Blizzard has filed a trademark for the title The Dark Below (via MMO-Champion). It seems likely that it's either an expansion pack for action RPG Diablo 3 or MMO World of Warcraft.
Chief creative officer Rob Pardo confirmed in January that the company was working on an expansion to Diablo 3. Dark Below certainly sounds like the sort of thing you'd name a D3 add-on. The game centers around forays into subterranean dungeons, after all.
Though World of Warcraft is over eight years old, Blizzard has stated that they have several more expansion packs planned for the game. Mists of Pandaria, the fourth expansion, came out less than a year ago but then again, there was only a two-year gap between Pandaria and Cataclysm. Blizzard could maintain that quick pace by releasing Dark Below next fall. Another expansion might be the shot in the arm that the game needs, given the plummeting subscriber numbers.
As WoWWiki points out, the phrase "The Dark Below" has some significance in Warcraft lore. The Manual of Monsters for the pen-and-paper RPG says that the Dark Below is a realm inhabited by demons and devils. Perhaps players will have to travel into this realm to head off some sort of demonic invasion of Azeroth? That feels a bit too similar to Burning Crusade's premise, though.
Fans have also noted that Ozumat, a kraken in Cataclysm, bore the title "Fiend of the Dark Below." This leaves open the possibility that Dark Below is an expansion pack centered around the oceans of Azeroth. Perhaps players will get to travel to the Undermine, the Broken Isles and other previously unseen locations?
Still, one other piece of evidence makes a D3 expansion seem more likely. Blizzard is hosting an event for a "special announcement" at Gamescom on August 21st. According to IGN, the invitations to that event promise a reveal "that's sure to capture the attention of the Heavens, Burning Hells and all the shadowed places that lie between." That language sounds closer to Diablo lore. The terms "heavens" and "hells" aren't very prevalent in WoW.
I'd argue that D3 is in greater need of an expansion pack, too. While an expansion could help stem WoW's bleeding of subscribers, the game still has over 7 million players. Blizzard is keeping those subscribers busy with free content patches, too. D3, meanwhile, is starved for new activities. What'd Blizzard add to that game post-launch? Brawling, Infernal Machines and not much else. It's time that they release some new high-level adventures for players to embark on.
Based on all the evidence, I'd guess that Blizzard will be announcing Diablo 3: The Dark Below. What do you all think, though?
What do you think The Dark Below is?