There's been whispers on the high seas about where World of Warcraft's going after Dragonflight—with some theorists already loading up their cannons with hopes for a seafaring-themed expansion.
This was due to a few factors—several transmog sets seem to be hinting at an oceanic direction for WoW, such as the Waveborne Diplomat's Regalia and the more recent Seafarer Pack. If this sounds a touch crackpot, Blizzard did do something similar before the announcement of Dragonflight with its Dragon Pack, which was released December 2021 before the expansion's announcement in April 2022.
There've also been some other in-game hints—the prevalence of pirate factions on the Forbidden Reach, as well as (courtesy of Youtube channel Taliesin & Evitel) an in-game book called "Pirate Proclamations" which contains a text called "Return of the Nightsquall".
While it's probably just a fun lore tidbit, it sets a big enough plot thread that unravelling it would be grounds for a whole new expansion: "So whether ye be Irontide or Bloodsail, Defias or Freebooter, all are welcome to sail under the Nightsquall's flag. Follow him as your new admiral and no navy on Azeroth will have a prayer against us!"
A battle on the high seas against WoW's saltiest crew sounds like a good time—and with the store foreshadowing, some gamers had been genuinely getting excited. Rather than let the rumour mill spin, however, President of Blizzard Mike Ybarra appears to have shot those dreams dead with a reply to a post on Twitter/X, as spotted by WoWHead.
No pirates.September 4, 2023
Just…. 'No pirates'. Well, that's the dream dead. Put your cutlasses and eyepatches away. The two-word reply has set off a swell of dejected yarrs from the community.
Clearly a misprint. He meant to say no pilates https://t.co/sRTCihj1VKSeptember 4, 2023
I didn’t want to step on people’s fun speculation, but now that we have this I suppose now’s a good time to mention that the developer who wrote the book about the Nightsquall and his pirate fleet no longer works at Blizzard, so that was probably never intended as set-up lol https://t.co/ctgqulnuFYSeptember 4, 2023
Maybe privateers https://t.co/bP0agkBg9lSeptember 4, 2023
Fascinating. I never expected a pirate *theme*, but 'no pirates' does make you wonder what all that Defias/Irontide stuff was about.A lot of WoW's added flavour like that feels like a teaser rather than actual content, so I can see why we constantly feel unsatisfied. https://t.co/EOeZitNDDJSeptember 4, 2023
The post Ybarra replied to however, which gathered over 1,000 likes, shows signs of a strong anti-pirate contingent within the fanbase. User daveatano wrote: "People want to RETURN to OLD PLACES on AZEROTH. Mainly to rediscover the two places that they all fell in love with the game on. They don't want pirates. They want the World of Warcraft." Presumably, these anti-pirates are very relieved they won't be having to listen to shanties for the next two years or so.
I do feel like pointing out that the last time we returned to the old places of Azeroth (during Cataclysm) it wasn't received super well. Then again, Dragonflight has proven that a lowering of stakes from the cosmic 500-IQ Jailer mind games is popular, so maybe a nostalgia trip is next in line. There's also the chance that this is some kind of trolling zig-zag, and that the Nightsquall's new cult will fly the black flag under some other name, but Mike Ybarra's the president of Blizzard—he's not exactly known for social media mischief.