The 11th BlizzCon turned out to be a fantastic event. It brought over 26,000 fans together at the Anaheim Convention Center for two days of community fun, seeing what's up next for Blizzard's beloved franchises, and of course to check out some live esports action. Therefore, we've collected together some of the things that made the biggest impact on us and the audience in the general.
The Opening Ceremony: The doors to BlizzCon opened early, at 9am on Friday (November 3), and literally thousands of fans ran from the doors into the massive Hall D (aka Mystic) and the various other new halls to see the opening ceremony and announcements live. The ceremony kicked off with an introduction by the president of Blizzard, Mike Morhaime, who gave heartwarming thanks to the all the fans in attendance, which was followed by rapturous cheers from the audience. After that came cool news and videos regarding almost every Blizzard game, which lasted for the full hour. The biggest announcements were definitely new expansions to World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and the incredibly awesome cinematic trailers for different games. Blizzard always makes fantastic trailers.
Hearthstone: Blizzard's digital card game's new expansion is called Kobolds and Catacombs. It's inspired by classic dungeon crawlers, and players can expect to run into a lot of dangerous traps, creatures, and to find new legendary weapons and loot. These legendary weapons are also a new card type like Hero cards and Quests. It also features a new keyword - "Recruit" - which replaces the much longer "summon random minion from deck" phrase in the cards.
The expansion adds 135 new cards to the game, but the most interesting new feature is a PvE mode called Dungeon Run. In that players are tasked with beating eight bosses with a limited twelve card set. Every win awards new legendary abilities and cards, so it's up to the players to either build a deck that tackles all possible challenges or die trying. The mode is completely free and, in addition, everyone who logs in before the December launch will also get a free legendary card called Marin the Fox, which will actually be playable as of November 6.
Overwatch: Happy news for the many Overwatch fans that have been waiting for a new supporting hero. Blizzard announced Moira, who has an interesting mix of abilities. She is described as an attacking support and can both heal and do significant damage by constantly switching between them. Along with this new hero we will also get a new map called Blizzardworld, which pays homage to all the Blizzard games in the style of a theme park. Both will show up in PTR "soon", although live servers will have to wait until the beginning of next year.
In addition to the announcements, Blizzard treated the fans to another glimpse at some Overwatch lore. This time around it was Reinhardt's turn, and the awesome cinematic was presented by the actor who plays the character, Darin De Paul. He was super happy about his part in the game and even told how Overwatch changed his life for the better. The cinematic animation is equally emotional and you can watch it below.
Heroes of the Storm: Blizzard's MOBA received two fiery hero announcements. Next to join the Nexus are Overwatch archer Hanzo and Azeroth's iconic dragon queen, Alextraza the Lifebinder. The former is a straightforward ranged assassin, but the latter is a really complex specialist who can, from time to time, turn from humanoid form to a full-sized dragon. The announcement cinematic was pretty fantastic and we would recommend watching it even if HotS isn't one your favourites.
Heroes of the Storm will also get new battlegrounds and next year there'll be some big overall changes in terms of the game's core systems. Blizzard promised that in the major update coming in 2018 there will contain an in-game chat, reworked matchmaking, new stealth mechanics, and improved lining.
World of Warcraft: Good ol' WoW just keeps on trucking. Blizzard announced the new expansion Battle for Azeroth, which will bring back the classic conflict between Horde and Alliance to the forefront with full force. The expansion will include two new continents, Kulas Tiras and Zandalar, interesting allied races, big battles, and many more raids and dungeons. No exact date was announced but it is likely to hit in 2018.
For those with a passion for nostalgia, Blizzard also announced the return of "vanilla" WoW. It's currently in development with the name World of Warcraft: Classic, but according to the company, it's not an easy task. We will probably see it in action by the end on 2018 at the earliest, but it wouldn't surprise us if it takes until 2019.
Starcraft II: Starcraft didn't get as much love as the other games, except maybe Diablo which was completely ignored. Starcraft II is still getting new playable content in the form of a new co-op mission and commander. The biggest announcement, however, is that a big part of the game is going free-to-play in November. Players can then access the whole Wings of Liberty campaign for free, and if you already own that you'll get Heart of the Swarm instead. Pretty nice if you haven't played this excellent RTS.
Summing up: BlizzCon was once again a magnificent gaming event. The atmosphere and the sense of community are exceptional, and in many ways, it feels much more than a run-of-the-mill convention. A big shout out needs to go to the awesome community that is incredibly accepting and friendly. We really can't recommend it more. If you have any appreciation for Blizzard games we highly recommend attending BlizzCon at least once, even if it is on the other side of the world for many of us.