Blizzcon 2017 kicked off with an absolutely killer opening ceremony, packed with announcements. Almost every Blizzard series is getting some kind of new content, or is changing the way you play the game.
We’ll be getting hands on with all of the new content, so stay tuned for that. Here’s what’s been announced so far.
‘Hearthstone’ expands into Kobolds and Catacombs
That’s right, an entire expansion dedicated to those ill-fated, iller-looking dullards you find in almost every one of World of Warcraft’s mines. There are sure to be many references to candles, and how you no take it.
That means 135 new cards dropped into standard multiplayer, with a new keyword, and a new mode.
Cards with the “recruit” keyword will reach into your deck and randomly bring minions onto the board. It looks like this stays within the bounds of what you have in your deck, but unless specified, is otherwise unlimited.
You could get lucky and recruit an 8/8. It’s also possible a card might specify to recruit from a subgroup of minions — reducing the randomness — or even recruit below a certain mana threshold.
Free-to-play fans will be happy to see the new Dungeon Run mode, which sees you trying to topple a series of eight bosses in a row. It plays out a bit like a roguelike. You can choose your class but you’re assigned a random deck, picking up bonuses along the way for each victory.
The bonuses are overpowered — things such as doubling your hero power’s effectiveness while halving its cost — but you’ll need as much as you can get to take on the tougher bosses towards the end.
The fact that you get access to more Hearthstone cards than you own (and the loot after every win), makes it a good mode for newcomers and veterans alike.
‘World of Warcraft’ expands the Battle for Azeroth
It’s time for the next chapter of Azeroth. With the existential threats requiring both main factions to cooperate eliminated, it looks like they’ll waste no time in resuming the war between the Horde and the Alliance.
With so many external baddies in recent times, you’d be forgiven for forgetting these two were at each other’s throats. Battle for Azeroth is definitely a new, canonical step forward in storytelling for the world. Not a time travelling blast from the past, or an alternate dimension. It’s a new, real story.
— World of Warcraft (@Warcraft) November 3, 2017
That means new characters, and losses, for both sides. An amazing cinematic was shown with Sylvanas and Anduin starring, and it looks like there’s a lot more to add to the story of both. Our early chats with developers have suggested that both sides will suffer losses that’ll be hard to bear.
There will also be a focus on world events, and zones have actually been designed around them. Islands are another addition, which are randomised instances of PvE. These are challenges that don’t require the normal trinity of tank, healer, damage dealer. You should be able to tackle them as any combo, and they should feel fresh for the first few times you do them.
‘World of Warcraft Classic’
Not too long after shutting down a community-run server for doing basically the same thing, Blizzard will be running a server for “old school World of Warcraft.”
Go back to when it was hard. It was always known as the “accessible” MMO, but it got easier and easier as it went along. Blizzard wanted to rush you through the early game to get you into the newer late-game content.
Now you can go back to when it was a challenge just to get to level 60 and take on Onyxia.
‘Overwatch’ gets a new hero and map
She’s one of many scientists in the Overwatch world, and will be filling that new support role that everyone’s been asking for. According to Blizzard:
Her Biotic Grasp can drain life from enemies but can also be used to heal her teammates, while her Fade ability allows her to instantly escape danger by temporarily disappearing into the shadows. She can provide a surge of extra damage against foes—or added healing for friends—with Biotic Orb. Her ultimate ability, Coalescence, mends or maims those in its path; not even barriers can stop this powerful beam.
There’s also a Blizzard World map coming to Overwatch, with a little bit of different Blizzard universes sprinkled throughout. Storm Stormwind, or engage in firefights around Starcraft artifacts.
‘Starcraft II’ Goes Free-to-Play
Still the world’s most competitive strategy game, Starcraft II is making its main campaign and units free. This doesn’t apply to the campaigns in the expansions Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. You can use the expansion units in competitive multiplayer, but if you like Wings of Liberty and want to experience the rest of the story, it’s probably time to pony up some money ya cheap sod.
There will be a rotating roster of which commanders you can use in the co-op commander missions, and now there’s a new commander(s) in the form of Matt Horner and Mira Han.
But this is still pretty cool. Starcraft II has aged very well. It’s still a damn fun game, and if you’re picking it up for the first time I almost envy you. The campaign, challenges, and co-op missions are easy to get into.
As for the multiplayer, well… That’s simultaneously the best part of the game, and the hardest to learn. You’re up against years of knowledge of shifting strategic trends and theory. On the plus side, that also comes with years’ worth of Youtube tutorials and articles to brush up.
Are you ready for what comes next? #BlizzCon
— Heroes of the Storm (@BlizzHeroes) November 3, 2017
‘Heroes of the Storm’ shows its content schedule
In addition, the HOTS team laid out its vision for spreading out content releases. In the past, hero reworks might’ve been released at the same time as new heroes or maps. Each one of those in itself could disrupt the meta quite a bit, so the goal is to do one thing at a time, and let the community adjust to the new addition.
The team has a lot more rework content planned, which may translate into less new hero releases over the next year, but better existing heroes. Characters with one dominant talent path will be prioritised, to allow for multiple interesting play styles per hero.