BlizzCon 2013 opened up with less of a bang than in previous years. Two of the big announcements were for games that aren’t considered breadwinners, and there was an overall tone of fan appreciation. I watched the four main announcements following the opening ceremony and there is a lot to take away from each of them.
World of Warcraft: What’s Next?
The answer is one that the Blizzard forums has been buzzing about for a little while. Warlords of Draenor will be the fifth expansion to the still amazingly popular MMO. For the background and lore of the game, you have to travel back in time to events and characters only mentioned in the Real Time Strategy Warcraft series. The setting will be Draenor before the shattering and creation of what players know as Outland.
Rich characters and beautiful gameplay areas aside, it’s the talk of new game mechanics and major overhauls to existing mechanics that have me excited. Quest loot will no longer be stored in your bags. Instead, quest items will just be counted in the quest log freeing up massive amounts of space in your inventory. Chris Metzen also mentioned that bigger bags really aren’t the answer to the space problems most players run in to, which is why they are making inventory smarter instead of larger. Having items highlighted for specific purposes and being able to designate a bag for a specific item type are two of the ways Blizzard is helping you clean up your inventory. The previously mentioned quest item change is another big help, but the addition of other “Collections” might be one of the biggest changes to your inventory that will have an immediate noticeable affect (since it changes the UI). Heirloom and Toy items will be given the same treatment that Pets and Mounts were.
Garrisons seemed to be a fan favorite announcement. It reminded me of the house or manor you could acquire and upgrade in Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, except that this building seems to have a lot of function to go with its form. There will be a Follower system associated with your Garrison, which seems to be NPCs that essentially work for you. You’ll be able to send these characters out on quests such as Dungeons or Raids as though they were players in their own little version of World of Warcraft. It seems like a world within a world. Today, a lot of the details seemed vague and I’m sure that the actual product will vary greatly from what we were shown, but there will be a Q & A I plan on watching tomorrow along with the in-depth panel I missed today (hopefully I should be able to watch the recording of it tomorrow too).
Hearthstone: Fireside Chat
Hearthstone is definitely becoming the little darling of Blizzard. There were some amazing announcements for this game, but the Fireside Chat’s main purpose was to officially explain what Hearthstone is and where it’s going. BlizzCon 2013 attendees (physical or virtual) will be receiving an exclusive card and that card was announced during the Opening Ceremony. Elite Tauren Chieftain has some rockin’ special abilities.
The video released from Blizzard during PAX revealed that the game would eventually be making it to the iPad, but today the developers announced that it would also be available for iPhone and Android devices. I’m not sure how soon the mobile versions will be available, but it was announced that Hearthstone would hit Open Beta next month. I’m not going to get into gameplay details since I am currently in the Closed Beta and will be writing a review once I’ve put a few more hours into the game.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Preview
The overall theme from the Diablo 3 development team was focus. They released a product (Diablo 3) that was very confused and the fan community lashed out. It looks like they’ve got their act together and have determined the ultimate focus of Diablo 3 and are implementing fan requested features only if they compliment that focus. The focus? Kill monsters, get loot. Simple and really easy to get behind. A big feature being added is Adventure Mode.
Nephalem Rifts and Bounties are sub-features to the Adventure Mode. These are varying levels of difficulty based on quest-like elements and randomized monsters, dungeons, and/or bosses. Of course, all these game mechanics are in addition to all the new things in Reaper of Souls. From areas to monsters, the new additions are amazingly featured and detailed.
Heroes of the Storm Overview
BlizzCon 2013 marks the latest debut of this game. It’s former name was Blizzard All Stars. Heroes of the Storm has a long history with Blizzcon according to the lead developers for this title. Some of the reveals were skins for the various Heroes, including a Murloc-inspired Diablo skin.
The structure behind Heroes of the Storm is a Hero/Champion brawler game with mission objectives. The pacing seems to be very fast and the quality is on point. There is something so great about seeing some of my favorite characters from Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft working together to fight another team, such as Jim Raynor and Diablo versus Tyrael and The Lich King.
BlizzCon 2013 Day 1
During BlizzCon 2013, Blizzard is showing that they have learned that their fans are the best method of consistent, reliable feedback. Improvements to World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, and Heroes of the Storm are being credited almost 100% to the fan base. Other sites are shrugging off the convention and it’s handful of announcements, but this fanboy is seeing some genuine, sincere differences in the games I love.
Be looking for the recap for Day 2.