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BlizzCon 2013: Blizzard in a Box
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BlizzCon 2013: Blizzard in a Box

Chris Mitchell experiences his first virtual BlizzCon thanks to Blizzard’s Blizzcon-in-a-Box!

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Out of all the awesome things I’ve experienced working for Popzara such as attending and covering the madness of E3 and CES, being able to ‘attend’ my first BlizzCon was the one of the most exciting and enjoyable. And by attending I don’t mean physically, as our friends over at Blizzard Entertainment did their best and beyond to make me and others who couldn’t be there, feeling the same kind of fun and excitement as though we were.

That’s right, I was a virtual attendant at this year’s BlizzCon 2013, able to soak up as much Blizzard Goodness as possible from the comfort of home. As someone who’s played the convention game many times, not having to deal with airports, hotels, and the usual shuffle was a blessing, and here’s my thoughts on going full digital.

The thing that really made me excited and smile from ear-to-ear was the “BlizzCon-in-a-Box” they sent. This nicely sized box was loaded with swag from the con such as dice bags, paper model toys, buttons to pin to your shirt or backpack, stickers, some “epic” purple lanyards, Thunderstick noise makers, and more. After reading the detailed and hilarious letter that was enclosed (it made a lot of references to WoW such as making Spiced Worm Meat and serving Thunder Ale to your friends while watching the con), I found the card containing my Virtual Ticket code, which allowed me to stream the con live on my PC. It also gives you access to virtual goodies such as a pet, exclusive icons, accessories and more for World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2, and Diablo 3. I absolutely love my Murkalot pet for WoW, as it’s hands down one of the funniest and most awesome pets ever.

There was so much awesome stuff going on at the con, that it would impossible to list it all here. So I’ll do my best to place a condensed version of the biggest news here for our readers and fellow Blizzard fans.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

The biggest news at the show was information on the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Hot on the heels on the recently released Siege of Orgrimmar content, Garrosh somehow escapes his trial with the help of an unknown ally who can travel through time. Here he goes back to stop the orcs from joining the other races and assembles most of the scatters orc clans into a new “Iron Horde”, which will change the fate of the horde and the worldcraft universe in the present unless he is stopped.

With this new expansion, there’s a new, yet familiar world for players to explore called Draenor, which is actually Outland in the past before it came to ruin. Some of the key people behind WoW showed off pictures and video of the new seven zones there, as well as stating some of the new key features such as raising the level cap to 100, the ability to make your own town called a garrison that you can customize and invite your friends to and vice versa. Some other neat features that have been a long time coming are newly revamped character models for most of the races which looked way cool. They’re also allowing players to instantly boost either a current lower level character they have or a fresh one to level 90, so anyone can jump right in on the action.

Some new PVP content, dungeons and raids have been added, and a lot of the core game mechanics such as item stats, the inventory system, and more have been tweaked. It’s too much to get into here, but the changes will serve to make a better, more accessible game for both newcomers and hardcore players alike.

Warcraft Movie

Director Duncan Jones spoke at the BlizzCon 2013 panel on the upcoming Warcraft film and finally released some key details. A detailed plot wasn’t revealed, but it will be an origin story showing how the humans and orcs came to war. Two major characters from the franchise, Durotan and Lothar, will be featured and will go head-to-head. Duncan Jones stated that both characters want to do the right thing for their people, and how the movie will revolve around that. Famed special effects company Industrial Light & Magic is working on the film, and will make the orcs look as real and gritty as possible. They will played by actors who are then covered with CG, as they’re aiming for a Game of Thrones meets Avatar type of look.

The movie will be released on December 18, 2015, and Jones hopes it will at least have a PG-13 rating. The film will also have both 2D and 3D versions. Blizzard COO Paul Sams also stated how everyone wanted to take their time making the movie and how it’s not likely to fall on its face like most video game based films out there. While it would’ve been nice to have this movie come out years ago, I will gladly wait if it means it will be the Warcraft film that fans have been waiting for.

Hearthstone

Blizzard also showed off some of their upcoming Hearthstone trading card game that’s making its way to PC, tablets, and iPhone/Android early next year. Loosely set in the Warcraft universe, it’s set to use a free-to-play model with game play being similar to other card battle games such as Magic: The Gathering. It will also feature cool tables, illustrated cards, and animated effects that is sure to keep fans and newcomers smiling and coming back for more when it hits sometime in late 2014.

Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard showed off an awesome trailer featuring characters from their most popular franchises, StarCraft, WarCraft, and Diablo fighting against each other in their upcoming game, Heroes of the Storm. The game looks a lot like famed MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) title League of Legends, but Blizzard stated the title will be a mix of RTS (Real Time Strategy) and MOBA, making a new genre out of the two. Those wanting to sign up for the beta should be able to do so now, as the site went up during the event.

Experiencing my first BlizzCon was awesome, even if it was just virtually, as I really enjoyed watching all of the cool news unfold live. Even more fun was sharing the news with my friends via the World of Warcraft guild chat at the same time and getting them all as excited as I was. All of the Blizzard staff from the PR people to the key members at the show really made me and others watching from home truly feel like we were there and part of the event. From all of the neat swag, in-game goodies, to the hot news shared at the events, I can say without a doubt that I’m looking forward to the next BlizzCon. Here’s hoping that I might actually be there next time, but if not, at least I know the home experience is the next best thing.

About the Author: Chris Mitchell