The WoW Insider Podcast crew has been talking about it on and off in the last dozen episodes.
Their Lore expert has deemed it possible in a very interesting post of all the possible foreseeable subjects of the future World of Warcraft Expansion.
I am 100% behind the theory that we will go on "an outer space summer vacation" in 5.0.
I was discussing this with my friends the other day, and I've come up with the most logical/optimal way that Blizzard could take advantage of that possibility.
The next expansion will bring the focus back on the Burning Legion.
It could be set in a way that they are trying to make a push for us, we repel them, and then we take the fight to them.
(Yes that's basically The Burning Crusade 2.0, and that's the point.)
There are already existing portals scattered around the planet - there's maybe more that we don't know of or that we can't see yet (because they're on floating rocks that are out of out reach currently).
Some crazy Dalaran wizard or
Heck maybe the remaining Burning Legion forces have built some new portal devices of their own - the kind that the players can go through.
Then we land in the new 85 to 90 (95?) zones that are Burning Legion strongholds, and we fight and pillage and burn - for great justice.
The three possible expansions that are being put forth are : Outer Space Vacation, the Emerald Dream and Vashj'ir and Beyond (aka the Azshara expansion).
I am discarding the Emerald Dream expansion because it is a gigantic task and has to do with a lot of things that are related with their newly revamped Azeroth - I don't think they want to work on vanilla Azeroth again.
I am also discarding the Azshara expansion because Blizzard has to rethink how the 3D underwater fighting can be developed further from their Vashj'ir experiment.
Also, I think it is "good writing" to let the Naga disappear from our Hero Threat Radar just long enough until they sneak behind us to bite us in the ass with a Big-Ass Threatening Device-MacGuffin.
I think the Outer Space scenario is more likely because, heck, it's about time we go there.
We are always fighting 3 things in World of Warcraft : there's the fight against the other faction (Horde VS Alliance), the fight against the Burning Legion and it's sub-products (the Lich King was created by Kil'jaeden), the fight against the Old Gods and their sub-products (Deathwing was "created" by them).
The story of each expansion is showcasing one of the 3 fights as the main plot, while the other 2 fights are still going on but they are keeping a low profile.
Story-wise, it gives time for one fight to pick up it's pieces, patch up, and come back in a stronger and meaner way in the future.
Now we've been spending the last 2 expansions in Azeroth, so it's time to go back in space and discover new and interesting worlds and creatures and destroy them and take their loot.
Chris Metzen and other Blizzard employees have mentioned how they really would love to go look back at the Burning Crusade material and give it the Cataclysm treatment.
Except that it would more likely be the other way around.
As in Outland doesn't get destroyed, but rather restored.
On this matter, I have this odd little theory and I hope you like it.
Who have we been told will become the new Aspect of Earth ?
What's so special about the Aspect of Earth ?
Well he has dominion over all earthly things.
Who loves his home world, the land of his father, the birthplace of many orcs, the planet that was shattered in thousands of little pieces ?
I hope you see where I'm going with this.
In The Shattering book, according to Aggra, Thrall has had a connection to the Elemental Dukes (the elements that are walking around below the Elemental Plateau in Nagrand) that no one has ever had before.
He asked them questions, they responded, they even helped him.
The elements there are still very much distressed.
We went to Outland and cleared most of the Naga threat and put a stop to Kael'thas' plans, but we didn't do anything to "fix" the place itself.
What we did there had mostly to do with whomever was strolling around on those pieces of floating rocks.
So a newly confident and renewed and powerful shaman like Thrall comes back to his home turf to fix a planet ?
The elements likey.
Some of them might feel cranky about it, because, you know, last time a shaman tried to do something with the planet it didn't end up well.
But it sounds like Thrall's good guy karma to be all "A shaman destroyed the planet, a shaman shall rebuild it."
So what are the advantages for Blizzard to do this ?
Revamp all of The Burning Crusade expansion : They can turn Outland into Cataclysm 2.0 - buff up the existing zones and create portals to the new high-end questing zones. This is exactly the same thing that they did in Cataclysm - they just have to repeat it with Outland. However, Outland is not as big as the combined Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms put together. So they would have more time and resources directed towards the new high-end content - which would be good news for everyone.
Correct and expand the lore they've left behind : They can tweak some stories that felt a bit weak and bring more fuel to the lore they've created two expansions ago and barely mentioned ever again. I feel like this could be a good excuse to have more insight on the Burning Legion - their command system, their origins, how they conquer worlds and what are their current plans to get back at us. (Kil'jaeden did not forget us pushing him back into the Sunwell.) Also, THE FRIGGIN DRAENEI ! We need more info, more lore about their culture, about how they used to be and live before Sargeras came into their life. We could also do with what exactly convinced them to join up with the Legion - at best find a way to shove pieces of (the excellent must-read) Rise of the Horde directly into the game.
Finally have an excuse to bring back Alleria and Turalyon : Remember those 5 statues in front of Stormwind ? We've found 3 of the people they were based on when we stepped into Outland. The mysterious couple still is M.I.A. and lore buffs want those 2 back in the storyline. I'm sure their son would also appreciate.
Give time to Azshara to be forgotten and regroup her forces : Because she's next on the Bad Guy Hitlist. Also, if it's not done in Cataclysm before it ends, we'll need to know more about what happened after the story of the Throne of the Tides - and I'm damn sure that Metzen wants his Abyssal Maw story to be inserted somewhere back into the game. But it's clear that we're not done with the Naga and the Old Gods, because (to quote the WoW Insider article) :
There is a definite tie between these two races, and killing Deathwing is only the tip of the iceberg as far as Azeroth's problems go. If we deal with Azshara, we are continuing on what appears to be our mission to eventually eliminate the Old Gods altogether.
Okay so I've built up this huge theory and I think it's all possible it could happen.
But here's what I'm really getting to: if they do indeed revamp Outland, they might revamp the loot.
Forgot about this ?
I can totally see Blizzard retiring the Ashes of Al'ar.
We've had the time to farm it.
We'll all have the Reins of the Dark Phoenix by the end of this expansion (hopefully), so if you just want a phoenix-type mount you'll be happy with what you have.
But if you want a fire phoenix...
Remember what happened with the mounts in Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman ?
Before we have any crying, tearing off of ironic shirts, whining and braying about how Blizzard somehow is "not giving us enough time" if ever they announce they are taking it out of the game, consider this your unofficial warning - because we've gone through the ZA Bear, ZG Raptor and Tiger mounts situations before and I won't be listening to anyone who cries about it if this happens again for the third time in the history of the game.
I'll be replying to you that I friggin' called it.
Now spread the word and get to Tempest Keep now.