BlizzCon 2015: Warcraft Trailer, StarCraft DLC, and Other News

BlizzCon is upon us once again, bringing a tidal wave of news and reveals for Blizzard’s many franchises. I don’t wish to waste any time, so let’s get to it!

The Warcraft trailer:

The biggest reveal coming out of this BlizzCon was the first full-length trailer for the upcoming Warcraft film.

It’s everything I ever dreamed of.

Seriously, this trailer fills me with such overwhelming childish glee you’re lucky I can still spell, let alone type anything coherent about it. I love, love, love it.

I can’t even words. It’s wonderful.

I will say that I love how it’s clearly telling the stories of both the humans and Orcs and giving an even shake to both. This doesn’t look to be a story with black and white morality at all, and that is exactly as it should be.

If I may allow myself one small complaint, it appears that Draka will be pulling a “Moses among the reeds” with Thrall, and while I have long argued that Thrall is Orcish Moses, that’s a little too on the nose for my taste.

Still, on the whole, this trailer is mind-blowing.

StarCraft mission packs coming soon:

The one real surprise from this BlizzCon so far is the announcement that StarCraft 2’s story content will not end with Legacy of the Void’s campaign. Starting next year, Blizzard will be releasing a series of DLC mission packs to flesh out the story of the StarCraft universe. The first one, Nova: Covert Ops, already has a cinematic teaser.

More story, and Nova’s involved? I’m sold.

Again, I have little to say beyond the fact that I’m happy.

I just hope the packs aren’t too expensive. I mean, Blizzard owns my soul, so I’ll pretty much pay whatever they ask, but… Three missions with SC2’s pacing will probably take at most ninety minutes to finish, so any more than $10 would be a stretch.

There’s also word of some other new additions coming after Legacy of the Void, including new commanders for the co-op missions, the long-awaited Abathur announcer pack, and the option for players to sell the content they’ve made through the Arcade.

Quite impressed by how much Blizzard plans for a “finished” game.

World of Warcraft: Legion cinematic and details

As if the movie trailer wasn’t enough badassery, they also showed the opening cinematic for Legion.

As regular readers know, I’m feeling really bitter about WoW right now. My love/hate relationship has little love left in it after WoD.

But this cinematic blew me away. This is probably the best cinematic for WoW yet, and that’s saying something. It’s epic, it’s emotional, it’s intense. It’s everything a cinematic should be.

One does get the impression that Blizzard may be planning to kill off Varian, which has been speculated for a while. My initial reaction to the idea was nerd rage, as Blizzard has a terrible habit of killing off their most interesting characters.

However, the more I think about it, the more I think it might be okay. Varian has had an amazing character arc over the years, and if this is to be his end, then it’s a worthy one.

In other news, Blizzard’s website has been updated with previews of the artifact weapons for all classes. The biggest piece of news here is that combat rogues no longer exist; the specialization is now called “outlaw.”

I am curious what other changes are due for the spec. Hopefully it can recapture some of its former glory. I do like that its artifact weapons are swords, though they also seem to be one of the few artifacts without a particularly lore-rich backstory. And I’ll try not to be too bitter that rogues didn’t get a ranged spec.

A preview shot of Suramar in World of Warcraft: LegionSpeaking of artifacts, I love all the backstories Blizzard has come up with for them. Some pretty interesting lore in some of those, especially about the Titans’ servants. I feel a grave risk that my alt addiction may flair out of control as I try to experience as many artifact quests as possible.

Something interesting that’s just being revealed as I write this is that there is no set leveling path through the new zones. All zones scale to your level (somehow), with the only exception that the city of Suramar is always max-level only. Dungeons will also be scaled this way. Interesting idea. Not a massive change, but could make things a bit more interesting for alts.

Speaking of new zones, they all look incredibly beautiful, and all the lore seems to be about Elves, Vrykul, and Tauren, which is music to my ears.

They seem to be taking a lot of cues from Diablo for the endgame this time. There’s a new mission system that seems like a combination of traditional daily quests, D3’s adventure mode, and TSW’s new challenge system. Seems like a good idea — the emphasis seems to be on choice, which is desperately needed. We’ll see how it shakes out.

Challenge dungeons are also being converted to something like D3’s Nephalem Rifts. Failing to beat the timer is not, well, a failure — instead beating the timer simply allows you to upgrade a keystone, unlocking progressively more challenging (and rewarding) version of the dungeon, infinitely.

A preview shot of the Black Rook Hold dungeon in World of Warcraft: LegionMore emphasis on dungeons is welcome, and this sounds great for those with regular groups to run with, but I’m not sure how much it means for the rest of unwashed masses.

I am still a bit disappointed we’ve not gotten any really huge announcements, like a free to play transition or factions merging, but despite myself, I find my cautious optimism for Legion slowly becoming less cautious and more optimism.

The bad news is that Legion is not due until “summer,” which manages to be quite disappointing but not even remotely surprising. Welcome to a year of Hellfire Citadel.

Heroes of the Storm: The arena and more

The big news for Heroes is a new game mode, the arena. This seems to be an attempt to “bottle” the epic team fights that spring up around map objectives. Short, semi-randomized contests over objectives similar to those seen on the standard maps. Best two out of three wins.

Some variety is good, I suppose. Personally I think I’ll prefer the more traditional game format, but I’m sure arena will have many fans.

Heroes of the Storm arena previewA new map was also revealed, Towers of Doom. This ghastly map is part of the Raven Court universe, and promises some very unique mechanics. Cores cannot be attacked directly, only destroyed by map objectives, and there was talk of being able to take over enemy towns rather than simply destroying them, though what this means in practice is unclear.

I like this. The map looks beautiful, and it sounds like a refreshing change of pace from all the “summon a golem” maps we’ve seen lately.

There were also several new heroes announced: Genn Greymane, Cho’gall, and Lunara.

Cho’gall is by far the most mechanically unique. Taking a page from a former WoW April Fools joke, Cho’gall will actually require two players to control, one for each head.

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, that’s brilliantly original, and I can only stand in awe of Blizzard’s sheer gall (no pun intended). On the other hand, Cho’gall is a character I love, and this pretty much guarantees I will never, ever play him. So that makes me sad.

Cho’gall’s release will also be unique. For the first few months, only BlizzCon attendees and virtual ticket buyers will have access to him, but players who don’t have him can unlock him by playing with those who do. He is intended to spread across the playerbase like a virus.

A preview shot of Cho'gall in Heroes of the StormIt’s worth noting Cho’gall will eventually go up for sale normally, but not for several months.

The other two heroes, Genn and a dryad named Lunara, are not at all what I was expecting to see, but both look very, very cool. Genn appears to be able to fight as both a melee and ranged character by swapping between his Worgen and human forms, and while we don’t know much about Lunara yet, I love her aesthetics. I like that they’re going for the wilder, more dangerous version of the dryads. I mean, I love Mylune, but…

We also have confirmation that Overwatch’s Tracer will be coming to the Nexus in the future. Which brings me to…

Overwatch: Pre-sales and new heroes

Overwatch’s announcements began with an absolutely awesome trailer detailing not only all the heroes revealed over the past year, but also three new additions: Mei-ling Zhou, Hana “D.Va” Song, and Genji. All of these were teased beforehand, but now we have the details.

In a bizarre crossover, D.Va is a pro StarCraft player who now fights for her country aboard a combat mech. She can switch between mech and human forms, making for what appears to be some truly interesting gameplay.

Hana "D.Va" Song in OverwatchShe also shouts “Nerf this” when using her ultimate, which is awesome. I will be very disappointed if she doesn’t say “GG” after a kill.

Mei looks the most appealing to me. She’s a climate scientist who uses a freeze ray to trap enemies and erect ice barriers. After D.Va was announced, I figured Overwatch had hit max cuteness, but Mei is a contender for history’s most huggable video game character (sorry, Tali). She’s adorable.

Genji is a cybernetic ninja with a very interesting backstory that connects to Hanzo, Mercy, and Zenyatta. I am, however, a little disappointed that he is still primarily a ranged fighter and uses his sword only sparingly.

I am continually impressed by the incredibly colourful and inventive character design for Overwatch, and for how intensely likable Blizzard can make these characters with just a few paragraphs of backstory.

This also shows Overwatch’s commitment to diversity continuing. All three new characters are Asian, and two are female. The IDIC feels continue.

Super kawaii!The big surprise was that Overwatch will not, in fact, be free to play, but will require a box purchase (pre-orders are open now).

I am less than thrilled with this. While there is much about Overwatch that appeals to me, I’m not big on shooters and even less fond of competitive play, so I’m definitely not spending money on it unless I have a chance to try it first. Unless I’m lucky enough to get a beta invite, I might not be able to play Overwatch for a very long time.

I was also disappointed to hear no news of a story mode, an option to not have to switch heroes in-match, or third person perspective.

I don’t get it. Blizzard created this amazingly deep new setting with brilliantly original characters, and they don’t want to use it for anything but an arena where people shoot each other. They put so much effort into these excellent character designs — including optional skins — but you can’t even look at your own character. Why anyone would spend money on a skin you can’t even see yourself is beyond me.

It seems terribly wasteful. There’s so much potential in Overwatch, and the trailers always get me so pumped, but the reality of the game just seems very underwhelming right now. I don’t understand Blizzard’s reasoning.

* * *

There’s more news — like a new zone for Diablo III — but this post is already running long, and more announcements are bound to come, so I’ll save it for tomorrow’s post.

In the meantime, comment and let me know your thoughts on this year’s BlizzCon!

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