BlizzCon 2015: Overwatch’s Story, Diablo’s Patch, WoW News, and More

The second day of BlizzCon 2015 is coming to a close, and while the big reveals were reserved for yesterday, there’s still more than a few interesting tidbits to discuss.

A shot of the African Numbani map in OverwatchOverwatch story panel: Comics, cartoons, and diversity

The thing I was most interested in on day two of BlizzCon was the “World of Overwatch” panel that promised more information on storytelling in the world of Overwatch. We’re in this odd limbo where Blizzard has created this incredibly rich and colourful world for this game, but yet have no intention of actually telling any story within the game itself.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed, but the panel does offer some hope for us story fans.

So far, the plans for expanding Overwatch’s story seem twofold: a series of comics, including a graphic novel and shorter pieces, and some animated shorts to flesh out the backstory of various characters.

It seems like the animated shorts will be around the same quality as the announcement cinematic, which is pretty cool. Also, baby Winston appears to be ridiculously adorable. Knowing what we know about Winston already, that particular short is bound to be a tear-jerker.

The comics… Well, I’ll probably read them. Comic books and graphic novels aren’t my favourite thing in the world, but considering how much inspiration Overwatch takes from super heroes, it makes sense.

Both these seem like good things to have. The animated shorts, in particular, will undoubtedly be awesome, given the quality of Blizzard’s usual cinematics and things like the Burdens of Shaohao.

A young Winston from the Overwatch animated shortsBut none of this is a “meal” from a story perspective. I want something I can really sink my teeth into. I really do not understand Blizzard’s reticence to add a story mode, or campaign, or something.

Interestingly, Activision-Blizzard has recently launched a film and television division. Right now all the planned adaptations are of non-Blizzard games, but perhaps that oft-requested Overwatch Saturday morning cartoon isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

The other interesting tidbit from the panel concerned Blizzard’s ongoing push for inclusiveness with Overwatch. Someone asked if any of the characters are gay, and the answer was an unequivocal, “Yes.” Metzen even added that there is more than one gay character on the line-up.

We don’t know who yet; Blizzard wants to reveal that organically as part of the story. I think this is wise, as it helps prevent stereotyping anyone as “the gay character.”

Of course, this inevitably leads to rampant speculation.

It has been noted that Tracer and Widowmaker, as well as Soldier: 76 and Reaper, have special rivalries with one another, and this has of course led to lots of theories about one or both pairings being some sort of “jilted lover” scenario. Plus Tracer/Widowmaker was already a thing pretty much from the moment the game was announced. Make sure you have safe search on if you Google that.

Tracer and Widowmaker in the Overwatch cinematic. A ship is bornI find both scenarios a tad predictable myself. Plus Tracer/Widowmaker seems more like the sort of thing rooted in “fantasies” than anything. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m not sure it’s a good basis for canon storylines.

It’s also worth noting that it took less than 24 hours for Mei/D.Va to be a thing. Though that one I really don’t get. They don’t seem to have any common ground or chemistry at all, aside from both being super kawaii. Tracer/D.Va… that I could see.

Personally, my choices for gay characters would be Tracer, because it would be daring to pick the game’s most iconic character, or any of the real macho manly men — like McCree, Reinhardt, or Soldier: 76 — because it would be deliciously non-stereotypical.

I just really hope it’s not Zarya. Way too stereotypical.

Diablo: Patch 2.4

Depending on your perspective, BlizzCon 2015 is really good or really bad for Diablo fans.

Really good because another big, ambitious patch is coming with some significant content. They’re adding not one, not two, but three new areas to the world. The Eternal Woods are an offshoot of the Ruins of Sescheron added last patch, the Royal Quarters are an expansion of Leoric’s Manor in act one, and there’s a large new zone in act five called Greyhollow Island.

A preview image of the new Greyhollow Island zone for Diablo 3Although I’m not generally a fan of D3’s graphics (to put it mildly), the Ruins of Sescheron are incredibly beautiful, and I’m very happy to see more from that tileset. Greyhollow Island also looks like something of a feast for the eyes, though I wouldn’t exactly call it pretty.

The major new feature of patch 2.4 is set dungeons. These are non-randomized class-specific dungeons that are only unlocked when you complete a six-piece class set, and feature challenges tailored to that set’s power.

That’s… odd.

I have no idea what the numbers are on the people with full class sets, but I can’t imagine it’s terribly high. I’ve played a lot of Diablo III, and I still only have four pieces of Tal Rasha’s.

So it’s a cool idea, but it seems spectacularly niche.

There’s also a bevy of quality of life improvements and the usual new items and revamped sets.

It seems like a great patch… but it’s still just a patch, and that’s why it’s also bad news.

I love that Blizzard is adding so much free content basically out of the kindness of their hearts, but I want an expansion. I want a continuation of the main storyline. I want new classes. Big patches are good, but they’re not enough.

A preview image of the new Eternal Woods zone for Diablo 3WoW: New transmog system, class changes, and more

Day two of BlizzCon also saw a great deal of new information about Legion and its systems.

The biggest news to me is the new transmogrification system. You will no longer need to keep old items; you can simply unlock an appearance and keep it forever, like in Diablo III.

When you log into Legion, the appearances of every item in your inventory, your bank, and your void storage, and every single reward from every quest you have ever done will be unlocked.

Nice.

Transmog is also becoming more of a wardrobe system. You will be able to store multiple looks and swap between them easily, perhaps even tying them to specific specializations. A look will also memorize hidden items, such as helms, cloaks, and shoulders.

Finally, transmog will now also include tabards, shirts, and weapon enchants.

This is all just lovely. As a fan of cosmetic customization, I can only offer my whole-hearted approval. This certainly helps solve my issue of “too many cool outfits and not enough gear sets to use them on.”

A preview of the outlaw artifact skins for World of Warcraft: LegionAnother thing that excited me was the preview of artifact weapons. I really love how epic and story-driven the quests to acquire them seem to be, though this does once again make me worry my alt addiction may surge wildly out of control. I also like how artifacts will be something you can upgrade through virtually any kind of content, which should make for a less restrictive endgame.

On the downside, it seems like artifacts won’t be around forever. Blizzard really needs to stop creating expansion-only features; it’s a terrible idea on so many levels.

A big shocker, though not in a bad way, is that dual spec is going away. Spec is now something you change as easily as swapping a stance, and any character can easily access all specializations for their class. Looks like I’m finally giving fistweaving a try! This also means there are more artifact quests I can do.

The many major class overhauls were also touched on, though there are still more questions than answers. The death knight rune system is being greatly simplified — I wonder if I’ll finally be able to enjoy that class now? I always loved DKs in terms of lore and aesthetics, but could never quite get into the gameplay.

Subtlety rogues are also getting an interesting-sounding revamp. Shadow dance is now a passive that triggers throughout combat, putting you into stealth and opening up new shadow-themed abilities. That seems really cool, but I do wonder how it’ll work when soloing. Currently when you vanish, mobs evade and regain all health. It’d be really damn annoying to have no control over that.

A preview image of the customization options for the new demon hunter class in World of Warcraft: Legion.It’s also confirmed that demonology is losing metamorphosis and becoming a more pet-focused spec. This reads to me as, “Demonology has been removed.” This is profoundly disappointing — I have no intention of playing fel beast mastery.

In other bad news, flying is confirmed to not be in at launch for Legion. Which also means that despite my growing excitement for Legion, I probably won’t be there at launch, either. We’ll see how I feel.

The final stand-out for me was mention of when Turalyon and Alleria appear. One gets the impression it’ll in post-launch content, and they said, “The way you view WoW will change.” The optimist in me says this will mean the end of the Alliance/Horde conflict and the beginning of the Army of the Light. The cynic in me says this will be some random nonsensical twist for the lore that doesn’t change much for the game. The realist in my says it won’t be either of those things and is being overhyped.

There’s a lot of other news — including profession revamps and class hall info, as well some info on Heroes of the Storm — but that’s what stood out to me, and I don’t want to make this post too bloated.

* * *

On the whole, I’m pretty happy with this BlizzCon. It may not have had a lot of surprises or huge reveals, and I am disappointed by the lack of a Diablo expansion, but there’s a lot of good stuff to be found.

Hana "D.Va" Song in OverwatchThe Warcraft trailer was outstanding, and flight and demonology issues aside, I really like what I’m hearing from Legion. Despite myself, I find my excitement for the expansion growing.

I’m also quite glad that StarCraft seems to have a bright future, and while I regret the lack of an expansion for Diablo, at least it hasn’t been forgotten. Heroes is chugging along nicely.

Overwatch I feel torn on. Everything I learn makes me more in love with the Overwatch world and its characters — it’s hitting my IDIC feels something fierce — but the more I think about it, the less appealing Overwatch the game seems. I really don’t get this massive disconnect between the world-building and character development and the game design.

How about you? What are your thoughts on this year’s BlizzCon and its news?

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4 thoughts on “BlizzCon 2015: Overwatch’s Story, Diablo’s Patch, WoW News, and More

  1. When I first saw that there was an Overwatch: Origins box in the leak prior to Blizzcon I thought that was going to be include some single-player campaigns that showcased some of the character’s origin story. I was a little disappointed that it just skins.
    I suspect the Tracer/Widowmaker is actually daughter/step-mother. Having said that, does anyone else find it weird that there are so many 20-30 year old former Overwatch agents despite Overwatch disbanding 25 years prior to the game?

    • Actually, Overwatch only disbanded five years before the game, according to the Wiki. Also, Widowmaker is only seven years older than Tracer, so I’m not sure how likely that familial relationship is.

      I’d already heard that Blizzard wasn’t doing any single-player campaigns, so I wasn’t terribly surprised the Origins Edition didn’t include any. Still very disappointing, though. Waste of potential.

      • Five years makes more sense.
        My head canon features Gérard Lacroix, since he was an operations leader, being one of the older members of Overwatch. Tracer is his daughter from an earlier relationship (family connections being useful in getting her into Overwatch at such a young age) who sees Amélie as an interloper that seduced and stole her father. Add the whole brainwashing into Widowmaker and killing Gérard thing and you could have a really interesting relationship between the two.
        Isn’t headcanon fun 🙂

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