If you thought World of Warcraft expansions had settled into a comfortable routine of ten new levels and a new continent apiece, the latest rumours about the third add-on to the monster MMO will surprise you.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, as it's believed to be called, will only raise the level cap to 85 and won't add a substantial new landmass, but will instead redraw the map of the original game, according to respected WOW fansite MMO Champion.
MMO Champion's sources propose that "a cataclysmic event", brought about by a collaboration between the Naga and the Black Dragonflight, will change the face of Azeroth. Questing in the original zones will be revamped to reflect the style and technology of the current game, flying mounts will be allowed, classic dungeons will be revamped to allow them to be played at high level, long closed-off zones like Hyjal, Gilneas and Uldum will be added, and some current zones will have their level bands changed, be split up, flooded or ruined. There are even suggestions that Horde capital Orgrimmar will be destroyed.
The rumours suggest there will be two new races - Goblins and Worgen, as previously suggested - and Worgen will have two forms, human and wolf-like. Although there will be no new classes, new race/class combinations will become available, such as Human Hunter, Tauren Priest or Troll Druid.
MMO Champion has a lot more detail on the proposed story behind the expansion, which we'll omit here - but it includes some major uphevals for the political landscape of Azeroth with implications for the relationship between the Horde and Alliance. Overall, the rumours suggest a return to the grandiose, epic storytelling of the Warcraft RTS games.
All of this is completely unsubstantiated by Blizzard and sounds quite far out - but the amount of detail, so close to the expected reveal at BlizzCon this Friday, is compelling, and overhauling the original game as it approaches its fifth birthday makes sense. We'll have more live from Los Angeles at the end of the week.