Montoya here, sharing some speculation I’ve been making concerning the new WoW expansion, which we will learn about soon.
After reflecting on Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, I realized there was quite a foundation being laid for Demon Hunters as a future playable class :
1. There is an achievement for finding a Demon Hunter in Darkshore “Ghosts in the Dark”.
2. There is a long quest chain with a Blood Mage that has us bring a Demon Hunter back from the dead, who nobly makes a big sacrifice right afterwards.
3. In Felwood, a Demon Hunter named Feronas Sindweller is a kill target for a quest. We soon find that he has been killing demons rather than druids, as he had been accused. He then proceeds to show us what most NPCs, and all of BC, seem to ignore: Illidan sought power, not to conquer or lord over others, but rather, to help his people and prove himself to Night Elves, particularly Tyrande. He did these things, however, with a reckless attitude (poor Lord Blackforest).
All of these were added in Cataclysm, which makes me wonder about the possibility of a Demon Hunter class in the next expansion. However, I find that there are a few things in the way:
1. Demonology Warlocks have become more and more like Warcraft III Metamorphosis Demon Hunters over time. A book in Stormwind explains that a human warlock, Kanrethad Ebonlocke, has learned and taught the secrets to Illidan’s transformation.
2. The Warlock challenge set in Mists of Pandaria is clearly Illidan themed, which, combined with the Demonology Warlock changes, makes me wonder if Blizzard is folding Illidan and Demon Hunters into the Warlock class. This would be an alternative to Demon Hunters having their own theme and class (with the obvious exception of not using warglaives).
3. In patch 5.2, the Warlock Green Fire quest was introduced, in which the Warlock visits Black Temple in present day and witnesses a conversation between two members of the Black Harvest, Ebonlocke and Jubeka. They discuss witnessing Illidan’s end; however, before Ebonlocke divulges information about it, the conversation conveniently shifts to something else in the middle of his thought.
4. Cheng, a Pandaren monk, makes a comment that can be taken multiple ways. He says “Yes, I am a monk, though I always dreamed of being a demon hunter.” What was the intent behind this flavor text?
While Demon Hunters could be folded into Warlocks, their combat and flavor could also be made distinct from one another. Unlike Warlocks, Demon Hunters exist to destroy the Legion. They use the Legion’s power against itself. Warlocks do not seem to have this focus at all; rather, they just utilize whatever powers are available to augment themselves. Demon Hunters blind themselves, receive tattoos in order to see Demonic magics and utilize the tattoo patterns Sargeras introduced to empower Illidan. As far as making 3 specs, tanking or healing could easily be achieved with some creative Fel magic and weapon mechanics.
So what does this evidence point to? Illidan is likely coming back. Chris Metzen recently tweeted, ”No. I think there’s a spark of him out there somewhere… Muahaha…” in response to someone asking if Illidan’s return referred to his appearance in the 4.3 dungeons. With, or prior to Illidan’s return, will Demon Hunters be a new class? Or will their theme be absorbed into Warlocks? What was the purpose of laying all this foundation in Cataclysm and dropping hints in Mists of Pandaria? While this is all speculation based on hints dropped in-game the last couple of years, we may find out in a few weeks with the upcoming expansion reveal at Blizzcon. Perhaps “The Dark Below” will be revealed, giving us further details.