Is Thal’dranath really Farahlon 2.0?

((Featured image source: Hayven Games – see video below.))

Disclaimer: this post contains spoilers for the next World of Warcraft expansion, Legion. Proceed at your own risk.

Today, we are taking a little break from Hunter themes to focus on a different subject.

From what I’ve seen from the Legion Alpha, the Broken Isles are looking amazing. I think it’s even safe to assume that we might be about to get the most beautiful WoW expansion ever in terms of scenery. But while all of the zones in the main land of the Broken Isles are starting to look quite polished, there is one zone which doesn’t, at all. And this has been troubling the WoW community for months now.

Thal’dranath was first announced during the Blizzcon 2015 ‘Legion World and Content’ panel as a zone which will become available a bit later in the expansion, located in the southeastern end of the Broken Isles. No more information about this island has been provided by the devs for now. There is absolutely no idea of what exactly is going on there in terms of concept and lore, as this is the first time we hear the name ‘Thal’dranath’ in the history of Warcraft.

Since the day Legion Alpha went live for the first time, one could notice that, while the level design of most zones was already pretty advanced, Thal’dranath was still a big piece of flat, untextured land. There have only been very few changes to it throughout these weeks, which you can observe in one of Hayven Games‘ latest videos.

To make things more troublesome, this island appears to have been removed from the minimap in the latest Legion Alpha build and, as expected, many people immediately jumped to conclusions. Thal’dranath has been scrapped, just like Farahlon in WoD beta. The island has met its inevitablie demise. Or has it?

From my point of view, it’s very difficult to believe this change is final. Again, Thal’dranath is not intended for Legion launch and never, ever, has been. My immediate assumption from the BlizzCon 2015 panels is that this zone is planned to be last tier content say, “Legion Tanaan”. If that’s the case and considering that the new expansion won’t probably come out until August/September, Thal’dranath won’t be here for over an year from today. There is still PLENTY of time for the devs to work on this zone and thus, it is dumb to assume it is already being scrapped so soon in the process.

Moreover, the max level zone of Suramar will be dealt with early on in the expansion as this is where the second raid, Suramar Palace, is located. This is also where we’ll face Gul’dan, as the raid’s last boss. However, Gul’dan is not the final boss of the expansion. So we need at least another zone to be the next stronghold later in Legion.

Please note that, with this, I am not intending to “defend” Blizzard, but instead trying to bring actual facts to the table. Either way, the devs know they can’t really afford to scrap anything the playerbase has already seen, now that sad cases like Farahlon rest as lessons to them. That’s why they are putting so much effort and being so much more careful and selective when it comes to revealing information. Overpromising and underdelivering is not an option in Legion.

That said, in my understanding… if the devs did already mention Thal’dranath, it’s because they’re 99% sure it will be there, even if they haven’t yet revealed any other information about this place, which I’m sure that will come in due time. The big island may be missing from the Alpha minimap according to the latest datamining, but there could be several reasons to this. The main three being:

  1. Thal’dranath will not be in the map at Legion’s launch and will instead be added in a content patch, just like Isle of Thunder, Isle of Giants and Timeless Isle in Mists of Pandaria (most likely);
  2. Thal’dranath will be there at launch and the maps are outdated;
  3. Thal’dranath has been scrapped over an year before its opening (highly unlikely).
map-duo
Thal’dranath disappears from the Legion Alpha minimap. Source: MMO Champion.

So, my predictions? There’s absolutely no reason to worry, for now. I believe Thal’dranath will indeed be added to the game later in the expansion (aka as planned). Unless there will be even more new zones added to the Broken Isles after Thal’dranath, which isn’t likely to happen, this zone will most probably feature the expansion’s final raid and work as a zone of “transition” to the next expansion after Legion, much like Tanaan Jungle led to the return of the Burning Legion and Azeroth’s eventual invasion. However, as I mentioned above, noone has any idea of what’s happening there, yet. What I’d like to see? Well, I guess that’s another long story, so I’ll have to leave it for another time. 😉

In the meanwhile, please bear in mind that datamining is not always believable! Due to the Farahlon experience, some people still suspect that Thal’dranath has been cut entirely, but even WoD had a patch added zone. There is absolutely no reason to cut this zone and its content if Legion will need it to be added later anyway, because obviously Suramar won’t be enough for the whole expansion. Just take it with a grain of salt, if you will… and be patient, everyone!

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