Though a few weeks have passed since the initial discovery of Blizzard trademarking (or possibly fake trademarking) The Dark Below, there’s still plenty of speculation surrounding the name: namely, what is its significance?
Initially thought to be the first Diablo III expansion, this was debunked when Reaper of Souls was unveiled last week at Gamescom. Of course after the trademark was first discovered speculation soared across MMO-Champion. More supporting evidence made it possible this may be the next Warcraft expansion’s name based on a boss’ title from Cataclysm: Ozumat, Fiend of the Dark Below.
Is Ozumat’s designation ominous portent for what’s to come?
A day after the trademark was found out, another “fake” trademark was filed known as “Corgis Unleashed”, used as a catalyst to debunk such a possibility that “The Dark Below” could truly be the name of the next World of Warcraft expansion.
Is “The Dark Below” truly the next expansion?
Is it a hoax?
Have we all simply been trolled by Blizzard so that their next gem won’t be revealed until BlizzCon?
None of us truly know which is why it’s time to have fun with what we have! So I ask you: what lies in the deep dark below?
When we think of what lies below, two thoughts come to mind: beneath the sea and beneath the earth. Now what could lie beneath both of those? (Refrain from answering in Sebastian the Crab Rastafarian voice.)
The first reaction from myself and several of my colleagues on the internet was that this could be the Azshara/Naga expansion. Based off Ozumat (see earlier) being a minion of the Naga, one could only assume we’d be venturing into the gloom of the ocean to take the fight to the twisted former Queen of the Highborn. It’d make sense, wouldn’t it? An actual NPC in game has the title “The Dark Below” in their name, along with the fact they’re associated with a foe we have yet to take down — Queen Azshara:
More evidence that points to “The Dark Below” being the Naga expansion involves comments made by Blizzard themselves. Blizzard recently commented on some of the problems that made Vash’jir, the underwater zone of Cataclysm, either a loved or hated area. The water-like camera and environment itself would cause some to play with bouts of motion sickness.
It makes you wonder: why make such a vague, random comment right after such a trademark had been dug up? Is it foreshadowing that Blizzard has been tweaking underwater mechanics for an expansion that takes place in the depths of the ocean? Seems very odd to me such a thing would be said during a time of such speculation.
Now, if the next expansion truly does involve the Naga, it may also involve one of our most beloved (or disdained) enemies: the Old Gods. But which Old God could it possibly be? Well, I can answer that easily: N’zoth.
As I stated in a previous article, I personally believe N’Zoth is being built up to be one of the main antagonists to the world of Azeroth. He has been single handedly responsible for more than half the problems we’ve encountered since Azeroth was created. He warred with both C’thun and Yogg’saron; he corrupted Deathwing and acted as his master; he’s the true darkness that lies in the Rift of Aln; he’s been heavily hinted to be the force that mutated the Highborn into the Naga.
Though some groan at the prospect of having “another” Old God involved in the next adventure our heroes take, have we truly dealt with any Old Gods directly since Cataclysm? This would be the perfect opportunity for Blizzard to outdo themselves (as they did in Ulduar and The Temple of Ahn Qiraj) with another amazing Old God instance and villain.
In Cataclysm we were faced with a sort of identity crisis; Deathwing was the main villain, but after the initial tier of the expansion we barely had anymore story that involved him. The Old Gods seemed to be the true villains of the expansion through and through, showing their presence in our encounters against Ragnaros, Cho’gall, and Deathwing himself. We never directly faced an Old God though, and by the end of the expansion the only corpse we trounced over was Deathwing’s shattered jaw.
In Mists of Pandaria the most overt influence from an Old God will be seen in the highly anticipated raid of 5.4 Siege of Ogrimmar. The Heart of Yshaarj (the proprietor of the Sha) has been unearthed by Garrosh, who now wields it like Grom wielded the Blood of Mannoroth. We didn’t have another expansion filled with an absurd amount of tentacles everywhere. It felt like an expansion purely focused on the horrors of war and the measures our leaders will take just to win.
What about Ra-den, the Titanic Watcher encountered in the Throne of Thunder raid? In his intro, Ra-den states: “This twisted world is beyond redemption… beyond the reach of deluded heroes. The only answer to corruption is destruction. And that begins… now.”
Just what the hell is he babbling about? The answer could lie in what he says upon being defeated: “Wait! I am… I am not your enemy. You are powerful. More powerful than he was, even…. Perhaps you are right. Perhaps there is still hope. But there is a yawning chasm of darkness beneath you, mortals. Vast, endless, and all-consuming. I do not believe that you can correct this doomed course. But… you have earned the right to try. Farewell.”
More powerful than Lei Shen the Thunder King? Yeah, we pretty much knew that already. But what is this yawning chasm of darkness beneath [us] that Ra-den is talking about? Could it be…
Could Ra-den’s statements in the Throne of Thunder be yet another allusion to the threat that lurks in The Dark Below?
This leads me into the following point: if “The Dark Below” is in fact the next expansion it’d be the perfect setting to introduce an Old God as either the main villain or one of them. N’Zoth, though initially introduced in Cataclysm, has been built up to be a possible powerhouse in the future. If N’Zoth is truly the one signing Azshara’s checks (just like he was for Deathwing), we’d be faced with two amazing villains up to bat for an expansion that takes place in the dark below; it’d be a setting that (assuming Blizzard learnt from their mistakes with the story taken in Cataclysm) could be one of the best we’d ever faced before.
If the Dark Below is the next expansion, we’d be facing two powerhouses: Azshara and N’Zoth. We’d be venturing beneath the sea most likely, exploring areas like the sunken Zandalar, Naz’jatar, and even the Rift at the center of the Maelstrom. We’d finally find out the secrets of the Naga, Azshara, and maybe even the Old Gods themselves.
Remember: the area between the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor involves sunken ruins and cities that exists 10,000 years prior; imagine the secrets to unearth.
But what else could the Dark Below be? I’ll throw you some ideas:
A venture into the Old God Prisons beneath the earth.
Exploring subterranean Azeroth.
A villain that actually comes to the surface.
A Burning Legion invasion from the sky that causes dark to cover all below its might.
The ideas are endless. Though it most likely points to an expansion that takes place in the depths, the amount of scenarios possible for this either real or fake trademark are numerous.
Did we miss any obvious foreshadowing? Is “The Dark Below” really going to be the next World of Warcraft expansion? What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments section, ahem… below.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!