With Blizzcon 2019 just wrapping up, there is a LOT to unpack. Holy crap is putting it lightly. There is a lot to cover here, so it is possible that some announcements may be missed.
Blizzcon opened this year with the president, J. Allen Brack, apologizing to the Blizzard and Hearthstone Communities for the recent controversy that has struck up following Blizzard’s actions in banning a Hearthstone player who spoke out in support of Hong Kong. From Brack’s apology, it seems that Blizzard is dedicated to making up for the mistakes they made. After the apology, the fun began and the announcements began to roll in!
Diablo fans rejoice! After 7 long years of waiting, we finally get to continue our journey through Hell! The first announcement to open Blizzcon was Diablo 4 which came with a new and beautiful cinematic and gameplay trailer. Diablo 4 will be non-linear, allowing players to level up on their terms. Repeatable content, side quests, random dungeons and much more. The real struggle will play out across a continuous open world, allowing players to walk from one end of the continent to the other. Distinct biomes and unique architecture will define these areas, each with a weather system, and even a day/night cycle. Some of these regions include foul swamps, icy peaks, and desolate grasslands. With all of this said, players were able to jump into Hell early and try out 3 of the classes that were available at Blizzcon. The Sorceress, the Barbarian and finally being added into the game, the Druid. Diablo 4 does not have a release date as of yet, but it has been confirmed to release on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation with no mention of the Nintendo Switch.
The Blizzard Arcade!
During Blizzcon, attendees were able to visit a new addition to the Con, The Blizzard Arcade. The Blizzard Arcade housed some of the newer announced games that players could test but along with the newer games, players were able to play some of Blizzard’s original pieces. Attendees were able to play such pieces as Rock and Roll Racing, Black Thron, The Lost Vikings and much more. Players were also able to play the Warcraft 3 Reforged Beta in the Blizzard Arcade. Blizzcon attendees and virtual ticket holders also gained access to this beta outside of the Con to play at home. Warcraft 3 Reforged does not have a release date yet, but Brack stated it will be coming SOON.
Starcraft and Heroes of the Storm
Starcraft and Heroes of the Storm fans may feel a little neglected this year. But Brack did reveal the next co-op commander preparing for intergalactic battle in Starcraft, and its none other than classic villain Arcturus Mengsk. Mengsk was a comrade-in-arms to heroes Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan, before instigating the events that left Kerrigan abandoned on the battlefield and condemned to her fate as the destructive Queen of Blades. Mengsk would eventually go on to reign as the Emperor of Terran, spinning public opinion against his former pal Raynor. Arcturus Mengsk will be available for StarCraft II in late November.
For Heroes of the Storm, very little news regarding the game was mentioned in the Opening Ceremony, much like Starcraft. The biggest announcement for HoTS was that Deathwing will be coming to the Nexus for all players. Deathwing is an extremely versatile and unique melee Bruiser. He uses Energy instead of mana. His trait, Aspect of Death, has multiple parts. Deathwing is permanently Unstoppable, making him immune to all crowd control effects, meaning opponents are not be able to slow, displace or stun him. However, he cannot be affected by any ally abilities.
By activating his trait, he switches between two stances with different abilities: Destroyer or World Breaker. His first ability is shared between both forms. Molten Flame winds up then breathes a torrent of high-damage flame in a cone in front of him. His Destroyer abilities are Incinerate, which unleashes a flaming pulse around him for damage, and Onslaught, which lets him dash a short distance and chomp enemies on arrival. In World Breaker form, he instead uses Lava Burst, which erupts a pool of lava at the target location, damaging and slowing enemies inside, and Earth Shatter, which slams the ground to create two lines of rock that stun enemies. Deathwing only has one Heroic ability, which is available at level one and shared between forms. Cataclysm allows him to take to the sky and fly forwards, igniting his wings and damaging everything he flies over.
Brack mentioned that Deathwing the Destroyer, their most recent and highest requested hero of all-time, will be free to all individuals who purchased a Virtual Ticket for the event when he goes live in the nexus and for all attendees at the Con. Further, for the next week, all Heroes of the Storm champions will be free-to-play for every player.
Hearthstone Descent of Dragons
I would say that one of the coolest announcements this year at Blizzcon was the newest Hearthstone expansion, Descent of Dragons. Blizzard posted a teaser for its new Hearthstone expansion on social media before following it up with a full reveal at BlizzCon 2019. The next Hearthstone expansion, Descent of Dragons, will conclude the story started with Rise of Shadows and Saviors of Uldum. This tale is wrapped up in a very Flash Gordon-esque style, with an accompanying music video.
This expansion takes us to Dragonblight, a zone from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Dragonblight is up in snowy Northrend, and it’s where the Dragon Aspects gather near their shrines.
A new Hero card was announced, Galakrond the Nightmare. Galakrond is a 7 drop hero card with 5 armor that will take over your existing class hero. Galakrond has a Battlecry which lets the player draw 1 card and that card costs 0. With Galakrond, we see a new Keyword, Invoke. Playing Invoke cards will strengthen Galakrond, upgrading him to a second and 3rd form known as Galakrond Azeroth’s End. Every class is also being given its own legendary dragon card to conquer the battlefield.
Descent of Dragons is set to conclude Year of the Dragon. Changes to the standard format of the game will follow, with older cards being put into the Wild rotation. The expansion will go live on Dec. 10.
But this was not it for Hearthstone. Oh no, us Hearthstone fans were given an entirely new way to play — Battlegrounds! “In Battlegrounds, you’ll take on the role of a familiar Hero straight out of Hearthstone history, craft a powerful board of recruited Minions, and face-off in an action-packed series of duels until a single winner is crowned!” Says the official description of the game mode. The Battleground mode is an 8 player auto-battle game, similar to Team Fight Tactics and Dota Underlords and it is going to be available for early access on November 5th for players who pre-purchase the new Expansion or Blizzcon Attendees (virtual ticket too). After a week, an open beta will launch on the 12th of November.
Overwatch 2 is happening, and for me, it is the least exciting announcement by far. After a year of convincing leaks and reports, we’ve finally gotten a look at Overwatch’s sequel. It’s got new maps, heroes, and most interestingly, a story mode, expanding on the narrative foundation Blizzard’s been building with its character cinematics. I’ve been saying since Overwatch first released that it needed a story mode, and I am so happy to finally see a story mode coming to the game!
From what we’ve seen so far, Overwatch 2 is not your average sequel. Its most unusual feature is that some new additions, like new heroes and multiplayer modes, will also come to Overwatch 1 at no additional charge. The two games will continue to coexist as one big PvP experience, while Overwatch 2’s other new additions are exclusive to the sequel. Overwatch 2 sounds like it is going to be more of a Story game than the original Overwatch, which I am all about! What I’m not all about is having a rehash version of the same game with the number 2 next to it. I hope Blizzard will find a way to make Overwatch 2 stand out. I don’t want to pay full price for a game I already purchased and have relatively the same content with a splash of uniqueness to it. Overwatch 2 seems like more of a DLC or expansion than a new game. But we will see.
Players were also introduced to the next hero coming to Overwatch and Overwatch 2, Sojourn. We did not get a lot of information on Sojourn, but she seems primarily damage-focused with some key mobility mechanics. It almost seems like a new form of Widowmaker. Sojourn was the only Hero announced during Blizzcon, but we also saw a lot of Echo during the announcement, so I would be willing to bet that players will be able to charge into battle with her soon.
One of the last announcements was a new game mode called “Push.” Push is a new tug-of-war style game mode, two teams fight over control of a robot that pushes barries back and forth across the map. Personally, it just sounds like a reskinned version of Payload, but the assistant game director Aaron Keller described the game mode as “really flanky,” because players can access various vantage points along the robot’s path through the different shortcuts and connections, so this will allow for different team comps and may bring a slight change to the Payload mode we’re so used to.
At BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard said that Overwatch 2 is still early in development and isn’t sure when it will release. “I don’t know. I have no idea,” game director Jeff Kaplan said at the reveal panel. “Like, just let us make it great, that’s what we care about more than anything. We don’t have a date in mind.”
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands and more!
And finally, we get to the main event of Blizzcon 2019, at least for me. Once Ion Hazzikostas took the stage I instantly had chills rushing down my back and I was just ready to see what new adventure awaits! But before we heard of the new expansion, Hazzikostas spoke about Classic WoW. Coming very soon, the week of November 12th to be exact, they will be enabling some of the world bosses, Azuregos and Lord Kazzak but what most players are excited for is the PvP Honor system finally coming to Classic! Players can finally rack up their Honor points and cash them in for some powerful gear to fight against the opposing faction. Hazzikostas did not mention anything about opening up battlegrounds as of yet.
After this announcement, Ion goes on about the Charities they have been working with and he announced that they have a pet going on sale, Dotty. Dotty is a baby Alpaca and when players purchase Dotty, all proceeds will go to the two Charities, The Make a Wish Foundation and We.org.
World of Warcraft is celebrating its 15th anniversary, and coming on November 5th players will be able to partake in a Throwback battle ground titled, Korrak’s Revenge, which is inspired by the original Alterac Valley. Additionally, players who log into the game during the events will receive a celebration package with an XP boost tabard and a Lil’ Nefarian pet. To commemorate the milestone anniversary, Blizzard will have a special raid featuring nine bosses from three different expansions — Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, and Cataclysm. Defeating all nine bosses will give you the new Obsidian Worldbreaker mount inspired by Deathwing.
Players can expect to fight the following bosses
- Chromie’s Memory: Burning Crusade
- Chromie’s Memory: Wrath of the Lich King
- Chromie’s Memory: Cataclysm
And with that, it is finally time to talk about the next installment of the World of Warcraft franchise. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. There is going to be a lot to go over for this expansion, so I will be making an entire article dedicated to this announcement alone. With this announcement came another breathtaking cinematic. Sylvanas is seen making her way through Icecrown up to the Frozen Throne where a legion of Scourge awaits her along with Bolvar, the current Lich King. The Lich King and Sylvanas fight it out and the battle is epic but it kind of ends in a crazy twist that I did not expect… and I’m also kind of upset about it. Sylvanas defeats Bolvar, takes his crown and breaks it in half which shatters reality like glass which reveals a mirrored reality in the sky above Northrend, The Shadowlands. After the cinematic, the crowd was going insane! It was clear that this expansion announcement was widely accepted by the fans.
With this announcement, we were also shown the new worlds we will be exploring during this expansion. Ardenweald, Bastion, Revendreth, and Maldraxxus, with the city Oribos and a mysterious region known as The Maw.
Bastion: Ruled by The Kyrian Covenant. The souls sent here by the Arbiter have some sort of purpose of service. These souls will stay here until they are ready to become a spirit healer for the rest of their afterlife. Uther is a soul that can be found in Bastion.
Maldraxxus: Ruled over by The Necrolord Covenant, and represents the Shadowlands military might. They seem evil, but it’s more about power and might have no necessary affiliation. An example of a good soul that will be found in Maldraxxus is Draka, Thrall’s mother. She was not evil, but never bowed to anyone. That is the Maldraxxus way.
Ardenweald: An enchanted mystical forest ruled over by The Night Fae. Spirits of Nature are the ones called to Ardenweald, and they will later serve the forests and wilds. Cenarius is an example of a soul that will be called here.
Revendreath: Ruled by the Venthyr, Revendreath is the one place you don’t really want to end up. The souls called here are those with flaws, and are needing repentance or atonement. Kael’thas is in this realm and will be a part of the storyline.
Oribos: This is where the Arbiter stands, and it is the hub of the Shadowlands. It is also, therefore, the central area for your players.
The Maw: This is ruled by no Covenant, and it is the place for all the terrible souls. The Maw is essentially a type of jail. And it’s a one-way street, once you go in The Maw, you never get out. But of course, the players will eventually be traveling there.
There is so much more to talk about for this expansion, I will be going into detail on what information we know about this new adventure in another article. So be sure to stay tuned with us here at Critical Strike and Gamerjibe for more updates as they roll out.