BlizzCon 2018 Wishlist/Predictions

Right now my usually unshakeable Blizzard fandom is at an all time low. I played Blizzard games for the story, but Blizzard now seems to have given up on meaningful narrative for all of its games with the exception of World of Warcraft, whose plot is currently going off the rails on the lazy train.

The official logo for Blizzard EntertainmentStill, old habits die hard. I’m sure I’ll still be there watching the opening ceremonies live, and if I’m to keep that tradition alive, I might as well also do my traditional post of wishes and predictions for what’s ahead.

What I think will happen:

This is one of those weird BlizzCons where you wonder why they’re even holding the convention. It doesn’t seem likely that there will be any major announcements, and a relative lack of news panels on the schedule seem to back this conclusion. Maybe BlizzCon is just about the eSports now? It would track with the overall direction of the company lately.

There will be announcements, of course. I just don’t see any of them being big news.

WoW has already spilled all the beans on 8.1. We’ll probably get some info on 8.1.5 and a brief tease of 8.2, but big or detailed revelations are unlikely.

Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch will both inevitably announce one or two new heroes and/or maps, but that’s hardly news at this point. Similarly we can expect a new Hearthstone expansion, but again, those come out so often it’s hardly noteworthy these days.

Alarak in StarCraft II's Covert Ops DLCStarCraft is a big question mark. There is a 45 minute “What’s Next” panel listed for StarCraft II on the schedule, so they must have something to announce, but I’m not sure what. A new co-op commander is the obvious answer, but we just got Tychus, and considering how long he took, I doubt we’ll see another for some months yet. A new co-op map is a possibility, but is that enough to fill up a 45 minute panel?

That does leave the elephant in the room, though: Diablo.

There has been a surprising amount of momentum building for Diablo lately. The announcement of the Book of Adria and a new comics series, as well as a bunch of new Diablo apparel bearing the tagline “Reign of Terror,” which does sound suspiciously like an expansion title, though we’ve been misled by things like this before.

Also, a Diablo “What’s Next” panel is scheduled for the main stage immediately after the opening ceremony, a timeslot normally reserved for whatever the biggest news to come out of the convention is.

I’ve been hoping for another expansion for Diablo III for years and been disappointed every time, so I refuse to get my hopes up again. A lot of people are jumping on the Diablo IV bandwagon, but given Blizzard’s, shall we say, stately pace of development, I think a whole new Diablo game this soon is all but impossible. I also think the announcement of an entire new game would call for more than two panels at the convention, but two is all Diablo is getting according to the current schedule.

A cutscene from Diablo III: Reaper of SoulsThere’s also been wild rumours of a Diablo Netflix series of all things, and while I think there’s a decent chance it may be announced at BlizzCon, I don’t see it filling up a “What’s Next” panel, which are always about new game updates.

Considering all that, I believe the most likely scenario is that we will see the announcement of another DLC for Diablo III, possibly alongside (maybe even tying into) the Netflix series. I expect a new class (probably druid or something similar), and maybe a small amount of new story or a new gameplay feature.

What I want to happen:

The trouble is most of the things I’d want to see at BlizzCon this year are so vanishingly unlikely it’s hardly worth mentioning them even as a wishlist.

I want WoW to announce an end to the subscription, Pathfinder achievements, and the Alliance/Horde conflict. I’d also like to see Vrykul, Forsaken High Elves, and Sargerai as playable Allied Races. And hey, might as well throw in that dark ranger class I’ve wanted forever while we’re at it. And bring back artifact weapons! And badges!

With blackjack! And hookers!

I want a single-player campaign and a permanent, repeatable co-op mode for Overwatch. A robust co-op mode for Heroes of the Storm would be pretty cool, too.

Hierarch Artanis and Executor Selendis rally the Golden Armada in StarCraft II: Legacy of the VoidI’d like to see Selendis announced as the next co-op commander — this at least is somewhat within the realm of possibility — with a strong focus on air units, and the Planetcracker.

I’d also love more story DLC for StarCraft II. Again, ideally focusing on Selendis, though I’d also accept stories about Stukov or Talandar.

Most of all, I want a new expansion for Diablo III, with a full graphical overhaul to the Heroes of the Storm/SC2 engine, redemption for Leah’s soul, Imperius as a boss we can kill, a new class, and a final resolution to the Eternal Conflict.

But of all of those, Selendis in co-op is the only that seems even remotely feasible, unfortunately.

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Review: The Stormlight Archive, Book Two: Words of Radiance

Having enjoyed the first book — and still being peer-pressured within an inch of my life — I was quick to borrow the second book of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series, Words of Radiance, from my friend.

Cover art for The Stormlight Archive, book two: Words of Radiance by Brandon SandersonI enjoyed this book more than its predecessor. Words of Radiance improves on many of the strengths of The Way of Kings, and polishes some of the flaws, though it doesn’t erase them completely.

Words of Radiance sees Kaladin and the bridgemen saved from their brutal life of slavery as they now occupy a place of honour as guards in the employ of Dalinar Kholin, but the political intrigue of Alethkar provides threats of its own, and Kaladin’s personal demons threaten to rob him of everything he’s achieved.

Meanwhile, Shallan must begin to find her own path as she finds herself separated from her mentor.

For the most part, this is the same sort of experience Way of Kings was. That is to say a very traditional but highly competent high fantasy. It’s not surprising, and it’s not innovative, but it is entertaining. The plot is compelling, the setting is interesting, and the characters are deeply likable.

Near the end, it also boasts one of the most insane action sequences I’ve ever read. I wish I’d written it.

The flaws of the past book have also been at least partially addressed. Shallan has become a much more compelling character, though she’s still not my favourite, and her plot is too reliant on withholding vital information from the reader. There’s a semi-decent explanation for this within the story, but it still feels cheap.

The pacing issues have also improved. Words of Radiance is not nearly so glacial as Way of Kings was, though it does still have the problem of more happening in the last 1-200 pages than the first 1,000.

I also didn’t find the writing got so bogged down in irrelevant details this time. Or maybe I just got used to it, but there didn’t seem to be as much wasted prose this time.

On the downside, some new issues have arisen. The newly introduced romantic arcs are as lifeless and predictable as you would expect from such a classical high fantasy, and the fact it all seems to be headed towards yet another love triangle is making me physically wince.

But those are ultimately minor criticisms of what is for the most part an exciting, fascinating, and at times inspiring read. This series remains a strong recommendation for fans of old school high fantasy.

Overall rating: 8.4/10