This year’s Blizzcon began today and leading up to it I didn’t really know what to expect. I was hoping to perhaps hear some news about the next WoW expansion but I also knew that while possible, it wasn’t probable. There was no news about WoW’s next expansion but there were quite a few notable pieces of information revealed to Blizzard fans today. I’ll begin by discussing what was probably most relevant to me other than potential WoW information and that would be the news regarding Heroes of the Storm, the game I have been somewhat covering over the last few months. Blizzard announced that closed beta for Heroes of the Storm would begin on January 13th 2015, so for those of you who like myself have yet to receive personal access to the technical alpha, make sure you are opted in to Heroes beta and keep an eye on your email over the next month or so. In addition to the beta announcement, there was more exciting news(at least for me) when they revealed the next heroes added to the character roster would be none other than Jaina Proudmoore, a frost mage, and the former Warchief of the Horde himself, Thrall. In addition to Jaina and Thrall, they also showed footage of the Lost Vikings characters which should have an interesting dynamic considering they are 3 characters being played as one similar to Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros. The addition of Jaina and Thrall to the game is enough to make me overlook my concerns about hero accessibility even though I still believe they should make all heroes free but again there is still time for them to make that decision when the game is ready to go live and more people have access to it. They also announced two new battlegrounds for the game, Tomb of the Spider Queen and Sky Temple, as well as a ranked play mode which will hopefully include a draft allowing players to ban particularly annoying heroes as well as giving us greater control over team compositions, a problem I noted in an earlier post.
After the Heroes announcements, we received information about Hearthstone which included a release for Android tablets in December as well as a new expansion called Goblins vs. Gnomes. The expansion will include 120 new cards and is expected to launch worldwide in December. No news about any changes to the cost of Arena access or any changes to the turn timer though these may be touched on in the panels later this weekend.
Starcraft 2 players received some exciting news with the announcement of the Protoss expansion titled Legacy of the Void. It was announced that this would be a standalone game and would not require Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm in order to play.
Finally, Blizzard showed us a trailer that introduced us to a new intellectual property called Overwatch. The trailer was action packed and featured animation similar to a Pixar movie. We were also shown gameplay footage that showcased some rather beautiful in-game graphics if even a bit cartoonish which I for one don’t mind. The game itself is a team based shooter that bears similarities to Team Fortress 2. It sports a host of characters and classes each with unique weapons and abilities. There is some talk that this may be the remnants of the recently cancelled Blizzard MMO-FPS project Titan and it very well could be, however my interest has been piqued and I have signed up for the beta, scheduled to launch some time in 2015. You can sign up also by opting in on your battlenet account or by visiting www.playoverwatch.com.
Unfortunately for anyone hoping for Diablo news, there was none and based on the schedule there isn’t likely to be much revealed regarding Diablo this weekend.
All in all I thought the opening ceremony was good and I found myself really excited where I didn’t really expect to be. Here’s hoping Blizzard makes some of the changes I’d like to see in Heroes and Hearthstone, then I’d be really happy.