BlizzCon is over, but the Hype is just beginning
BlizzCon 2014 has ended and while I’m sure many have hangovers from the post parties many others are having post BlizzCon depression set in. Fans have been eagerly awaiting BlizzCon for months, many since the second the doors closed on the last BlizzCon, but what now?
To me personally BlizzCon is my Christmas, I may not have been able to be there in the flesh but thanks to social media and the live stream I can experience it at home and share my feelings, reactions and emotions with my friends online, I admit to feeling some grief that it is over but I’ve been thinking, Does it really end here?
The convention itself may, but as our friends return home I don’t believe the hype train is ending, I believe it’s just the beginning.
Let’s look at what was shown and announced at BlizzCon 2014 and where we have to go from here.
By far the biggest announcement and surprise by Blizzard is a brand new IP. After 17 years of expanding the current universes Blizzard have come home and decided to host Overwatch in a slightly twisted future of Earth.
This team based 6v6 shooter is a completely new genre for Blizzard to conquer and unlike in the past Blizzard did not just announce this with a cinematic but with gameplay footage, detailed hero information, a beta date of 2015 and having 12 heroes playable for BlizzCon guests.
The bright colourful nature of both the cinematic and gameplay footage have me excited for this game, both because it looks like fast paced fun but I can see it becoming a great eSport as well. Blizzard have stated that while the story will not take place in-game they are working on ‘interesting’ ways to tell the story online, personally after seeing the cinematic I’d happily pay for a web series which tells Overwatch’s story.
This is one to watch whether you’re a fan of FPS or not. Why? Because Blizzard have a knack for taking something that is not approachable by all and turning it into something that not only the professionals love but the casual gamer can enjoy as well.
You can sign up for beta, watch the hero videos and read the back story on the official site here: playoverwatch.com
The next stage in the StarCraft universe, Legacy of the Void, continues the epic single player campaign of StarCraft 2, it’s time to play as the Protoss as Hierarch Artanis seeks to unite the Protoss factions and retake Aiur, however we know that there is more to this story as the fallen Xel’Naga has returned and Kerrigan and the Zerg may be the only hope for the entire galaxy.
Blizzard have said this will conclude the StarCraft 2 storyline, however not only story has been added in Legacy of the Void. A multitude of multiplayer unit changes, additional units for all races, new game modes such as Archon mode where two players control one base and army and more await those with a passion for StarCraft.
If you haven’t picked up StarCraft 2 yet then fear not. Blizzard also announced that Legacy of the Void will be a stand along game, you will not need to own the previous expansions to play Legacy and can instead just buy it and enjoy its story in itself.
For a lore junky like me this is it, this is the conclusion to the story and while I don’t want it to end I also cannot wait to see what happens, I believe it will take the forces of the Protoss, the Zerg and the Terran to defeat the Xel’Naga, but I also fear what would be lost in the battle (please don’t kill Kerrigan, Blizzard, please).
Find out full details on the new units, changes, game modes and story on the official site here: legacyofthevoid.com
Blizzards team based brawler, Heroes of the Storm, received a slew of new upcoming updates including:
- New Heroes
Thrall, Jaina, Sylvanas and surprisingly, the Lost Vikings. This shows how passionate Blizzard is in expanding the Nexus for Heroes as one of the biggest fan requests for a hero at last year’s BlizzCon was the Lost Vikings. Also shown as works in progress were the Skeleton King, the Butcher and the Crusader.
Jaina was confirmed to be planned to be added to Alpha, while Thrall will be added the same day that the beta goes live on January 13 and no date has been set for others as yet.
That’s right as above, the beta for Heroes of the Storm will start on January 13. Blizzard also made note that everyone should know how much they don’t like giving out dates, so the fact they are means it is pretty set.
- New Battlegrounds:
Three new battlegrounds were revealed, Sky Temple, Tomb of the spider queen and a Diablo-themed battleground which combines the High heavens and the Burning hells.
Read full details on the new battlegrounds here: http://us.battle.net/heroes/en/blog/16655151/new-battlegrounds-revealed-at-blizzcon-2014-11-8-2014
- Ranked play and Draft mode coming with beta release
Ranked play will have separate rankings for Hero League (single queue) and Team League (team queue), Hero league can have a team of 1-4 players and Team league will only be for full five player teams which can be named and have up to 9 players per team. In ranked play you will start at rank 50 and battle your way up the ladder.
In ranked play players will use draft mode, this will have teams taking turns picking heroes in real time before the game starts so you can counter your opponents team composition and you will also know which battleground you’ll be playing on before the game begins.
While there may not have been a lot of news for World of Warcraft itself this is purely due to the new expansion Warlords of Draenor coming out this week. However there was news for the Warcraft movie.
Blizzard and Legendary pictures have confirmed that the movie has finished filming and is now in the long process of adding over three thousand CG scenes. Chris Metzen is appearing as 6 different CG orcs and props from the movie were shown that the level of detail looked amazing.
Sadly live ticket holders didn’t get to see the teaser trailer that was shown in the Dolby theatre at BlizzCon but you can now represent your faction on the new websites fightforthehorde.com and fightforthealliance.com
Blizzard also unveiled a World of Warcraft documentary to celebrate the 10 year anniversary. This hour long documentary looks through the entire history of WoW from it’s humble beginnings when Blizzard didn’t think it would be as popular as it become to the powerhouse it is today. You can watch the documentary on youtube now and it is well worth it. I’ll freely admit to shedding a tear remembering the great moments over the last 10 years.
The first Hearthstone expansion has been announced and it is being released next month!
Hearthstone Goblins and Gnomes will feature over 120 new cards and change several current cards to a new type “mechs”, this simple gameplay change will be sure to mix up the meta along with the wide array of new cards.
Along with the new expansion comes the long awaited observer mode where if you’re in a match anyone on your friends list can jump in and watch (you can make it invite only or disable it completely if you wish) and also the release of the Android tablet version of Hearthstone.
The Diablo team did something a little different this year, prior to BlizzCon they had a forum thread where players could submit ideas for a new legendary item power and during the BlizzCon panel the developers along with five members from the crowd were going through these ideas and narrowing them down to what could be useable and implemented into the game.
The process was done just how it is done at Blizzard and was explained as:
- Gathering – This is the process of gathering as many ideas, good, bad or completely insane, just to have a list of ideas to work with.
- Refining – Going through the ideas and seeing what is viable, what could be tweaked to make it viable and yes even scrapping some of the ideas which are not possible. However they did note that no idea is ever thrown away, but instead filed away (in an idea graveyard as it is called) in case at a later date it could become possible.
- Reflecting – The final stage in the process is taking the ideas back to those who came up with them, discussing the changes or getting more detail on the idea. This allows the team to learn as a whole for the future.
The final choice was an item power which will buff different elements in a predetermined rotation, this will allow all classes to have a benefit from it. Now the dev team will go back to work and will create the items lore, stats, ingame model and apply this new fan created power to it. The item will be added to Diablo 3 in a future patch.
This was not all from the Diablo team though, we also learn of the upcoming 2.1.2 patch and the fixes proposed with it, greater rifts density and map layout being reworked. New types Treasure Goblins being added to the game one that drops gems on hit, one that drops crafting materials and another that drops blood shards.
We learnt of new sets for all classes and of season two which will include many more legendaries and changes to the conquest system such as no longer having a conquest for the race to level 70 as in season one this encouraged less than fair play.
While some may say Diablo didn’t have a lot at this year’s BlizzCon we are still in the first year of its latest expansion coming out and the new patch information is very promising.
Bring on the Treasure Goblins for the slaughter!
Where to now? Well where would you like to go? All of Blizzards games have upcoming expansions or patches, Blizzard have added an entirely new genre so even more fans can get into the Blizzard hype.
We now have six different games from Blizzard which are all extremely different from each other:
- Overwatch looks beautiful and fun I cannot wait for the beta.
- WoW is never ending but an entire expansion is out this week.
- The StarCraft 2 story may be coming to an end with Legacy of the Void but the multiplayer will live on for years to come.
- Hearthstone continues to expand in its own silly but fun way.
- Heroes is gaining momentum by adding new heroes and a date for the beta launch.
- Diablo 3 is still going strong from Reaper of Souls and still continues to get better with each patch.
My friends, BlizzCon is over for another year but the hype train is just beginning, pick up your weapon be it sword and shield, epic space battles, card strategies or gun and join me in the excitement that will be another great year for Blizzard gamers worldwide.
I’ll see you in-game.