Maelstrom or Emerald Dream? Neither!




volcanoAs we’ve discussed in the past, WoW’s Expansions follow themes.

Burning Crusade‘s theme was Outland.  The two new races were strongly tied to it. The premiere event was the opening of the Dark Portal.    The creative seed everything grew from, was Outland (especially the setting).

With Wrath of the Lich King, its theme was  the Scourge.  The premiere event was the Scourge invasion.  Northrend was/is infested with them.  The new class was tied to them.  Once again, a creative seed.

Last week someone complained to me that Cataclysm had an incredibly weak theme.  “What do Worgen have to do with the Maelstrom?”, he asked.  And there I realized the problem.


There is a common misconception floating around WoW right now.  Before BlizzCon, the original debate was “Maelstrom or Emerald Dream?” The answer, from what we understood, turned out to be Maelstrom.

We were wrong.

Cataclysm is not the Maelstrom expansion.

Its easy to be misled due to the inclusion of the Maelstrom zone(s) and the goblin race.  But Cataclysm is not the “Maelstrom Expansion” we were speculating about; it’s something else entirely.  Blizzard pulled a fast one and slipped in something none of us were expecting.

So then… what is Cataclysm?  What is its theme?

That’s easy.

It’s “Vanilla WoW 2.0”.

It’s what Blizzard would have done in 2004 if they knew then what they know now.

With this idea in mind, the theme suddenly blazes to the surface and everything ties together.

Why goblins and  worgen?  Because they probably should have been included since 2004.  The same goes for Hyjal, Grim Batol, heck even Malfurion Stormrage.

As for Ragnaros and Nefarian?  It’s Vanilla WoW 2.0.

So does that mean C’Thun will be back eventually?  I wouldn’t be surprised.  Check out what’s being set up in the WoW comic book.

So what about the lore?  How does it handle Vanilla WoW 2.0? Well, Metzen and crew figured out a lore reason to redo classic Azeroth.  They then named the expansion after it.


This lore also gave them the opportunity to solve a big conundrum:

One of WoW’s greatest villains, Deathwing, simply didn’t fit in well with any speculative, future expansions.  But as a new Uber-Boss for classic Azeroth, he fit like a glove.  To really lock it down, Metzen and crew then intertwined Deathwing into the expansion by having him be the cause for the Cataclysm itself.

So what does Vanilla WoW 2.0 mean for the future? Well, it potentially means the game is still afoot.  At this point, there could still be an actual “Maelstrom” expansion, and we could also still have “Emerald Dream”.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 RA September - 2009 at 2:28 am

Had recently the same thought. I mean Cataclysm is great and everything. Infact havent really played WotLK since i know about the release.

But the sad thing about the theory is that this could mean that we will be seeing 3 further Expansions until the “End” of WoW (Maelstrom/ Emerald Dream / Burning Legion – Sargeras Slayland, each 5 levels = lvl 100 in total)…
And Blizzard needed at least 1 year per expansion, means that we will see Final WoW in about 3,5-4 years.

Sucks, at least a little bit.

Hopefully Blizzard got some really really revolutionary things in the package (maybe including a new engine also). If not, WoW is eventually gonna fail if Titles like KotOR will come out.

2 Balthesar September - 2009 at 10:46 am

WoW will be around for a long time unless blizzard kills it. Which, i honestly hope they do at some point. Think of how many old MMOs are still up and running. The fact is, even just half a million subscribers is a lot of income if you scale back support to match. Look how low some populations have gotten yet the games still go on.

3 more expansions for WoW makes sense. Level cap to 100, maelstrom/emerald dream/Sargeras, end of the entire story.

There is no way WoW will lack subscribers by this point, but there are a few things that could happen.

Blizzards new MMO will hopefully be ready for release, will be more popular than WoW, and everyone will go there.

Hopefully, at this point, Blizzard will just leave WoW servers running, combine servers as populations dwindle, and let it run its course, with no new expansions or lore.

Or, as unlikely as it would be, they could just shut it down.

Lastly, and what I fear will happen, is they will begin releasing more content, with no real basis, and the true creative teams gone elsewhere, and it will destroy the lore and the game itself entirely. You will be able to thank Bobby Kotick for this.

And lets be honest, KotOR looks nice and all, so have many other MMOs, and so will many other MMOs. Nothing is gonna dethrone Blizzard except Blizzard. Until they make a better game, or literally run WoW into the ground, nothing else stands a chance. Let’s take a look at Aion numbers in 4 months and you’ll have more proof.

3 Omacron September - 2009 at 9:02 pm

See, I think it’s main “theme” is the elemental planes. And a lot of people said that they couldn’t carry their own expansion… and they’re not. But they’re definitely a huge part of it.

4 Gemeril October - 2009 at 6:23 am

The new unannounced MMO is a casual MMO that blizzard has said will not compete with WoW. It’ll be something like Toon Town, or w/e. Blizzard still feels WoW will have a place in 5 years.

5 Lycanthro October - 2009 at 6:30 am

WoW isn’t going anywhere and they will not stop producing expansions as long as people want to buy them. The current developers will probably move on to new projects and they’ll have new ones take their spots in WoW and WoW will continue to change as it always has. As long as there are players there will be a game to be played.

What I do think will happen is we will see expansions without an increase in level cap to prevent that constant inflation. Giving us 5 or 10 new levels in a new expansion every 2 years. So one year is no +levels and the next here there are +levels. See EverQuest2.

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