As far as Gnomeregan is concerned, I’m falling in line with the thought that a staged, phased reclamation a la Isle of Quel’danas is the most likely scenario.
Which, let’s face it, sounds pretty cool.
But I keep thinking of Ironforge.
Cataclysm is supposed to bring flight to old world Azeroth.
That means things are being changed to accomodate that, changes to zone edges and such, things that never had to be worried about before, because players could never actually reach there.
I remember one time, at band camp… no, wait, just kidding.
I remember one time, when the game was brand new, hopping up hills at the perimeter around the Hunting Lodge in Loch Modan, and I made it up and onto the top of the ridge on the northern edge… only to find that the terrain became a featureless wireframe of orange flatness.
I ran and ran for a long time, to the north as I recall, wondering where I would end up. After a while, I turned around and headed back to resume what I was doing; leveling my first ever character, Windshadow.
The urge to explore was strong, to see what was over the next rise, maps being rare and hard to find on the internet, and to be honest, I never imagined back then that the desire to explore would ever be frowned on by Blizzard.
It was a huge game world, and it never crossed my mind that I’d get in trouble for wanting to see more of it. Instead, I assumed that if I could get somewhere, I would be rewarded for my ingenuity with something neat. Finding the quest bear way up high in the mountains of Loch Modan NE of the flight master only reinforced that idea.
It was shortly around this time, looking on the forums for the suggestions of others on places to explore, that I found the official forums ringing to claims of people being banned for finding ways to reach areas that were not meant to be reached… and sharing the techniques.
There but for the grace of WoW go I. That could easily have been me, in my innocence, posting about something neat I’d found and wanting to share it. If I hadn’t seen that others were being banned for doing that, I certainly would have posted my own experiences.
I remember it well, the main claim was that someone on the official forums was banned from the game specifically for figuring out how to reach the little dwarf airport/landing strip with the cool planes way up above the mountains over Ironforge, using a technique of climbing and gliding with the Engineering-crafted Parachute Cloak. I believe the statement from a Blue poster was along the lines of saying that the Airstrip, and other in-game places like that, were meant to be visual points of interest, and not actual locations to ever be visited.
Ah, the mystique of that little Dwarven landing strip. The hours I spent exploring the mountain chain from both Dun Morogh and Wetlands, trying to scout out the hidden path that assuredly must exist to allow me to visit that place. The drive to climb that mountain, to plant my flag, to be able to say, if only to myself, “Vini, vidi, vici” and take a screenshot.
It was the first little blow to my love affair with World of Warcraft, when I read the claims that players could and had been banned for exploring where Blizzard did not want them to go… when there was nothing I had ever heard of, no warning I had ever read to that time, that said “It’s okay to explore, as long as you only try to explore where we think it’s okay for you to explore… and we won’t tell you, you have to guess. But if it seems hard to get there, don’t try.”
Now this isn’t a bashing on Blizzard, although I’m sure it could be taken that way. For all I know, it was all total BS on the part of players, and nobody ever got banned or suspended for exploring, ever. It’s the official forums, you know what it’s like there. Tons of helpful people, hidden amongst the loud crazy idiots.
The point is, since the very first time I flew over the dwarven airstrip when taking the Griffon from Ironforge to Wetlands, I wanted to get up there, to visit that airstrip, to hop in the planes, to run around like a goofball and see if there was a super-secret quest giver there.
When I think about Cataclysm letting us fly in Eastern Kingdoms, I think immediately about visiting that airstrip.
But more than that, I want the airstrip to become a place where flying players can find new quests to perform. I want it to become that dwarven center of aerial adventure about which I’d long dreamed.
So carrying over from my previous post about the fall of Ironforge, I would be hoping to see something in Cataclysm that would indeed cause the Dwarves to flee, to abandon Ironforge, to take up as refugees in the capital of Gnomeregan… and let adventurers have a new raid, the Retaking of Ironforge, where you cannot enter via the massive front gate.
Oh no, not the front gate for you! The mighty climb to the gates of Ironforge would be shattered, the gates themselves sealed shut, and players would have to fly to that landing strip high up in the mountains, there to enter as a group and fight their way down into the mountain itself.
If you think about it, we’ve long seen signs that we’re supposed to believe there is far more to Ironforge than what we’ve already seen in the game. Towers jutting out from the side of mountains high in the sky, clearly meant to be reached from within.
Perhaps flame elementals, perhaps dragonkin, perhaps the deep down dark iron dwarves, striking a blow for revenge.
Perhaps all three… dark iron dwarves in league with the risen dragon forces to strike at Ironforge from within, aided by elementals erupting from the lava around the great forge, sundering the home of the dwarves.
Of course, I don’t think it would really happen. I think it’d be super cool, but realistically, we’ve got far too many underground dwarf/dragonkin based raids in the game already for Blizzard to be spending design time making another one, no matter how cool the concept.
Blackrock Depths, Upper and Lower Blackrock Spire, Blackwing Lair… from a game raid design standpoint, I doubt they’ll add Ironforge to the mix.
I still think it would be really darn cool, though.