As with last year, our friends at Blizzard were awesome enough to send over yet another virtual ticket for me to experience the cool things going on at this year’s BlizzCon 2017. While I was hoping for some big news on the futures of Diablo 3, StarCraft 2, and maybe even a single player/story mode for Overwatch, there was still some pretty sweet announcements and news dropping at this year’s event.
Let’s go on an address the Elekk in the room with Blizzard’s biggest announcement, the news of yet another expansion for WoW with World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. Here is looks like the game series is going back to its roots with the “Alliance vs Horde” plot coming back into play with some serious battles going on between the two factions. As with every new expansion, there will be a new level cap (120), new raids and dungeons, new areas to explore and quest in, and even some new races to play such as the Void Elf and Lightforged Draenei on the Alliance side, and the Highmountain Tauren and Nightborne for the Horde faction. What’s really going to pull players into this expansion is the newly added Warfronts, where 20 players team together to take over a fortress-like place and claim strategic locations for their faction. It reminded me a lot of the recent Middle-earth games, and it looks to be a lot of fun.
Well I guess there was some news about StarCraft 2, and it’s going free-to-play…sort of. Blizzard decided to take all of the confusion out of which version of the game to buy, and made the first part of it, Wings of Liberty, free for all to experience starting November 14th. You’ll also get limited online multiplayer access to co-op missions and such, and will have to purchase the rest of the expansions to unfold the main story and access all of the multiplayer options and modes. If you’ve ever been curious about this epic game series, now is the time to see what all the fuss is about. They also announced some new co-op characters and missions, along with some major tweaks to units in order to balance online play and make for some intense matches in multiplayer.
Hearthstone players will be happy to know that yet another expansion is coming to the famous card game in Hearthstone: Kobolds & Catacombs. One of the biggest additions is the inclusion of legendary weapons, and players get a random one free after logging in when the expansion is released. Each one has unique powers and abilities that will shake up any match they’re used in, such as the famed mage staff Aluneth granting a player the power to draw three extra cards after a turn and more. There’s also unidentified potions and items you can pick up along the way that can add random effects on your cards and deck in general, and can help turn the tide in your favor. Lastly, they’ve also added Spellstones into the mix that can also dramatically switch things up during matches by either doing small boosts when not empowered, to giving a major boost to players once they’re fully charged up.
In Heroes of the Storm news, players will now be able to choose Overwatch’s Hanzo and World of Warcraft’s Alexstrasza as new characters to charge into the fray with. As with StarCraft 2, they’re also making some changes here and there to switch up the mechanics for better gameplay. Finally we get to Overwatch that saw a new character, Doomfist, added to the roster earlier this year. Now there’s another joining the ranks in the form of the DPS-Healer, Moira, that can heal allies just as well as she can damage her foes. It’ll be interesting to see how she plays out and how she’ll change the way players form their teams with her in mind.
There’s also a new map to go along with Moira called BlizzardWorld, which has to be the coolest map on the game so far. As the name implies, it’s a theme park-like map that’s made up of various Blizzard themed sections, from a StarCraft section to the obvious WoW section, complete with a snack shop called Snaxxramas which I thought was hilarious. If that wasn’t enough Overwatch for you, Blizzard also released the touching animated short “Honor and Glory” that features a younger Reinhardt and his backstory. Watching all of these amazing shorts is all the more reason why Blizzard should make a single player mode so players can follow up on these amazing backstories the characters have.
Of course the usual suspects were in full effect at the show, namely loads of eSports action and even more Cosplay and contests than ever. These are always a welcomed treat for any who experience BlizzCon, as it’s always fun to watch intense online matches and to see just how creative people can get with their cosplay costumes. I would’ve loved to have seen some sweet surprises at the show, like a Diablo 4 or StarCraft 3 announcement, but even without something as awesome as those, BlizzCon 2017 was still a great event to experience, and I can’t wait to see what next year’s show has in store.