WoW: Datamining an “emerald drake” mount, what does that mean?

On the night of Sunday January 16 to Monday January 17, 2022, our colleagues from Wowhead have discovered a new special effect in the Patch 9.2: Eternity’s End files for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. This one could have completely gone unnoticed if it had not been mysteriously relayed as possibly being a clue about the future expansion of Blizzard’s MMORPG. So, what to deduce? This is the topic of the day!

Datamined content

The in-game files regularly learn about upcoming content in-game. While browsing through these recently, one of Wowhead’s editors discovered a mysterious file named 9fx_drakemountemerald_buff. So far, nothing surprising with one exception: no emerald drakes have ever appeared in Shadowlands, and even more so in Patch 9.2 (according to the information available to us and outside of Ysera) .

World of Warcraft

From this point, other very mysterious go in the direction of what could be a Purchasable Pack on the store: a mount having a priori the appearance of a drake, a mascot and several hidden objects. Although few details are available about the other objects supposedly related to this alleged mount, a list of special animations dedicated to the latter has challenged our colleagues.

There are thus animations of flight, running, swimming, injury suffered during a fight and especially a large number of animations named “Mount . Even more, it is the presence of the prefix “9fx“, indicating high-quality special effects, and the weight of the asset (8.9MB for the mount, 5.5MB for the pet) which leaves you wondering: for example, the Ensorcelled Everwyrm weighed only 2.7MB.

World of Warcraft

What possibilities?

The possibilities are both quite numerous while being very limited in the end. In our opinion, this could be suitable for three possibilities:

  1. A Pack for the Deluxe Edition of the next expansion from World of Warcraft, including a mount, a pet and other goodies
  2. A promotional pack dedicated to the deployment of Patch 9.2: Eternity’s End
  3. A creature or NPC that we would be interacting with during Patch 9.2: Eternity’s End

At present, the first two possibilities seem the most likely given the presence of a mascot and additional objects reminiscent of the Packs offered in the store. However, the hypothesis of a creature whose role remains unknown is a very serious track not to be ruled out.

Hypothesis 1: Deluxe Edition of the next expansion

This is one of the two most probable hypotheses according to us, and for good reason the presence of an encrypted familiar in the game files as well as additional objects also hidden from everyone’s eyes probably indicates that a semblance of “Bundle” is in the pipeline on Blizzard’s side. However, it is difficult to say with certainty what it could concern. Two major hypotheses according to us:

  1. The Dragon Islands: A plausible theory although it would most likely be very different from the recent leak that we analyzed. However, it is difficult to explain why the Deluxe Edition mount would be dedicated to the Green Dragonflight precisely. We can however suppose that Tyrande and Ysera would have a role to play after the defeat of the Jailer: that of leading us to these legendary islands for an as yet unknown purpose.
  2. The Emerald Dream: Exact opposite of the Shadowlands in the cosmology seen by the Titans, it would be rather coherent that we finally go there after so many years. The important connection of this “region” with Ysera, encountered in Shadowland, and possibly Elune (thus implicitly Tyrande as well) gives credence to this theory. It would thus be easy to understand why the Green Flight would have been chosen as a mount in favor of another. Perhaps a return of Merithra du RĂªve also whose a model corrupted by the Emerald Nightmare was deployed during Patch 5.2 of Mists of Pandaria, long before the post-Ahn’Qiraj integration of the Dreamer’s daughter?

If we stick to the presumed “pattern“Observable from Legion, we can see that the developers seem to want to confront us with each of the great cosmic forces through an adversary with outsized powers. Sargeras (Disorder) at Legion, N’Zoth the Corruptor (Void) at Batlte for Azeroth , Zovaal (Death) to Shadowlands… An extension whose main theme would be Life would not be completely meaningless.pattern” is not really proven and it could be a coincidence since these three themes were in the end rather recurring in World of Warcraft.

Note also that mounts indicating in advance the theme of past expansions, since Warlords of Draenor, are usually deployed in game during the last major patch of the previous expansion, in the store or directly as a Deluxe Edition:

  • Dread Raven : Mists of Pandaria patch (ravenlordmount)
  • Illidari Felstalker : Warlords of Draenor patch (felstalkermount)
  • Golden Ravasaur (Horde): Legion Patch (armoredraptor)
  • Seahair Stallion (Alliance): Legion patch (dressedhorse)
  • Ensorcelled Everwyrm : Patch (aethersnakemount)

Theoretically, therefore, it could indeed be a mount giving a clue on the theme of the next expansion since Patch 9.2: Eternity’s End is the last major patch of Shadowlands. It remains, however, in our view, unlikely that an announcement will be expected so early in the year.

The story of the game is nowadays crucial in the eyes of developers but also many players, hard to imagine Blizzard revealing the theme of the next expansion without even having defeated Zovaal and understood the stakes of the Sepulcher of the Founders, notably through the supposed raid end (and expansion) cutscene. The reveal could, if this theory were proven, take place from the second week of the opening of the Sepulcher of the Founders, shortly after the victory of the first guilds against the Jailer and the reveal of the final cinematic of Shadowlands.

Zovaal, “the Jailer”, is the final boss of Shadowlands.

Hypothesis 2: Promotional pack 6 months

This one would probably (still) make people cringe, yet it is a very serious hypothesis, at least as much as that of the Deluxe Edition of a supposed extension about to be unveiled. Since 2020, Blizzard has been offering several versions of Promotional Packs several times a year offering 6 months of subscription to World of Warcraft as well as an exclusive mount to players who opt for this formula.

During the year 2021, the update rate of the Promotional Pack was rather important:

The previous year, in 2020, this Bundle was updated three times:

  • Squealer the trickster in January
  • Smokescale Incinerator in July
  • Set of the Darter Fairy in December (whose datamining had started in April of the same year)

Overall, these Promotional Packs are generally intended to encourage players to re-subscribe and benefit from a small additional gift for their next six months of attendance. They are generally deployed during exceptional events, Black Friday or Chinese New Year for example, or when a major patch is deployed.

As the deployment of Patch 9.2: Eternity’s End is probably close, at the beginning of March 2022 at the latest if we are to believe the dates officially scheduled for the esports tournaments to come in game, it would absolutely not be surprising that an exclusive mount including a mascot (for Burning Crusade Classic perhaps?) could be planned. The “additional items” discovered by Wowhead could also be linked to a second Pack dedicated exclusively to the store, like the Astronomy Pack for all deployed in mid-November 2021 at the same time as the Pack which included the Murloc Baby Sashells.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

Hypothesis 3: Creature unknown to the battalion

It is mainly the presence of animations that one would easily consider useless for a mount that gives credence to this theory. Why would a mount need to attack for example? We have analyzed the animations available for many other creatures indicated as “drakes” or “dragons” in the game files, they generally all benefit from the same animations.

For this supposedly unknown drake, however, multiples have been added:

  • CombatWound
  • CombatCritical
  • ShuffleLeft
  • ShuffleRight
  • Stun
  • AttackUnarmed
  • ReadyUnarmed
  • DragonSpitFly

All available animations for this hypothetical and mysterious mount are identical to a model of Wrathion’s dragon form introduced in Battle for Azeroth Patch 8.3 but never used. A rather sublime model! A very mysterious new track…

A mysterious model named
A mysterious model called “wrathiondrake” never used in game

This does not indicate that it is not really a mount, the Cataclysmic Gladiator’s Twilight Drake benefited for example from the combat animations since it had also been deployed as an in-game creature in addition to being available as a mount. The two are not incompatible.

Conversely, some creatures such as the Chronocaptain Harpagone benefit from many animations that this supposed Emerald Drake does not benefit from. Finally, the only recent example from the in-game store, the Sylvan Dreamer, benefits from the overwhelming majority of the same animations as those of the alleged datamined mount (and for good reason, it was a creature present in Draenor, then of a mount available to players).

Alright then, what is this thing in the end?

As surprising as it may seem: no one knows! The first two theories seem to us the most credible to date, with a small preference for that of the Promotional Pack, however there are probably many others which, in any case, must be taken for what they are: theories.

While the growing excitement is understandable as the end of the expansion approaches, it’s important not to get your hopes up: you’re bound to be disappointed by doing so. What is a blob of greenish pixels at the bottom?

First leak of a long series to come, “The Dragon Isles” is announced as the next expansion of World of Warcraft, the continuation of the events of Patch 9.2: Eternity’s End of Shadowlands. Big anything or reality? We roll up our sleeves and tackle the supposed 10.0!

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