In the blink of an eye, another Blizzcon has come and gone.
This year felt different from other years. There was a lot at stake. Big announcements had to be made. Mike Morheim had stepped down as president for Blizzard during the opening ceremonies last year at Blizzcon 2018, handing the reigns over to Jay. Allen Brack. Some saw it as a sign that dark times were ahead and from that moment forward, Blizzard has been in hot water. The mobile only Diablo Immortal Announcement was a disaster. Jobs were being cut left and right within Blizzard’s development teams. The Hearthstone Hong Kong controversy involving pro player Blitzchung sent shock waves through the community. There were even protesters positioned outside of the event this year. It seemed like Blizzard just couldn’t catch a break.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from Blizzcon this year. There were some leaks the week before stating that we were definitely going to be seeing footage for Diablo IV and Overwatch 2. The disappointment of Blizzcon 2018 was still with me, so I opted not to purchase the virtual ticket this year. As someone who has invested well over 1000 hours into Diablo 3, I can’t even describe my disdain when they announced the cell-phone-only Diablo Immortal. Of course I’ll play it, but it definitely did not deserve the final spot in the opening ceremonies last year.
Blizzcon 2019’s opening ceremonies began with a heartfelt apology (seriously, it sounded like he was going to cry) from Blizzard President Jay. Allen Brack, who accepted accountability for the Hearthstone debacle, among other things. Moving forward, they’re going to think before they act. It has always been about the community, and Blizzard will strive to do better. With apologies out of the way, Blizzard delivered in a big way.
Diablo IV Officially Announced
This was the big one for me (and a lot of people). I got serious goosebumps watching this. The way this cinematic plays out is nothing like we’ve seen before. Usually with these fantasy stories, you’ve got the big bulky adventurers smashing skeletons with their giant hammers or something. You know, typical hero stuff. This cinematic is nothing like that. It’s a group of thieves willing to sacrifice their own to earn the reward. It ends up going full blown horror at the end, promising an experience that will be much different from the usual Diablo fare. Diablo has always been dark, but the fourth entry seems to be heading into some pretty bleak territory. No release date has been set, and when the developers were asked an estimate, we were told “it’s not ready, not even Blizzard ready”. So… maybe we’ll play it in ten years?
There was a playable demo at the convention, but for those of us who didn’t have the chance to be there, the trailer above will have to do. So far, the Barbarian, Sorceress, and Druid have been announced, but there will be two more classes available at launch. One of the big features being added is every class will be able to have a mount to ride around on. I can’t wait. I love the Diablo series, but I hope this is a game that everyone will love. Diablo 3 was met with mixed reviews, so here’s hoping were headed in a more positive direction. If they could add cross-platform I’d be in heaven.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Announced
The next expansion for World of Warcraft will take us to the Shadowlands. Sylvanas has opened up the portal to the land of the dead, essentially combining it with the land of the living. Despite the glaring comparisons to Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, it looks like this could be another great expansion to the long running MMORPG.
Along with new zones, dungeons and raids, players can now join Covenants. Each Covenants acts almost like the Class Halls from Legion, and comes with their own full-fledged stories. As a Horde player, I actually invested time in leveling an Alliance character for Battle For Azeroth, just so I could experience both sides of the story. Now I’m going to have to level four separate characters for each Covenant. It’s gonna be wild yo.
Overwatch 2 Announced
This cinematic reminded of something that would come from an Avengers movie. Everyone coming together with some pretty epic hero moments. It was definitely the more lighthearted cinematic of the bunch. Overwatch 2 will have a much larger emphasis on PVE content. There will be a full-fledged story alongside the PVP content that made Overwatch so popular in the first place. I wasn’t a big fan of the PVP, but I did enjoy the different characters abilities and personalities, so being able to chill and play some story content with my friends sounds perfect.
Also, it’s strange watching the gameplay trailer and seeing Toronto show up (I was born there). Along with the Toronto level being added, there’s even a Canadian character being introduced. I dig that.
Accompanying those announcements, we’re also seeing a new Hearthstone expansion.
And we got to see some new footage for Diablo Immortal.
I used to be huge into Hearthstone when it initially launched, but it fell to the wayside for me. Diablo Immortal looks like that quick game fix that I’m looking for. From the gameplay shown, it looks gorgeous for a mobile game. While there isn’t a release date set and microtransactions still haven’t been mentioned (but will most likely be in the game), I think we’re all eagerly awaiting to see if this game can deliver a true Diablo experience on mobile devices.
So, did Blizzcon 2019 deliver? Let me know what you thought down in the comments below. Did it deliver for me? Yes, absolutely. I honestly just wanted a Diablo IV announcement, so everything after that was just icing on the cake. I haven’t been this hyped for a game in a long time. I can’t wait to dive back into the world of Sanctuary and discover new things. I’ve played the crap out of the third one and I’m ready for something new. Everyone has their rough days (or years). Here’s hoping Blizzard is finally back on track, not at the forefront of controversy, and doing what they do best; making great games. – NVJ