the website quotes a line from the Prophecy of the End Days that most people assume to refer to Malthael, the missing archangel of wisdom.

I’ve said before that I want a D3 expansion with the angels as the main villains, so that would definitely get my seal of approval.

Mostly, I’m just excited to return to slaying demons with Kormac, Eirena, and Shen. Love the characters in that game.

My wizard in the Diablo III open beta* * *

So, what say you about this news? Does the Dark Below tickle your fancy as a WoW expansion? What do you think it might be about? And what are your thoughts on Reaper of Souls as the Diablo expansion?

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