So Blizzcon is coming to a close once again, and our favourite developer hasn’t disappointed despite not having a whole new game to show off. So what did they have for us?
First up, it’s probably strange to most that the big news for Warcraft wasn’t the new expansion. Battle for Azeroth is the latest in a long line of expansion for the ever-popular MMO, but perhaps the fatigue is starting to set in and now news of a new pack is more like the start of a new season rather than something to really get excited for. That being said, we usually find the first few weeks of a new expansion to be the most fun while people actually get to explore and try new things out. Battle for Azeroth focuses on the war between the Horde and Alliance, taking place in whole new continents called Kul Tiras and Zandalar. It features new enemy types, a new level cap, dungeons, raids, new islands that looks like little procedural dungeons, 6 new allied races (new create-a-character options unlock once you have recruited those races in the story) but these are mostly variations of existing races, and a whole new levelling system that means you can choose from a lot more zones to level up. So now when you get to level 57 you don’t have to go Outland, you can head on straight to Northrend if you’d prefer and level up there instead.
Overall, it’s pretty standard for an expansion with nothing as exciting as a new class, but it seems to be setting up for what might become the real endgame of WoW, the war between Alliance and Horde. We wouldn’t be too surprised to see Blizzard abandon the expansion pack model after this one, instead supporting the game through content patches until they eventually move on to whatever will come next.
The big news for World of Warcraft was the announcement of official support for the vanilla version of World of Warcraft. We don’t have a timeline yet, but Blizzard will be making the original game available, complete with ammo counts, 40-man raids, having to walk to dungeons, LFG chat, and consumables for literally everything anyone ever wants to do. Seriously, if you didn’t play World of Warcraft before TBC, you might have a shock coming as to how hard and time-consuming the game used to be.
Starcraft’s surprise announcement was that the game is going free-to-play. Soon Starcraft 2’s multiplayer and Wings of Liberty Campaign will be entirely free, with the game being supported through micro-transactions connected to the popular co-op mode. The game is getting plenty of balance updates and more content for c-op mode too in order to keep the older players interested while the (hopefully) huge influx of new players find their feet. This could be a way to ensure the competitive scene stays alive by removing the barrier to entry for more casual players. As big fans of WCS, we’re hoping this works out well for them.
Heroes of the Storm
As expected, Heroes of the Storm is getting two new characters, with Overwatch’s Hanzo and the dragonflight’s Alextrasza joining the Nexus. We always want more dragons but couldn’t be more indifferent about Hanzo. He’s dull in Overwatch and he’ll be dull in Heroes, I can’t see what they could possibly do to differentiate his skillset from the other DPS assassins. Maybe Blizz will surprise me!
Other than that there’s not a lot new coming for Heroes, but considering the steady flow of content we’ve had over the year it’s hard to complain!
Overwatch is getting a new hero (of course) along with a brand new map set in Blizzard-style theme park. As massive theme park nerds we’re probably more excited about the map (and dreaming of it becoming real) but Moira (the new character) is fairly interesting too as a kind of shadow healer who can kick out a lot of damage while healing at the same time. Currently she looks like a Mercy who can also kill everyone, which sounds horrifically overpowered. Blizzard even joked about this, saying you spell her name ‘OP AF’ – but we’ll have to see what they can do to balance her or buff the other supports to fall in line.
It feels like there’s something new every month for the insanely popular card game, but Hearthstone is getting another expansion, Kobolds & Catacombs, that’s themed around the idea of a choose-your-own adventure game. Everyone can get in on the fun with a free card out now and a quest coming later in the month.
And that’s your lot for this year! Sadly there was no news of Diablo 4 or any new titles like the rumoured Warcraft 4, but for the games you know and love there’s plenty to keep you occupied. We’ll be following the updates to Heroes of the Storm closely and potentially World of Warcraft if they can convince us to sign up (again)!