Blizzard has had its ups and downs as a company over the last decade, but the one constant is that big announcements await at Blizzcon, the annual convention for Blizzard games. After a month or so of intense rumors flooding the depths of the internet, consumers were finally rewarded with answers.
It’s hard to forget last year’s “Diablo: Immortal” debacle and its accompanying “Don’t you guys have phones?” quote. Diablo fans had waited years for a follow up to the massively successful “Diablo 3,” and they were greeted by a gritty cinematic trailer for “Diablo IV.” The announcement was prefaced by this cinematic, showcasing the awakening of an ancient evil. “Diablo IV” will have five starting classes for players to choose from, with the three announced being barbarian, sorceress, and druid.
One of the key differences in this iteration is an online overworld, where people can encounter strangers from across the world while questing. Dungeons will still be instanced for solo or grouped players and the difficulty is chosen beforehand. The Diablo series has always been more focused towards single-player experience, so it will be interesting to see how players react to being forced to interact with others.
“Shadowlands” was announced to be the newest World of Warcraft expansion, featuring a cinematic of Sylvanas confronting the Lich King and opening a portal to the Shadowlands, a place between life and death. After general displeasure with how the most recent WoW expansion was handled, the announcements surrounding “Shadowlands” inspires hope.
Within the Shadowlands, players will get to choose one of four covenants, each with different signature abilities and cosmetic rewards. Also announced was a Roguelike feature entitled “Torghast, Tower of the Damned.” Torghast is an endless randomized dungeon that will allow players to group or grind solo as they seek to unlock rewards to bolster their next runs for further progress.
A number of changes were made in regards to updating the old world as well. The level cap of 120 will be shrunk to 60 in the next expansion, allowing players to choose what world they level in. At 50, they will unlock the new zones and get to venture into the Shadowlands. Also in theme with the Lich King, the Death Knight class will be expanded to include all races in the game and not just those around since it came out. Classes will also be seeing the return of iconic abilities from times past. Rogues will get poisons, paladins will get their auras, and a whole host of skills from the early days of WoW will have their time in the spotlight again.
The newest Hearthstone expansion, “Descent of Dragons” follows the League of E.V.I.L. as they head to Northrend and attempt to awaken the ancient dragon Galakrond. Each class in Hearthstone will receive a version of Galakrond that differs in ability and can be invoked to become even more powerful. Each class will also receive a legendary dragon, which includes the return of such iconic names as Ysera and Deathwing.
I doubt I ever would have guessed that when “Overwatch” released, “Overwatch 2” was going to be something that exists in 2019. Featuring a new engine, “Overwatch 2” will be essentially a spin-off of the original game with a focus on single-player content. Multiplayer will overlap between the two games and cosmetics will transfer over between games, but “Overwatch 2” will also feature different character models for the heroes as depicted in the accompanying cinematic.
Blizzcon 2019 was a success on all four fronts as far as fans of the mentioned franchises can be concerned. “Starcraft” was left in the dust, as was the return of “Warcraft 3,” but the big announcements seem to be yet another step in the right direction for game design at Blizzard.