Blizzard may have just leaked the location of World of Warcraft's next expansion

This fall, World of Warcraft players will travel off-world to the Eredar homeworld and Burning Legion headquarters of Argus with the release of patch 7.3. While nothing has been confirmed by Blizzard, many speculate that this could be the last major content patch for Legion, the game's current expansion. Naturally players are eager to know about what comes next. If some incredibly obscure hints are to be believed, we might just have our first clue. Though this is still just speculation, the World of Warcraft community believes the next expansion will send players to Kul Tiras to fight the Old Gods.

Right now, the World of Warcraft subreddit is abuzz thanks to a recent post from Wowhead showcasing some new information that was datamined from the PTR version of patch 7.3. Of that information, of great interest to players is a new set of armor. As author 'perculia' on Wowhead explains: "This set is named after the maritime nation led by Lord Admiral Daelin Proudmoore in the Second War—it's since been mysteriously silent after the Third War. There are eight icons in the database for Kul Tiras Quest Armor. These icons all follow the naming scheme of Inv_boots_cloth_kultirasquest_b_01, which is very similar to the naming scheme of icons used for quest gear in previous expansions."

As perculia mentions, this is the first time Kul Tiras has been mentioned since WoW's Cataclysm expansion, when the world-shattering event sent the island drifting from the coast of Lordaeron to seas unknown. Nothing has been heard from its inhabitants since.

But wait, it gets more interesting.

"Zooming in on the side armor on the skirt, we can more clearly see a map to a new zone, as well as some tentacle decorations underneath," perculia writes.

Here's the new armor set, but looking more closely you can clearly see the suspicious map. When you compare it to the map of Kul Tiras that is present in the World of Warcraft original game manual, it's easy to see the similarities—particularly the north-eastern peninsula. 

Here's the armor set that has everyone talking.

And here's a close-up of the map that appears to be Kul Tiras.

The community is freaking out over more than just the armor's name and map however. Along the base of the robe you'll notice tentacle shapes reaching up, along with barnacle-looking things scattered around as well.

In our interview with game director Ion Hazzikostas on the future of World of Warcraft, I speculated that Legion will likely bring an end to the Burning Legion and its world-rending leader Sargeras as the series' main threat—at least for awhile. With them out of the way, the only villains already well-established in the lore would be the Old Gods and their creators, the Void Lords. Observant players have, since Legion's launch, noticed that the Old Gods have been a subtle theme throughout Legion. After all, the Blade of the Black Empire, Xal’atath, that Shadow Priests wield as an artifact weapon whispers to them occasionally. This one line of dialogue is pretty hard to ignore.

"The God of the Deep writhes in his prison, breaking free ever so slowly. You should hurry and defeat the fallen titan… there are greater battles yet to fight."

The God of the Deep is a nickname for the Old God N'Zoth.

Okay, but what about the barnacles?

Well, Kul Tiras is a naval superpower led by Lord Admiral Proudmoore, father of Jaina Proudmoore. If you're at all familiar with Warcraft, Jaina has been a major character since Warcraft 3. She disappeared during the beginning of Legion and hasn't been heard from since, but given her place within the lore she's due for a comeback. The barnacles seem to reinforce the idea that this next expansion will have a nautical theme. If that's true, there's no more fitting a place than the South Seas, a vast region often referenced but unexplored in any Warcraft game. It's home to jungle islands, loads of serpentine naga, and pirates. 

All of this fits snuggly together with what we know of the Old Gods through Queen Azshara, who has made one of her largest appearances in Legion. See, Queen Azshara used to be the leader of the Night Elf empire before she was corrupted by the Old Gods and became queen and progenitor of the naga. It's World of Warcraft's lore at its most esoteric, but hopefully that all makes sense.

While all of this is hasn't been confirmed by Blizzard, this isn't just baseless speculation. It all makes sense when considering the lore. 

When I spoke with game director Ion Hazzikostas back in April, I asked if the off-world journey to Argus would become a reoccurring theme for Warcraft. "There's still large chunks of Azeroth that we have yet to visit," he responded. "If you look in the chronicle books, there's all sorts of landmasses, all sorts of cultures and foes we have yet to deal with. There's no lack of ideas on that front."

And Kul Tiras, Queen Azshara, and the Old Gods are the biggest of those ideas. If this new expansion doesn't deal with them, it's likely going to be a complete wildcard that catches everyone by surprise. It's also worth mentioning this wouldn't be the first time Blizzard let the cat out of the bag regarding major additions to the game. Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm's new races, and Warlords of Draenor were all spoiled by similarly tiny clues well ahead of launch.

Still, a high-seas adventure in Azeroth sounds incredible. I hope the World of Warcraft community is on the right trail.