The ninth BlizzCon has just kicked off in Anaheim California with a host of news, trailers and announcements guaranteed to please the developer’s millions of fans.
Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime welcomed fans to the Anaheim Convention Centre and re-capped what has been an extraordinary year for the company; from esports championships, to its new IP Overwatch, to the continued growth of Hearthstone, the world’s most bankable publisher has gone from strength to strength.
If the BlizzCon 2015 opening ceremony was anything to go by, Blizzard shows no signs of slowing down. Here are the most important announcements and reveals from this year’s keynote:
Heroes Of The Storm is getting a lot more content
The content for Blizzard’s MOBA continues to be added at a pace; at BlizzCon 2015’s keynote, lead game designer Dustin Browder revealed a brand new mode, three new characters and something rather special for BlizzCon attendees.
The new mode is called The Arena and rather than placing two teams of five players in a large, traditional MOBA map, it selects Heroes at random and plonks two teams in a small hotbox with very quick objectives set out in front of them. You can end up with an entire team of Raynors, if you’re unlucky enough.
HotS is also getting three new characters. There’s the elf, Lanara, the Worgen Greymane and the two headed ogre, Cho’Gall. The final character is free for BlizzCon attendees and those who bought a virtual ticket to an event. You’ll also need two players working in tandem to play him.
So is Hearthstone – and it’s arriving next week
Blizzard’s battle card game is getting a brand new expansion called The League Of Explorers, which comes with a couple of new cards, new tactics and a new adventure with some decent jokes thrown in for good measure. The new expansion comes on like a cross between Indiana Jones and Warcraft.
Among the new cards announced is The Explorer’s Hat, which adds a +1/+1 power up to minions, a deathrattle and then returns to the player’s hand, and the Golden Monkey, which is a 6/6 character with a taunt that transforms all of the player’s cards into Legendary minions. How long before they nerf that?
The icing? The new expansion is out next Thursday. Get grinding, people!
Starcraft 2 will receive content beyond Legacy Of The Void
Starcraft 2 was centre stage at BlizzCon this year, since Legacy Of The Void, the third and final part of the game’s storyline is out next week. A lot of fans may have been wondering what could possibly be next for Blizzard’s RTS franchise.
Well, according to the keynote, Blizzard plans to extend the game’s plot with a series of DLC drops – the first of which stars the Terran Ghost, Nova. The first three are scheduled for release in March of next year.
Overwatch has three new heroes and its special editions have a boatload of content
Overwatch had a bit of its BlizzCon thunder stolen ahead of the convention, when details about its released were inadvertently leaked by retailer Gamestop. Going in, fans knew that the game was going to be on Xbox One, PS4 and PC and that it wouldn’t be free-to-play.
What fans didn’t know was that Blizzard had three new heroes to announce – Mech driver, D.VA, freeze-ray-wielding eco-warrior Mei and cyborg ninja Genji – and that there are two special editions they can buy. Origins Edition comes with a WOW pet, an exclusive hero to take into HotS (Tracer), Hearthstone cardbacks, angel wings for Diablo and a bunch of origin skins for some of the heroes.
The Collector’s Edition comes with a rather sweet looking bronze statue, the game’s soundtrack, a sourcebook and all the aforementioned digital DLC from the Origin Edition. Now all we need are some prices.
World Of Warcraft Legion looks set to satisfy fans and the Warcraft movie looks pretty good
Blizzard’s flagship MMO franchise closed out the keynote with news on what players could expect from the new plot – Illidan Stormrage and Sylvanas Windrunner are set to return, as is the Burning Legion – and the game’s opening cinematic was shown off. We can report, as is always the case with WOW’s opening scenes, it was positively swoon-worthy.
However, the footage that drew the biggest reaction from the Blizzard faithful was the full length trailer for the Warcraft trailer. Directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Timecode) and starring the likes of Ben Foster, Toby Kebbel and Clancy Brown, Warcraft brought the proverbial house down; fans roared with delight at seeing the world of Azeroth brought to life so faithfully.
They’ll have to wait until next year to see the movie – thanks for that, Star Wars! – but Warcraft looks like it may just buck the trend of game movie-tie-ins being rubbish. It might just even put WOW on the mainstream’s radar…