After the failure of last year’s Blizzcon with the likes of Diablo Immortal, and the recent controversy surrounding Activision Blizzard, all eyes looked to this year in anticipation of how they could redeem themselves. Oh, did they ever! Let’s take a deep dive into all the major announcements from Blizzcon this weekend and what they mean for the future of these beloved franchises.
Diablo 4 is a thing! This was the first thing they announced and I could not be more excited! It looks to be a lot darker and more gruesome than the previous games, taking place far in the future with a gory aesthetic reminiscent of Diablo 2 (satanic rituals, occult symbols, LOTS of blood). As far as we know, Diablo 4 will require an always-online connection; this is because your group of demon slayers can run into other parties in real-time. The gameplay seems quite similar to what we’ve seen in previous iterations. As far as the story goes, we are seeing the return of Lilith, daughter of Mephisto; however, the game is meant to be very non-linear with 5 regions you can explore in any order at your own pace. No release date yet but we will keep you posted.
So apparently Overwatch was due for a sequel. Overwatch 2 was announced this weekend. This full-on sequel will feature the same gameplay but with new heroes and new maps as well as a focus on co-op and PvE modes. The strange thing about this announcement is that Overwatch 1 players can still play online with owners of Overwatch 2, and in fact, all your skins and cosmetics will jump over to 2… so you won’t lose anything there. This was all announced with a cinematic trailer called Zero Hour in which we saw many returning heroes fight off a robot invasion with the aid of a new hero, Echo. Furthermore, the first Canadian hero was announced, Sojourn. Sojourn has been in overwatch before but never as a playable character so this is very exciting to see. There is also a new talent system available in which you level up heroes; it is still unclear how that will work when cross-play between Overwatch 1 and 2 is available. Finally, Jeff Kaplan, the game’s director, said he has “no idea” when the game is coming out, so, again, we will keep you posted!
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft Shadowlands: that just sounds epic. This new expansion to World of Warcraft releases next year where players are taken to an alternate realm of death and decay as they must choose from several factions to fight Sylvanus after she destroys the Lich King, Bolvar. In the epic cinematic trailer, Sylvanus uses Bovar’s helmet to tear open the sky and destroy the barrier between Azeroth (the main are of World of Warcraft) and the Shadowlands. As always there is a massive overhaul of the game’s systems with the main aspects being: a new end game dungeon that looks like its own rogue-like experience and a new level cap of…. 60? As confusing as this is, with the previous level cap being 120, it is a benefit as it will make grinding to max level much quicker. The current level of maxed-out characters will be reduced to 50 so you still have 10 levels to progress through this expansion… with unique upgrades to abilities and talents every level it will be the type of progression that players can feel.
Capping off the end of the year of the dragon celebration in Hearthstone, the 3rd expansion this year is Descent of Dragons. Surprise surprise, many more dragons to add to your collection! With several new mechanics and a new keyword “Invoke,” it looks like the meta is going to get shifted quite substantially. Invoke is tied to Galakrond, the progenitor of all dragonkind – a very powerful hero card that can be upgraded through 3 separate forms. He can be buffed while in your deck and any card with the invoke keyword will cause him to be buffed. Every player will receive Galakrond upon logging in so don’t worry about missing out on that fun! Descent of Dragons is looking to complete the story of the League of Explorers and co. battling the League of E.V.I.L. To everyone’s surprise: there is a new mode being added! Battlegrounds is an auto-chess-esc game mode in the auto-battle genre which will be in beta pretty soon. Descent of Dragons does have a release date, mark December 10th on your calendars.
So now with the big announcements out of the way (no Starcraft, I know, I’m sad too), let’s wrap up some of the smaller, yet still exciting, announcements. Diablo Immortal, the phone version of Diablo that got everyone into a rage was playable and looks very cool. It is still in development with no release date (hey, I’m noticing a pattern here) but I don’t imagine it will be much longer given that it was announced a year ago. Also announced was that Warcraft 3: Reforged is expanding its closed beta and it will be released “sometime soon”. So that was Blizzcon 2019, many huge announcements but sadly only one definitive release date. Nonetheless, there is plenty to look forward to as a Blizzard fan whether on PC, PS4, Xbox One or Switch.